There is a new house going up in Arranmore. We have a front row seat and we're enjoying watching the construction! Check in weekly to follow the progress. (click on individual photos to enlarge)
March 19, 2013
Siding getting completed today, just before the rain hopefully, and sounds like the internal work, wiring and flooring, is getting started… Doors arrived on Monday and will go in this week.
March 15, 2013
Windows in and siding going on - should have that completed by tomorrow it appears.
March 13, 2013
Roofing done and weatherproof siding base going on… Windows have openings shaped and starting to do more of the inside work.
March 8, 2013
Roofing materials showed up on Thursday, installing today.
February 25, 2013
February 19, 2013
Roofline is starting to appear. The house is taller than I thought it would be!
February 15, 2013
Truss truck arrives, lot and lots of trusses.
February 14, 2013
Happy Valentine's Day. Second floor walls going up, upstairs bedrooms taking shape and the great room starting to come together…
February 12, 2013
Second floor is being framed. Today was a slow day – the only people there were doing clean-up.
February 9, 2013
Norris had a tour of the interior with the owner, and he said it's a perfect floor plan – master suite on the main floor, large great room with big vaults and tons of light, den, dining room and a couple of bedrooms upstairs. Great beams that will support the second story have been added and there's currently a big crane parked on the lot.
February 6, 2013 8am
What a difference a day makes!
February 5, 2013
Today we are seeing our first walls.
Yesterday there was a floor.
January 29, 2012
Duct work going in.
January 18, 2013
Concrete is poured and the foundation starts to take shape.
January 17, 2013
It's a misty morning. The forms are set and the rebar is in. If it warms up, maybe they'll pour the concrete today.
January 16, 2013
The hole has been dug and they're ready to start with the foundation
My clients will sometimes say, "I've got a stupid question for you…. what does <insert odd real estate term> mean?
Of course I always respond that there is no stupid question in this process. This is a big deal, buying and selling a house, and one should never feel that they don't full understand every little bit of what is going on. That's why you work with a Realtor who you trust.
Still, it's nice to have a reference for all those terms that come up during your transaction.
Below is a link to the Federal Trade Commission's Real Estate marketplace glossary.
Remember the stenciling from the 80's? Little country cabins and vines & hearts? I shudder to think of some of the sponge and rag painting that used to pass for cool.
Nowadays, you hardly ever hear of anyone stenciling or faux painting, and wallpaper has actually made a comeback. When I'm touring houses, I literally swoon over some of the gorgeous papers I've seen. Who would use a stencil when wallpaper manufacturers have made it so easy for us to add drama so simply?
Me! I'm dying to use one of these stencil designs in our master bedroom! Every one of these photos are stenciled walls.
These aren't your 80's stencils, and one can transform their room at 1/100th the cost of wallpaper.
My client used this houndstooth pattern in her bathroom and it was fabulous~!
Don't be shy. Order a stencil today and transform your room for under $100! Prices start around $13 for simple medallions and go to around $65 f0r the birch trees shown above.
These stencils, and hundreds more, can be purchased at www.cuttingedgestencils.com.
Q: We've just put in a ton of work on a new kitchen, and now it's time to sell. How much can we actually recoup from our expense?
A: Here is a link to the Remodeling Magazine Cost -VS- Value Comparison Tool. It lists costs for all areas of the US, and you can look at moderate or fancy remodels. It's lots of fun to figure out which improvements will give you the best return on your dollar. It also helps you to understand that when pricing your home, you can't expect to wring every penny out of your remodel. It will, however, make your home more attractive, and it should sell more quickly!
This site compares the average cost for 35 popular remodeling projects with the value those projects retain at resale. To find data for any of 81 cities:
1. Click a region on the map or choose from the drop-down list.
2. Click on a city in the map (requires flash) or from the drop-down list.
3. Click the Download button for a PDF with city data.
For more information about individual projects:
1. Click on a project name to see a description and a 3-D model.
2. Sort any column by clicking on the column header.
3. For more information on the Remodeling 2013 Cost vs. Value Report, click on any of the links listed at right.
Thanks to Remodling Magazine for their research on this great article.
NOW is a wonderful time to sell your house!
Time to Reality Check the Real Estate Market
by OB Jacobi
Rarely does a day go by that I don’t get asked if this is a good time to buy and/or sell a home. Some people might think that my response is always an emphatic “YES!” because I work in real estate. But in truth, there is no right or wrong answer. Every person’s circumstances are unique, so in some cases the answer might be yes, but for others it might make more sense to wait. Allow me to explain.
The good news is that we’re finally coming out of the housing slump of the past five-plus years. Housing is a major driving factor of the U.S. economy, so regardless of whether or not one owns a home, a stronger housing market is good for everyone. For some would-be home sellers, this positive momentum, combined with a rise in home prices and buyer activity, is enough to compel them to list their home. And right now the statistics appear to be on their side.
According to the most recent findings from the National Association of REALTORS®, total housing inventory has fallen for the past several months, settling at just under two million existing homes on the market that are available to buyers. This represents about a four-month-supply of homes throughout the U.S. This is the lowest housing supply the nation has seen since May of 2005 – during the peak of the housing boom.
“Months supply” basically means that if existing homes were to continue selling at the current rate, the inventory of homes would be sold by that many months. A “normal” market usually has around six months of supply; therefore lower numbers mean a shortage of inventory. If demand is greater than supply, this often leads to competition amongst buyers – and rising prices – as we’ve seen in many markets throughout the Western U.S.
Here are the current inventory levels in key markets along the West Coast, all of which fall below six months of supply and report strong competition among buyers.
· Seattle: 1.4 months
· Portland: 4.2 months
· San Francisco: 1.8 months
· Las Vegas: 3.8 months
· Palm Springs: 2.5 months
The following graph demonstrates the downward trend in the overall U.S. month’s supply of homes which is currently at about 4.4 months:
So what does this mean for buyers and sellers? It means as long as inventory levels remain low, competition amongst buyers will remain high, and home prices should continue to steadily rise – albeit at a healthy rate – not like what we saw during the housing boom. As evidence of this, in the recent Home Price Expectation Survey, 105 leading housing analysts called for a 3.1 percent increase in home values by the end of 2013. And in a recent report by the National Association of REALTORS®, median home prices last quarter showed the strongest year-over-year increase in seven years.
Another thing that buyers and sellers need to keep their eye on is interest rates and their impact on affordability. Interest rates have been at such historical lows for so long that it’s easy to take them for granted. But the truth is that several lending institutions, including Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association, project that interest rates will rise from 3.4 to 4.4 percent by the end of 2013. A full point increase can have a significant impact on the amount of your mortgage over the long term.
Assuming a 30-year-mortgage at a 3.4 percent interest rate, a home valued at $360,000 in today’s market would have a monthly payment of $1,596.53. If prices rise by 3.1 percent and interest rates rise to 4.4 percent, as both have been predicted to do in the coming year, that same home would be worth $371,160 and have a monthly payment of $1,858.62 (see chart below). This is a difference of $262.09 per month – $3,145.08 annually – and $94,352.40 over the life of the loan. That’s not chump change.
With these types of projections, one might wonder why there isn’t a flood of homes coming on the market. The biggest concern I hear from many would-be sellers is that they’re going to lose money because their home is worth less today than when they bought it. A valid concern, to be sure, but not necessarily the case for many folks. Remember, you’re buying and selling in the same market conditions, so if your home has lost value in recent years, it is highly likely that the next home you buy has as well.
I recently spoke to a friend of mine who wanted to sell but was afraid of losing money. He bought his Seattle-area home back in 2002 for $275,000. Over the next five years the market boomed and by 2007 his home was worth about $430,000. During that time, homes in many areas around Seattle appreciated by over 55 percent. Then the housing market crashed – and with it so did home prices. In my friend’s mind he lost $155,000 and now he thinks he should wait to sell until he can gain all that loss back.
Today, my friend’s home is worth about $327,000 – a gain of $52,000 over what he paid in 2002. If experts are right about an annual gain of three percent in the coming years, he will have to wait 10 years before his home is worth what it was during the peak of the market in 2007. My advice to him? If it’s the right time to move and you can afford to do it, go for it, but don’t base your decision on numbers that were the result of an artificially inflated market.
It goes without saying that nobody wants to sell at the bottom of the market, yet at the same time, everybody wants to buy at the bottom. Obviously these two scenarios can’t exist at the same time, but I hope the information in this blog shows there are definitely opportunities to be had by both buyers and sellers that are worth considering.
Q&A: What exactly is a short sale?
A short sale occurs when a bank agrees to accept less than the total amount owed on a mortgage to avoid having to foreclose on the property. This is not a new practice; banks have been doing short sales for years. Only during the past four to five years has this process become a part of the public consciousness.
IF YOU ARE THE HOMEOWNER: YOUR FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS IS TO SPEAK WITH AN ATTORNEY.
Here's a bit more info that might help:
To be eligible for a short sale you first have to qualify!
To qualify for a short sale:
- Your house must be worth less than you owe on it.
- You must be able to prove that you are the victim of a true financial hardship, such as a decrease in wages, job loss, or medical condition that has altered your ability to make the same income as when the loan was originated. Divorce, estate situations, etc… also qualify. There are some exceptions to hardship now, but for the most part the bank or investor will need to verify some type of hardship.
Now that you have a basic understanding of what a short sale is, LET’S BUST SOME MYTHS!!
Myth #1 If you let your home go to foreclosure you are done with the situation and you can walk away with a clean slate.
The reality is that this couldn’t be any farther from the truth in most situations. You could end up with an IRS tax liability and still owing the bank money. Please keep in mind that if your property does go into foreclosure you may be liable for the difference of what is owed on the property versus what is sells for at auction, in the form of a deficiency balance! Please note this is state specific and in most states you will be liable for the shortfall, but in some states the bank may not always be able to pursue the debt. Check your state law as it varies widely from state to state.
Here is an example of how a deficiency balance works:
If you owe $200,000 on the property and it sells at auction for $150,000, you could be liable for the $50,000 difference if your state law allows it.
Not only could you be liable for the difference to the bank, but in some situations you could also be liable to the IRS! Although there are exemptions (mostly for principal residences) under the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act, there are times when you could be taxed on both a short sale and a foreclosure, even in a principal residence situation. I advise talking to a CPA if you are in this situation and as you are weighing your options.
A short sale can alleviate your liability to the bank, in most situations. There are also exceptions to this, but in most cases banks are releasing homeowners from the deficiency balance on a short sale.
Myth #2 There are no options to avoid foreclosure.
Now more than ever, there are options to avoid foreclosure. Besides a short sale, loan modifications along with "deed in lieu" are also examples of the many options. In most cases (but not all) a short sale is the best option. Either way, there are more options today than there have ever been to avoid foreclosure.
Myth #3 Banks do not want to participate in a short sale, or, it is too hard to qualify for a short sale.
Banks would rather perform a short sale than a foreclosure any day. A foreclosure takes a long time and creates a huge expense for the banks; a short sale saves them both time and money. In speaking with some of the biggest lenders and servicers in the country, they have said they average a net of 17-25% more on a short sale than on a foreclosure. A testament to this are the financial incentives now being offered by banks, and how much the entire process has recently changed to try and streamline it for all parties. Qualifying for a short sale is easier than you think – you just need to have a true financial hardship, or a change in your finances and your house has to be worth less than what you owe on it. Also, banks now have government incentives to participate in short sales.
Myth #4 Short sales are not that common.
At this time, short sales range from 10-50 % of sales in various markets and it is predicted that in 2013 we will have more short sales than any other year, to date. One of the biggest reasons is that MHA (Making Home Affordable) expires December 2013. Many of the Government incentives like HAFA, will expire the end of this year. Short sales are in every market, and are not just limited to any particular income class. This has affected people from all facets of life. A short sale should be looked at as a helpful tool, not a negative stigma.That is why the government is offering programs that actually pay consumers to participate in short sales. It is not just affecting one community; it is affecting communities and consumers across the nation.
Myth #5 The short sale process is too difficult and they often get denied.
Though the short sale process is time consuming, it is not as difficult as the media would have you believe. The problem is that most short sales are denied because of a misunderstanding of the process. It is true that if the short sale process is not followed correctly there is a good chance of getting denied. An experienced agent knows how to avoid this. Short sales require a lot of experience, and a special skill set. If you are looking to go the option of a short sale make sure your agent is skilled and experienced in this area.
Myth #6 Short sales will cost me money out of pocket.
A short sale should not cost you any out-of-pocket money. In fact, you could get between $3000-up to $30,000 to participate in a short sale. In many ways, a short sale may put you in a better financial position than prior to your short sale. Almost every short sale program now has some type of financial incentive for the home owner, as long as it is a principal residence, and we are even seeing relocation money being paid on some investment/second homes. As a seller of a property you should never have to pay for a short sale cost up front to any professional service . Realtors charge a commission that will be paid for by the bank. In most communities there are also non-profits and HUD counselors who can help you with foreclosure prevention options for free. The only potential cost you could incur is if the bank would not release you from a deficiency balance in the short sale, which is happening less and less.
Myth #7 If I am behind on my payments, I can perform a short sale any time.
The farther you get behind on your payments, the harder it is to get a short sale approved. The closer a property gets to a foreclosure the harder it is to convince the bank to perform a short sale. As they get closer to a foreclosure sale, more money is spent, thus deterring them from doing a short sale. If you think you need to perform a short sale, time is of the essence - the sooner you start the process, the better. Waiting too long can trigger the ramifications of a foreclosure, losing the ability to do a short sale as a viable option.
Myth #8 I have already been sent a foreclosure notice so I can’t perform a short sale.
For the most part, just because you received a foreclosure notice or notice of default it does not mean that you do not have time to perform a short sale. The timeline and specifics do vary from state to state, but I've heard of banks postponing a foreclosure to work a short sale option as close as 30 days prior to the scheduled foreclosure auction. Still, the longer you wait the less chance you have. If you have received a legal foreclosure notice, please reach out to a professional right away. The longer you wait, and the closer you get to foreclosure, the fewer options you have. If you have received a notice to foreclose, this means the bank is filing paperwork and starting the process to take legal action to repossess the house. You may still have time, at this point to prevent foreclosure, but do not hesitate! The closer you get to the foreclosure date, the harder it becomes to negotiate with the bank for whichever option you choose.
Myth #9 I was denied for a loan modification, so I know I will get denied for a short sale.
Short sales and loan modifications are handled by two separate departments at the bank. These processes are totally different in approval and denial. If you got denied for a modification you can still apply for a short sale. In some cases, you can get a short sale approved faster than a loan modification, as some loan modifications are denied because they cannot reduce the loan low enough based on the consumers income.
Myth #10 If I go through a short sale I cannot buy another house for a long time.
The time to buy another house depends on your entire credit picture and can vary from 2-3 years. Fannie and Freddie Mac just said on November first that a homeowner may be eligible two years after a short sale to repurchase. There are even a few FHA programs that allow for a purchase sooner than that, but the guidelines are fairly strict. Some regional and local banks will finance 16-18 months after a short sale, but the interest rate will more than likely be higher than one of the national chains, and this is based on their specific underwriting guidelines.
These are just a few of the common myths surrounding short sales and foreclosure. With the options available today, no homeowner should ever have to go through foreclosure, and hopefully this information can help a few more homeowners think twice before walking away from their home not realizing the possible long term ramifications a foreclosure can have.
Next time I'll address "Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure"
info via KCM Blog
Sometimes there is no perfect solution to providing access to the outdoors for your little furry friend. Leaving them home alone all day while you're at work can lead to accidents. Doggy day care can be expensive if you need to use it every day. But some properties just don't have perfect access – a door that leads to a fenced yard, or a spot for a doggy door that is concealed from view in your everyday spaces.
This homeowner turned an ordinary closet into a warm spot for their dog to be indoors, while giving it access to the outside as well. You can leave the door ajar when you're home, and close it when you're away. I love that this closes it off from view and everybody is happy.
photo courtesy of Houzz. Designed and built by Aloha Home Builders.
My clients are full of questions. People I meet socially are full of real estate questions. Everybody has a question about real estate. Here's a good one with a simple answer.
Q: Sometimes you have a fabulous house, priced where the market statistics tell you it should be, and there is a steady trickle of showings, but no offers. If the neighborhood is good (location) and there's nothing left for the buyers to repair and the house is clean and show-ready, (conditon) is it the price?
A: There are basically three factors in the equation. When two out of three can't or don't need to be changed, you have to look at the third.
In this case it must be the price. There is a simple 21 day formula for determining if a price reduction is in order.
1. If there are showings and perhaps an offer that didn't come together, a 3% price reduction may be in order.
2. If there are showings, but no offers, a 4% price reduction may be needed.
3. Finally, if the property is not getting any showings or offers, a 5% reduction may put you in a position to get things moving, and offers coming in.
Obviously, depending on the price range, these percentages may differ, but this is a good rule of thumb. Watch the number of showings, and after 2-3 weeks, you'll have your answer.
Contact me any time with your real estate questions!