Categories
Market News

Home Sales Accelerate During The “Dog Days of Summer” [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • Existing home sales have accelerated to the highest pace since February 2007 at an annual pace of 5.57 million.
  • Inventory of homes for sale remains below the historically normal 6-month mark at a 4.6-month supply, down 5.8% year-over-year.
  • Median home sales prices rose to $247,700, 4.8% higher than a year ago and replaced the previous peak in May of $238,900.

Posted by The KCM Crew

Categories
For Homeowners

12 Tips for Cutting Costs at Home

Understanding the details about your home can help you find some hidden savings that can help you cut costs at home. Learn from these 12 tips in this infographic on how save at home.  Many of these tips are great savings and simple tasks that you can do on your own.

SimpliSafe is a simple installation, no hassle wireless security system that protects your home in a user-friendly way with their easy-to-use, fee free system. A security system can not only save you the average 20% insurance discount but with the SimpliSafe system, you can save up to $624 yearly.

Posted in HomeZada

Categories
Outdoor Spaces

Tips for Watering Lawn in Summer

Watering the lawn efficiently and appropriately involves more than simply watering every day.

When the weather is hot, how can you tell if your lawn and garden are getting enough water?

First, it’s not necessary to water lawns and plants every day. As a general rule, more plants are killed through over-watering than under-watering.

Second, understand the properties of the soil in your area. Water penetrates and behaves differently in differing types of soil — e.g., sandy or loose soil vs. clay. Check with your local nursery for watering tips for your local area. Set up a system that allows effective watering with penetration of 6″ to 8″ below the ground surface.

The basic fact is that you’ll need to find out how deeply the water is penetrating into the soil. To do that, all that’s needed is a shovel. Pick an inconspicuous spot where you’ve been irrigating. About 30 minutes after watering, dig a small hole and use your hand to check how deeply the water has penetrated. In most lawn and garden situations, it’s best if water is penetrating 6″ to 8″ beneath the surface of the soil.

Check several locations to see if irrigation is even throughout the yard. If there are dry spots, you may need to modify your irrigation techniques.

Watering systems are not always uniform in how they disperse water. Even if you water regularly, you may find that there are wet spots and dry spots around your yard. To check whether your watering system is working evenly across your yard, here’s a trick you can use to test it. Take some plastic cups and place them around your yard before you water. You can place a few coins in the bottoms of the cups to prevent them from blowing over.

Once the cups are placed, turn on your sprinkler system. Water will collect in the cups as you water.

After watering for about 30 minutes, compare the level of water in each of the cups. You may discover that there is more water in some of the cups than in others. Frequently, areas within close proximity to the sprinkler receive less water than areas several yards away. You may need to check the directions that come with your sprinkler to make it apply water more uniformly.

For watering shrubs and beds, there are techniques and tools that are more effective than ordinary lawn sprinklers. Dripper systems use a hose attached to a faucet and timer. Small holes are placed at appropriate locations along the length of a polyethylene hose. Tiny adapters are inserted into the holes to allow small 1/4-inch hose branches to be installed along the length of the hose. Water emitters of various types are attached at the ends of the smaller branches.

Water emitters — such as small spray-heads — can be placed strategically beneath individual plants to deliver water exactly where it’s most needed.

2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Another useful tool is the soaker-hose system. Like the dripper system, the soaker system uses a timer and a main hose to which smaller branches are attached. In this case, the smaller hoses are manufactured with “weeping pores” that allow water to soak out all along their length. Once the porous branches are attached to the main hose, and placed strategically at the bases and root systems of plants, the water is turned on. The soaker hose allows moisture to soak gently into the soil.

Find this and more landscaping tips on www.diynetwork.com
Categories
Renting

6 Ways To Achieve Apartment Parking Bliss

Here are the expert-approved strategies for getting the best spot in the lot.

Few victories are sweeter than finding the perfect parking spot. But such victories can be fleeting, which is something that car-owning renters know all too well. No matter if you rent a suburban apartment in Cary, NC, or a midtown apartment in New York, NY, space is at a premium — and not just living space either.

“If curb parking spaces are scarce and valuable but free, competition for the free parking leads to many disputes,” says Donald Shoup, a professor in UCLA’s Department of Urban Planning and author of the book The High Cost of Free Parking. Just think of the (many) Seinfeld episodes that revolved around the quest for a good parking spot, including George’s philosophy of why pay for something that you can get for free?

But whether you do pay for it (indirectly through rent, or through monthly fees) or have daily Hunger Games-esque battles to find parking, we’ve asked the experts how to handle the many ins and outs of apartment parking.

The challenge: A prime yet vulnerable spot

Even after you nab a great spot, it might leave you uncomfortable that your car is a little too open to damage (especially in a city). If so, your best bet is to beef up your insurance. “Most insurance plans do not include parking damage as part of their language,” says Matthew Kreitzer, a managing attorney for Booth & McCarthy in Winchester, VA. “If your car is damaged from a passing car, and you have proof of identity for the person who caused the damage, you may be able to submit a claim to their insurance company.” But as Kreitzer points out, state laws vary, and you should ask local attorneys for more information before assuming your case is airtight. You should also ask your insurance adjuster for more information on how best to add parking to your policy.

The challenge: Big car, tiny spot

You can fit anything in your big truck or SUV, but it’s no match for a teeny spot that you may or may not have been assigned. Whatever you do, don’t even think about squeezing in. “It may open you up to a lawsuit down the line if, because of your attempt to fit your car in there, some damage results or it prevents another tenant from accessing their spot,” Kreitzer says. Since it’s unlikely that your landlord will widen spots, your options are limited to finding an alternative lot in the area or finding a new apartment nearby.

The challenge: You’re plowed in

When that pile of snow is actually serving as an igloo around your car, what happens next depends on who did it. If you witness a neighbor purposefully burying your car, you might be able to bring suit against the other person. “However, the vast majority of times, it is a city who is doing the plowing,” Kreitzer says. “Cities have immunity from these kinds of suits, generally speaking.” You can consult an attorney if you’re looking for common practices to change, but sadly, it might just be easier to get out the shovel and start digging.

The challenge: It’s a long walk

In the case of assigned parking, the luck of the draw might have landed you far from your front door. If this is your headache, it might be time to negotiate with your landlord. “Always ask for what you want in writing,” says April Masini, an expert in relationship advice and etiquette. While you’ll probably want to vent your frustrations, your odds of a favorable response will skyrocket if you stay calm and polite. “If you get a response you don’t like, ask if there’s a chance of a better spot in six months. There may be a tenant moving out by then, and his or her parking spot may become available for reassignment to you,” Masini says.

Option B is to find a neighbor who will agree to swap spaces. However, a verbal agreement won’t be enough, and you’ll need your landlord’s blessing on the agreed-upon written terms. “At the end of the day, your parking agreement is not with the other tenant — it’s with your landlord,” Masini says.

The challenge: Shared spaces

Limited space means you might have to share your spot with a neighbor. Usually, this won’t lead to drama. But if they’re a space hog, don’t escalate the issue with a confrontation. “Getting into a back and forth with a neighbor can easily be avoided by asking the landlord to clarify any necessary solutions,” Masini says.

The challenge: You’re blocked in

It’s happened to all of us: You’re ready to conquer a list of errands, only to find that another car is making it impossible to leave your spot. If you know the owner, a friendly (emphasis on “friendly”) knock on the door is usually enough to get things moving. No such luck? What happens next depends on whether you’re blocked in on public or private property, Masini says. The former means you’ll be calling the police for help, while the latter makes it a landlord matter. Can’t get your landlord? Snap a photo of your blocked-in car and call a cab. “Worst-case scenario, take a cab or Uber and get a receipt,” she says. “Ask for reimbursement, in writing, from your landlord if your blockage is on private property and from your neighbor if it’s on public property.”

When to move on

When parking has become the deal breaker — and you can’t get rid of your car — it might be time to start hunting for a better place. Car owners who move on to better-paved pastures could have a lasting positive effect on the entire neighborhood, Donald Shoup says. If certain apartment buildings offer only on-street parking, rent could decrease because the price of parking would be eliminated. “As a result, more apartments could become available at lower rents to people without cars,” he says.

Posted by Brie Dyas on Trulia

Categories
Interior Design

9 Kitchen Color Ideas That Aren’t White

Don’t get me wrong: White kitchens are cheerful, clean and classic — it’s no wonder why they’re so popular. But since white kitchens are everywhere, it’s easy to forget that there are other colors that can also look great in this space. Thinking about bucking the trend in your kitchen? Consider one of these options, from alternative neutrals to bright, bold hues.

NEUTRALS

You can’t go wrong with these versatile picks.

Charcoal Gray

If you want a cool neutral that’ll add a bit of drama to your kitchen, look to charcoal. Bright accent colors — or even white, as seen in this kitchen designed by Brian Patrick Flynn — really pop against it.

Greige

Tobi Fairley
A mix between gray and beige, greige is an incredibly versatile neutral for the kitchen that can complement both warm and cool colors. In this space designed by Tobi Fairley, greige cabinets bridge the gap between warmer brass elements and cooler marble accents.

Black

A black kitchen may sound dreary, but it can actually be stunning if done right. Just take this gorgeous room that goes all in with black cabinets, a black vintage stove and a black-and-white tiled floor. If you’re not on board with an all-black kitchen, try adding one black element like a backsplash or a sink.

SUBDUED HUES

Add a touch of color without overpowering your space.

Pale Green

Erin Williamson
Hints of green in the stone countertops inspired the cabinet color in this country-style kitchen. The soft hue brings coziness to the space, yet still feels bright and fresh.

Butter Yellow

Stacey Brandford
Particularly charming in a cottage- or farmhouse-style space, pale yellow adds a cheerful, sunny touch to a kitchen. Try it with robin’s egg blue or with neutrals, as seen in this kitchen designed by Sarah Richardson.

Navy Blue

Eric Perry

Navy is practically a neutral — it pairs beautifully with everything from tangerine to turqouise to chartreuse. In the HGTV Smart Home 2014 kitchen, navy cabinets are offset by a black-and-white basketweave backsplash for lots of eye-catching contrast.

BOLD COLORS

Go all in with these daring shades.

Crimson

Brian Patrick Flynn
Want to instantly energize your kitchen? Just add a vibrant shade of red. To keep it from feeling overwhelming, try contrasting it with a cool color, like the blue-gray Brian Patrick Flynn used here. If you’re not ready to commit to red cabinets or walls, incorporate the color in small doses with red countertop appliances, dish towels and other accessories.

Emerald Green

Andrea Schumacher
Just a splash of this gorgeous green will make a big impact in your kitchen. In this design, Andrea Schumacher painted only the island, pulling a color from the floral wallpaper to keep the space cohesive. For an ultra-rich look, pair emerald with other jewel tones.

Orange

Orange is thought to stimulate the appetite, making it an ideal color choice for the kitchen. In this space by Jennifer Gilmer, an orange backsplash and zebrawood cabinets add warmth, keeping the contemporary design from feeling cold. Smaller orange accents, such as pendant lights or window treatments, can also liven up a kitchen.

Posted by Shannon Petrie on www.hgtv.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Real Estate Tips Uncategorized

The Legal Benefits of Using a Licensed Real Estate Agent

Whether you’re buying or selling, it’s a good idea to have a pro on your side.

Are there legal benefits to using a licensed real estate agent?

The short answer is yes. Licensed real estate agents have legal obligations — formally called “fiduciary duties” — to their clients that are commonly referred to by the acronym OLDCAR.

O = Obedience

If you give an agent who is representing you an instruction with any financial implications (more about what constitutes “representation” below), they are obligated to follow it, even if they strongly disagree — as long as it’s legal and doesn’t contradict a contractual agreement.

L = Loyalty

Your agent is obliged to put your interests above those of anyone else involved in the deal — including themselves.

D = Disclosure

If your agent knows any fact that’s “material” to the sale, they are obligated to share that fact with you. And while they’re not obligated, they’re also motivated to find out as many of those material facts as possible.

C = Confidentiality

Your agent must protect your confidentiality. That means they can’t share any information about you or your situation (without your permission) with any other party to the deal.

A = Accounting

Your agent is responsible for keeping track of funds in play in the deal.

R = Reasonable care

This one is a bit sticky. An agent is obligated to use “reasonable” care and diligence while handling your affairs. Though exactly what reasonable care means in any specific transaction often ends up being decided by a judge in court.

Who is (and isn’t ) your agent

This is an important distinction. The fiduciary duties above only apply to a real estate agent who’s working for you. That means you either have a verbal or written agreement with them.

Often, you’ll run into a situation where you end up interacting, perhaps a lot, with an agent who is part of the deal, but who isn’t formally representing you. They’ll most likely be nice, professional, and helpful.

But if they’re the seller’s agent, they’re obligated to the seller, not you, and the legal obligations they have to the other party don’t apply to their interactions with you.

Whose side are you on?

The agent’s legal obligations also depend on whether you’re a buyer or a seller. You should know that these obligations are in direct competition.

For instance, if you’re a buyer and you have an agent representing you, their duty to you is to keep quiet regarding any information about you that the seller might not like (confidentiality).

The seller’s agent, on the other hand, has a duty to their client to find out everything about you they can (disclosure).

For another example, if you’re dealing with an agent who isn’t officially representing you, they’re not bound by loyalty. In other words, they don’t have to do anything you tell them or ask them to do.

Holding agents to their legal obligations

Of course, in the real world, there are sometimes issues with how these legal obligations play out.

Every agent has a real interest in maintaining good relationships with other agents. Sometimes, unfortunately, agents can get too friendly. If things get too cozy, they might casually or carelessly disclose information to one another that they shouldn’t.

Extreme cases of over-sharing might even involve collusion. That’s when two agents get together on the side and work to structure the deal so it benefits both of them (or someone on the outside with a hidden future interest in the property) — above the interests of either of their clients.

If you think something’s off with the information and service you’re getting from your agent, or if you feel things are too cozy between your own agent and the other party’s agent, you can complain to the company where either of them works, or go up the ladder and make your complaint to the local affiliate of their professional organization.

Your first and best option is to get a different agent. You can usually do this by informing your agent in writing that you no longer wish to be represented by them (and if you feel their behavior has been unethical, you can copy their employer or their professional association).

Be aware, though, that if you’ve signed an agreement of representation with the agent, you may still have liabilities, including a liability to pay them a commission, if the original agreement had a procuring clause.

So while it’s important to know where you stand and your agent’s legal obligations, there are genuine legal benefits to working with a licensed real estate agent.

Furthermore, in a transaction where one party has an agent and the other doesn’t, the party with the agent has a bit of an edge — part of which is that many people don’t understand the agent is only working for one of the parties, not for the benefit of both.

Posted by Rudy Yuly on Zillow

Categories
Gardening

It’s Not Too Late to Grow These 11 Tasty Plants

It may be mid-July, but that doesn’t mean you’ve missed out on all the gardening fun. These tasty veggies and herbs are just the thing for a late-summer garden that will keep on giving come autumn. Get our best tips for these late-summer specialties, below.

Beans

DK – How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

 

 

Categories
Renting

How to Rent Out Your House and Make Bank

alexsl/iStock

There are many reasons you might be one of the many homeowners wondering how to rent out your house: Maybe you’ve tried to sell your home but the market’s too sluggish, or you’re moving to a new area but want to hold on to your old property and rake in some income on the side.

Whatever the reason, it’s a good time to be considering this, because the rental market is hot: A recent study from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University found that the rental market has been growing for the past 10 years straight, and the share of Americans renting is at a 20-year high of 35%.

But renting out your digs for the long term is a very different animal than the occasional stint on Airbnb. Here are some basic steps to take to get you started down rental road.

Determine how much to charge in rent

At the least, most newbie landlords want their rental income to cover their monthly mortgage, as well as taxes and insurance. Times may have changed since you bought, so you want to be clear on what the market will bear. Check rental properties on realtor.com® for the going rate in your area.

“Look for comparable properties in similar areas, with corresponding bedroom and bathroom counts,” says Realtor® Ed Laine, partner/broker of Miller Laine Properties in the Seattle area. “That will give you a per-square-foot rental figure that you can then apply to your own property.”

Screen tenants carefully

“Picking the right tenant can make all the difference and is one of the top ways to make your experience as a landlord a good one,” Laine says. You’ll want to check their employment history, credit history, and income (via pay stubs or tax returns), as well as references from past landlords if possible.

To add an extra layer of security, you can do statewide and federal background checks at places like the National Tenant Network, which has been screening tenants since 1980, to make sure potential renters don’t have a checkered history elsewhere.

Decide whether to manage your property yourself or hire help

It may be tempting to manage your property yourself when you consider that property managers typically charge 4% to 12% of the monthly rental. But that might be a small price to pay for avoiding headaches with your rental. According to a survey from property management firm Buildium, 62% of respondents mentioned maintenance and 5% cited tenant management as the two main reasons that rental property owners choose to hire property managers.

“I often suggest that my clients manage the first one themselves, which gives them a great education on their property and on being a landlord,” Laine says. “It also proves to them that management fees are nothing compared to a 3 a.m. call about a tree limb coming through a window.”

Pick the right property manager

Picking a property manager isn’t just about finding one with the lowest fees. Fees are important, but don’t let that be the sole deciding factor. For instance, what are the property manager’s hours? If they’re available only during weekday business hours and a pipe bursts on the weekend, you may get stuck with coming to the aid of your tenant yourself. What happens if rent isn’t paid on time—will they pursue the matter? If not, you may get stuck chasing down your money, which rather defeats the purpose of having a property manager at all.

Also make sure that the property manager—and you yourself—are committed to keeping up on local laws. Laine cites a recent case when the local municipality enacted laws that hold landlords liable for bedbugs.

“We updated our leases immediately,” he says. “The liabilities are too great to take a risk just to save a few bucks.”

Because at the end of the day, hired help or no, the buck stops with the landlord, literally.

Posted by Cathie Ericson on realtor.com

Categories
Selling

5 Tips for Selling Your House This Summer

Summer may be real estate’s busy season, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy time to be a seller. With so many homes on the market and minimal pressure to settle, buyers can afford to be pickier.

It takes strategy, patience, and a level head to manage a sale successfully. Nevertheless, it is still possible, and if you follow these five steps, you will not only survive this summer home selling season, but thrive.

Home For Sale Real Estate Sign and House
Home For Sale Real Estate Sign and House

1. Curb Appeal

Summer is a time when all the flowers are out and blooming and all the trees are nice and green. Use this to your advantage and keep the outside of your house looking as good as it possibly can.

Pay special attention to your lawn. Grass in the summer grows twice as fast as it does in the winter. If you are trying to sell a house, make sure you keep your lawn looking trimmed and tidy. It’s a good idea to mow your lawn 1-2 times a week to keep it in top shape.

2. Natural Light is a Must

Summer is the time of the year with the most sunlight and almost everyone likes to capitalize on that. If your house is not showcasing its full natural light potential, it will be most noticeable in the summer. Consider removing any heavy curtains or dark shades because this can make the room seem darker and smaller.

3. Show Off Your Outdoor Space

One of everyone’s favorite activities during the summer is enjoying the outdoors. People who are buying a house in the summer are going to be seeking somewhere to do that, so make sure that you have showcased the outdoor space at your house. Outdoor furniture and decorations will allow them to easily visualize themselves relaxing outside on a calm summer night.

4. Air Temperature

As we all know, summertime can often be too hot. The last thing you want on an 80 degree day is a potential buyer to walk into your house and find it hot, stuffy, and uncomfortable. This can be a real turn off.

Before anyone comes into your house, do everything you can possibly do to prevent this from happening. It could be as simple as opening the windows, but it may require an investment in an air conditioner.

5. Tidy Up

Prior to any prospective buyers walking around your house, pick up after yourself and clean everything until your house is looking its absolute best. It’s a very simple fix that could make or break a buyer’s decision.

While you’re at it, be strategic about how you arrange each room. Be sure to keep every room neutral and not too personal so people can imagine themselves living there. Also, have the furniture set up so it brings out the positives of each room. Don’t allow furniture to make an otherwise open room seem small and uninviting.

6. Be Realistic

This last tip is applicable any time of the year. It’s no secret that everyone wants to get as much money for their house as possible, but if you try and price it too high, it might not sell at all. So do your research and list your house at a price that you’re happy with, but that is also fair for your area and house’s quality.

Bottom line   

Summer is the time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the sunshine. Don’t ruin it by stressing about an unsold house. Instead, use these tips to sell it quickly and move on.

Posted by Carter Wessman on HomeZada

Categories
Buying

3 Questions Every Buyer Should Ask Themselves

If you are debating purchasing a home right now, you are probably getting a lot of advice. Though your friends and family will have your best interest at heart, they may not be fully aware of your needs and what is currently happening in the real estate market.

Answering the following 3 questions will help you determine if now is actually a good time for you to buy in today’s market.

1. Why am I buying a home in the first place?

This truly is the most important question to answer. Forget the finances for a minute. Why did you even begin to consider purchasing a home? For most, the reason has nothing to do with money.

For example, a recent survey by Braun showed that over 75% of parents say “their child’s education is an important part of the search for a new home.”

This survey supports a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University which revealed that the four major reasons why people buy a home have nothing to do with money. They are:

  • A good place to raise children and for them to get a good education
  • A place where you and your family feel safe
  • More space for you and your family
  • Control of that space

What does owning a home mean to you? What non-financial benefits will you and your family gain from owning a home? The answer to that question should be the biggest reason you decide to purchase or not. 

2. Where are home values headed?

According to the latest Home Price Index from CoreLogic, home values are projected to increase by 5.3% over the next 12 months. 

What does that mean to you?

Simply put, if you are planning on buying a home that costs $250,000 today, that same home will cost you an additional $13,250 if you wait till next year. Your down payment will need to be higher as well to account for the higher home price.

3. Where are mortgage interest rates headed?

A buyer must be concerned about more than just prices. The ‘long term cost’ of a home can be dramatically impacted by even a small increase in mortgage rates. 

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), the National Association of Realtors, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have all projected that mortgage interest rates will increase over the next twelve months as you can see in the chart below:

Bottom Line

Only you and your family will know for certain if now is the right time to purchase a home. Answering these questions will help you make that decision.

Posted by The KCM Crew

Talk with one of our agents today about buying a home!