How Do I Find a Home Sale Price in My Neighborhood?

 

If you’ve seen some “for sale” signs in your neighborhood slapped with “sold” banners, you may wonder just how much money your own house is worth. Perhaps you’ve been considering selling, or could be convinced to sell if the price was right. But how do you know at which price they were sold?

For starters, you can go to realtor.com®, select the “Just Sold” tab and plug in your ZIP code. A list of homes that recently sold will pop up, along with the prices for which they sold. That’s a start, but it doesn’t give you the big picture you need to know exactly what your home might be worth. That’s where your real estate agent comes in.

“Agents can discuss pricing of other sales or pending sales in our area with other agents to help you estimate home values,” says Michele Lerner, author of “HomebuyingTough Times, First Time, Any Time.” “A [real estate agent] can also provide you with a free comparable market analysis to help you decide if you want to sell your home. And while it’s a great idea to find out about recent home sales in your community, you also should recognize your home may not sell for a similar price.”

Lerner says there are a variety of factors that may make your home sell for a significantly different price than those surrounding it. For example, your home could be in better or worse condition than other homes recently sold, or there may be other factors that influence desirability, such as lot location or even the direction rooms in the house face.

In general, the real estate market changes rapidly, and timing is a large factor in a sale price. Many of the factors of the larger market are out of your hands—mortgage rates, the local economy, the national economy, consumer confidence and the availability of homes for sale all influence a final price.

Rick Snow, a Realtor® with Exit West Realty in El Paso, TX, says when determining comp prices, you have to compare apples to apples.

“I try to find properties within 150 square feet either side of the subject property with similar features,” Snow says. “The number of bedrooms doesn’t really matter because they are all figured into the square footage, but baths, 1/2, 3/4 or full give more value. For example a three-bedroom, two-bath home that is 1,800 square feet would come out the same as a four-bedroom, two-bath home that’s 1,800 square feet, but a three-bedroom, 2 1/2 bath would be worth more.”

Will home improvements help?

If you look through the listings and feel like your house isn’t up to snuff, you may think about remodeling. Before you do, though, you should determine if the cost of remodeling will be worth the amount a renovation will add to your property.  For example, if you remodel your bathroom, it will cost you anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000, and you’ll gain back an average of 66% of the money you spent. Beyond that, however, will the shiny new bathroom be the tipping point for a buyer to select your home over another? You can’t know for sure.

Snow says home improvements can be challenging.

“Homeowners often believe they can recapture money that is spent on improvements dollar for dollar, and that just isn’t the case. Many improvements add marketability but not additional value. Even projects that add value typically don’t bring back a dollar-for-dollar return on investment. The other ‘drawback’ to improvements is personal taste. The things you like and are willing to spend money on to make your home more pleasing to you, I might not like. Then when I am looking at the house, in my mind I’m thinking how much it will cost me to get rid of this or that. Many buyers then base their offer on value minus what it’s going to cost me to make it the way I want it.”

If you are going to make some improvements with the hopes of increasing your home’s value, just be careful not to do too much remodeling.

“Be sure to consider the potential negative consequences of ‘over-improving’ your home for the neighborhood,” Lerner says. “It could be harder to sell your home in the future if it’s much larger or more expensive than the surrounding homes.”

Bottom line: The price houses are going for in your neighborhood definitely provide some insight into how much you might be able to get for yours. Just remember, that there are a lot of factors that go into how much people will pay for a house, and digging deeper will help you get the best picture of what yours may be worth.

Posted by Julie Ryan Evans on realtor.com

Click HERE to find out how much your home is worth!

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8 Ways To Find Healthy Neighborhoods In Your City

Neighborhoods that make it easy to go for a run or kick around a soccer ball could give your lifestyle a health boost.

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Your neighborhood could play a factor in your overall health. Here are some considerations to make during your house hunt.

From green space to traffic volume, the neighborhood in which you live could contribute to your health. Think about it: If your neighborhood lacks easily accessible areas for you to exercise, you’ll probably exercise less, at least outdoors. Just as the addition of playgrounds gives children a place to play, sidewalks, for example, can encourage you to get out and walk. And when you do spend time outside in your neighborhood, you’re more likely to get to know your neighbors, which adds to a feeling of community. So whether you’re shopping for a home for sale in Denver, CO, or Columbia, SC, here are some factors to weigh if a healthy neighborhood tops your list of must-haves.

1. Look for sidewalks and bike lanes

Being able to walk or bike for exercise or to conduct daily errands is good for you — plus, less traffic and air pollution means a healthier planet too. Even having access to public transportation can contribute to a healthy lifestyle, since there’s usually some walking to get to your bus stop or train station. “Safety and walkability to a vibrant mix of services, schools, and various modes of travel are keys,” says John Zinner, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Fellow with the U.S. Green Building Council.

2. Don’t underestimate a lush tree canopy

New developments often produce houses that dot every “i” and cross every “t” on most people’s home wish lists. But some new neighborhoods and developments end up with a sparse tree canopy. That’s too bad, because not only do trees often enhance property values, but they can also contribute to a healthy neighborhood. “Tree canopies cool spaces,” says Cassy Aoyagi, president of FormLA Landscaping, a California sustainable-landscaping firm. A cooler lot means your HVAC system doesn’t have to work as hard in the heat of summer. Those trees can also provide shade for your outdoor pursuits. But the best part just might be that greenery in general is good for you. “Lush, green spaces have been shown to decrease stress, even mitigating symptoms of PTSD and ADHD,” Aoyagi says.

3. Look for neighborhoods with greenways, community gardens, and trails

The more access you have to nature — and nature’s bounty — the healthier you’ll probably be. “Locating a healthy neighborhood has increasingly become a must-have for many buyers,” says Danielle Schlesier, a Boston, MA, agent. “I point [buyers] toward the community parks-and-recreation website. There, they can see if there are local farmers markets, community fitness programs, greenway trail maps, and dog parks available.” Another great tool to locate your favorite healthy amenities is the Live Well layer in Trulia Maps.

4. Observe neighborhood social connections and activity level

Having a sense of security and even happiness comes with being able to socialize with your neighbors. Visit the neighborhood you’re considering at various times of day to see if people are out and about. Are neighbors chatting out front? Jogging on neighborhood streets? Out walking their dogs or playing with the kids? All of these are positive signs that a neighborhood has a thriving, active, and close-knit community.

5. Scout out parks, sports courts, and places to play

The healthiest neighborhoods offer variety and versatility when it comes to recreation and active living. In addition to nature exploration resources like trails and greenways, look for neighborhoods that offer tennis or basketball courts, playgrounds, parks, fitness centers, and pools. You may have to pay for these extra amenities through homeowners’ association (HOA) fees, membership requirements, or simply higher home prices, but the ability to easily diversify your workouts can lead to greater health and fitness.

6. Go to a neighborhood association meeting

Mark your calendar for the next meeting of the neighborhood association or HOA in the areas you’re considering. In addition to meeting your potential neighbors, you could get an inside look at neighborhood concerns (such as safety issues or traffic congestion) and find out about future construction or plans for enhancements. You’ll also get a sense of how close-knit the community is. An active, positive group of neighbors working to continually improve their neighborhood can clue you in on future healthy upgrades coming to a neighborhood. Plus, if you’re trying to narrow down your options, going to a few of these meetings could help you decide where you’ll really feel at home.

7. Consider traffic volume

Limited traffic, both in volume and speed, can contribute to a healthy neighborhood. But what makes high traffic unhealthy, exactly? Noise, for one. The more traffic there is and the faster cars travel, the noisier the environment, which can affect your sleep and stress levels. There’s that pesky little pollution issue, for another. Plus, longer commutes due to higher traffic volumes can decrease your overall quality of life. Check what your possible commute could look like using the Commute layer in Trulia Maps.

8. Check to see if healthy essentials are within walking distance

Healthy neighborhoods incorporate plenty of ways to be active, but they also have essential services nearby, such as day care centers, pharmacies, doctors’ offices, a hospital, and urgent care. Easy access to affordable, nutritious food from supermarkets or farmers markets is important too — it’s even been associated with less obesity. And give your future new neighborhood bonus points if any of these essentials are within walking distance!

 

Posted by Laura Agadoni on Trulia

 

 

Bah Humbug: 5 Bizarre Holiday Light Fails

Deck the halls with lots of lights, fa-la-la-la, oh whatever. To celebrate the holiday season, we’re gifting you with a selection of five holiday light fails, so you can feel better about the light choices your neighbors make.

Hydrated Santa

A little too much milk there, Santa. Funny or crass? We will let you decide!

Meh!

For those feeling underwhelmed this holiday season, this light job is ideal.

Bah Humbug

Greetings from your friendly neighborhood Scrooge!

RIP Rudolph

Now this is just messed up. Way to make all the neighborhood children weep, buddy.

Ditto

We kind of like this example of “What they said.”

Have you seen any holiday light fails? Post them to our Facebook page! 

 

Posted by Zoe Eisenberg on RISMedia’s Housecall

Getting Your Home Ready for Trick-or-Treaters

Consider these tips to ensure a fun and safe Halloween night.

At summer’s end, once school is back in session, many of us start looking forward to Halloween. It’s a holiday adults can enjoy as much as kids. But, homeowners do have one serious obligation on this fun night: If you expect trick-or-treaters, you must make sure the path to your door is a safe one.

Take no trips

Inevitably, some giddy ghosts and ghouls will race excitedly to your door. Be prepared.

In the full light of day, inspect your lawn, driveway and front path for trip hazards like exposed tree roots, cracks in concrete or missing pavers. Make repairs where possible or, at the very least, cut off access to unsafe areas.

Meanwhile, if you’ve decorated the front yard with decorations like light-up pumpkins and animated figures, relocate the electrical cords so they’re not in anyone’s way.

Light the way

Make sure the path to your house is bright enough for trick-or-treaters to approach safely.

You don’t need to install a full suite of year-round landscape lighting simply to accommodate visitors on Halloween night. There are plenty of temporary and affordable options for illumination, from glow sticks to tea lights.

And although it may seem more in keeping with the mood of this spooky night to switch off your porch light, it’s much safer — not to mention more inviting — to keep it on.

Resist flammable decor

Whether vandals or accidents are to blame, there are many more fires on Halloween than a typical October night, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Holiday decorations are often quite flammable, involving materials such as paper, hay and dried cornstalks.

If you can’t resist adorning your home and yard with such potentially dangerous items, then be sure to keep them away from candles and other heat sources. If jack-o’-lanterns or luminaries figure into your celebrations, illuminate them using LED tea lights, not open flames.

Curb your dog

Chances are yours is a friendly dog. But if some Halloween costumes are so convincing as to be frightening to small children, those same getups could be equally disturbing to your pooch — particularly on such a high-energy night.

It’s good sense to contain your dog in an indoor space that’s both comfortable and secure.

A festive parade of goblins and ghouls, princesses and superheroes will soon be marching to your house. Do your part by clearing the path and lighting the way. Be safe out there, and have a Happy Halloween!

Posted by BobVila.com on Zillow

 

Also, don’t miss our Trunk Or Treat event on Halloween!! Bring your little ones by our parking lot from 4-6pm.

How to Home In on the Right Neighborhood for You

Location, location, location. As the real estate agents say, it’s the No. 1 attribute in real estate. But it’s not just true when it comes to assessing a home’s value—it’s also a key factor in determining your future happiness, according to Katherine Loflin, a consultant in the new field of “placemaking.”

Loflin, who has a new book out this month—“Place Match: The City Doctor’s Guide to Finding Where You Belong”—talked to us about how to find your perfect community, and why that’s so important.

Hero Images/Getty Images

Q: Why is living in the right place so important?

You live in a home, but your life happens in a place. Both are important to us living our best lives. From 2008 to 2010, I was the lead consultant in research that examined what makes people love where they live. The Knight Soul of the Community project in partnership with Gallup studied 26 U.S. diverse communities, nearly 43,000 people. The findings were remarkable. In every place studied, the same things came up as critical for creating quality-of-life places: People want a place they find beautiful, with opportunities that they enjoy, in an environment that feels welcoming. And places where residents were happy with those qualities experienced higher local economic growth.

Q: You compare finding the right place to finding the right romantic partner. Why?

Through my speeches and a couple of TEDx talks, I’d been teaching the science behind what makes people love where they live. Yet at the same time, personally I was losing my love for my own place and in the beginning stages of a difficult marital divorce. I had never felt more like a hypocrite!

During one speech I was making in 2012, I went rogue and made an unplanned comparison that mirrored my own life at the time about how certain places may not be a perfect match for everybody—a lot like marriage. To say it was a “aha moment” is an understatement. Simultaneously, I noticed a dawning awareness in the crowd. When I talk about dating your place, committing to it, or leaving it in a relationship context, the concepts just make sense to people and give them a framework for making decisions about where to live.

Q: What advice do you have for people who want to find the right place?

First, create a wish list for the place you want. What kind of place are you seeking, given where you are in your life—kid-friendly, retiree destination, walkable, cultural offerings, quintessential experiences that you crave? Just as we know the kind of person we are seeking as a partner, we should know the kind of place where we would thrive.

Next, spend some time there—date your place. And just like you should probably see your potential life partner with the flu before you marry, you have to learn about the challenges of the place. What are the issues the place is facing? Do you love it enough to want to help, or at least accept it, warts and all?

Q: What are the most common mistakes when choosing where to live?

Don’t move there based solely on vacation experience(s) there. Have you ever heard someone say, “It’s a great place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there”? That’s a real thing. Second, don’t make the mistake of thinking this is about “good” and “bad” places. Just like when you’re dating, it’s about your compatibility. While all people like places that are welcoming, different places do this different ways. In some places, welcoming means people hug you when they meet you. Some people love that, others not so much.

Q: How has this understanding of place affected the buying and selling of real estate?

One real estate journalist told me, “Today, houses are everywhere. We have to now also sell places. That’s what people are asking about more than the number of bedrooms.” Even when local economies failed at the end of the last decade, people who loved where they lived talked about taking solace in their place. As people felt disillusioned over the loss of a job that they had dedicated much of their life to, their values shifted. “I will no longer live to work, but work to live” was a common refrain I heard during that time.

Q: What are the most surprising stories you’ve heard about someone’s search for the right place?

The stories that always drop jaws are ones where I talk about people just “showing up” in a city or town they want to live in and figuring out the job and place to live once they get there. It is definitely a different strategy than what guided our parents, when absolutely everything 100% was dictated by the job.

Q: How can people who love their place change it?

There are always stories of a place going from unknown or declining to a thriving destination—like the upstart chef who couldn’t afford to open his own restaurant except in a small town. Then he took advantage of its rural location to help local farmers by creating a farm-to-table component of the restaurant, which further helped it succeed. And in a few short years, the place is transformed.

Posted by Judy Dutton on realtor.com

Relocating to an Unfamiliar Area? Here’s How to Get Your Bearings

Choosing a home in an unfamiliar neighborhood can be nerve-racking, but it’s almost inevitable when moving to a new city—or even across town. There’s a lot at stake: The wrong decision can cost you money and peace of mind.

Here are some tips to guide you in your search.

Mission: Neighborhood reconnaissance

As with any house hunt, you should first figure out your budget and what you would need, want, and like to have in a house and in a neighborhood. But if you’re relocating across the country, your biggest challenge will be doing long-distance recon on your new hometown.

While you can’t gain access to private social networks such as Nextdoor until you verify you have an address in a neighborhood, a little cybersleuthing will reveal insights on day-to-day life and concerns in areas you’re scouting.

Once you know the general area in which you’d like to live, websites such as City-Datacan collect and analyze data from numerous sources to create detailed profiles of U.S. cities, including information from crime rates to weather patterns. Homefacts includes similar information, then drills down further, listing neighborhood statistics such as median home price, homes for sale, and foreclosures.

AreaVibes can help you narrow down a search; after you type a ZIP code or city in which you’d like to live, you can adjust metrics such as amenities, crime, cost of living, and housing prices to compile a list of neighborhoods that match your “livability” needs.

In addition, many regional newspapers or magazines routinely publish online rankings of their best neighborhoods. Listly has lists of five-star New York real estate communities and blue chip Massachusetts real estate communities, so it may be worth a search to see whether there is a similar list for an area in which you’re interested.

Speaking of lists, Livability regularly develops city rankings for a range of topics, including small towns, college towns, and overall best places to live.

The Chamber of Commerce in many towns will also provide a guide for people who are relocating. Also, look for news on property taxes in recent years—falling property taxes likely mean that communities have had to cut back on public services.

If you have children, you’ll want to read up on local public schools on GreatSchools.org, as well as determine what day care and after-school activities are nearby. Even if you don’t have children, good schools are a major factor in determining home values in a neighborhood.

No neighborhood is perfectly tranquil, but check CrimeReports.com for crime reports and maps to get a sense of where an area falls on the spectrum. You should also visit theNational Sex Offender registry and FamilyWatchdog.us, which will identify registered sex offenders living in the area. NeighborhoodScout.com will consolidate crime, school, and real estate data in one report, as well as compile lists on safe cities and neighborhoods with good schools.

Draw on a professional’s expertise

If there is one time above all when you’d really benefit from working with a real estate agent with deep knowledge of an area, it’s when moving to a new town.

A knowledgable professional should be able to provide recommendations and compile background information on neighborhoods and homes that fit your needs and price range. Come prepared with a neighborhood or neighborhoods you like, and he or she can give you more information or suggest similar alternatives.

Get down with the locals

Once you’ve done the research and found a neighborhood you like, drive by several times during the day and at night. Look for the following:

  • Are there many “for sale” signs on lawns?
  • Are there any abandoned or boarded-up houses in the vicinity?
  • Is there a lot of trash on the sidewalks?
  • Is the neighborhood close to a shopping or business area?
  • How well are neighborhood parks maintained?
  • Is street parking restricted after school and during rush hour?

Also try to attend a few open houses in your neighborhood of choice. It’s a good way to get a feel for local property values, and to walk around the area. If you see residents out and about, try to talk to them to get their perspective on the community.

If you have time, try to get a drink in a local bar or a cafe and talk to people there. Apps like Meetup and AroundMe will help you connect with people in a town that have similar interests, as well as help you find the nearest hot spot.

These will be your potential neighbors, so they will provide valuable impressions on whether you’ll be pleased with where you eventually live.

Posted by Patricia-Anne Tom on realtor.com

5 Ways to Get Settled in Your New Neighborhood, Faster

Whether you’re moving across town or across the country, these tips will help make your new community feel like home.

While it can feel intimidating and overwhelming, meeting people is the most direct route to make a new community feel like your home.

Moving to a new home is tough, but it gets even harder when the move includes relocating to a new city or neighborhood. Logistical considerations — like figuring out the best way to get to work — are stressful and time-consuming but require only a bit of trial and error.

Finding your sense of place within a community is not as straightforward. While it can feel intimidating and overwhelming, meeting people is the most direct route to make a new community feel like your home.

Here are five tips to make the transition go more smoothly, whether you’re moving across town or across the country.

1. Make the first move

Sure, it can feel daunting to approach a new next-door neighbor and introduce yourself, but they may be equally hesitant to disturb your family, particularly if you seem busy settling in. So take the initiative and look for an opportunity when they don’t look rushed or preoccupied either. A simple wave or hello can open the door without being intrusive.

2. Make yourself approachable

Likewise, create chances for others to welcome you. Sit on the front porch. Take leisurely walks. Or perhaps just focus on being approachable — avoid the usual mad dash to your car every morning and ditch the grumpy expression upon returning from work.

The same rule applies when you’re out and about in the community. Pick a bar seat over a corner table to enjoy a coffee or beer; there’s something about communal seating that encourages conversation. Take the kids to a playground or park — and don’t keep your face submerged in your iPhone. Make eye contact, smile, and say hello.

3. Become a local

Do as the locals do and frequent a local restaurant, farmers market, or shop. Got a dog? Even better. Dog parks practically beg to help you and your pet make new friends. Soon enough, a nearby destination will be one of those places where at least a few people know your name.

4. Get involved

There’s no better way to meet like-minded people than by participating in activities that are meaningful to you. Finding the right fit may just require a little digging. Check with local schools and universities, park districts, recreation commissions, sports organizations, and — perhaps the greatest reference of all — neighbors and fellow parents.

Large cities often house bars that cater to locals who cheer for out-of-town professional teams — say a “Steelers bar” in San Francisco. Just search on Google, try a handy app, or check out message boards on the team’s website.

Parents have additional outlets for making new friends, like volunteering at school activities, getting involved in car pools, or hosting play dates. Donate your time to community organizations to get to know the neighborhood and improve it by cleaning up trash, helping other residents, or clearing park trails.

5. Use your existing network

Take advantage of organized programs that can help you meet others in your new community. If you were active in a church or other place of worship in your previous location, ask for a referral to a similar establishment. Many employers offer programs that connect newly relocated workers with one another as well as longtime residents.

Most colleges and universities also have local alumni chapters. And don’t forget to mine your online networks. Ask Facebook friends if they know anyone in your new town, or search sites like Meetup.com to find others with similar interests. With a little time, you’ll find “community” is wherever you make it.

Originally published by  on Trulia Blog.