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3 Fast Fixes for the Home Features Millennial Buyers Hate

by Amy McLeod Group


When it comes to selling a house, you want to appeal to as many potential buyers as possible. For years, that meant targeting baby boomers and Gen Xers; but today, millennials are buying homes in larger numbers than ever. In fact, by early 2019, they represented 42% of all new home loans. This means that any seller would be wise to keep millennial buyers in mind when getting a house ready to show.

While there are definitely upgrades that sellers can make to catch the eye of millennial home buyers, there are also some home features that are known to send millennial buyers running. Curious if your own home has any of these features? Check what these real estate agents say repel millennial homes buyers today—and how to fix these problems with minimal money and effort.

1. Wood cabinets in the kitchen

Interior decor choices might seem trivial, but they can have a big impact on buyers. For instance, Yuri Blanco, the owner of Re/Max Executives in Idaho, says that old-fashioned wood cabinetry in the kitchen is a huge turnoff for most millennial home buyers.

Photo by CDH Designs LLC 
 

"Millennials aren’t looking for oak cabinets like we saw in the 20th century," she says. "They like more clean lines and cabinets with flat doors."

Photo by Dawn Hearn Interior Design 
 

The fast fix: If your budget doesn't allow for tearing out dated cabinets, there's still hope. Consider other ways to update the kitchen, such as sanding and painting the existing cabinetry.

2. Closed floor plans

Photo by Roundhouse
 

Blanco says the classic closed floor plan is a turnoff for most millennials, and suggests that sellers take whatever steps necessary to fix the issue.

"Before selling, try knocking out some walls," she says. "Millennials want wide, open spaces."

Photo by Niki Papadopoulos
 

The fast fix: Of course, not everyone can afford to knock down walls when preparing a home for sale.

If your budget doesn't allow for major remodels, do what you can to emphasize the flow between rooms. Removing doors in favor of open archways between common spaces, for example, can help.

3. Formal dining rooms

Some home trends are especially generational—and experts put formal dining rooms firmly in that category. Millennials as a group tend to favor flexible spaces, Blanco explains.

Photo by McCroskey Interiors
 

"A generation ago, formal dining rooms may have been on every buyer’s wish list," she says. "But today there really isn’t much appeal to the formal dining room. An open space that can easily transition from kitchen to TV room is high on the list of the perfect home for young buyers. We are seeing upticks in areas with bar stools and breakfast nooks instead."

Photo by Normandy Remodeling 
 

The fast fix: If your property has a formal dining room and you can't afford to change the layout, consider staging the space creatively to show how it could be used in a more modern, functional way. For instance, you could stage the space as a home office or entertainment room instead.

Looking to sell your home? Contact The McLeod Group Network to find out how much it's worth! 971.208.5093 or [email protected] 

 By: Realtor.com, Kayleigh Roberts

"Millennials aren’t looking for oak cabinets like we saw in the 20th century," she says. "They like more clean lines and cabinets with flat doors."

The fast fix: If your budget doesn't allow for tearing out dated cabinets, there's still hope. Consider other ways to update the kitchen, such as sanding and painting the existing cabinetry.

2. Closed floor plans

Blanco says the classic closed floor plan is a turnoff for most millennials, and suggests that sellers take whatever steps necessary to fix the issue.

How Home Equity Affects College Aid

by Amy McLeod Group


Fall is hunting season across the U.S., a time when high-school seniors target their favorite colleges and their parents aim for financial aid.

One factor to consider when applying: the impact of your home’s equity on financial aid. But prepare yourself. It seemingly takes an advanced degree to calculate eligibility, since formulas vary widely from school to school.

“I wish it weren’t so complicated. I study this day and night,” says Paula Bishop, a college financial-aid adviser in Bellevue, Wash.

Almost all U.S. colleges and universities require financial-aid applicants to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which doesn’t ask parents about home equity. However, several hundred schools—many of them elite, private institutions—also require the College Scholarship Service Profile (or CSS Profile), an application created by the College Board for nonfederal financial aid. It asks applicants for the home’s purchase price, purchase year, current value and current debt and determines the home’s equity (value minus debt).

Here’s the catch: Schools that require the CSS Profile handle the home-equity information differently. Boston College, for example, looks at 100% of home equity. Stanford University announced last year that it won’t consider home equity at all. Cornell University will limit home equity to 1½-times the family’s adjusted gross income. So for a household with $800,000 in home equity making $200,000 a year, home equity is capped at $300,000 (200,000 x 1.5).

The school isn’t necessarily expecting parents to tap their home equity to cover their child’s tuition. Instead, the school considers home equity and other assets to determine how much parents can contribute toward college costs. The higher the assets, the more parents are expected to pay. Generally, the parental contribution is calculated at 5% of assets. At Cornell, the family with $300,000 in home equity will be expected to lay out $16,500 a year. Had the “true” home equity of $800,000 been used, the parents would be expected to cover $44,000 in costs a year.

This formula is actually more complex than I describe because schools consider other assets—not just real estate—and a number of other variables, such as the number of siblings attending college simultaneously.

But the bottom line is that the school’s home-equity formula can have an enormous impact on what parents pay—something Ms. Bishop, the financial-aid adviser, learned firsthand. In 2010, her son applied to American University in Washington, D.C., a school that uses the CSS Profile. At the time, her home equity was $700,000, even though the house had been purchased for $400,000. American says that, as a starting point, its policy is to assess 100% of home equity. Ms. Bishop says she initially received an aid package below what she expected. She appealed to the financial-aid office, arguing that her husband wasn’t working at the time and that increased home values in her area skewed the calculations of her ability to pay the parental contribution. As a result, the school agreed to cap her home’s value at two times her household earnings. Using the lower home equity resulted in an extra $6,000 in financial aid.

Real-estate holdings can affect financial-aid applications in other ways. First, unlike a primary residence, vacation homes are counted as an asset reported in both the FAFSA and CSS Profile applications. The same goes for rental properties—even if it is an apartment inside the family home leased to a nonfamily member.

If an investment property or second home is sold before applying for financial aid, the capital gains may be considered an asset if reported on a tax return and counted as income.

Also, when borrowing against your home, avoid a home-equity loan because the unspent proceeds are counted as an asset, says Julie Gross, a vice president with College Financial Consultants in Livingston, N.J. Instead, she recommends a home-equity line of credit (HELOC), which is the ability to borrow against your home.

A HELOC may also be a smart option for parents who need financing for their child’s education. Currently, HELOC rates are about 5.5% with no or low application fees, according to Bankrate.com.

By comparison, a college PLUS loan, which is a federal loan offered to parents for education expenses, charges about 7% to 8% interest with application fees up to 4% of the total loan.

If parents need to pay down credit cards or make home improvements, a HELOC actually improves their chances of getting financial aid because the line of credit lowers their home equity.


Tips For Applicants

Get the formula: Call the school’s financial-aid office and ask how it calculates home equity. Policies change, so confirm the formula early in the process.

Get an estimate: For a rough estimate of college costs, use the Net Price Calculator on schools’ websites.

Don’t overinflate home value: A high estimate can hurt your chances of qualifying for aid. Use home values based on comparable—and current—real-estate listings in your neighborhood.

Appeal the decision: Contact the financial-aid office and ask if there is a form or process for appeals. Generally, you write a letter explaining your circumstances—a job loss or medical condition—that underscore the need for more aid.

Contact The McLeod Group Network for ALL your Real Estate needs! Reach us at 971.208.5093 or [email protected] 

By: Realtor.com, Beth DeCarbo 

How Does the Supply of Homes for Sale Impact Buyer Demand?

by Amy McLeod Group


The price of any item is determined by supply, as well as the market’s demand for the item. The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) surveys “over 50,000 real estate practitioners about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions” for their monthly REALTORS Confidence Index.

Their latest edition sheds some light on the relationship between seller traffic (supply) and buyer traffic (demand).

Buyer Demand

The map below was created after asking the question: “How would you rate buyer traffic in your area?”

The darker the blue, the stronger the demand for homes is in that area. The survey shows that in 3 of the 50 U.S. states, buyer demand is now very strong; only 2 of the 50 states have a ‘weak’ demand. Overall, buyer demand is slightly lower than this time last year but remains strong.

Seller Supply 

The index also asked: “How would you rate seller traffic in your area?”

As the map below shows, 18 states reported ‘weak’ seller traffic, 29 states and Washington, D.C. reported ‘stable’ seller traffic, and 3 states reported ‘strong’ seller traffic. This means there are far fewer homes on the market than what is needed to satisfy the buyers who are looking for homes.

Bottom Line

Looking at the maps above, it is not hard to see why prices are appreciating in many areas of the country. Until the supply of homes for sale starts to meet buyer demand, prices will continue to increase. If you are debating listing your home for sale, let’s get together to help you capitalize on the demand in our market now.

Contact The McLeod Group Network at 971.208.5093 or [email protected] for ALL your Real Estate needs! 

By: KCM Crew

Don't Fall Short! 6 Home Maintenance Tasks You Should Tackle This Autumn

by Amy McLeod Group


Autumn brings pumpkins and—love 'em or hate 'em—pumpkin spice lattes, sweater weather, and spooky skeletons. But most importantly, fall brings an end to a summer of outdoor adventures—and tedious yard tasks like weeding, mowing, and watering the lawn.

But just because the weather's cooling off doesn't mean your to-do list will, too. Before busting out the cinnamon spice and mulled wine, take on a few home maintenance tasks that will put you in good standing once temperatures dip.

"It's easier to prepare for a winter emergency in the fall," says Jericho McClellan, who works in construction management.

But fear not: We've got you covered with our checklist of home maintenance chores to tackle this season. Read on for details about where to start, and whom to call if you need backup.

1. Properly store your yard equipment

Storage shed
Björn Forenius/iStock

 

One of the best parts about fall: You can usually put your lawn mower into hibernation mode until spring.

But before you forget about that pesky piece of machinery entirely, remember this: Spring will suck if you don't prep your equipment this fall. That's because gasoline reacts with the air in the tank if left long enough, causing oxidation, which creates small deposits that can affect the performance of your mower.

And it's not just gas-powered equipment that needs a fall refresh.

Lester Poole, Lowe's live-nursery specialist, recommends running pressurized air through your pressure washers to remove any remaining water in the system, which will prevent freeze damage to the pumping mechanisms.

If your winter is particularly snowy and gritty, you'll be glad to have your pressure washer on high alert.

DIY: This project is easy to do yourself—just get rid of any spare gasoline. Many cities and counties have hazardous-waste programs, or your local auto parts store might take the old gas for you, too.

2. Protect your pipes

When temps dip below freezing, unprotected pipes can burst from exposure. Guard against burst pipes by wrapping them in foam insulation, closing foundation vents (more on that below), and opening cabinet doors under sinks to allow warm air to flow around supply lines. And make sure to keep your thermostat at 60 degrees or higher overnight.

If you haven't tracked down your home's water shut-offs yet, now's the time. They might be located outside your house or in your crawl space. Once you've found them, give them a test.

"The winter is not a fun time to try to figure that out, especially should a pipe burst," McClellan says. (More on that, too, in a minute.)

Now's also a good time to drain all of your exterior water hoses to prevent an icy emergency.

DIY: If your pipes do freeze, leave the affected faucets on and turn off your water supply, says Jenny Popis, a Lowe's Home Improvement spokeswoman. Then locate the freeze point by feeling the length of frozen pipes to determine which area is coldest. You can attempt to thaw it by wrapping the frozen section in washcloths soaked in hot water—then thaw until you have full water pressure.

Call in the pros: If you can't locate the freeze point or your pipes have burst, call in a licensed plumber, which will run $150 to $600 on average(depending on the severity of the leak).

3. Clear out your crawl space

While you're winterizing your pipes, peek around your crawl space. Is your HVAC system blocked by boxes of 50-year-old Mason jars? Can you get to any leaking pipes quickly?

DIY: While it's still warm, clear out any debris from your crawl space to ensure clear passage when winter's worst happens.

Call in the pros: Creeped out by the idea of crawling around under your house? Professional crawl space cleaners charge about $500 to $4,500, depending on the size of your house and the state of the space.

4. Close your crawl space vents

During your crawl space expedition, this is a must-do: Close the vents that circle your home's perimeter.

"The vents were placed there for a functional reason, not just aesthetics," says real estate agent, broker, and construction expert Ron Humes. "The problem is that most homeowners have no idea why they are there."

Here's why: In warm, wet seasons, crawl space vents allow airflow, which prevents moisture buildup. But if you leave them open during cold, dry weather, that chilly air will cool down your floorboards—making mornings uncomfortable.

DIY: "When the temperatures drop, slide those crawl space vents closed," Humes says. "Just remember to open them again in the spring."

If one of your vents is broken, replacements range from $20 to $50.

Call in the pros: If your crawl space stays damp through the fall and winter, you might want to consider waterproofing, dehumidifying, and sealing off your crawl space to prevent wet air. This can cost $1,500 to $15,000.

5. Kick-start your composting efforts

Compost bin in the garden

fotomem/iStock

Now's the perfect time, with all those leaves and dead plants, to start a compost pile. You don't even need a fancy compost spinner; sectioning off a corner of your yard is enough.

"Put yard waste to work by piling green leaves and clippings into a pile near your garden," Poole says. Next, layer with brown materials such as soil, dead leaves, and coffee grounds. Next up: kitchen scraps.

"Through the season, turn your mound using a pitchfork to expose oxygen to all ingredients and use it in the spring for fertilizer," Poole says.

Next year's tomatoes will thank you.

DIY: If your yard lacks space for a compost corner—or you have no interest in regular pitchforking—consider a tumbling composter. 

6. Protect your trees

Not all species of trees are winter-hardy—especially thin-barked ones like beech, aspens, or cherry trees. For these varietals, "sun-warmed sap quickly freezes at night and causes bark to split," Poole says.

He recommends wrapping your tree trunks with paper tree wrap, covering the entire bark from an inch above the soil to the lowest branches. Adhere the wrapping to the tree using duct tape to keep your trees in tiptop condition.

DIY: You can find 150 feet of paper tree wrap on Amazon for $18, although you may need a few rolls depending on how many trees need winter protection.

Call in the pros: Are your trees already looking the worse for wear? A tree service can help you sort out what's wrong. Pruning costs anywhere from $75 to $1,000.

Contact The McLeod Group Network at 971.208.5093 or [email protected] for ALL your Real Estate needs! 

By: Realtor.com, Jamie Wiebe
Holly Amaya contributed to this article

Small Kitchens Can Be Chic! 5 Ideas to Try Based on Your Design Style

by Amy McLeod Group


Small kitchens
 may not cater to the taste of every homeowner, but they certainly have their benefits. In a compact kitchen, there are fewer surfaces to clean, and everything you need—from olive oil to an extra hand towel—is within arm's reach.

And while living with a small kitchen means that you have less space to play with the decor, you can still make your mark. The trick, according to Karen Gray-Plaisted of Design Solutions KGP, is to keep it simple.

"Don't overdo the finishes and surfaces," she says, "otherwise it'll look too cluttered. For example, if you have a stainless fridge, install the hardware around it in a similar-looking finish. And keep cabinetry and counters in the same color family, so your kitchen feels more spacious."

To get you started, we've come up with five fun styles for a small kitchen, with recommendations on how to achieve these looks. The result? Easy upgrades that'll make your small kitchen a space where you love to spend time.

Modern farmhouse


Photo by G.W. Smith Lumber Co. 

Yes, you can channel Joanna Gaines and her wildly popular decor of choice, modern farmhouse, in a small kitchen. Jamie Novak, an organizing whiz and author of "Keep This Toss That," recommends a white color palette and opening shelving. "This type of shelf actually makes a small kitchen appear larger," she says. Incorporate wood tones into a modern farmhouse kitchen by installing rough planks as shelves, or try an industrial-style rolling cart made from wood, says Julie Coraccio of Reawaken Your Brilliance.

Stick to a simple palette of grays, taupes, and charcoal paint on the walls, and complete the look with a subway tile backsplash, a farmhouse sink, Shaker-style cabinets, and vintage accoutrements such as a clock or a worn wooden sign.

Feminine


Photo by The ABL Group 

Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to include a single pink element to achieve a feminine-style kitchen. For this look, choose elegant metallic fixtures for the sink, drawer and cabinet pulls, and lighting.

Novak says your window treatments and dish towels are great ways to incorporate delicate touches like ruffles or floral prints. "But steer clear of small prints, as they'll make the space feel cramped and cluttered," she says.

Coraccio recommends artwork to bring a feminine style to the fore. Or consider a dramatic chandelier over the kitchen island and fresh flowers or potted herbs to brighten up the room.

Rustic


Photo by Laura Medicus Interiors

A rustic kitchen is characterized by lots of wood (on floors, cabinets, the table, and countertops), but beware: It could look heavy in a small space. To lighten up this look, Novak suggests choosing paler versions of these materials. For example, if you have wooden countertops, consider painting your cabinets white.

Chunky drawer pulls and wrought-iron brackets to prop up shelves are two smart additions.

And don't forget texture in a rustic space. Leather door pulls, woven wicker baskets for fruit and veggies, and touches of metal and stone (a copper faucet or earthenware dishes) will enhance this design. "A butcher block or live-edge counter, black or rubbed-bronze fixtures, and farmhouse sinks are also common components in this kitchen style," says Gray-Plaisted.

Modern


Photo by Vertebrae Architecture 

Minimalism is the name of the game when it comes to designing a modern small kitchen. Shoot for a monochromatic color scheme, contrasted with pops of an edgy shade like orange, turquoise, or lime green. "Sleek hardware and flat panel cabinet doors are also appropriate," says Novak.

Forgo anything that could be misconstrued as clutter. Excess decor and too many countertop items are a definite no-no when going modern. Instead, invest in shiny finishes, frosted glass on cabinet fronts, and industrial light fixtures and bulbs to channel a modern vibe. Gray-Plaisted says matte black finishes, as well as cement flooring and countertops, are trending in modern kitchens.

Shabby chic


Photo by Big Chill 

Shabby chic style is all about showcasing timeworn treasures that look as if they were sourced from an antique shop. The color palette is always light and bright, so when painting your walls or cabinets, choose cream, off-whites, or pastels like robin's-egg blue, soft pink, or buttery yellow.

Don't be afraid to use mismatched dishes, mugs, and serving ware. "Vintage hand-me-downs and rescued items that you refinish yourself help with this eclectic, mismatched look," says Novak. Hit up a flea market for hand towels covered in Battenberg lace, delicate embroidery, or a floral pattern. A vintage metal sign is also a quintessential shabby chic accessory. Extra points for sourcing a retro stove or refrigerator! Just make sure it's fully functional.

Get tips on remodeling and design inspiration by contacting The McLeod Group Network at 971.208.5093 or [email protected]

By: Realtor.com, Jennifer Kelly Geddes 

Help, We Have a Leaky Roof! What to Do If This Happens to You

by Amy McLeod Group


I’ve known we needed to replace the roof above our front porch for some time now. It’s flat (water doesn’t drain well from it); we live in Florida (there are downpours nearly every day); and I can see the spreading stains on the stucco from my office window. It’s been on my expensive-things-we-should-do list for a while.

As we started to gather estimates on the repair job, however, we began wondering if we should replace the roof on our entire house instead. It’s already 20 years old, and even though it’s largely in good shape now, we know it has to be done sooner or later. Since roofers would be up there anyway, maybe it was the right move, even though the idea of spending money on something so boring—yes essential, but boring—wasn’t on my things-I-want-to-spend-money-on list.

How much does it cost to replace a roof, anyway?

If you had asked me what a new roof might cost a month ago, I would have given you an estimate so laughably short of the mark that Bob Barker would have forever banned me from the “Price Is Right." The initial quotes we got for a new roof were jaw-dropping—upward of $50,000 jaw-dropping.

Of course, there are many variables when it comes to cost, including the type of roof, where you live, and the size of your house.

We happen to have a concrete tile roof, and our home is over 3,000 square feet. So, we’re on the high end when it comes to roof replacements, but it's a big expense any way you look at it.

On average, the cost of a new roof ranges from about $22,636 for asphalt shingles to $38,600 for a metal roof nationwide, according to Remodeling magazine.

With these figures burning my eyes, my next question was: Do we really need to replace the whole roof? Or could we do just the necessary repairs?

How long does a roof last?

Complicating this decision, we’d like to sell this house in the near future so we can move closer to a new job. So, can we just wait it out and hope for the best?

Experts say most roofs last between 15 and 40 years, while some, such as those made of tile shingle, are meant to last hundreds of years. However, how long a roof is meant to last and how long it actually lasts are often two very different things.

For example, Connor Sullivan, a storm restoration specialist with American Roofing, says a three-tab shingle roof is supposed to last 20 to 25 years, but most last only 12 to 15 years due to weather, improper installation, and lack of ventilation. An architectural shingle roof is designed to last up to 40 years, but he says most usually last only 25 to 30 years.

That means we could have 10-plus more years with this roof—or not.

To reroof or repair?

It all seems like an expensive gamble, but industry experts say there are some important factors to consider.

“If you're only going to be living there for a couple more years and then selling, it may make sense to make minor repairs and move on, assuming the roof is in generally good shape,” says Corey Crossman, a real estate agent and broker in Raleigh, NC.

“If you plan on staying for the long haul and your roof is giving you trouble, it's better to replace it right away and enjoy years of a good roof rather than put it off and battle roof leaks and other problems.”

He says what you don’t want to do is continue repairing a roof that has outlived its life expectancy.

“Many homeowners would rather spend a few hundred dollars here and there to make repairs than take the big hit and spend several thousand for a new roof," he says. "But in most cases, they'd be better off investing in a roof replacement, enjoying the best years of the roof, and then reaping the rewards if and when they sell the home.”

If your roof has been damaged due to weather, don’t forget to contact your insurance company, as some repairs or replacements may be covered under your homeowners policy.

“Going through insurance should always be your first option to save you from spending an arm and a leg on something your insurance should be helping you with,” Sullivan says.

We did indeed contact our insurance company, and it deemed a small portion of our porch roof damage to be weather-related. We got a small check to help cover the cost of repairs.

What's the ROI on a new roof?

The question of a new roof’s return on investment,or ROI, is a big variable to consider as well. Of course, there are no guarantees, and experts have varying opinions on the ROI of a new roof. Most say it’s not 100%, but it can make a significant difference when it comes to selling a home.

“If your house needs a new roof and the roof costs $10,000, it probably doesn't mean you'll be able to sell the home for $10,000 more than your competition,” Crossman says.

“However, where you can really cash in is the speed at which your house will sell. A home with an old or failing roof just begs for lowball offers and will likely be sitting on the market for quite some time before a buyer is willing to step in and pay market price for it," Crossman continues. "If you don't want to sell your home at a discount and you want to sell fast, opt for the new roof.”

Demetrius Gray, former roofing company owner and CEO of WeatherCheck, a technology startup that monitors properties for hail damage, offered this insight. “The ROI can vary a lot because a bad roof can be a deal breaker when it’s time to sell because they cause appraisals to fail,” he says. “A new roof should be about a 5% increase in value, and more if the workmanship and material warranties are transferable.”

Repair or replace: What we did with our roof

In the end, we decided to repair our roof where necessary and focus our funds on other home improvement projects. We’re painting the exterior, replacing the outdoor lights and fixtures, getting a new front door, and doing some other cosmetic changes to make the house look more modern. We’re hoping this adds some value and curb appeal and will allow us to enjoy the house more for the remaining time we spend in it.

We don’t assume the ROI on these improvements will be as high as that for a new roof, and we realize we may end up having to replace our entire roof down the line. In the meantime, we’re excited about our home makeover, crossing our fingers we made the right decision and hoping the hurricane seasons are mild.

Contact The McLeod Group Network at 971.208.5093 or [email protected] for ALL your Real Estate needs!

By: Realtor.com, Julie Ryan Evans

Home Sales Expected to Continue Increasing In 2020

by Amy McLeod Group


Freddie Mac
Fannie Maeand the Mortgage Bankers Association are all projecting home sales will increase nicely in 2020.

Below is a chart depicting the projections of each entity for 2019, as well as for 2020.

As we can see, Freddie MacFannie Mae, and the Mortgage Bankers Association all believe homes sales will increase steadily over the next year. If you’re a homeowner who has considered selling your house recently, now may be the best time to put it on the market.

 

Contact The McLeod Group Network at 971.208.5093 or [email protected] for ALL your Real Estate needs!

 
By: KCM Crew

10 Secrets No One Tells You That'll Help Your House Fetch Top Dollar

by Amy McLeod Group


Maybe you’ve bought and sold a home before, or maybe this is the first time. Regardless, now you need to get top dollar for it. Yes, you can tidy up, bake some cookies so the house smells nice, and place fresh flowers (research says roses, lavender, and fuchsia most sway buyers) around the house. But these are the typical techniques most sellers deploy. Really want to get the best price possible—or even spark a bidding war?

Here are 10 tips that are seldom mentioned in listing houses that just might put your property over the edge.

 
 
 

1. Make sure your mailbox looks amazing

First impressions matter, which is why you should check out your curb appeal. Is the driveway cracked? Is the mailbox old and leaning? The best sales rest on keeping these details in mind.

“Replace the mailbox—literally the first thing people see,” says Teris Pantazes, CEO and co-founder of SettleRite, a pre-sale home improvement company in Baltimore.

2. Make the right use of your rooms

If you use the dining room for a kid's playroom, or if the loft is empty because you don't have a use for it, restage your rooms so they reflect their original purpose. Buyers want to see the space used in a traditional way—with a dining table in the dining room, a desk and chair in the office—to envision themselves living there.

3. Reglaze the bathroom


Bathrooms and kitchens sell houses, and any small improvement that makes those rooms more modern makes a huge difference.“The best tip I use to get top dollar for some of our houses is to reglaze an old bathroom that has a terrible color of tile—like pink or green,” says Michael Pinter, a house flipper in Long Island, NY, with LMPK Properties. "We reglaze the bathroom white for a few hundred dollars, and a dated bathroom will look 30 years younger."

4. Get buyers to fall in love

Russell Volk, a real estate agent with Re/Max Elite serving Bucks County, PA, worked with a home-selling couple who decided to hand-write a one-page letter about their life in the house.

“Their story of how they raised their family and what kind of experiences they had in the home was very personal and emotional,” says Volk. The letter was framed on the kitchen counter for potential buyers to read. One buyer who liked the home absolutely loved the sellers' story—and paid full asking price.

“If sellers can connect with buyers on an emotional level, chances of buyers paying top dollar for the house drastically increase," says Volk.

5. List under value

"Data shows that if you list a home 10% under market value, you will attract 75% of the buyer pool, versus only 30% if you were to list 10% over market value,” says Melissa Colabella, at Sotheby's International Realty. “Yet sellers fear that not leaving room to negotiate leaves money on the table, which is not true.”

In fact, buyers are often motivated to bid by seeing other bids on a property, a dynamic that typically pushes bids above market value.

6. Provide insider information

Make sure to include tidbits in the listing that buyers will appreciate and that they can only get from you: the mention of a popular neighborhood coffee shop, the best Mexican restaurant nearby, or the free library box around the corner. No one knows these details better than you, the homeowner.

7. Describe the neighborhood culture

Think of everything interesting you can about your neighborhood—its proximity to a community pool, street basketball games in the cul-de-sac, the number of dog walkers who gather to chat—and mention them in your listing. The smallest detail can attract a buyer with a teenager, a dog, and kids with swimsuits.

8. Don't forget to list the house extras

The motion-sensitive outdoor lighting, an automatic garage door timer that closes the door before dark, a phone-activated security system, or camera door bell... These bells and whistles may seem banal to you, but they can make sellers feel that everything’s been taken care of for them—and inspire a top-dollar offer.

9. Create a video tour

Most people get great photos and fantastic descriptions. But filming a video tour of the property is inexpensive, can be done by an amateur, and is a novelty that will draw in buyers, says Bryan Stoddard, owner of Homewares Insider, a site exploring all things related to the home.

“If the video is well made, it will showcase exactly the same things that an open house would," he says.

10. Get a home pre-inspection

Yes, the buyers will want their own home inspection, but getting a pre-inspection so that prospective buyers have a general idea of the property's condition before making an offer is a win/win, says Antonio Picillo III, a broker at Exceptional Home Team in Fort Wayne, IN.

Home buyers will be impressed you took the time and effort to get your home pre-inspected to make sure everything is tip-top. It shows a level of integrity and commitment that can be hard to find.

Thinking about selling your home? Contact The McLeod Group Network at 971.208.5093 or [email protected] to find out how much it is worth! 

By: Realtor.com, Jennifer Nelson

10 Home Upgrades That Attract Millennial Buyers

by Amy McLeod Group


Think millennials aren't in the market to buy a home? On the contrary, by early 2019, millennials represented 42% of all new home loans. What does this mean for home sellers? It means it's time to start revamping your house to attract these buyers!

Luckily, there are plenty of simple and relatively affordable upgrades homeowners can make that appeal to millennial buyers. We asked the experts to share some of their top tips for attracting these young buyers, so your home can sell in a jiffy.

1. A home office space

Photo by Elms Interior Design 
 

The remote work trend is on the rise for all groups, but especially among millennials. As a result, Kerron Stokes, a real estate agent with Re/Max Leaders in Colorado, suggests showcasing a home's live-work versatility by carving out space for a home office.
 

"More than 13 million Americans work from home, according to the most current U.S. Census data. And all signs point to that trend continuing," Stokes explains. "It doesn’t have to be big, but millennial buyers are looking for somewhere to go for a last-minute conference call or to get additional work done during the day."

Luckily, this is an easy fix for sellers. If you're looking to make your property more attractive to millennial buyers, consider staging one of the smaller bedrooms (or even a bonus space like a nook or alcove) as a home office. It's a small touch, but it will help your potential millennial buyers picture the space working with their lifestyle.

2. Smart tech

Yes, this one seems obvious: Of course millennials are drawn to smart home tech—but what type?

"Appliances such as smart thermostats, smart doorbells, and more that can be controlled from an app are all the rage," Stokes explains. "Connectivity is king when putting a house on the market these days."

Yuri Blanco, owner of Re/Max Executives in Idaho, adds that millennials also crave low-cost tech.

"They crave smart security systems that don’t require a monthly subscription," says Blanco. "Any new technology that comes at a low cost is a major bonus to this age group."

3. Energy-efficient appliances

Energy-efficient products are also hugely important (and a huge selling point) for millennial buyers.

"Millennials are choosing eco-friendly materials such as nontoxic paint, Energy Star appliances in and around the home," Blanco says.

4. A game room/gathering space

When it comes to staging, Blanco suggests highlighting how a space could be used as a gathering place for friends—something millennials actively consider when viewing homes.

"Millennials think about friends' needs, so they want big areas where everyone can gather for entertainment, whether this be a TV or a game room," Blanco explains.

5. USB outlets


 

According to Stokes, it's particularly important to install USB outlets in bedrooms, living rooms, and kitchens if you want to catch millennial buyers' eyes. Smartphones are a fact of life today, and showing that your home is ready to make life easier with accessible charging ports will impress younger buyers.

"I recommend sellers swap out standard outlets for the outlets that include USBs for charging," Stokes says. "Constantly being on a smartphone drains a lot of power. When your home offers a charging hub or outlet for people, especially in unconventional rooms like the kitchen, they are more likely to stop and take a second look."

6. Neutral colors

When it comes time to paint a property, opt for soft, light neutrals to appeal to millennials.

"Millennials favor neutral colors," Blanco says. "Particularly grays have gained wide appeal, along with more whitewashed gray variations, soft neutrals, and creams."

7. Modern design

When it comes to upgrading cabinets and other built-in features, experts say to opt for modern design elements if you're hoping to woo millennial shoppers.

"In recent years, we are seeing millennials prefer modern, sleek designs with clean lines and minimalist aesthetics," Blanco says. "To them, less is more. Homes that have new, stainless-steel kitchens, and simple cabinetry draw millennials in."

8. Outdoor living space

In addition to upgrades inside the home, Stokes recommends making sure that the backyard feels like an extension of the living space—something that's proving important to millennial buyers.

"Millennials have demonstrated a desire to personalize their homes, and large yards provide that opportunity," Stokes says. "Spaces designed to spend time with friends around fire pits, room for a garden, and room for pets to roam is desired. However, sellers should keep in mind that these areas shouldn’t require a lot of time and maintenance, as this is something that repels millennial buyers."

Amy Bonitatibus, chief marketing officer with Chase Home Lending, reiterates this point and adds that it's important to not forget the front yard as well.

"According to the recent Chase Housing Confidence Index, a survey which used data from the U.S. Housing Confidence Survey, millennial homeowners ranked landscaping first on their renovation wish list, ahead of bathroom and kitchen remodels," she says. "Everyone wants that Instagram-worthy curb appeal. Over 40% of young homeowners are looking to install new landscaping in the next few years."

9. Garage outlets

Millennials are also more likely than older buyers to extend that smart tech to the garage and try electric vehicles, which makes power outlets in the garage increasingly important to them.

"Having the option to power, from smart cars to toy batteries to an outdoor fridge, will instantly up your home’s appeal to millennials," Stokes says.

10. Storage space

Photo by Closets by Design Louisville 
 

Millennials aren't all about fashion over function, despite what some may (wrongly) assume. Blanco says that millennials are drawn to homes that have a lot of practical storage space.

"Millennials have a desire for storage," Blanco says. "If a home contains a multifunctional piece of furniture with storage options, even better. A home with plenty of built-in closets and drawers is more likely to be sold to buyers in this age group. Garages are also a notable place for increased storage."

Thinking about selling your home? Contact The McLeod Group Network at 971.208.5093 or [email protected].

By: Realtor.com, Kayleigh Roberts 

Should You Prepay Your Mortgage? The Pros and Cons

by Amy McLeod Group


Should you prepay your mortgage? For some homeowners it’s a financially savvy move—but for others, beefing up their loan payments just doesn’t make sense. To help you figure out whether prepayment is right for you, here are the pros and cons cited by financial experts.

Pro: You'll cut down on the interest you owe

Interest is the extra fee you pay your lender for loaning you the cash you needed to buy a home. After all, lenders don’t just hand out dough for free—they’re in the business to make money.

By increasing your monthly mortgage payments—also called “prepaying” your mortgage—you’ll effectively save money in interest charges. Those savings can add up big-time.

For example, let’s say you take out a $200,000 mortgage with a 4% fixed interest rate and a 30-year term. If you continue to make your minimum monthly payments, you’d be forking over $143,739 in interest over 30 years until the debt is paid off. But, by paying an extra $100 per month, you’d pay only $116,702 in interest over a 25-year time span—a savings of $27,037.

Pro: You’ll get your mortgage paid off sooner

By accelerating your mortgage payments, you’ll also be shortening how long it takes to pay off the loan, which would increase your cash flow in the future. That’s a huge incentive for some borrowers.

“For families with young children, where the parents are concerned about paying for their children’s college tuition, sometimes we will recommend they increase mortgage payments so that when their kids head off to college their mortgage obligation is gone,” says Joe Pitzl, a certified financial planner for Pitzl Financial, in Arden Hills, MN.

Paying more money each month toward your mortgage’s principal can also give you peace of mind, says Marguerita Cheng, a certified financial planner at Blue Ocean Global Wealth in Gaithersburg, MD.

“Emotionally, it’s gratifying knowing that you’re paying your mortgage sooner than you originally planned to do,” Cheng says.

Pro: You’ll build equity faster

No matter how much money you put down on your mortgage, your home equity is the current market value of your home minus the amount you owe on your loan. So say your home is worth $250,000 and your mortgage balance is $200,000. In this case, you’d have $50,000, or 20%, in home equity.

Making larger mortgage payments toward your loan's principal would enable you to build equity faster. Having more home equity can be a tremendous boon if you’re looking to get a home equity loan or home equity line of credit, such as to pay for home improvements, says Tendayi Kapfidze, chief economist at Lending Tree.

Pro: It helps your credit score

Showing that you have less debt—and that you manage your debts responsibly, by paying your mortgage off early—can raise your credit score. That can help if you’re planning to apply for a car loan or a second mortgage on a vacation home, since your credit score would affect the interest rate you qualify for.

Con: Prepaying reduces mortgage interest, which is tax-deductible

Because prepaying your mortgage reduces your mortgage interest, it may not make sense from a tax-savings perspective. Mortgages are structured so that you start off paying more interest than principal.

For example, in the first year of a $300,000, 30-year loan at a fixed 4% interest rate, you'd be deducting $10,920. (To find out how much you paid in mortgage interest last year, punch your numbers into our online mortgage calculator.)

Nonetheless, taking a mortgage interest deduction under the new tax law requires itemizing deductions—and itemizing may no longer make sense for many homeowners, since the standard deduction jumped under the new tax plan to $12,200 for individuals, $18,350 for heads of household, and $24,400 for married couples filing jointly.

Another thing to consider: In the past, you could deduct the interest from up to $1 million in mortgage debt (or $500,000 if you filed singly). However, for loans taken out from December 15, 2017, onward, only the interest on the first $750,000 of mortgage debt is deductible, says William L. Hughes, a certified public accountant in Stuart, FL.

Con: You could miss out on more lucrative investment opportunities

Every dollar you put toward your mortgage principal is a dollar you can’t invest in higher-yield ventures, such as stocks, high-yield bonds, or real estate investment trusts, Pitzl says.

That being said, “you’d be assuming more risk by investing your money in, say, the stock market instead of putting the money toward your mortgage,” Pitzl points out.

“You have to consider your risk tolerance before you decide where to put your extra cash,” says Cheng.

Con: You may miss paying off higher-interest debts

For many homeowners, paying off higher-interest debt—such as from a credit card or private student loan—is more important than prepaying their mortgage, Cheng says.

Think about it: If you’re carrying a $400 debt on a credit card from month to month with a 20% interest rate, the amount of money you’re paying in credit card interest is $80 per month—that would be leaps and bounds higher than what you’d be paying in mortgage interest on a home loan with a 4% interest rate.

Con: Prepaying a mortgage could hamper achieving other financial goals

Building your retirement savings is crucial, of course. However, some people make the mistake of prepaying their mortgage instead of maxing out their retirement contributions, Cheng laments.

“At the bare minimum, I recommend my clients do a full 401(k) match with their employer,” she says.

Moreover, Pitzl encourages people to build a sufficient emergency fund—typically, a fund large enough to cover three to six months of their essential expenses—before they focus on prepaying their mortgage.

“If you get into a bind, you can’t sell off windows and doors to make ends meet,” Pitzl says.

Con: There may penalties for prepaying your mortgage

Some lenders charge a fee if a client’s mortgage is paid in full before the loan term ends. That’s why it’s important to check with your mortgage lender—or look for the term “prepayment disclosure” in your mortgage agreement—to see if there’s a penalty and, if so, how much it is.

The bottom line: If you don't have enough money to pad your savings before you begin paying off your mortgage early, prepaying your home loan may put you in a financial hole if an emergency crops up.

Still not sure what direction to go in? Consider sitting down with a financial planner to discuss your options based on your personal finances.

Contact The McLeod Group Network for all your Real Estate needs! 971.208.5093 or [email protected].

By: Realtor.com, Daniel Bortz 

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The McLeod Group Network
Keller Williams Capital City
1900 Hines St SE #220
Salem OR 97302
971-208-5093
Fax: 971-599-5229

**Disclaimer: Amy McLeod, and her team, do not initiate, process, or service mortgages.  And provide this information only as a service.  You should confirm information here with your Licensed Mortgage Lender.