by Kathe Barge | Jun 5, 2023 | Buyers, Buying Conditions, Contracts, Interest Rates, Listings, Market Trends, Property Value, Real Estate, Sellers, Sellers-Contracts, Selling Conditions
Are you still seeing multiple offers on homes these days?
Believe it or not, yes! Despite higher interest rates, we are still seeing multiple offers, depending on location, condition and price range. Multiple offers are primarily coming in the under $1,000,000 market. If your home is in a higher price range, that does not mean that you won’t get an offer, and it doesn’t mean that it won’t be a good offer – but you may only get one, and you may need to wait for it – the market does not always offer instantaneous results. The market is still strong, just not as crazy as it was a couple of weeks ago –the buyer demand is starting to be satisfied.
Multiple offers, over-asking-price offers and full-price offers are also far more likely in our hottest neighborhoods and historically most popular locations. Additionally, sellers who have conditioned their home for market, both in staging and making changes to meet current buying trends, are most likely to be those with multiple and/or full price offers. It is very important, however, to keep in mind that your initial asking price will dictate whether or not you receive a high offer. If you choose to challenge the market with your asking price, and are at the top of your neighborhood, it’s unlikely your home will be snapped up or will receive an asking price offer – you may need to be patient and wait for a buyer who sees the value as you do. On the other hand, if you price with last year’s prices, or shoot below market, you are far more likely to spur a bidding war. Yes, we are selling at premium pricing on premium products, but this typically happens because the asking price feels a little on the low end to buyers to begin with. So my best advice to sellers is to take the time to condition your home to meet market expectations and then price carefully – no one wants to give their home away, but do be careful not to overshoot the market’s historic guidance on pricing.
Buyers – you still have a lot of competition out there. If you are looking for a historically hot property (based on size, location or price range), you still need to plan to be very aggressive with your offers if you want to win, and make sure you are fully pre-approved!
by Kathe Barge | May 12, 2023 | Buyers, Buying Conditions, Contracts, Helpful Tips, Market Trends, Marketing, Real Estate, Sellers, Selling Conditions
We have been hearing about the lack of inventory and the hot market – we feel this could be a great time to get a premium price for our home. Are we right?
Inventory is low, that is a fact. We are back to bidding wars. Data indicates that Pittsburgh prices increased 12.7% in 2021 and another 5.5% in 2022. High interest rates have not caused a downturn in this spring market. The millennials are buying in droves and there is no end in sight. So yes, now is a great time to sell.
However, not every home is selling fast and at a high price. There are plenty of homes sitting on the market, with gradual price reductions. Why? Longer time on the market is often the result of an improper alignment of price and condition. In other words, I like to tell my sellers I can sell any home, but not at any price. The price of the home must be carefully calibrated to features and condition. This is where an expert agent comes in. Agents who tour all of the inventory can help you to understand the subtle differences between homes and what it takes to generate premium prices. Not every client is willing or able to invest the resources to generate a premium price and that’s ok – price just needs to be adjusted accordingly.
So what does it take to achieve a premium price? In my opinion it starts with a pre-inspection and repair of some of the most concerning items. A spruce-up might be necessary – repainting wear and tear or strong colors, replacing dated lighting fixures… A deep clean is generally a must, and this goes way beyond what your weekly housekeeper can do. Staging is also a must if your house is vacant, and even if its not, a home stager or home organizer can help you get everything in good order.
Pricing, however is the ultimate key to success. It seems many sellers want to push the market right now and if you aren’t careful, you may end up with less than you would have had you priced properly out of the gate. It’s important to get the advice of an expert in your market area and then follow that advice, regardless of what you think or need. If you have to reduce later, you will have lost market momentum and that cannot be regained. Review a well-reasoned market report and then price according to the data, not according to your emotions, and you will likely have a positive result you can take to the bank!
by Kathe Barge | May 8, 2023 | Buyers, Design, Helpful Tips, Home Improvements, Home Staging, Listings, Market Trends, Marketing, Property Updates, Property Value, Real Estate, Sellers, Selling Conditions
We are planning to update the color palette in our home. What are the “in” colors these days?
Gray (and its many shades including greige) have been in-style for so long now that its hard to imagine it still holds its alure, and many homeowners are venturing into different color palettes. However, gray is still extremely popular with buyers – homes painted in a gray/greige and white color palette almost universally fly off the market. And if you have to choose between gray/greige and any other color (except white), always choose gray! If you need a break from gray, however, the incoming trend is strongly leaning towards the whites. White comes in so many shades – and even straight out of the can white is quite a nice and refreshing color. In some cases white is being combined with an accent wall in a gray tone or other neutral, and this can work quite well.
Of course, like any other color, it is critical that you choose the correct shade of white to compliment your trim. It is easy to end up with the walls clashing with the trim if you are not careful! An easy solution is to paint the walls the same color white as your trim! Don’t let the whites fool you – there are so many shades of white, and before you paint be sure to look at the undertones in the white to determine which undertone you prefer – a tiny hint of gray? Pink? Green? Unless you use the white straight out of the can, there will always be an undertone.
Where to start your painting? Strong colors and yellow tones are not currently where the buying market is, so its best to start be repainting rooms that are currently wallpapered (also not popular with buyers unless the wallpaper is pretty new and very trendy) and rooms that are painted the strongest colors. In an ideal world, you will ultimately create an interior aesthetic that, while ever room does not need to be the same, the colors blend nicely together.
by Kathe Barge | May 2, 2023 | Buyers, Buying Conditions, Contracts, Helpful Tips, Interest Rates, Listings, Market Trends, Real Estate
We have been sitting on the sidelines for a while now waiting for a home that meets our wish list to come on the market – what’s coming this spring?
You might be surprised to find out you are one of dozens of prospective buyers sitting on the sidelines waiting for their ideal home to come on the market. Nationally we are at a 20 year low in available housing inventory. What is going on you might ask?
Many blame it on the Baby Boomers! Seventy-eight percent of Boomers own their own homes, and 85% of them have no intentions to move within the next year. This is tying up a significant portion of potentially available housing inventory. Why aren’t Boomers moving? Stated reasons range from being happy where they live and not wanting to uproot their lives, to having inadequate choices in empty nester inventory to escalating prices that make scale down homes more and more expensive. Boomers are choosing to stay in the homes and communities where their family and friends are.
In Sewickley, we have very few opportunities for scale down housing, and so Boomers are remaining in their homes. As a result, our inventory continues to dwindle and there are very few new introductions. There will likely be a few relocations, but with the low inventory and large backlog of buyers, I expect pricing will be high and bidding wars will continue.
To be successful in this housing market, if you define success as actually getting a home and moving, you are going to have to accept a few key premises. First, you need to reevaluate your wish list and see what compromises you are willing to make. We still have many nice homes on the market – they may not be a perfect match for you, but could you make one work? Second, if you decide to wait and a home comes on the market that is a good fit for you, be prepared to act fast and bid high. Complete the preapproval process now so that your offer is as strong as possible.
Our market is a steady one and I do expect we will see some new introductions as we move into our spring market, but your best recipe for success is one that includes reevaluation of the current inventory, compromise, fast action and generous, well-crafted offers.
by Kathe Barge | Apr 24, 2023 | Buyers, Helpful Tips, Listings, Marketing, Real Estate, Sellers
We are relocating to another city – what is the best way to find an agent there?
The best way to find a Realtor in another city, whether you are moving there yourself or have a family member or friend who needs to find a Realtor, is to call me first! Yes, even if you are not in need of an agent locally, I am still your best resource to find an exceptional Realtor! As an agent with Sotheby’s International Realty, we have offices across the globe and I have a network of agents I can access on your behalf. In fact, just this week I have been at the Sotheby’s GNE (Global Networking Event) and have deepened my personal global connections so that wherever you are and wherever you want to be I can connect you to the very best Realtor for your personal needs!
If you are like most people, you are likely seeking the most qualified Realtor with the most relevant experience to you. While many consumers simply push the “Request a Tour” or “Contact Agent” button on Zillow, what you may not be aware of its that agents pay to be the agent who gets your “lead” from pushing that button – it is highly unlikely that it is the listing agent and there is a very good chance the agent is not someone who has a lot of experience in the neighborhood you are interested in. Why take that chance?
Don’t push the buttons on websites (unless you are on an agent’s dedicated site and trying to reach that agent)! And if you take the approach of choosing agents by walking into real estate offices or open houses you may also not be finding the agent with the most or best experience for your needs – typically agents manning the desk at the office or hosting the open houses for listing agents are not the agents with the experience you may be seeking.
I can easily (and at absolutely no cost to you) cut through all the messiness and confusion for you and help you find the perfect agent wherever in the world you (or your friend/family member) want to be! Take advantage of my service – I am here to help! And remember, Sotheby’s International Realty provides luxury service at ALL price points!
by Kathe Barge | Apr 19, 2023 | Blog
Where have you been? How is the market? We aren’t seeing much come on the market.
At long last, Ask Kathe is back! For those of you who follow Ask Kathe on my website, AskKathe.com or KatheBarge.com, I have continued to post replies. As most of you know by now, after 24 years selling residential real estate in Sewickley, I moved to Piatt Sotheby’s International Realty in January. And as you also could likely anticipate, transitions take time, so I have been busy behind the screens getting ramped up for the spring market and am excited that spring is finally here!
Data over 10 years shows that the number of pending and closed sales have been consistent over the past 10 years. Yes, there are seasonal ebbs and flows, but taking a year-over-year approach, it is remarkable how steady our market has been. Additional data shows that prices on the eastern side of our country continue to rise. Rising interest rates may have caused a temporary slow-down in sales last fall, but that has become an irrelevancy in our market at this point. Buyer have adjusted to the fact that the rates are where they are, and they still want or need to move. As we like to say “you only date the rate.” There will be opportunities to refinance at lower rates down the road.
What the data does show, however, is that we have about one-third the inventory available at any given time than we did before COVID. This is due in part to the fact that there remains so much pent up demand that when a well-conditioned, appropriately priced home comes on the market, it sells quickly, keeping inventory levels low. What does all this mean? Buyers have far less to choose from at any given time and as a result, need to adjust expectations and be less choosey. The perfect house may be years away. And sellers, my age old mantra, again – if you would consider a move, there has never been a better time than now! Reach out to me and let’s strategize on how you can make the most of this incredible seller’s market!
by Kathe Barge | Apr 19, 2023 | Buyers, Helpful Tips, Home Improvements, Home Staging, Listings, Market Trends, Marketing, Property Updates, Property Value, Real Estate, Sellers, Selling Conditions
With the weather warming up outside, any tips for selling our home?
Spring is in fact in full swing! With the bright sunshine and warming temperatures, it’s a great time to be focused on making sure the outside of your home is looking it’s best. Whether you are thinking of selling your home or not this year, a yearly exterior audit of your home is always a good idea to keep it in its best possible condition. But if you are selling, curb appeal is critical to attract buyers. Start with the front of your home and work your way back to your non-public spaces. Make sure you have cleaned out your planting beds from the fall. Rake out any leaves, trim back shrubs. Order fresh mulch. Plant colorful annuals in your planters. Review your lawn and make sure it is in good shape. If there are bare spots, reseed them. If you have large trees on your property, make sure they are all healthy and any dead limbs are removed.
This is also a great time to make sure your gutters are clean – gutters full of leaves suggest a homeowner isn’t up on their maintenance. Be sure to have your windows cleaned inside and out. With the sun streaming in through the windows, all of the winter dirt is very apparent so its important to make sure they are crystal clear (this will also improve your photos!) Take the time to put out your outdoor furniture. Be sure patios and porches are well swept. Step back from your home and see whether your paint is in good shape- – if there are areas that are peeling, have the scraped and repainted. Be sure the front door is clean and nicely painted. Remove all seasonal décor (Christmas wreaths and lights). Ask a friend to stop by and do a quick walk-around for any areas that need attention – a fresh eye is always likely to catch those things you have gotten used to and overlook. Need help finding service providers? Reach out and I’m happy to share my lists.
Spring has in fact sprung! Make sure your home is well-prepared for the strongest market of the year!
by Kathe Barge | Feb 10, 2023 | Market Trends, Mortgage, Property Value, Real Estate
Can you explain what is going on in Allegheny with property tax assessments?
It’s big news! For property tax appeals in 2023, the PA State Tax Equalization Board has set the common level ration at 63.6%. This is dramatically less than the 81.6% in effect for 2022. What this means is that for homeowners appealing their property taxes in 2023, the tax assessment should be set at 63.6% of the property’s 2022 value. This is great news for people buying their homes in 2022. Buyers have grown accustomed to having their property tax assessment appealed after they purchase their home, and these increased assessments can dramatically impact the monthly cost of owning their homes. This often impacts the sale-ability of a home as buyers often worry about that their monthly payments might increase to, but with new common level ratio, it is a big break for new home buyers.
For example, a home selling for $1million in 2022 should have a tax assessment of $636,000, which is an outstanding possibility. Likewise, a home selling in 2022 for $500,000 should have a tax assessment of $318,000.
Of course, buyers in previous years could consider appealing their tax assessment as well. For example, if a home was purchased in 2021 for $500,000, applying the current year percentages, it might have an assessment of $408,000. We did see dramatic appreciation in 2022, so that home might be worth $550,000 today, but applying the 2022 ratio of 63.6% to 2022 value could result in an assessment of $350,000 which would generate potential tax savings of approx. $1500. Any recent homeowners may want to consult their tax advisors as to whether it makes sense to appeal their tax assessment based on this new information.
The potential concern here is for the taxing bodies. The services we all depend upon require tax revenues to be funded. With the potential erosion of tax bases, this new common level ratio will be a victory for new homeowners, but we may all end up paying more in taxes due to the increased millage rates that may be required to compensate for declining tax bases.
by Kathe Barge | Dec 1, 2022 | Blog, Buyers, Buying Conditions, Contracts, Helpful Tips, Interest Rates, Market Trends, Mortgage, Property Value, Real Estate
WE WOULD LIKE TO BUY A NEW HOME SOON BUT INTEREST RATES SEEM VERY HIGH – WE SEE ADVERTISEMENTS FOR INTERNET LENDERS OFFERING WHAT SEEM TO BE BELOW MARKET RATES. IS THIS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE?
If you were simply refinancing an existing mortgage debt, you MAY be ok choosing an internet lender. You would just need to be very careful that, before you apply to refinance your loan, you receive from the lender a full disclosure of all the costs and not just the rates. Often times I see lenders have exorbitantly high fees connected with low rates. In a sense, you would be buying down your rate by paying high fees upfront. You would want to be sure to compare them on the same day to a couple of local lenders and understand what you are paying to get the quoted rates. The reason you must compare rates on a singular date is because rates go up and down continuously and a rate may seem lower simply because you called a particular lender on a date rates dropped.
Since you are buying a new home rather than refinancing, I do NOT recommend that you use an internet lender. They do not tend to be familiar with area norms and that can cause you more headaches than you can imagine. There is a long list of particularities to PA Agreements of Sale and the last thing you want to do is have your closing delayed (while your movers are standing at the curb) while you wait for your lender (who does not have a local presence that you can visit personally to address any issues) to sort things out. As they are not familiar with our Agreements and processes, internet lenders may also impose requirements on you that are not requirements generally imposed by local lenders that may disadvantage you later. Finally, internet lenders often do not understand that PA Agreements of Sale declare “time is of the essence” inside the contract – what that means to you is that if you miss your closing date because the lender isn’t ready to close, the seller does have the legal right to declare you in default, keep your hand money and sell the home to someone else.
When buying, why take a risk? Rely on your trusted Realtor to help you find a local lender who offers the most competitively priced loan products and delivers exceptional customer service. Realtors cannot accept referral fees from lenders, so you can be sure we are motivated only by knowing you will have an outstanding transaction. Feel free to reach out to me for help finding you the best local lender to meet your financing needs!
by Kathe Barge | Nov 21, 2022 | Helpful Tips
Thanksgiving is a great time to reflect on all that we have to be grateful for! We are so fortunate to be living in a time where the pandemic is essentially behind us – with all of the holiday get togethers scheduled, its clear we have moved on, just like they did one century ago!
2022 has been another great year in real estate despite the higher interest rates and the ups and downs that the year has otherwise delivered, and I personally have so much to be thankful for. I appreciate all of you, my clients, friends and supporters, who have played a part in my rewarding 24-year career in Sewickley real estate – your continued confidence in me means so much to me! My appreciation also goes out to all of the people I work with every day that make real estate transactions so seamless for my clients – from the best mortgage brokers and closers to incredible home inspectors .and handymen, contractors, electricians, roofers… that I can count on to give their best to my clients. With them by my side (or on speed dial) I have been able to provide the highest level of service to those I work with, and for that I am grateful.
Are you taking advantage of all that is available to you? It’s still a great time to invest in real estate – while you might initially be concerned about the higher interest rates, no-cost refinances are always an option down the road, and right now you can buy with very little competition from other buyers! You will likely save significantly more in what you don’t need to pay to “win” a home with multiple offers than you will pay out due to higher interest rates between now and the time you can refinance. If you’re ready to downsize and cash in your nest egg, it’s an absolutely ideal time – inventory is low and we still have buyers waiting in line for Sewickley homes.
The spring market starts in late January – the time to prepare to sell is now! Before we say goodbye to 2022, lets take a minute to appreciate all that we have to be thankful for this holiday season!
by Kathe Barge | Nov 14, 2022 | Blog, Design, Helpful Tips, Listings, Marketing, Sellers, Selling Conditions
Our home is on the market – is it ok to show it decorated for the holidays?
Decorating for the holidays while your home is on the market is not a bad idea – homes often look their best decorated for the holidays – as long as a few basic guidelines are followed. Briefly stated, when decorating this holiday season, keep your decorations more neutral and reasonably simple.
Start by taking a more minimalist approach. You may have bins and bins of holiday decorations like I do, but when your home is on the market, its best to leave some of those decorations packed away. Choose decorations that have less of a religious theme. Snowmen, evergreen wreaths, poinsettias and nutcrackers, for example, have broad appeal. Be careful that the decorations that you do choose compliment your décor. You may have changed the color scheme in your home since buying your holiday decorations and it’s important that they don’t clash! Don’t over-decorate the exterior of your home either. A few well placed, tasteful strands of lights or an attractive evergreen wreath can add sense of warmth to your home, but keep your inflatables packed up!
If you bring in a tree, make sure it doesn’t overwhelm the room. This year a tall, skinny tree might be the best choice so that the room doesn’t feel small. And of course, consider using decorations to highlight some of your home’s special architectural features, such as using candles to draw attention to an attractive fireplace.
When showings are scheduled, a brewing pot of mulled cider or a plate of freshly baked cookies is not only seasonably appropriate but will go along way toward creating an inviting feel for your buyers. And don’t forget – even if you normally keep your thermostat down, be sure to turn it up for showings so that buyers are comfortably warm!
by Kathe Barge | Nov 4, 2022 | Buyers, Buying Conditions, Contracts, Helpful Tips, Interest Rates, Investment Properties, Listings, Market Trends, Mortgage, Property Value, Real Estate
Interest rates jumped up again. Is it time for us to just wait until spring and hope they start to come back down?
If you are a buyer, the real estate market offers you a great opportunity right now! Don’t be fooled by the higher interest rates – this is an awesome market for you to buy in! Why? Because all of the people who you would have been competing with are afraid of the interest rates and sitting by the sidelines. This allows you to have a competition – free opportunity to buy a home! Just six months ago, buyers would have been overjoyed to have an opportunity to buy a home without competition, to have had an opportunity to have had an offer accepted on the first home they offered on instead of their seventh, to have been able to purchase a home at asking price rather than asking price plus 10 percent! Do not miss this golden opportunity – there are some very nice homes available right now. You can refinance later with a convenient no cost refinance loan – get the house now! Once rates start to come back down, the buyers (who have all been sitting by the sidelines with you) will come racing back into the market, and bidding wars will be back. Make the smart move – buy now.
And as a side note, I do not feel we will see a “crash” in prices. Inventory remains at record lows and those homes that are selling continue to increase in their sales prices to new record highs, despite the increasing rates. This is not 2008 – I am not anticipating any “deals” to be had this spring – if anything the natural increase in the buyer pool we see every spring will boost prices because of the extreme lack of inventory. Feel free to reach out to me and we can strategize on how you can take the most advantage of the current real estate market while you still can!
A home’s value is set by the market. Value is always determined by what a buyer is willing to pay for your home. Many factors come into play in setting that value. Market value reflects quantitative factors such as: # bedrooms, # bathrooms, # garages, placement of garages (attached or integral), lot configuration (large and functional back yard? Cliff lot?), location of the home generally, age of roof, age of mechanicals. Market value also reflects more qualitative items: how updated is your home, and is it all new, or just refreshed? What is the floorplan (open concept?) What are your wall colors? There is always a range that value will land in, which we call the range of reasonable. There is no ONE price at which a home will sell. If there are many buyers seeking a home like yours, it will sell at the top of the range of reasonable. If there are not, it will take longer to sell and may sell a bit lower in the range. What the market does not consider in setting a value of a home is what you need from the home. In 2008, many homeowners had used their homes as ATMs and withdrawn large sums of money for educations, vacations and cars. When the market softened, there was not enough equity for them to be able to sell their homes and not be in a short sale situation. This fact, that a homeowner over-extended themselves on mortgages, is not the least bit relevant to market value. The market is also not going to consider what you plan to do next. If you plan to move to Los Angeles to be closer to family and are finding that the Pittsburgh market is not going to yield you enough to be able to buy in L.A., you will need to turn to other investments to make up any difference.
We are in a very robust market – your home is far more likely to garner more now – whatever that may be – than it could have in the past. Forecasters are also suggesting that values will soften by year end. My crystal ball is out for service, but what I can tell you is that every hot market eventually softens. Waiting out the market so that you can get a price that the market is unprepared to deliver at this time may have you waiting many, many years, and during that time you may need to invest even more in your home in order to deliver to the market what it needs in order to deliver an acceptable sale to you.
by Kathe Barge | Sep 13, 2022 | Blog, For Sale By Owner, Helpful Tips, Home Improvements, Home Staging, Listings, Market Trends, Marketing, Property Updates, Property Value, Real Estate, Sellers, Selling Conditions
Do we really have to have our home professionally deep cleaned before putting it on the market?
The short answer is yes, but here is why! When we live in our homes, we don’t see the dirt and the grime build up. Even if you have your home cleaned every week, it is impossible for a weekly cleaning to keep up with the little things. And when you want to sell your home, to achieve top dollar, it is important that your home sparkles at the highest possible level. We are no longer in a market where buyers are happy to get any house. We have moved back to a more traditional market and that means that sellers must take the time and incur the expense of a deep cleaning to make sure your home is squeaky clean and showing its very best.
Deep cleans are expensive and when done properly take many days of work. It is unlikely that your weekly housekeeper (if you have one) is going to have the time to clean at this level. Should you choose to take on the task yourself, you will soon see why deep cleans are costly and time consuming. So what is involved? In every room of your home, every surface must be thoroughly cleaned. Light switches and plugs should have all grime completely removed and restored to new, all vent covers (heating, ceiling fans, appliances) must be removed and washed (some may need to be repainted), all lighting fixtures must be carefully cleaned (including removing any glass bowls to clean inside) and should sparkle, all cabinets and drawers should be cleaned inside and out, windows should be washed inside and out including screens and tracks, carpets should be steam cleaned, shower grout needs to be cleaned, mineral build-up should be removed from shower/bath glass and all plumbing fixtures (try CLR and a scrub brush, or Stanley Steamer if the deposits wont budge), fireplaces need to be swept out and scrubbed down (if you burn wood in them, call a chimney sweep for a professional cleaning). All wood work needs to be washed down or repainted as needed to look fresh. Any smudging on walls needs to be cleaned or painted away.
Outside your home be sure that all doors are clean and fresh, that your porch/deck is clean (power wash if needed), that all lighting fixtures sparkle and that all patios and walkways are freshly power washed.
You may of course find it helpful to employ additional service providers, such as a power washer, carpet cleaner and window washer to get the job done right! It’s a big task cleaning up after years of enjoying a home, but it will absolutely pay dividends when you go to sell.
by Kathe Barge | Sep 8, 2022 | Buyers, Buying Conditions, Helpful Tips, Listings, Market Trends, Property Value, Real Estate, Sellers, Selling Conditions
We see recent projections forecast a housing downturn. What do you think?
You are correct – Goldman Sachs recently released a paper forecasting that the US housing market will see a downturn. Their reports predicts that new home sales will drop 22%, existing home sales will drop 17% and the housing GDP will drop 8.9% this year and that the decline will continue in 2023. This downturn is attributed to rising interest rates that were implemented to combat inflation. They have also noted that pandemic trends for second homes are fading. That said, the report does not anticipate a downturn in prices – just demand – and suggests given other economic factors at play that the market will remain flat for most regions.
What does this mean for home sellers? It means a return to traditional marketing. In other words, home sellers need to anticipate that they will need to take the time to condition their homes for market, stage their homes, and present their homes in an appealing way for buyers. Gone are the days, at least for now, when buyers are so desperate that they are going to buy homes in any condition just to get a home. Sellers also need to anticipate that it may take longer to find a buyer for their home — typically in Pittsburgh most homes would take between 120 and 150 days to sell in traditional market. Home sellers need to adjust their expectations and not anticipate that their home will likely be sold in one week. It will also be very important to price your home correctly and not take giant stabs at the market just to see if it might stick. It probably won’t stick. Appraisers are starting to doubt valuations on homes and we are starting to see some appraisal failures. For you sellers out there, it will be very important for you to pay greater attention to whom you choose as your listing agent. Marketing techniques and agent experience will become all the more important in generating a successful sale of your home. Take the time to do your research and choose an agent with great experience in all kinds of markets.
Buyers – I seriously doubt that this is going to become a buying a free-for-all like we saw back in 2009. There is no anticipation that there is going to be a downturn in pricing in Pittsburgh. But the good news is you may be able to buy a home with less competition and you may even be able to get a small discount. You still need to plan on being well qualified when you go in with your offer. And again, choosing a buyers agent with significant experience who can help you to understand market trends and where you should be offering will be critical to a successful home purchase.
by Kathe Barge | Aug 26, 2022 | Buyers, Buying Conditions, Contracts, For Sale By Owner, Helpful Tips, Home Improvements, Inspections, Listings, Property Updates, Property Value, Real Estate, Sellers, Sellers-Contracts
We find the inspection process confusing – do we have to fix everything in the inspection report before we close on our home or just the repairs the buyer requested?
The home inspection report is the document from which your buyer works to make their repair requests of you. Some buyers will ask for everything and others will ask for only those items that they think are important. They may let some things go, for example, if they are planning on renovating an area and anticipate fixing those items as a part of the renovation.
Once you and your buyer agree on a list of repairs, these are memorialized on an addendum. It is that addendum, called a Change in Terms Addendum (“CTA”), from which you work when completing your repairs. You need not refer to the inspection again unless the CTA references it. You do, however, need to make sure that you do everything on the CTA exactly as specified, so be sure to read it carefully and provide a copy to your contractor(s). For example, if the CTA says that you will have GFCI outlets installed by a licensed electrician then you need to make sure you hire a licensed electrician, and not your favorite handyman, to make the repair! If the CTA says you must paint to match existing then you need to take a sample of the existing paint to the paint store and color match it – don’t rely on old paint in cans – paint fades with age and it won’t match. Be very careful to be sure you are complying with the terms of the CTA – if you do not, or if your contractor does not, your closing may be delayed or postponed until the work is done as specified. Along those lines, be sure to review your contactor’s work when complete and make sure that he actually did what you agreed to do on the CTA. If not, request that he return before it becomes a walk-through issue.
And of course, be sure to get paid receipts from all contractors, or if they have not been paid, notify the closing company so that they can be paid at closing. All repairs must be paid for before ownership changes hands so be sure to stay on top of your bills, and provide receipts to the buyers agent.
by Kathe Barge | Aug 22, 2022 | Buyers, Buying Conditions, Helpful Tips, Real Estate, Sellers, Selling Conditions
My home has so many special features. I think it would be best if I were at showings so I could explain them to prospective buyers. Is that ok?
When you are selling your home, its normal to think that only you can fully convey your home’s fine qualities to a buyer. This leads some sellers to consider the possibility of being home for showings, so that they can make sure that the buyer prospects appreciate all of the home’s amenities. While this may seem sensible to a seller, nothing could be further from the truth!
When buyers visit your home, it is important that they be allowed the space to imagine the home as their own. This starts, of course, with home staging, so that the home is not overly personal when the buyers arrive. But it extends to allowing them to tour the home alone with their buyer agent. For buyers to buy a home, they must bond to a home. For buyers to bond to a home, they need to be free to relax in your home and chat with their agent about what they would do to make the home their own. This will not happen if you are present. So what can you do to make sure they appreciate your home’s qualities? Hire a listing agent who will design a custom brochure for your home that is available when buyers visit your home. Such a brochure is your best ammunition – they can take it home and recall all of your home’s wonderful features and get their questions answered as well.
Giving the buyers their space extends to the home inspections as well. The period during the home inspection is one of normal buyer remorse. Did we buy the right home? Will a better home become available? Allowing buyers the freedom to return to your home alone will allow them to bond again to your home and stay committed to it during the sometimes difficult inspection process.
In fact, the only time you should interact with your buyer is at the closing. From initial showing to return visits, inspections and walk throughs, you should always vacate your home and give the buyers their space!
by Kathe Barge | Aug 8, 2022 | Buyers, Buying Conditions, Design, Downsizing, Helpful Tips, Home Improvements, Home Staging, Inspections, Market Trends, Property Updates, Property Value, Real Estate, Sellers, Selling Conditions
We aren’t ready to move but want to update our home – what are the best choices for paint colors and flooring changes, assuming we may want to move in the next few years?
New paint colors must harmonize with the rest of your home, unless you plan to repaint the entire interior of your home, so any suggestions need to be taken in the context of what else is going on inside your home. My best suggestion for a currently fairly timeless paint color is Benjamin Moore’s Edgecomb Gray. This color blends with virtually every shade of white that might be on your trim and nearly every color flooring that might be in your home. It is really more of a greige than a gray and, like a chameleon, changes color a bit depending on what is in the space and what kind of light is filtering in through the windows. However, if your home is a palette if golds, for example, this color might not be the right choice! Trending now is white on white (with trim and walls painted the same or nearly the same shade of white), but this is a design style that is best incorporated throughout the entire home, and not just a singular room. If you have wallpaper in your space, then it’s a very good investment to have it removed (do not paint over it, no matter what the painter tells you) and painted in a color that coordinates with your design aesthetic. Wallpaper overall remains a difficult sell.
As to flooring, real wood floors remain the best investment you can make. They are timeless and easy to refinish if they become worn or if the buyer prefers a different color. I highly recommend choosing a medium tone brown, not too yellow, red or dark and preferably in ¾” thickness. If engineered wood floors are what your budget requires, choose one that the manufacturer indicates can be refinished at least once, and keep a few extra pieces on hand in case you damage any through normal wear and tear. Bamboo is another great option and there are on-line suppliers that offer a variety of shades in ¾” planks – it is very resilient, environmentally friendly and installed can look like hardwood. I do not recommend that you choose the latest trend, “LVL” (luxury vinyl flooring), for anything beyond the basement level of your home. These are plastic floors, and if your home will likely sell for over $500,000, these floors will not be appreciated on the main or upper levels. Finally, carpet in a neutral tone plush (no berber, no mixed colors) is acceptable as long as they are clean and stain free. If you stain them during the remaining time in your home, you would need to replace them again before you sell your home.
by Kathe Barge | Aug 1, 2022 | Buyers, Helpful Tips, Home Staging, Listings, Market Trends, Property Updates, Property Value, Real Estate, Sellers, Selling Conditions
We are thinking of remodeling our kitchen. Any advice for us if we want to be making good choices for resale?
As much as we would all like to be creative, when it comes to the “hardscapes” of your home – the things that are difficult to change – if resale is even a remote possibility for you, or if you want to be sure to get a high return on your investment (most people expect 100% which is not always realistic), its important to make “mainstream” choices that the buying public as a whole loves! How do you figure that out? Pay attention to what sells quickly in our market. Watch some HGTV. Check out Pinterest! Here are some easy rules to follow!
The most popular cabinet color by far is white! Yes, I know, everyone has been saying for the past two decades that white is on its way out, and that is just not true! Can you choose natural woods? Sure. Will it generate the same excitement on resale? It will not. Yes, it will resell, but probably not as fast or for as much as white. Colored cabinets? If you pick the right (think trendy) color and are selling soon, that can work well. But if you stay in your home for 10 more years, the color you chose may no longer be in vogue and may be a challenge to resell.
The most popular flooring in a kitchen is hardwood. Can you choose tile? Yes, but it will feel dated more quickly, so choose carefully. Bamboo, cork and upscale vinyls are far less popular but can be good choices, depending on the price point.
Countertops? Either granite or quartz are the most popular choices – either will sell well, but choose the color carefully. Right now lighter color palates are in style for countertops. Avoid Formica unless the property is lower end.
Appliances? Choose stainless. Brand is less important. It is the look that is key.
Lighting? Here is where you can show some of your personal style. Buy economically but not cheap. Lights are very easy to change, so if styles change, it’s a very simple way to give your kitchen a facelift before you sell. The same is true for paint, although wallpaper should be avoided. Yes, the design industry claims wallpaper is back in style, but as far as buyers are concerned, nothing has changed!
by Kathe Barge | Jul 19, 2022 | Buyers, Buying Conditions, Helpful Tips, Home Staging, Listings, Market Trends, Marketing, Property Value, Real Estate, Sellers, Selling Conditions
We plan to move out of our home before we put it on the market. Any thoughts on selling an empty home?
Some homes definitely sell more readily vacant – my last home was one of them – and so I definitely do not dissuade sellers from emptying their homes before selling them, but there are some important tips to keep in mind!
If you are emptying your home, then empty it. Do not leave behind the items you don’t want. Do not leave behind soaps, shampoos, chemicals, lawn fertilizers… Empty is empty. So please plan on a complete clean out. If you need help finding people to help dispose of items, give me a call!
It is critical to be sure that once your home is empty, you bring in a handyman to make sure that everything is in good order. Holes should be patched and touch-up painted, scuffs eliminated, carpets and windows cleaned, all lightbulbs working … When there is no furniture to look at, the condition of the home is all the more important.
Make sure you have a plan for upkeep of your empty home. The yard must be regularly maintained, including weeding, leaf and snow removal. The interior tends to be easier to keep up, but do be sure you arrange for a periodic quick clean. It is also a good idea to hire a neighbor or friend to check your home regularly to make sure that there has been no crisis at your home (such as a broken water pipe).
Be sure to keep your home properly conditioned (warm enough in the winter and cool enough in the summer). I have actually seen mold grow inside a home when sellers do not keep the air conditioning running in warm weather in their vacant homes – this will cost far more to clean up than the air conditioning bill! Finally, consider putting lights on timers so when buyers drive by in the evening, your home does not appear dark and unloved!
Selling a vacant home is not a bad thing, but it is important that you follow these tips to be sure your home is presenting well to prospective buyers!