Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The 3% Rule: How to potentially make 3% more profit on the sale of your home (Part 2)

After decades in real estate and selling hundreds of homes, I truly believe that the average homeowner can do certain things to positively influence their sale. I call it the “3% Rule,” and it means that the average homeowner can potentially make up to about 3% more on their home sale. 

Of course, this isn’t an exact science. But even a 1% increase in a $300,000 home sale would equal an additional $3,000 in a home seller’s pocket. And 3% would equal a whopping $9,000! 

In part one of this blog, I covered my first seven points of my 3% Rule and today I'll delve into the remaining eight.

So how can you potentially make up to 3% more on the sale of your home?

8. Have professional photos taken
If an image is worth a thousand words, the images home shoppers first see of your home could possibly make you tens of thousands of dollars. For that reason, we suggest using a professional photographer for your listing photos, who will employ perfect lighting, and lenses with pinpoint clarity. With most buyers thumbing through hundreds of listings on the internet, the first impression those photos will make can result in more looks, interest, and ultimately, a better opportunity to sell your home for top dollar. 

9. Price your home right the first time
You may think that the easiest way to net more money on your home sale – or even 3% more – is to price your home higher. But overpricing your home compared to the competition will only ensure that you get fewer online views, fewer walk-throughs, fewer offers, and, probably, not sell it for that higher price at all.

Instead, think of selling your home as a balancing act between getting the highest possible price and also selling it as quickly and efficiently as possible. In fact, research shows that the longer a home is listed without selling, the less it will ultimately get. And you’ll probably have to pay your mortgage payment if it doesn’t sell quickly, or even two or three payments (or more!)

So we’ll sit down together and look at a comprehensive market analysis, revealing the hard data about what similar homes in the same area are selling for, as well as what other competition is on the market. 

10. Give the dog (or pet) a vacation away from home
Surveys show that if you really want to sell your home for top dollar, it's best to relocate pets off of the property during the listing and showing process. Not everyone is a dog/cat/or pet person, and some people have allergies or serious reservations about animals. Even if you put them in a side room, the fact that they are there and the buyer can't openly explore the home will leave them with a less than a positive feeling.  

11. Maximize light 
One of the easiest ways to make a house look larger, nicer, and more inviting is to brighten it up, especially with natural light. So remove those heavy, dreary shades and curtains for lighter translucent materials, change outdated or inadequate fixtures, and consider new bulbs with soft white light. Research shows that just by doing these things you'll get a 300% Return On Investment when selling – which is a super simple way to try and reach that goal of a +3% sale price.

12. Take an honest look at your competition
Before we ever put a sign in your front yard and list your home for sale, together, we’ll look closely at the other homes that are active, pending and sold in your neighborhood. Not only will this give us an idea of where to price your home accurately, but we'll also understand what other options buyers are seeing when they go house hunting.  

Ultimately, we’ll present you with a detailed market analysis with every home that is currently for sale within your greater geographic area and with similar dimensions and features (for instance, homes with 3 or more bedrooms in Folsom). Armed with this knowledge, we’ll be able to strategically price and position your listing against the competition.

13. Start a bidding war with an attractive price
One of the best ways to get the MOST net proceeds for your home is to price it extremely aggressively from the start. This may feel counterintuitive, but by pricing it favorably, you'll create a huge buzz of agents and buyers who rush to see your home as soon as it hits the market. They'll feel the sense of urgency and quickly submit full price and higher offers, and most often even engage in a bidding war that drives your price up.

14. Make it easy to show – and show well!
How easy will it be for other real estate agents to show their eager buyers your home? You’ll be doing yourself a great service if you make it easy and accessible to show for other agents (and their buyers!)

It’s also wise to prepare ahead of your listing by starting to pack, organize all of your possessions, and move furniture and boxes to a storage unit ahead of time. That way, the home will be less cluttered, look bigger, and buyers will be able to envision living there as they walk through.

15. Don’t ever hold back when it comes to disclosures
If you really want to see your home sale go smoothly – including netting the highest possible profit - make sure to honestly and accurately fill out your disclosures. Not being forthright about any material defects, problems, and issues with the property – or even the neighborhood – will throw a monkey wrench in the transaction, jeopardizing the sale, costing you more money, and possibly even landing you in court. 

The good news is that we can usually solve many of these concerns before the home is even listed by ordering the appropriate reports and making necessary repairs, which will give the buyer a green light to offer a great price.

How else can you sell your home for more? Use the Alfano Group Real Estate Agency!

Too often, homeowners choose a Realtor just because they know the person socially or they bump into them at an open house, but smart sellers enlist the help of the best real estate professional possible.


The Alfano Real Estate Group would love the chance to compete for your business and earn your trust. When you’re ready to sell your home, so feel free to contact us any time with questions. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Answering your questions about Home Owners Associations (HOAs)

What is an HOA? 
An HOA, or homeowners association, is a community organization that dictates and enforces certain rules to maintain the standards, quality, and values for all residents who live there.

What they do in exchange for dues?
HOAs assume responsibility for maintaining common areas within the complex or community, like parks, swimming pools, gyms, function halls, clubhouses, sidewalks, tennis courts, elevators, and other areas that every homeowner benefits from. 

HOAs also commonly provide security, landscaping services, sometimes waste management, water, sewer, and other maintenance on roofs and building exteriors.

Additionally, HOAs endeavor to maintain (or improve) the quality of the area, ensuring that property values don't decline. They do this by instituting their own set of rules, sometimes called CC&Rs (covenants, conditions, and restrictions) that including noise ordinances, speed limit restrictions, and other public nuisances. 

How much are HOA fees?
HOA fees are usually paid monthly, and separate from your mortgage payment. They can vary widely depending on the type of property, the neighborhood, and the quality and scope of the amenities provided, but typical HOA fees may run from $200 up to $500 or higher. Some HOA communities even charge on a sliding scale based on your property’s square footage.

Typical HOA rules cover:
  • What color your front door has to be
  • If you can hang laundry lines and laundry outside
  • Barbecues, patio furniture, outdoor furniture
  • Outdoor storage
  • Whether you’ll allowed to have a satellite dish or not
  • If pets are permitted, and if so, what type and the size
  • Parking rules for owners and visitors
  • What color you can paint your house/unit
  • Exterior landscaping requirements and regulations
  • Including watering schedules
  • Garbage and recycle management
  • Type and height of fences, and
  • Restrictions on window coverings.
The downside of HOAs
We now understand the potential benefits of living in an HOA community, including regulations aimed at protecting property values as well as the quality of life for residents. But there can be a downside to HOAs, as well, aside from just the cost.

Homeowners that aren't used to living in an HOA community often are shocked at the scope and pettiness of rules when they first move in. It seems like every little behavior – like where a guest can park, if you can decorate your own property for Christmas, and what size your dog is, is heavily regulated, turning homeownership into life under a police state!

Rules can also be inconsistently enforced, so you don’t want to run afoul of the HOA board or management company and get on their bad list!

Additionally, the HOAs may fall short of the money needed to properly maintain the community, and needed repairs often go undone. That can happen not only with mismanagement, but when unanticipated repairs and maintenance come up, or when enough units are vacant that the remaining homeowners need to pick up the financial slack. 

For instance, during the real estate bust and Great Recession of the mid-2000s, most HOAs faced an unprecedented crisis and teetered on bankruptcy when vacancy rates (due to foreclosures) and scofflaws doubled and tripled virtually overnight. According to the Community Associations Institute, about 45% of HOAs faced "serious" problems as a result of the economic downturn, with 9% describing their situation as "severe.”

HOA fees can go up at any time, with owners faced with no choice but to keep paying them or sell.

There are three types of HOAs:

1. Voluntary
These communities have an HOA in place, but you can choose not to join or participate when you buy your home there. They may collect dues, voluntarily, but they aren’t legally entitled to enforce rules.

2. Mandatory
In most HOA communities, when you buy a home or property there, you have no choice but to pay dues and adhere to that HOA’s rules.

3. Condominium
Built-in organization of governance when you buy a condominium. HOAs are mandatory in condos and play an additionally important role since owners aren't responsible for anything outside of their own unit. 

Some statistics about HOAs:
In the United States, there are now more than 63 million people living in properties that have a homeowners association – which makes up about 24% of all U.S. households!

There are about 310,000 HOA-governed communities in the U.S., comprising condominiums, townhouses, in gated communities, detached homes, or any other kinds of Planned Unit Developments.

Each year, more than 8,000 new community associations or HOAs are formed.

While you may sometimes hear complaints (and even horror stories) about homeowner disputes with their HOA, data paints another picture about that relationship. 

In fact, 70% of owners “rate their community association experience as positive,” and 22% say it’s “neutral.” That means only 8% of homeowners have a negative experience with their HOA.

Moreover, about 76% of people surveyed say that their “association rules and regulations protect and enhance property values.” 

About two/thirds of HOAs are run by professional property managers, while the remaining 1/3 are run by elected boards and volunteers comprising of homeowners in the community.

The 5 states with the highest number of homeowners associations include Florida, California, Texas, Illinois, and North Carolina.

Some tips for buying in an HOA community
For the vast majority of homeowners, HOAs are beneficial and welcomed. But it’s  a good idea to investigate their dealings during the buying process, so you'll know what you're committing to. 

Here are some tips for checking out your future HOA:

  • Find out (get everything in writing!) what the monthly dues cover. 
  • Ask how HOA fee increases are determined, and how often.
  • Look at how many times raises have been instituted throughout the HOAs history.
  • In fact, they should provide you a printed record fo HOA dues for the last 10 years (or as applicable).
  • How large is the HOA reserve fund?
  • Ask for a record of special assessments that have been made in the past.
  • Are any special assessments are planned for the near future?
  • Has the HOA had any lawsuits or any ongoing?
  • Obtain a copy of the minutes from the last few HOA meetings, and sit in on a meeting before you buy.
  • Does the HOA have catastrophe insurance in case of an earthquake, flood, fire, etc.?
  • You may even want to knock on a few doors and ask your future neighbors what they think about the HOA, as well as the neighborhood!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

It’s all about the zip codes! Which Sacramento zip codes are the hottest, the priciest, the hidden steals for homebuyers, or even on the decline?

I’m sure you’ve picked up the morning newspaper, turned on the news, or checked social media and saw reports citing real estate statistics. These days, they’re usually about escalating prices and dwindling inventory, of course, but they also rarely tell the true story. 

In fact, real estate is all about micro-markets, and what’s happening across town, in the Bay Area, or in Sheboygan, Wisconsin have very little to do with your home value at the moment.


So in this blog, we’ll break down key market statistics based on zip codes, which often correlates to actual neighborhoods (although there is some spillover) or even more narrowly defined areas. When it comes to real estate – including important decisions to buy or sell – you can never have too much good, specific information, and this will help.

So which zip codes are hot, which may be starting to level off in value, and postal code presents hidden deals for homebuyers?

In order to keep this blog short and sweet, we only presented some of the Sacramento area’s many zip codes, so if you have questions about one you don’t see listed, feel free to contact us!

Sacramento Single Family Home Sales - May 2017:

95608 Carmichael
Current Median Sales Price: $ $385,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $369,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $223 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 120 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $476,750 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95610 Citrus Heights
Current Median Sales Price: $ $330,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $327, 500 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $216 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 39 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $369,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95621 Citrus Heights
Current Median Sales Price: $ $299,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $293,838 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $224 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 34 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $327,475 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95624 Elk Grove
Current Median Sales Price: $ $400,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $395,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $207 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 69 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $475,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95628 Fair Oaks
Current Median Sales Price: $ $472,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $425,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $227 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 112 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $515,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95670 Rancho Cordova Gold River
Current Median Sales Price: $ $324,750 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $320,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $217 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 58 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $364,179 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95757 Elk Grove
Current Median Sales Price: $ $446,500 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $445,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $194 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 40 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $449,975 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95758 Elk Grove
Current Median Sales Price: $ $363,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $360,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $209 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 51 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $359,950 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95811 Sacramento Midtown
Current Median Sales Price: $ $0 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $362,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $0 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 6 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $638,162 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95816 Sacramento Midtown
Current Median Sales Price: $ $535,435 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $540,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $395 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 28 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $369,500 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
  
95817 East Sacramento
Current Median Sales Price: $ $375,500 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $319,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $330 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 25 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $369,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95818 Sacramento Land Park Curtis Park
Current Median Sales Price: $ $560,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $535,105 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $402 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 32 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $528,950 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95819 East Sacramento
Current Median Sales Price: $ $557,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $553,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $415 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 25 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $569,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95822 South Land Park Greenhaven
Current Median Sales Price: $ $263,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $250,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $227 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 47 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $309,900 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95829 Sacramento Florin
Current Median Sales Price: $ $363,500 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $347,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $218 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 33 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $598,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95831 Sacto S Land Park Greenhaven
Current Median Sales Price: $ $412,500 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $425,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $236 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 38 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $452,500 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95864 Sacto Arden Arcade Creek
Current Median Sales Price: $ $430,250 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $384,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $271 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 75 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $778,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)

95816 West Sacramento
Current Median Sales Price: $ $410,000 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Median Sales Price This Year: $375,000 (Listed as Year to Date in the right column)
Average Price/Square Foot: $212 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)
Current Total Listing Inventory: 55 (Listed as Total Listing Inventory)
Total Listing Median Price: $429,800 (Listed under Current Month on the chart)








Saturday, June 24, 2017

Frustrated by the lack of housing inventory? Here are 25 reasons why people will always sell

Right now, it definitely looks like sellers are in the driver's seat in our Sacramento real estate market. But don't worry; there are always homeowners who not only want to list their home for sale, but need to. In fact, there are a variety of motivations why people stick a For Sale sign in their front yard, which means that opportunities always abound for homebuyers.

Here are 25 reasons why people will always sell their homes:

They’ve outgrown their current home
Many young homebuyers begin with a "starter home" which may be small (in square footage and in price tag). But after they become more financially stable in a few years, they may opt to sell and move into a more spacious home.

They just want a nicer, bigger home
Sometimes there’s nothing at all wrong with their current home, but sellers just fall in love with a bigger, nicer, or different home – perhaps in a neighborhood they’ve always wanted to live in.

They “messed up” on the purchase
Maybe these sellers made a grave mistake when they originally bought their home, like purchasing the smallest home on the block, one that was the scene of a grizzly crime (no wonder why it was so cheap!) or 2/3 of the house was unpermitted editions. In any case, the only way to reconcile that mistake is to move and pass it on to the next buyer.

A job transfer
Relocation out of the area because of a job transfer is one of the most common reasons people need to sell quickly, which means they are often highly motivated.

Moving in with a partner/marriage
Ahhhh that’s so nice! When a girlfriend and boyfriend decide to finally tie the knot (or just move in together), it often calls for buying a home together – and selling their current homes.

Divorce or breakup
It's an unfortunate reality of life that relationships sometimes don't work out. In most cases, it's often best (and necessary) to sell the house they cohabitate in and move on.

There goes the neighborhood
Crime is increasing, graffiti and vandalism are becoming more common, the local schools are declining, and you’re starting to see shopping carts abandoned on the sidewalks. Time to put up a For Sale sign and get out and move to a better neighborhood!

The Empty Nest Syndrome
Once the kids are all grown up and gone to college, couples often choose to sell their family home – which is now way too big for them and a little sentimental.

They want to be closer to family
It's very common for tight-knit families to try to stay together. Once the kids are grown and have their own families, that usually mean the elders selling their home and moving closer to them – not the other way around.

Their current commute is too long
Some people just want to be more centrally located and not have such a long commute to work, play, or city centers.

Retirement
You put in 35 years waking up early and going to work every day, so now that you’ve retired, it’s time to sell your house and move to Florida so you can finally sit by the pool and relax!

Health problems
When people have medical concerns or needs, special living arrangements sometimes offer peace of mind and a far healthier lifestyle. So instead of retrofitting their current home to accommodate their medical needs, it’s often easier just to sell and move into a dwelling that’s already equipped to accommodate them.

The loan becomes more expensive
Remember all of those loans that were adjustable, interest only in the beginning, or had balloon payments? Sometimes, the monthly payment rises higher than is feasible and that means selling is the only good solution.

The maintenance is piling up
If you were facing $25,000 in roof, foundation, heat and air, and/or necessary upgrades at your current home, would you invest the money and stay…or would you be inclined to put it up for sale and move into a home that didn’t need major repairs?

Job loss/loss of income
If you got fired on Friday and lost a major chunk of household income, the For Sale might be up on your home’s front lawn by Monday. Or, a maternity leave, career change or starting your own business, or any other financial setback could dictate putting your house on the market.

A promotion or influx of cash!
Congrats on winning millions of dollars in the lottery! Or maybe you were left a huge inheritance or were finally recognized and rewarded at your work. Either way, when people have more cash on hand they often choose to sell their home and buy one that is more befitting of their new means.

A lifestyle change
Instead of spending your whole Saturday mowing the lawn, raking leaves, and cleaning at your current home, maybe you’ve decided you want to windsurf and go wine tasting every weekend, and selling your home is the only way to achieve that dream lifestyle.

All of the neighbors are selling
Inevitably, others around us move away or go through life changes, too, and if your best friends/neighbors start moving out, sometimes it feels like the right time for you to list your home and move on, too.

The fixing is finished
If you're a DIY, fix it-and-flip enthusiast, then life becomes way too simple and boring when all of the hard work is done and the home repairs are finally finished. Time to sell and start over with the next "fixer" project!

Cash in on a seller's market
When the market appreciated so rapidly that homeowners were sitting on hundreds of thousands of dollars in equity after only a few years, it was hard NOT to sell and realize that profit (except that meant finding a new home to live in, of course.)

Got a new job in another state/area
Most people are either trying to find a better job or at least earn a promotion, but sometimes, the cost for that upward mobility is a transfer to a new state, a new city, or just a new area in the same region, which forces their hand on a home sale.

They really want a pool/one-story house/open floorplan etc.
Some people have discerning tastes and know exactly what they want in their ideal home. In that case, they may look for the opportunity to cash in on their current equity by selling, and then move on to their dream homes.

Apartment living is so much easier
These days, an increasing number of Americans are deciding that it’s time to sell the house and move to a smaller and easier apartment or rental, just for the sake of convenience and freedom.

Landlord sick and tired of the “4 T's"
Every year, hundreds of rental property owners sell their homes in Sacramento for no other reason than the “4 T’s”: toilets, taxes, tenants, and termites!

Probate/estate sale

When a loved one passes away, their real estate holdings often either are willed to heirs and descendants, who usually decide to sell the property, or it passes through a detailed legal process resulting in a probate sale.