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)