When considering the purchase of a fixer upper home, it’s important to evaluate how much time and money you will have to spend on renovations. It’s often the case that houses needing a lot of TLC are available at rock bottom prices. However, this can mean excessive costs when it’s time for renovations. Here are a few things to consider before taking the leap.
How much work can you do?
Determine how much of the work you are willing and able to do. If you’re a master at hanging drywall and your significant other has a knack for plumbing, it’s very possible to save big. This could be the difference between an inexpensive property that needs a great deal of work, but is ultimately within your budget after renovations, and one that is not.
Keep in mind when deciding which work you’ll do yourself that safety is key. Anything that you don’t truly know how to do, especially things like electrical work, plumbing or jobs involving power equipment, should be left to a professional.
Consider how much time you realistically have. If you work, take care of your family or otherwise have engagements that occupy most of the day, don’t take on huge DIY renovations.
Choose contractors wisely
Before closing on your fixer upper, speak with a few contractors to get an estimate of the work you plan on handing off to a professional. Without knowing how much you’ll need to spend to make the house look the way you want, you can’t know what the real cost of ownership will be. Once you have quotes from several contractors, work with your real estate agent to come up with an offer that considers how much you’ll be spending to get your new home in top shape. Your agent might suggest putting a clause in the contract to have some of the worst problems repaired by the current owners before the closing.
Before settling on a specific contractor, talk to friends, family and neighbors to get a sense of the quality of work you can expect from each candidate. Reviews go a long way when choosing the best company for specific needs.
Hire a home inspector
In most situations that involve a mortgage or other loan from a bank, you will be required to have the house inspected before the loan is approved. Even if this isn’t the case, hiring a qualified home inspector is a critical aspect of ensuring you know what you’re getting yourself into with a fixer upper. For instance, you might be able to tell that the floors in the kitchen will need to be replaced, but only a skilled professional can say for certain whether the foundation is solid or if asbestos is in the attic.
When it comes to real estate, knowledge is power. Take any information provided by a home inspector and consult your agent about how to proceed. They might recommend working part of the cost into negotiations.
Add a cushion
After you’ve decided which portion of the fixer upper’s remodeling you’ll be able to complete, consulted several contractors and had the home inspected, you may be anxious to close. However, there’s another critical step to ensure you’ll be able to afford the renovations.
Unforeseen circumstances often arise during the process of remodeling. It is essential to account for these when determining what you can afford. A general rule of thumb is to add between five and 10 percent to the anticipated costs, just in case your contractor discovers pipes that need to be moved or if the price of the materials you choose increases. By adding a cushion to your financial projections, you should be in a great position to realistically determine whether a fixer upper home will truly be worthwhile.
Every year the National Association of Realtors conducts a survey of recent home buyers and sellers. Below are some highlights on the nature of buyers from the 2018 survey.
- First time home buyers made up 1/3 of all buyers.
- The typical home purchased was built in 1991, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and 1900 square feet.
- Buyers usually searched for 10 weeks and looked at a median of 10 properties.
- 87% of buyers used a real estate agent to purchase their home.
- The top 3 factors influencing what buyers chose were (1) quality of neighborhood, (2) convenience to job, and (3) overall affordability.
- The breakdown of age of homes purchased by buyers in the Northeast: 11% were 1913 or older, 30% were 1914-1961, 25% were 1962-1987, 18% were 1988-2002, and 17% were 2003+.
While interesting data, sellers should be aware of how these buying characteristics might impact selling their home. For example, if you are selling an antique, you need to know you are targeting only 11% of all buyers. Contact me if you’d like to know how these factors might impact you. 603-526-4116, Donna@DonnaForest.com, www.DonnaForest.com
Preventive cleaning was once as popular as the hula hoop and Audrey Hepburn, proving a clean house is the most timeless accessory to a happy home.
A house that needs cleaning is an unwelcomed distraction from living life to its fullest. Piles of dirty laundry or chaos in the living room can dull the day’s accomplishments. Clean homes make it easier to find lost items and allow the mind to relax. Below is a list of preventive tasks that can be accomplished daily or weekly to make sure your home always shines.
Keep microfiber cloths, your favorite cleaners and whatever else you need in buckets or decorative baskets in high traffic areas. With these kits readily available, 10 minutes of spot cleaning can make a difference. Select optimal times for you and family members to dedicate to cleaning. It can be once a day, week or month. To make chores a bit more fun, create a playlist or use this time as an opportunity to completely disconnect.
The kitchen is the heart of the home and one of the most used spaces. Keeping it clean is not impossible when care is given to maintenance. To pass the white glove test, take care of spills and messes as you cook. Rinse pots and pans after use if they cannot be washed right away. Line the stove and oven with tinfoil for quick cleanups. Dust cookbooks and countertop appliances every day just as you do the counters. Additionally, line cabinets with paper to toss out weekly or monthly.
Your bedroom is a haven for sleep and relaxation. Always make the bed upon waking or shortly afterward. Doing so makes the room look pulled together and starts the day with a sense of accomplishment. Place a hamper where needed and do laundry at least once a week. If cleaning the ceiling fan has gotten away from you, place an old towel directly beneath the fan to keep away dust bunnies. Keep framed art clean by misting a paper towel and wiping the glass rather than directly spraying it to prevent seepage around the edges. Use a lint roller to dust lampshades.
Clutter clogs the flow of any room, but it is quite noticeable in the living room. If you have yet to toss out items that do not bring you joy, make it a priority to chuck or donate non-essentials and have a place for everything. Place baskets strategically throughout the room for toys, remotes and whatever else tends to collect. Vacuuming and dusting the living room at least once a week puts an emphasis on picking up stray items. Get into the habit of neatening up at the end of the evening as part of a winding down routine to banish clutter.
Keeping the bathroom clean requires organization. Having dedicated spots for makeup and grooming tools reduces clutter. Wet wipes under the sink will clean toothpaste and soap splatters on faucets, mirrors and countertops. It is best to leave bar soap in the shower rather than placing it on the sink to avoid messes. Keep a shower cleaner in a caddy nearby for a quick spray of the tile and liner when done bathing. Wipe down the sink after every use. Deep clean the tub and toilet at least once a month to prevent smells and stains.
Stay on schedule when cleaning your home to always be ready for company and much more. Inspired by the September 1957 issue of Better Homes & Gardens magazine.
As we roll towards December, it seems like every agent is being asked the same question from their sellers - should I keep my house on the market through the winter? Unless you absolutely do not want to move in the winter, it is usually best to keep your house for sale. There are pros and cons, however. Yes, there are fewer buyers out looking, but these buyers are serious and motivated. Also, at this time of year, there is less inventory meaning less competition for your property. During the holidays there are a number of people coming back home to visit family who may decide to start their house hunt now. If your house is not on the market it for sure will not sell. It only takes one buyer to sell a home. You don't want to miss them by not having your house available to be shown. Looking for an experienced agent to help you sell? Contact me and put my 24 years of knowledge to work for you. 603-526-4116, Donna@DonnaForest.com, www.DonnaForest.com.
I recently attended the National Association of Realtors (NAR) conference in Boston. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, presented his 2019 housing forecast at this convention. Below are some of the key points.
- 2017 had the highest home sales activity in 10 years. While many realtors feel they are currently experiencing a “slow down”, the reality is total sales in 2018 are only down 1.5% YTD compared to 2017.
- Typically, rising interest rates would impact home sales, however, as we are in a period of job growth and low unemployment, this cancels out the impact of higher rates. 2019 is predicted to be similar to 2018, with sales forecasted for a 1% increase.
- The national median home price is expected to rise 3.1% to $266,800 in 2019.
- Low supply could continue to suppress sales, especially for first time buyers.
- The US is experiencing historically normal levels of affordability but buyers may be staying out of the market because of perceived problems with affordability.
Bottom line, Dr. Yun forecasts 2019 home sales to be stable and similar to 2018, with continued growth in sales prices. Contact me if you want to work with a realtor who stays on top of trends and issues facing buyer and sellers today! 603-526-4116, Donna@DonnaForest.com, www.DonnaForest.com
Having great online photos is the key to selling your house quickly. Below are some must do’s before the photographer arrives.
- Clean & clear kitchen and bathroom counters
- Replace burned out light bulbs
- Remove unnecessary furniture & décor
- Clear refrigerator of magnets, etc.
- Remove floor mats, runners
- Make all beds, fluff pillows, clear off nightstands & dressers
- Remove heavy drapes and unnecessary curtains
- Hide pet bowls, beds, toys
- Tidy the yard, sweep the decks, hide trash cans
- Remove all cars from the driveway
Remember, your goal is to go for the HGTV look. Light, clean, decluttered. Making your house look as appealing as possible will translate to more money in your pocket. Contact me for more valuable tips on prepping your home for sale. Donna@DonnaForest.com, www.DonnaForest.com, 603-526-4116
Selling and in the throes of packing and moving? Below are some tips to help get through those final days to avoid creating work for yourself at the last minute.
- Don’t leave personal items unless buyers agreed to it. While you may think you are doing them a favor by leaving the bar stools, the buyers could view it differently. You don’t want to be coming back to remove things right before the closing. Always check first.
- Leftover paint, tile, & cleaning supplies. All useful for the new owners, right? Confirm that buyers want it left. It’s not easy to get rid of this stuff at the last minute.
- You may be closing in a week, but you still need to maintain the yard. Having buyers pull up to a house with foot high grass to do their walk-through inspection could be contentious.
- Be sure to understand what stays with the house. Check with your agent before removing anything attached. For example, hooks, shelves, blinds, light fixtures, & TV brackets should be left unless specified otherwise.
- Don’t leave multiple holes in the walls where pictures hung. Take a few minutes to spackle and paint.
Thinking of selling? Contact me and put my 24 years of real estate knowledge to work for you! 603-526-4116, www.DonnaForest.com, Donna@DonnaForest.com
In a contract, deposits are required to show the sincerity and strength of the buyer's intent to purchase as well as to potentially provide liquidated damages to sellers in case of default. Sellers sometimes eye these funds as money in their pocket and assume that the deposit will just be handed over to them if the buyer defaults or cancels the contract. In reality, there are many legal ways for a buyer to cancel a contract, so odds are slim to see an actual default. Also, a release form has to be signed by both seller AND buyer. This release allows the money to be withdrawn from the escrow account and distributed appropriately. The chances of the buyer just signing over thousands of dollars without an argument are slight. If both parties won't agree to sign, the process could end up in mediation or court. To avoid this situation, it's always best to find compromises that help resolve disputes as amicably as possible.
Give me a call if you are looking for an experienced REALTOR that will help your sale move forward and avoid costly litigation. 603-526-4116, www.DonnaForest.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Every year Remodeling Magazine publishes research on the average return on investment (ROI) on 20 popular home projects in 149 markets across the US. The 2018 report found overall you make back only about 56% of the money spent on renovations. This is down from the last two years where the expectation was at 64%. Of course the ROI varies with the project. In the New England markets, new garage doors have the highest ROI at 99%, followed by siding replacement at 80% and vinyl windows replacements at 75%. Enhancing curb appeal provides higher payback than interior projects.
Spending money on a house does not mean it automatically goes up in equal value. Putting on a $10k roof won't increase the worth of a home by $10k. Buyers expect to purchase a home with a roof that has a reasonable life expectancy. There is a difference between maintenance and enhancement. Bottom line, if you are thinking of selling, replace or repair is better than adding rooms or doing major remodels. Contact me for sound advice on where to spend your money when getting ready to sell! 603-526-4116, Donna@DonnaForest.com, www.DonnaForest.com
- Overpricing – Even in a good market, a house priced too high will just sit.
- Not Prepping Home – Decluttering, depersonalizing, cleaning. All a must do before selling.
- Neglecting Curb Appeal – First impressions count. And you don’t get a second chance at enticing buyers.
- Ignoring Repairs – Poor maintenance will leave buyers wondering what else is wrong with the house. And can be deal killers when the home inspection is done.
- Being Emotional – When a house goes on the market it becomes a commodity and not your home. Making decisions based on emotions will cost you.
- Taking Offense at Low Offers – Buyers are trying to buy at the lowest price they can. An offer is most always a starting point for negotiations.
- Not Hiring a Professional – It’s a fact For Sale by Owners end up selling for less than if they hired a realtor.
If you are thinking of selling and looking for expert guidance throughout the process, then contact me – a certified Seller Representative Specialist! 603-526-4116, Donna@DonnaForest.com, www.DonnaForest.com