It is spring in the Granite State and the housing market is in full bloom. While we are still experiencing low inventory, buyers are out buying and multiple offers are not uncommon. Like last year, the lack of homes to sell is impacting prices. Statewide in the 1st quarter, the median sales price grew from $260,000 in 2018 to $280,000 in 2019, up 7.7%. The average days on market was 80 days. Sales statewide are down by 2.8%; again due to low inventory.
In the combined towns of Newbury, New London, and Sunapee, 1st quarter sales are about the same. 26 homes sold in 2019; 25 sold in 2018. The average days on market dropped to 145 days vs. 201 days in 2018. The median sales price was $350,250 in 2019 compared to $392,000 in 2018. The higher median sales price in 2018 can be attributed to having 3 sales over $1 million close in the 1st quarter vs. the highest sales price this year was $750,000.
The good news for home buyers is no further rate hikes are expected and the 30 yr. fixed rate mortgage is under 4.5%. Additionally it is still a tight job market which is pushing up income. Bottom line, it’s still a good time to be a buyer or seller so contact me to get your jump on the spring market! 603-526-4116, www.DonnaForest.com, email@example.com
Figures are based on information from the Northern New England Real Estate Network, Inc. for the period 1/1/18 – 3/31/18 and 1/1/19 – 3/31/19.
You don’t have to spend big bucks to improve the functionality of your home. Try one or more of these projects this weekend to make your home look and feel its best.
Replace a window treatment.
Has the window shade above your kitchen sink been marred by repeated exposure to splashes and cooking liquids? Replace a stained window covering with an inexpensive fabric treatment and see your kitchen in a whole new light.
Brighten a bookcase.
Give a bookcase an exciting backdrop by applying contact paper, scrapbook paper or fabric to its back. If you don’t want to commit to a particular design or color scheme, measure the piece’s back panel and mount the background material on poster board, cut to the size of each shelf.
Tackle trimwork repairs.
You might not be able to install new trimwork in your home for $20, but you can make improvements to what you already have. Replace mismatched, missing or damaged moldings, end caps, quarter rounds or baseboard. Curved areas might require a special piece or trim made of an alternate material.
Create a charging station.
Construct a mini charging station for your family’s devices with this simple, inexpensive hack. Cut small slits in a basic ledge shelf to enable cords to run behind and inside the hollow shelf before being plugged in below. Mount the station to the wall to keep countertops clutter-free.
Organize the entry.
Keep dirt and mud contained with a boot tray near your home’s entryway. Buy one that’s easy to clean, or create your own from a jelly-roll pan. If storage space is limited, tuck the tray beneath a slim console table.
Mend your walkway.
Cracks and gaps in sidewalks and walkways can quickly expand throughout the year. Not only will a patch job make your pathway look nice, it’ll also make it safer for visitors and passersby. Fix your sidewalk with a patching compound specifically made for cement.
Get stylish underfoot.
Try your hand at a fun paint technique and update tired flooring with a custom rug. Using a vinyl floor remnant and paint, you can create a fun, personalized focal point. Varying the stripe widths creates a cool, casual look.
Add a cheap backsplash.
Turn a large vintage map into a distinctive backdrop that makes a statement. This map of Paris is a fun addition to an otherwise-neutral kitchen.
Tip: If you’re a renter or have boring ceramic tiles in your kitchen, use peel-and-stick decals to add less-permanent flair in a flash.
Replace a plastic switchplate with a wood, metal or ceramic cover to make a visual statement. Some switchplates are even textured to blend in with marble, tile or stone surfaces. Do this for light switches, electrical outlets and phone and cable jacks.
Organize your closets.
Coax function from a messy closet with thoughtful accessories designed to elevate organization. Categorize hanging garments by type, day of the week, or family member with colorful tags. Slim, slip-free hangers look uniform and maximize space.
Recaulk the bathroom.
If the caulk in your bathroom is looking dingy, discolored or cracked, it’s time to remove it and start fresh. Whether it’s around your sink, bathtub or shower, old caulk can grow mildew and cause damage by leaking water—especially between the tub and bathroom floor. Remove the old caulk, clean the space well and replace it with a new layer. A good caulk seal will last up to 10 years.
Add a divider.
Drawer and cabinet dividers are a must when it comes to keeping kitchen tools in their respective places. Secure a wire rack inside a cabinet to provide sturdy storage for cookie sheets, muffin tins and cooling racks. Some units match your kitchen cabinetry design for a completely integrated and customized look.
Step up your storage game.
Plastic bins are a versatile and inexpensive way to restore order in almost every in-home trouble spot. Using clear bins for storage in a pantry or for a closet gift-wrap station, for example, is an easy way to take inventory and identify items at a glance. Use labels to ensure everything stays tidy and easy to access.
Designate a drop spot.
Enhance the style and storage of your entryway with a designated place for important drop-zone items. Create a mini hang-up station for house keys and outgoing mail on the back of a cabinet door. Use magnetic strips, pegboard or an old ceiling tin, and add hooks to store items in one convenient location near the door.
Update your house numbers.
All it takes is a screwdriver and few minutes to give your front door a personality-filled facelift. Change out poorly operating door hardware or make house numbers more readable for a pretty, practical update on the cheap.
Put towels and robes within reach.
Bid floor puddles goodbye by keeping after-bath accessories within reach. Add a towel bar or robe hook near your shower or bathtub, or move the one you already have to make it more accessible. Find bars or hooks that match or complement existing hardware in your bathroom.
Add hanging storage.
Free up valuable floor space in your basement, garage or entryway with hanging storage. Seasonal items, such as bikes and sleds, are difficult to store and take up lots of space. Add hooks to an unused wall or ceiling area and discover space you didn’t know you had.
If you are on the fence about selling, this might be the best year to put your house on the market. Below are 5 reasons why selling now will put more money in your pocket!
- The median home price is at an all-time high. In NH, the median home sales price was $282,500 in 2018, surpassing the peak of the market in 2005 at $270,000.
- There still is low inventory which means buyers are competing for homes. Multiple offers are not unusual!
- Mortgage rates have fallen since the start of the year – meaning more buyers can afford to buy.
- Milennials are entering the market – nearly 5 million will be turning 30 in the next 2 years – they scooped up homes last year and 2019 should be no different.
- Some economists are predicting an economic slowdown in 2020, which could impact housing sales.
If you are thinking about selling, contact me to see how the market could impact you. 603-526-4116, www.DonnaForest.com, Donna@DonnaForest.com
Lots of people will say the kitchen is the heart of the home—and that may be true, but the living room plays a huge role in how you entertain and use your house on a daily basis. Try incorporating these ideas next time you’re in the mood for a refresh.
Set the mood with color.
The colors you choose for your living room will affect how guests feel in the space. Colors can energize or relax the space, depending on how intense they are and how warm or cool they are.
A serene scheme of soft blue and white makes this spacious living room feel calm, cool and collected—a gracious setting for elegant gatherings. A light tan carpet underfoot warms the space and keeps the cool tones in balance.
Finish the walls and ceilings.
Traditionally, living room walls receive more elaborate or formal treatment than other rooms because the room is a public space. To make it a welcoming room that expresses your personality, choose wall coverings or treatments that reflect your style.
The walls in this room are wallpapered with a chic print. The effect brings warmth and texture to the walls and gives them a look of antiquity.
Add character with architectural trim work.
Trim work serves practical purposes, covering the seams where floors and ceilings meet walls and supporting the structure around openings. But these elements serve aesthetic purposes too. The style of trim work helps give your home a distinctive look, whether classical, contemporary, old-world or regional.
Projecting lintels over the door and windows, a deep cornice and a paneled and beamed vaulted ceiling combine to give this whitewashed living room a sense of place.
Choose stylish, comfortable flooring.
In keeping with the function of the living room as a public space, choose a floor covering that provides comfort underfoot and makes a design statement as well. A vibrant wall-to-wall carpet lays the foundation for a refined mix of florals and stripes.
If you prefer a less bold floor, choose a solid neutral flooring that allows attention to focus on furniture or art. Hardwood floors with area rugs are one of the most popular choices for living room floors, but ceramic tile, stone tile and full carpeting work too.
Create a focal point.
A focal point anchors the living room and helps draw you into the space. A fireplace is a natural focal point, symbolizing hearth and home, but in most living spaces, the television is the true center of attention. To keep them from competing, pair them up. A beautiful view or a stunning piece of art can also serve as a room’s focal point.
Here a the fireplace becomes the central point in this living room that features a simple and chic look.
Arrange furniture for conversation.
Living rooms are gathering spaces, so use furniture arrangement to promote conversation and interaction. Pull seating pieces away from the walls and arrange them to face each other.
If you have a large living room, break it into two conversational groups for a more comfortable, intimate feeling. Chairs and ottomans that can be pulled into the group as needed allow you to expand the circle and still keep the intimacy.
Include inviting lighting.
Lighting in the living room should be geared toward creating a relaxed, comfortable mood. Aim for layers of light, and position light sources so they form roughly a triangle to ensure good distribution of illumination.
Table lamps that focus the light down will encourage people to sit down and relax. The overlapping arcs of light illuminate the seating instead of the upper walls, sending the message to sit.
Dress the windows—or not.
Although heavy window treatments are mostly a thing of the past, living rooms are the place for elaboration and luxury if you’re so inclined. This combination of relaxed shades and floor-to-ceiling draperies is understated yet elegant.
The elegance comes from the generous use of fabric in the draperies—they’re not fancy, but the thick folds and puddling ends communicate luxury. The shades block light and provide privacy when desired.
Design a media center.
If your living room is also your family room, watching TV may be the main use of the room. Whether you have the newest model or an older one, incorporate it into the room’s design so that it’s a feature but not dominant.
A built-in bookcase is a perfect spot to accommodate the television.
Accessorize with art and collections.
Living room walls come alive when you use them to display art or collections that you love. Group items for impact, and hang them low enough to relate to nearby furnishings or architecture. The most common mistake in hanging pictures is putting them too high.
No one wants their kitchen prep surfaces overtaken by clutter—but no one wants to live without their favorite kitchen appliances, either. Here’s how to have both.
Maximize under-sink storage.
Conquer your under-sink space with an simple, on-a-dime solution. Keep your most frequently used items (dish soap, dishwasher detergent, sponges and scrubbers) on a turntable for quick access.
Streamline the coffee station.
Make mornings easier with an all-in-one coffee station. Dedicate a pullout drawer next to your coffeemaker to holding filters, coffee beans and travel mugs, so brewing a fresh pot is a one-step task.
Have freezer smarts.
Stock your freezer with storage-smart ideas to make use of every inch of shelf space. Use plastic baskets (an affordable organization tool) to store foods by type, and put a labeled tag on each. Keep small adhesive labels and a permanent marker on hand to label individual containers.
Add a command center.
Built-in bins, a bulletin board and a clock turn one side of a fridge cabinet into a household command center. This simple DIY project creates instant organization and utilizes small spaces that are otherwise wasted.
Store stuff on the doors.
Attach racks to the inside of cabinet doors to boost storage options. Be sure to allow enough clearance within your cabinets to allow the door to close completely. A narrow rack is ideal for keeping small jars in order.
Fake a pantry.
Using substantial-size drawers is a smart alternative to a full-size pantry when kitchen space is limited. These drawers keep boxes and bags upright, organized and accessible.
Keep towels close.
Keep dish towels in a cabinet close to the cleanup zone. Use a pullout towel rack with more than one bar to air-dry and store towels.
Add open shelves.
Add open shelving for cookbooks, displays of attractive serving bowls and dishes, stemware, vases or baskets. Here, grouping and stacking pieces on the open shelves keeps items neat and easy to find.
Put walls to work.
Install a wire wall grid to keep kitchen tools handy. Turn a bare section of wall into a hook-and-hang center. For more storage, add accessories such as spice racks and cookbook holders.
Properly store spices.
Store spice bottles on their sides with labels visible; lay them in shallow drawers instead of stacking them. The best location for spice storage is below a cooktop or to the side of a range. The flavor of spices stored above a cooking surface might be adversely affected by the heat.
Neatly stow linens.
Run out of drawer space for towels and cloth napkins? Reach for a basket to neatly stack linens, and tuck the basket onto a shelf or inside a cabinet. A basket will help keep linen sets together and make them easy to find when you want to use them.
Divide your drawer space.
Adjustable inserts help organize flatware and other items inside your drawers. When designing custom drawer space, specify shallow drawers to store utensils one deep for easy viewing.
Try upright storage.
Store shallow items, such as cutting boards and platters, upright. Even narrow spaces next to your range or your sink can be used in this manner. Use dividers to separate items for easier retrieval.
Stow pots and pans.
Fill in the space under a cooktop with a tilt-out tray for spices and rollout trays for pots and pans. Or, slide in a movable cart with shelves to accommodate cooking equipment.
Combine open and closed storage for visual interest and accessibility. An arrangement of cabinets and cubbies makes use of typically wasted space around a refrigerator.
Bring the pantry closer to you.
A pullout pantry system has wire shelf sides that prevent items from falling out and allow easy viewing of the contents. Pullout pantry systems, especially those that extend into toe-kick space near the floor, must be installed perfectly level and plumb to operate smoothly.
Customize your shelves.
If you’re installing open shelving, strategize your plan to accommodate what you’ll be storing. Professional organizers recommend measuring your stacked dishes to determine the shelf height your dishware requires.
Now that winter is here, it brings a new set of challenges for sellers. Here are a few common sense tips to follow.
1. Make sure your driveway is always plowed and entryways clear.
2. Keep walkways and stairs clear of snow and ice.
3. Set thermostat in a vacant house to at least 55 to 60 degrees. A warm house holds more appeal and buyers will take their time looking. If a home is cold, buyers will rush through and it leaves a negative impression.
4. Put a large, heavy duty rug in front of the door used for entry to provide space for buyers' wet boots.
5. Let in the light. Push back drapes, open blinds, install higher wattage bulbs.
6. If you have great summer photos of the yard, leave them out for buyers to view.
If you are looking for an experienced REALTOR with the common sense to help sell your house in any season, then give me a call. 603-526-4116, www.DonnaForest.com, Donna@DonnaForest.com
Consider a frameless glass shower.
A glass shower door lends a luxurious look to any bathroom, but the reason for installing one might not be all about looks. This shower lacks a ledge or lip to step over to enter the shower, making it a great choice for aging family members.
Install comfortable seating.
Whether you want a spot to sit down and towel off or a place to lean back and relax for a few moments, a cushioned chair or ottoman ups the comfort level of any bath. Another option is to place a cushioned bench beneath a window. Be sure to add lots of pillows.
Pipe in soothing sounds.
Keep your favorite soft music on hand for easy listening while you rejuvenate. Whether you invest in a state-of-the-art sound system or stash a small CD or mp3 player on the shelf, music has great impact on your mood. If you’re installing a sound system, maximize sound quality by placing two speakers in opposite corners of the room.
Include an entertainment center.
If you keep up with the news while you get ready in the morning, consider installing a small television in your remodeled bathroom. Low-voltage, water-resistant televisions designed for installation in areas near water come complete with water-resistant remotes. To protect your television, keep bathroom humidity levels in check with proper ventilation.
Get a glowing hearth.
Put a fireplace in your bathroom to enjoy the sight and warmth of a roaring fire as you relax in the tub or do evening stretches. If the bathroom is attached to your bedroom, consider a double-sided fireplace for twice the enjoyment.
Put in a shower bench.
Just like in a lavish spa, a seat in the shower will encourage a slower pace. Tile the bench to match the rest of the shower, or add a bench made of a contrasting material like teak or glass. Enhance a shower bench with other upgrades in the shower, such as a steam feature or multiple showerheads.
Install heated towel bars.
Yet another cozy idea: hang your towels from heated bars so you can wrap yourself in warm terry cloth when you finish your shower or bath.
Go big with a freestanding tub.
Wash away stress in a deep soaking tub. If you long to linger in the soothing jets and serene bubbles of a whirlpool tub, buy a model that’s roomy and doesn’t strain your muscles when you lean back. Keep in mind that you need plenty of hot water to fill the tub, which adds to both your water and electric bills.
Channel the spa with a steam shower.
If you truly want a spa experience without leaving home, put in a shower that doubles as a steam shower. To make your shower steam-ready, equip it with a door that seals tightly on all sides. Install a vapor barrier on the ceiling and wall framing to prevent moisture, which causes wood rot, from reaching studs and joists. Include a steam generator outside the shower. This heats water from your water system using a 220-volt electric heating element. A steam-generator supplier will help you determine the best size.
Integrate smart storage solutions.
Take a beautiful bathroom to the next level by adding practical and pretty storage. It’s easy for bathrooms to get overloaded with cosmetics and grooming products; smart storage allows you to put everything in its place. Mix open and closed storage, or try frosted-glass door inserts, shown in this bathroom, to add interest to the room and break up a wall of cabinets.
Lighten it up with windows and skylights.
Brighten a dark, dull bathroom by adding windows or a skylight. Let your room’s proportions and features dictate size. If wall space is limited or views are unappealing, consider a skylight. Operable models, called sky windows, offer ventilation as well as light and have frames that match wall windows. To prevent moisture and condensation problems, choose high-quality windows and install them according to the manufacturer’s specifications, or call on a professional.
Glamorize with a chandelier.
Even the bathroom needs glamour, and adding a chandelier is a quick way to upgrade a hardworking space. Hang a pretty fixture over the bathtub so you can enjoy it while you lounge, or put it near a window so the crystals can bounce light around the room.
Add luxury shower elements.
Dual showerheads, handheld showerheads, body sprays and a broad bench elevate an ordinary shower experience to be invigorating and lavish. Wall-mount showerheads can be adjusted to spray high or low for people of different heights. Many handheld sprayers can be adapted to existing plumbing lines, making for easy installation.
Create a “rug” out of tile.
Almost any bathroom can incorporate a tiled “rug,” and one can be added to an existing bathroom by simply removing tile from the area you want to add the accent, and then putting down the new tiles. Like other upgrades, the tile rug adds a custom and personalized look to the bathroom. It’s also a great place to infuse pattern or color.
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.