Category: General

3 Best Practices for Selling Your House This Year

A new year brings with it the opportunity for new experiences. If that resonates with you because you’re considering making a move, you’re likely juggling a mix of excitement over your next home and a sense of attachment to your current one.

A great way to ease some of those emotions and ensure you’re feeling confident in your decision is to keep these three best practices in mind.

1. Price Your Home Right

The housing market shifted in 2022 as mortgage rates rose, buyer demand eased, and the number of homes for sale grew. As a seller, you’ll want to recognize things are different now and price your house appropriately based on where the market is today. Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrate, explains:

“Price your home realistically. This isn’t the housing market of April or May, so buyer traffic will be substantially slower, but appropriately priced homes are still selling quickly.”

If you price your house too high, you run the risk of deterring buyers. And if you go too low, you’re leaving money on the table. An experienced real estate agent can help determine what your ideal asking price should be.

2. Keep Your Emotions in Check

Today, homeowners are living in their houses longer. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), since 1985, the average time a homeowner has owned their home has increased from 5 to 10 years (see graph below):

3 Best Practices for Selling Your House This Year | Keeping Current Matters

This is several years longer than what used to be the historical norm. The side effect, however, is when you stay in one place for so long, you may get even more emotionally attached to your space. If it’s the first home you bought or the house where your loved ones grew up, it very likely means something extra special to you. Every room has memories, and it’s hard to detach from the sentimental value.

For some homeowners, that makes it even harder to negotiate and separate the emotional value of the house from fair market price. That’s why you need a real estate professional to help you with the negotiations along the way.

3. Stage Your Home Properly

While you may love your decor and how you’ve customized your home over the years, not all buyers will feel the same way about your design. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you focus on your home’s first impression so it appeals to as many buyers as possible. As NAR says:

“Staging is the art of preparing a home to appeal to the greatest number of potential buyers in your market. The right arrangements can move you into a higher price-point and help buyers fall in love the moment they walk through the door.”

Buyers want to envision themselves in the space so it truly feels like it could be their own. They need to see themselves inside with their furniture and keepsakes – not your pictures and decorations. A real estate professional can help you with tips to get your house ready to sell.

Bottom Line

If you’re considering selling your house, reach out to a local real estate professional to help you navigate through the process while prioritizing these best practices.

Avoid the Rental Trap in 2023

If you’re a renter, you likely face an important decision every year: renew your current lease, start a new one, or buy a home. This year is no different. But before you dive too deeply into your options, it helps to understand the true costs of renting moving forward.

The Advantages to Downsizing Now

Are you in the right-sized home? If fewer people live in your home, it may be time to consider downsizing. Several things are going on right now that make it very advantageous to downsize.

Increase Your Profits

Nationally, home values are up. It is reported that home prices are up 19.5% from September 2020 to September 2021.

Housing prices are up now because of the current low mortgage rates and a low inventory of homes on the market. Therefore, it is time to get the most for your property.

A Way to Pay Off Debt

If you still owe on your current mortgage, and your home sells for high enough, you may walk away with enough cash to purchase your downsized home outright. For example, if you owe $100,000 and sell your current home for $500,000, you will be able to buy a $300,000 home for cash and still have funds left over to pay off debts.

Or you still have the option to take advantage of the low mortgage rates and mortgage the new home and invest the profit, all while enjoying a low monthly mortgage payment.

Cutting Expenses

A smaller home in the same zip code is likely to have a smaller real estate tax bill. In the same way, a smaller home updated and in good condition is likely to have much smaller expenses for things like heating and air conditioning. You may even spend less money on maintenance and repairs.

Is it the Right Decision for You?

If you have a larger family, downsizing may not be the best choice for you. A smaller home for such a family would require many sacrifices. Also, if you plan on working remotely, the privacy and productivity a larger home allows may be invaluable.

However, if your family has moved on and you are not using your home as a base for business, downsizing may be right for you. If the decision is the right one, now is the time to get it done. If you do not require much space, the thought is worth considering.

Historic Opportunity

It is worth it to get all the facts and make the best decision for you and your loved ones. Check out Voila now to learn more.

Be On Trend for 2022

When it comes to selling houses, some things never change. First, of course, you want to make sure your house and property are clean, de-cluttered and personalized. But personalized doesn’t mean your house should lack character. You want your buyer to envision themselves living in the space without having to do too much work. Since buyers are likely already looking at how to style their new home, by incorporating a few of the trends for 2022, you can set your house apart by providing them with a head start.

Neutrals, Naturals and Not White

It always seems easiest to repaint the house entirely white. It looks clean, feels new, and the buyer can choose any color they want. The problem is, it can feel stark or even cold. Thankfully, for 2022, neutral and natural color palettes provide an updated look without overwhelming purchasers. Warm, rich light shades of gray, beige or other earthy tones will provide the clean feeling of white without the chill.

Texture in Pink and Green

Incorporating elements in soft tones of pink and rich shades of green with some neutral grays and whites is very on-trend for 2022. This simple addition is easy to create in a bedroom. With an all-white hotel-style duvet and some white pillows, adding a gray knit throw pillow and casually draping textured blankets in one of the current colors will add softness, warmth and feel updated.

Rearrange Some Furniture

Even if you didn’t need a home office over the last few years, it’s a hot item on many buyer’s lists now. If you have the space to dedicate to a home office, it’s a great place to stage for selling. If your home is on the smaller side, carve out a spot or a seemingly quiet place to work. Remove excess furniture to highlight the comfortable work area in a way that shows the space can still pull double duty.

Little touches like these can make your buyer feel like your house is up-to-date, warm and inviting. Voila! flat-fee realtors in Minneapolis can help you sell your home. Contact us today and schedule your appointment.

Why Fall is the Perfect Time to Buy a Home

Many people believe that spring is the best season to buy a home because it allows you to settle in before the kids go to school. However, there can be plenty of competition during this time from other buyers. Fall can be the perfect time for househunting. Here are three reasons why fall is the perfect time to buy a home.

Seasonal Advantage

Many homes that were unable to be sold during the busy spring and summer months are still available on the market for the fall season. Sellers may have been overconfident with pricing, which may be why the homes are still on the market. This gives cash-strapped buyers a seasonal advantage in negotiations. You may be able to lower your offer or add some contingencies. Motivated sellers may be more willing to do whatever it takes to sell before the holidays arrive.

Real Estate Agent Availability

Real estate agents are less busy during the fall months. Lenders, title companies, inspectors and moving companies also experience a lighter schedule. This gives them more time and energy to focus on you, making your home buying experience less stressful. As a result, you have greater flexibility when looking at potential properties at your convenience and can save money on move-in costs.

Tax Breaks

You can take advantage of tax breaks for the entire year, even when you buy a home in the fall. You can claim property taxes, mortgage insurance premiums and mortgage interest as deductions. Any prepaid taxes or insurance premiums that are paid while closing can be deducted also. You may want to consult with a tax professional to leverage any tax breaks to your advantage.

Looking to Buy a Home This Fall?

House hunting in the fall gives you the best opportunity to land a great deal on your dream home. If you are looking to buy a home, consulting the right real estate agents can make finding your new home a breeze. Voila! Real estate professionals in Minneapolis can help make the home buying experience stress-free and straightforward. Save time by submitting offers online and viewing homes at your convenience. So, call to start your search for a new home today!

Curb Appeal Still Matters!

Many sellers ask if curb appeal really makes that much of a difference with a hot housing market. After all, if multiple buyers want to see your home as soon as possible, why should it matter if the lawn is perfect or if the recycling bins are tucked away? The truth is the outside of the house is the first and last thing your buyer sees. Curb appeal can be so strong; some buyers fall in love with a house before they even set foot in it. No matter the market, getting top dollar for your home means prioritizing how the house looks from the outside and improving your house’s curb appeal.

Why is Curb Appeal Important?

When you sell your home, you’re usually looking to get the most money possible. But, according to the National Association of Realtors, strong curb appeal can add 7% or more to your home’s value. So, if adding a little polish to the front yard nets you extra cash, why leave the money sitting there? It only takes a few minor fixes to make the house inviting and memorable.

How Much Work Does Curb Appeal Take?

The amount of work really depends on the current state of the yard, but this doesn’t have to be an expensive undertaking. Simply tidying up will create a great first impression. Here are a few things to consider:

No Christmas in July

Are your Christmas lights still up? Is it the middle of summer? If it is, the lights need to come down. The same goes for any out-of-season décor. Leftover decorations create the impression you haven’t kept the house up to date.

It’s a Jungle Out There

Do your walkway plants grab your buyer’s ankles as they stroll by? Then, trim them back for the illusion of a bigger path.

Are there scraggly hedges blocking the view of the front window? Not only do overgrown trees and plants look messy, but they also hide great selling features—like that big, beautiful window! Cleaning the window after trimming is also a good idea.

Keep Things Lively

Keep the grass trimmed and leaves raked or mulched. If it’s fall, remove all the dead and dying potted plants and replace a few with some cheery fall mums. Keep trimming down perennials as they finish up for the year. A fresh layer of mulch will keep everything neat.

One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Trash

You may not think your trash bins sitting at the side door are a big deal. But if you’re selling, you’re probably also looking to buy a new home. Do you want to be greeted by someone else’s garbage? If you can’t store them out of sight, put the bins out of the way, and make sure the outsides are clean.

Selling a home is a big undertaking full of little details. Voila flat-fee realtors in Minneapolis can help you get the best price possible. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Are you Ready to Buy a Home?

Buying a new home is an exciting milestone in a person’s life. But, unless you are well prepared, it can also be a scary one. There are several things to take into account when considering homeownership. The most important are the financial considerations. 

What Can You Afford?

The house you desire and the house you can comfortably afford may differ depending on your financial situation. You will need to look at several factors to determine how much you can afford to spend on a home. One major factor is your debt-to-income ratio or DTI. 

Determining the amount of mortgage you can afford is done by figuring out your DTI. The standard rule is a 43% DTI ratio. This is the amount used by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) for mortgage approval. The ratio is used to assess the borrower’s ability to make monthly mortgage payments. Real estate markets and current economic conditions can impact whether a lender will be more rigid or lenient when approving a loan.

The DTI ratio means that your housing expenses, including mortgage, mortgage insurance, property taxes, homeowners’ insurance, and other housing-related expenses, should not equal more than 43% of your gross monthly income.

Your mortgage is a long-term commitment, so the lender needs to be sure that you can make your payments. However, lenders understand that unexpected things can happen that may affect your ability to pay your mortgage. For this reason, your mortgage lender will consider your front-end DTI. This calculation considers the income you have with just the housing expenses alone. This ratio is ideally no more than 28%. This front-end DTI is considered because there may come a time when you may run into a financial crisis, and you would have no wiggle room to manage those unexpected expenses.

The Down Payment

Another major consideration in getting ready to buy a home is the down payment. Ideally, you want to be able to put down 20% of the price of the home. This will allow you to avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI), which is usually added to the mortgage payments. 

You can buy a home without putting down 20%. Some people decide that they will not be in their home that long, or they may not want to put down that much money, to begin with. The larger down payment has its advantages, though. Your mortgage payments may be smaller, and you may have a better choice of lenders with a larger down payment.

Buying a new home is a big investment and knowing how to prepare for this milestone is helpful. At Voila Real Estate, we can help you decide if this is the right time for you to buy, and we can help you find the home you want. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Bedrooms don’t need closets

Everyone knows that you need a closet in a bedroom to call it a bedroom, right? While this is a universally accepted de facto standard, good luck finding any type of authority that will back this up. At least not here in Minnesota. As a home inspector, this isn’t something that concerns me, but I get asked about this frequently. Thankfully, it’s pretty simple: you don’t need a closet.

Minnesota Requirements

There’s nothing in the Minnesota State Building Code that requires a closet. I’m not aware of a single municipality that requires a closet. There’s also nothing in the Minneapolis Housing Maintenance Code that requires a closet. In fact, they go so far as to say this in the Minneapolis Truth-In-Sale of Housing Evaluator Guidelines:

NOTE: Sleeping rooms do not need a closet to be considered a sleeping room, per MHMC, although lenders may require that sleeping rooms have closets.

So where does this so-called ‘requirement’ come from? I don’t know. It had to be a standard somewhere, at some point, or it wouldn’t have so much traction today. But still, that’s a good point that the city of Minneapolis brings up about lenders possibly requiring a closet. I’ve heard that this used to be a requirement for FHA loans. Lenders can ask for whatever they want, and as a home inspector, I don’t attempt to guess at what lenders will want.

I’ve also heard through the grapevine that real estate agents weren’t supposed to list rooms without closets as bedrooms. Apparently, that requirement went away a very long time ago, but people have long memories.

So what if you’re buying or selling a home and someone gets hung up on the closet thing? How do you get around that? Let’s start by defining what a closet really is.

Closet Definition

The term ‘closet’ is defined by the building code as “A small room or chamber used for storage.” A chamber is “a natural or artificial enclosed space or cavity”.  This means a 6″ box with a door that’s installed on the wall could be called a closet. Right?

Ok, maybe that’s silly. How about an armoire or a wardrobe?  I’ve seen plenty of houses with only wardrobes in the bedrooms, and nobody had a problem with that. I’d argue that the cabinets, er… chambers shown below could be considered closets.

Closet 1
Closet 2

If someone insists that a room needs a closet to be called a bedroom, throw one of these in there. If someone argues that it’s not permanently installed, put a screw through it into the wall. There. Now it’s permanently installed.

Here at Structure Tech, we try to make a big deal about the big stuff and a little deal about the little stuff. This is little stuff.

The bottom line

Bedrooms do not need closets to be called bedrooms; at least not here in Minnesota. The next time someone tells you a bedroom needs a closet, ask for proof. If you find an authoritative reference that says a bedroom needs a closet anywhere in Minnesota, please share it with me.

AUTHOR: Reuben SaltzmanStructure Tech Home Inspections