Broker Tour Today! Open House This Weekend!

madeira 3Join us for a broker tour today from 10:30 a.m .to 1:00 p.m. at both 2899 Madeira Way in Pleasant Hill and 1655 Endriss Dr. in Martinez. We’ll have some goodies to share at these beautiful properties!

Also, at the home on Madeira Way, we’ll have an Open House both Saturday and Sunday (June 25th and 26th) from 1:00-4:00 p.m. The updated 4-bedroom homemadeira 2 has new hardwood floors, plantation shutters in every bedroom and a large backyard with a patio perfect for entertaining.

The master bedroom is downstairs, just off the living room and dining room, which buttresses a nice kitchen with granite countertops. Upstairs, there are three bedrooms with one currently being utilized as a spacious personal office.

Come wander through this lovely home in a great neighborhood with us this weekend. Hope to see you there!

You can see a virtual tour of 2899 Madeira Way right here.

 

Hot Housing Market This Summer

It is unlikely the Federal Reserve will be increasing interest rates this month after a weak May job report (only 38,000 jobs created, 117,000 less than expected and the worst month for job creation in nearly six years). According to experts, the likelihood of a rate hike is down to a measly 4 percent, and that trend may carry over into July.

Thus, this summer could prove to be the hot time to buy or sell a home. In California – specifically the East Bay – selling season tends to be in the spring. Once we move into the middle of May, buyers and sellers become distracted with graduations, weddings, etc.

And once school is out everyone moves into vacation mode through mid-August, before families start getting ready for going back to school. Usually, we see an uptick in the number of homes that are on the market in the summer compared to the  the spring. With continued low rates, this summer might buck that trend with buyers out to purchase.Beautiful white, blue and beige living room.

To prepare, buyers should be pre-qualified for a mortgage before they start shopping and, ideally, desktop underwritten. It is best if buyers don’t make an offer contingent on the sale of their own home. For sellers, they should be ready to make themselves and their homes available for show. At minimum, have a staging consult done. Try to have your home staged before a showing.

 

Statistics show clean and pristine homes that are staged properly sell faster and for more money than ones that are not. Necessary improvements, such as new painting, replaced fixtures and refreshed house plants are huge for staging.

It is about getting it show and picture-worthy and keeping it neutral, not spending a lot of money on upgrades. As is the case with personal preferences, “What you think is a nice improvement is another man’s gold shag carpeting.”

Celebration of Closing on a Home!!!

One of the greatest joys of my job is presenting my clients with the key to their new home or telling a seller their home is SOLD.  Below are  some pictures of celebrating with my happy clients as they receive those keys, sign their loan documents and enjoy their congratulatory “let’s celebrate” baskets after closing!

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Top 5 Must-Do’s for First-Time Home Buyers

first time home buyer featuredSo you’ve finally made the big decision. You’re going to buy a house!

You are aware of the long road ahead, but excited to take on the challenge and have a home you can call your own.

It’s a stressful process, however there are a few things you can do to help prepare for your first time through the home-buying process:

Determine your budget.

There are many online calculators available that can help you to get an idea of what your monthly mortgage payments should be, based on how much money you are looking to borrow. Don’t forget to include property taxes, though – estimate 1.25 percent of the purchase price for a yearly property tax estimate. If you are looking at a condo or a townhouse, then you most likely will have to consider a monthly HOA fee. Also, look at what your income, debts and assets are; this is where I strongly recommend you speak with a lender. The good ones break that all out for you and can help you work up a budget.

Examine your credit and credit score.

You want to get yourself in the best position to qualify for the lowest interest rates and best mortgage terms and one way to do that is to beef up your credit score. If your score is less than perfect, look for ways to increase your score. If you have limited credit history, look for ways to build positive credit before you apply for a mortgage loan. This is another area that a good mortgage broker can give some suggestions to improve your credit. No matter what your score is, review your credit report to ensure that there are no errors on your report which ay impact your ability to qualify for the mortgage you want.

Where will your down payment come from? And how much will you need?

Buying a home is a big financial commitment, which can often require a big cash down payment. Where will you be getting your down payment from – savings, a 401(k) or IRA withdrawal? As a gift from family? Although FHA loans are often an attractive option for first-time homebuyers because they only require you put 3.5 percent down, you’ll still need to roughly determine how much 3.5 percent will be and where you’ll be getting those funds from, while still saving enough for closing costs. All the while, you must keep your debt-to-income ratios in line with guidelines.

Begin to gather up all the documents you’ll need to qualify for a mortgage.

When you apply for a mortgage you’re likely going to need to show your lender proof of your identity (passport, driver’s license or similar) as well as recent pay stubs from your employer and copies of your past year (or two years) of tax returns. Each lender will have their own requirements, but gathering together these basic pieces of information can help make the mortgage application process go smoothly. Again, a good lender will send out an introduction email with a list of the things that are required.

Get preapproved for a mortgage before you begin house hunting! 

This is a MUST! Home sellers want to know that you’re serious about buying, and one of the best ways to show them that is by submitting an offer that comes with mortgage pre-qualification. In some hot housing markets, sellers won’t even accept offers without a pre-qualification or DU Approval. A good real estate agent will also help guide you through this process, which can include an informative face-to-face about the whole process or a good lender recommendation.

Excerpts of this blog generously borrowed from The Orland Group Realtor Coaching.

Tips Before You List – Economical, DIY Home Improvements

remodelWhen preparing your home for sale, statistics show staged homes sell faster and for more money than non-staged homes.

However, if your house is already a picture from Architectural Digest or your budget is limited, I am sharing a few tips from BuzzFeed about how you can make a few inexpensive, DIY upgrades to your house to increase the value and improve its aesthetics before listing.

Adding paint in certain parts of the house, evaluating house plants, replacing light bulbs, landscaping and giving your home a good, deep clean are examples of a few things you can do to improve the look of your home before listing.  You, the homeowner, can do quite a bit to significantly raise the value of your home and increase interest among prospective buyers.gardening

For the most part, these projects can be easily completed by you or a handyman and the materials are relatively inexpensive. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, it may pay big dividends in the end.

Selling your home is an investment in your financial future, and the more TLC you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. Should you need some recommendations for a handyman, gardener or painter, give me a call. I also provide a free consultation on things you can do to help spruce up the home and get it market-ready.

Check out BuzzFeed’s list for some ideas here.

Why It’s Important to Hire a Landscape Architect

Yard 1Last year, my sewer kept backing up and I found that I needed a new sewer lateral. My front lawn had a bunch of crabgrass, and the lawn never seemed to get green enough. Then, with the drought, I just let it go.

My whole front yard was torn up, so I decided to do some landscaping – new grass, plants and an automatic sprinkler and drip system.

The project turned out to cost much more than I expected. The sewer lateral was $6,000, and then I ended up paying an additional $8,000 for the landscaping and sprinklers.

I thought I was getting a deal, as the person I hired was a personal friend – though he admittedly knew nothing about plants – who could plant the yard and put the new system in.

Turns out, it was much more difficult than either of us expected. This is on me for thinking it would be an acceptable, cheap way to get the yard done. I still wonder if I hired a landscape architect, would I have saved money and would I be happier with the end result?

Of course, no home improvement project is as simple as it seems. My sprinkler heads had faulty gaskets and some of the plants were not getting water and I lost plants. Luckily, Admirals Choice, who installed the sprinklers, is Yard 2replacing them at no cost to me.

A year and a half later, we are still working on the grass, there’s still a line in the grass where the sewer lateral was dug out, and I need to get rid of the weeds.

We put weed killer on it, but I had to wait until the weather cooled, then it didn’t kill my stubborn crabgrass, and the rain began. So…I waited some more.

The gaskets should be replaced next week, then hopefully it will be time to seed before it gets too hot, and then I can fill in the plants that died.

So, with the hope that you don’t end up like me, with a two-year-old front yard project that cost me a fortune, I am sharing a great Houzz article on Landscaping Trends:

1777 Park Place Rd. Open House

park pl 3The perks to this beautiful home are endless! Located in the Summer Lake neighborhood of Oakley, this new property (built in 2012) is close to hiking and jogging trails, and just one mile from the Delta. The neighborhood boasts the lake, a pool, tennis courts and playgrounds.

It gets even better when you go inside – enjoy a home office, open-floor plan between the eat-in kitchen and livingPark Pl 2 room, and an upstairs den that is perfect for the kids! One of the master suites is on the first level, and the other is upstairs for total privacy. That was not a typo; there are two master suites in this home! And still, there’s more – in the backyard, you can relax near the pond or have a drink around the outdoor gas fireplace.

Don’t let this one pass you by. Stop in and see the Open House this weekend! We’ll be open from 1-4 p.m both Saturday (3/12) and Sunday (3/13).

You can see a virtual tour of 1777 Park Place Rd. right here.

3305 Newport Ct. Open House

 

Newport bodyStep into this beautiful home, nestled in the foothills of Mt. Diablo. This home boasts an updated kitchen and baths, with dual pane windows and new Anderson sliders in the living room and master bedroom. Travertine tile at the entry sets the tone, with hardwood floors in the family room and kitchen. For extra light, solar tubes were installed in the hall and half bath.

So many details: enjoy paneled doors with new hardware, Grohe bath fixtures with quartz and swanstone counters, and a full Douglah Designs kitchen remodel with stainless steel appliances and a new Bosch dishwasher. A three-car garage completes the picture on this home, which is situated on a quiet cul-de-sac close to shops, trails, parks, Boundary Oaks Golf Course and top-rated schools. What more could you ask for?

Stop by and enjoy the Open House this weekend! We’ll have it open from 1-4 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday (2/27 & 2/28).

You can see a virtual tour of 3305 Newport Ct. right here.

6864 Waverly Rd. Open House

6864 blogDon’t miss this gem! Storybook charm in the desirable Virginia Hills neighborhood with all the bells and whistles! This property is move-in ready with a recently updated kitchen and added deck off the living room. On a corner lot, near Pleasant Hill Schools, with separate family and living rooms.

Plus, there’s a large yard – perfect for entertaining! Conveniently located within walking distance to local parks and shops.

Stop by this beautiful home at its great location on the border of Pleasant Hill and Lafayette, and see for yourself! We’ll have an Open House both Saturday and Sunday this weekend (2/20 & 2/21) from 1-4 p.m.

You can see a virtual tour of 6864 Waverly Rd. right here.

 

 

First-Time Home-Buyers vs. Repeat Buyers

One Cool Thing chartAccording to the California Association of Realtors, first-time home buyers look for different things in a property than repeat buyers do. Californians list rental fatigue as the single most important reason for buying a home. From those who are trying to move up, it’s a size upgrade, followed by a location improvement.

First-time home buyers are who allow repeat home buyers to move up to the next home and continue the domino effect into the higher-priced homes. This chart to the left provides an interesting look at the different reasons different types of buyers want a new house.

On average, first-time home buyers will stay in their first home between 5-7 years. The reasons for eventually selling vary, but often it is because of the addition of new members to their family, or the search for more space, good schools and a neighborhood where home owners can see their kids riding bikes and being part of a safe community.

I recently listed a past client’s home who bought 3 years ago. When she called me, she said, “Kristin, you were right. We are ready to move.” When they bought their home, I told her they would be there maybe for 5 years and she adamantly said we will be here for a long time.  Do you have a similar story?  Are you outgrowing your first home?