Call Sandie: 618-978-2384
sandie@sandielamantia.com

Posts Tagged ‘downsize’

Real Estate Expectations for 2018

Real Estate Expectations for 2018The rest of 2017 and early 2018 is expected to be interesting for real estate. The economy is solid, trade looks fine, and we’ve seen an active new construction environment. It’s possible with labor shortages and higher lumber costs there could be higher home prices with fewer houses for resale. In the ever interesting and ever-changing real estate market, here are some other influences that may affect housing in the coming year (and possibly beyond) as well as tried and true tips for homeowners.

Is 2018 the time to buy or sell your home?

Prices are still sizzling for buying a new home…there’s simply not enough homes for sale to go around. Lack of homes available isn’t just a local problem either – it’s a national one. In some markets, homebuyers will need to get creative (and pay more) when seeking homes with multiple offers, especially in the bigger cities.

Some experts think that with the lack of homes available, it means home prices will continue to be high. There’s really no guarantee that will be the case. Many home builders are feeling optimistic, and that’s always good to hear. Typically, an economy that looks good with lower unemployment rates, you may see more people investing in rental income property or real estate investing opportunities. Millennials are seeking housing as well, and this will all influence the housing market.

What’s economists are saying.

According to many top economists, mortgage rates may rise in the next few years, past 4% and even past 5%. If house prices experience stabilization, increased rates will be manageable. One online article cites the importance of wage growth happening. Chief economist for Mortgage Bankers Association, Michael Fratantoni, stated that “it is getting more difficult for companies to fill their positions.” Fratantoni hopes that companies begin to raise wages to seek more qualified candidates. If this happens, the increase of interest rates won’t be as problematic for borrowers.

Buying and Selling Tips that work in any economy.

We live in a global economy, and even though economists and experts can see trends happening in the real estate market, there’s no real way to know exactly what may happen. Natural disasters, political uncertainty, and more can affect our local market. Here are some tips, no matter the economy, that you can rely on if you want to buy or sell a home in 2018.

    1. Fix issues in your home before its sale. Want to get top dollar for your home? Fix the issues that may lower your homes’ asking price. Realtor.com recommends updating appliances, refinishing floors, and cleaning or replacing windows. Because I know the local market and neighborhoods, I can help you decide what improvement will be the best in your particular situation.
    2. Make sure your home isn’t priced too high. About 70% of all local homes go into escrow within 30 days of being listed. Homes still on the market for 60 days or more typically means the home is overpriced, especially in today’s market. With my help, I can make sure your home is priced right and ready for sale.
    3. Set a realistic timeline. The real estate market can and will change, so have a firm understanding of your priorities and what your motivation is for selling and/or buying that next home. Are you wanting to sell your home because of a job relocation or simply because you’re wanting a change? Know what is motivating you to move and be ready to be flexible if that dream house on the corner you’ve had your eye on sells or if your existing home doesn’t sell as quickly as you thought it would. Be realistic with expectations and listen to your Realtor® for advice and ideas if adversity strikes.

Buying and selling a home is always an exciting undertaking! As a licensed Realtor® it’s my goal to help individuals and families during the entire real estate process, sharing my understanding of the market conditions as well as recommended strategies to use in any economy. 2018 will be here before we know it, and that means a fresh start and maybe even a new home! Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.

The Top 5 Smart Home Features

smart home featuresProbably less than a decade ago, we would have never referred to our homes as being “smart”. Today, it’s a common term connected with the latest technology, creating a home that would be suitable in a Jetson’s cartoon, entertaining us with futuristic toys and conveniences like we’ve never seen before in a standard home. In today’s world, you don’t have to be part of the rich and famous to have a smart home with amenities at the touch of a button. I wanted to share highlights of a recent PCMag.com article sharing the “best of the best” smart home features trending this year.

What exactly is a “Smart Home”? The term smart home simply means homeowners can connect many of their standard amenities and devices to the internet. This goes beyond just computers and phones, also encompassing clocks, door bells, lights, window blinds, and home entertainment systems. Did you forget to lock your door before leaving? Certain smart homes will let you know and even lock it for you. When devices are communicating together and working together, sending information as well as receiving it, it’s often referred to as the “Internet of Things”, or IOT. Essentially, a smart home is one that is automated, giving homeowners the ability to control items around the house with a touch of a button or voice command. Different levels of automation have different cost levels, so it all depends on what you want and what you can afford.

Hubs and Controllers. Alexa is a voice assistant available at Amazon, compatible with a Bluetooth speaker called Echo. Alexa works with smartphone devices and with some thought, you can use Alexa to control most of the gadgets in your house just with the sound of your voice. Tie in the Echo Dot, it will add to the Alexa functionality. Echo Show even offers a touch screen.

Wink Hub 2. The PCMag editor’s choice goes to Wink Hub 2, a home automation system that works with Z-Wave, ZigBee, Lutron Clear Connect, Kidde, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Looking towards the future of home automation, it is also compatible with Philips Hue Lighting and the Netgear Arlo camera and Google Home. The editors believe this system to be one of the most reliable, widely supported hubs tested.

Logitech Harmony Elite. This home automation device controls things the “old-fashioned way”- with buttons. The Logitech Harmony Elite is like a universal remote, but offering oh so much more! You can connect more than just a stereo system and TV – it will also work with infrared devices in your home, ZigBee, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

Surveillance Cameras. Today, there are wireless, weatherproof and easy to install surveillance cameras that can keep your home and belongings secure. One camera, the Netgear Arlo Pro, offers two-way audio and sound-triggering recording. With wireless features, there’s flexibility in where to place the camera. If you’re interested in indoor security cameras that keep an eye on your home while you’re away, the LG Smart Security Wireless Camera may be ideal. You get 24/7 monitoring via ADT’s Canopy service with no contract. A smaller option is the Tend Secure Lynx Indoor, a small home surveillance camera delivering video in color, clear night vision and two-way audio. It even offers facial recognition technology. At the $60 price tag, this is one of the more affordable home surveillance cameras.

Locks and Home Security Systems. Apple HomeKit enabled Smart Lock, available at Amazon, mounts over your existing deadbolt to provide connectivity to your door. It also uses Bluetooth to your smartphone, making it easy to access for you or your guests. ADT also offers the ADT Pulse, with 24/7 monitoring and customer service support. It’s the most robust, full-service home security system tested and can be tied in with other automation platforms. The Abode Home Security Starter Kit is ideal for the do-it-yourself crowd, easy to install and can be paired with dozens of Z-Wave and ZigBee smart home products. It also supports the Alexa products. With the Abode, you can monitor lights, locks, and more.

Heating and Cooling. As a homeowner, one of the biggest expenses we have is our heating and cooling (HVAC). Protect your investment with a Nest Learning Thermostat. With Nest, you get built-in Wi-Fi with geo-fencing support and a furnace monitor. It’s never been easier to control your home’s temperature from afar. The Ecobee3 Smart WiFi Thermostat is another thermostat you can control remotely. It also monitors multiple sensors in various rooms of the home to make sure your system is working efficiently.

Sci-Fi Cooking. Want to cook some ribs this fall in the backyard, but can’t get off work in time? Check out the Char-Broil Digital Electric Smoker, a grill that you can control remotely using apps for iOS or Android. The app will tell you when the food is ready. Another smart oven, the June Intelligent Oven, has high-tech features that are mind-blowing. Wi-Fi, a camera, and artificial intelligence that lets you weigh, monitor and cook just about anything with little input, turning your kitchen into a home of the future!

No matter what type of home you are in the market to buy or sell, as a licensed Realtor® it’s my goal to help individuals and families during the entire real estate process. I know about the hottest trends, from popular paint colors to high-tech amenities. Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.

Stage Presence! The Importance of Staging To Get Your House Sold FAST

Staging To Get Your House Sold FASTSelling your home can be an exciting yet (sometimes) emotional time. If you’ve been in your home for a while, every part of the house tells a story. Strolling from room to room, you can vividly remember rocking your baby to sleep in the rocker in the bedroom’s corner, your first puppy’s favorite sleeping spot in front of the fireplace, and your daughter’s Sweet 16 party in the backyard pool. So many wonderful memories have happened over so many years! With those years and memories made, you’ve also accumulated a lot of “stuff” and perhaps some spots in your home that need to be freshened up. Because it’s impossible to sell those memories with your home, it’s important to rely on staging strategies to entice the new homeowner with images that can be completely their own.

I recommend to clients that it’s best to de-clutter and thoroughly clean the home prior to placing any home on the market. It’s okay to leave a few family photos up, but best to remove most of them because when selling your home, you want to make sure the potential buyer visualizes where his or her photographs will be displayed. Straighten closets; pack up unused items and scattered toys or accessories. Today’s buyers prefer neutral colors, walls and floors, so if you have time and money in the budget to paint, it’s not a bad idea to spruce up the main living spaces.

Why is staging important? A properly staged home creates something called “lifestyle vignettes” (RealtorMag.com) for interested homebuyers. When buyers walk through a home and see a chessboard on a comfortable ottoman, placed directly in front of the stone fireplace with drinks on the end table, they begin to see themselves in the scene. As a Realtor® in the Metro-East, I know which trends are working depending on local demographics. I can help you work with current trends, letting you know which ones are working locally, so you can create a buyer’s dream house. Depending on the home, it may only require organization and some fresh paint.

When you set the stage for potential buyers to see a home filled with fun and friends, it usually also involves food. Many stagers recommend setting the tables and the bar areas with nice plates, cloth napkins and drinking glasses, using a lovely centerpiece to tie it all together. The set up doesn’t have to be overly fancy, either. Simply use matching tableware to create a home that appears perfect for entertaining, whether it’s a family breakfast or a larger gathering with friends and family in the dining room.

Simple staging techniques don’t have to cost a lot of money, either. If you want to entice buyers to walk through that front door, it’s best to stage your entryway with a nice, new welcome mat, colorful flowers or greenery and a clean, welcoming entrance. Potential homeowners often drive by homes even before they schedule a walk-through, so it makes sense that you spend some time and energy on sprucing up the front of your home, helping to make a positive first impression.

Have a dark hallway or a wall that needs a new look? Maybe you’ve taken down some family photos and need something to replace the wall decor? Mounting mirrors in strategic places of the home can do a number of wonderful things. Mirrors enlarge spaces, add modern touches to the home, and light up hallways that lack natural lighting. Mirrors hung directly across from a window or placed next to one add even more lighting to the home, pulling in more sunshine. Many stores even sell mirrors in multi-packs and sizes, creating an impressive collage display that anyone can create.

Other staging tricks that work include outfitting a bathroom with white linens, fresh new shower curtains and some spa-like accessories. After you de-clutter the bathroom, it’s easy to update any bathroom with items that turn your outdated bath into a luxury spa. To set the stage, you can roll and stack new bath towels, place special soaps in a dish on the counter, and even add an orchid or other flower next to the sink.

Staging your home may require a little bit of forethought and some financial investment, but sellers will be happy to know that most staged homes sell faster than homes without staging methods. Look at photos online or in magazines, pay attention to displays at furniture stores, and think about items in your home that you can use (and items that may need to be placed in storage) to create a cozy, lived-in ambiance in your home that’s picture-perfect. Colorful vases, lanterns, books and plants can all be used to produce those “lifestyle vignettes” buyers are looking for in a new home.

As a licensed Realtor®, it is my goal to help individuals and families sell their home with confidence. I want the process to be pleasurable and profitable. If you aren’t sure why your home hasn’t sold yet or want tips on staging your home, I can help. Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com.

Selling Your Home? Winter Tips to Set the Stage

selling your homeSelling your home in the winter months can be tricky. With back- to-back holidays and usually a lot of entertaining, finding time to do it all can seem overwhelming. It’s also not the most ideal time to put a home on the market because the home, no matter how stunning, may not show as well when it’s cold, rainy, snowy and miserable outside. Plus, if there’s sleet or a snowstorm, it’s hard to get buyers to that Open House on Sunday! Guess what? There are still many things you can do to make your home look welcoming and ready for that perfect “new home shopper” this winter. People still are looking for homes and generally, there’s less competition because of a lower inventory.

Easy access. During the cold, winter months, it’s important to have a safe path to your home that is snow and ice-free. Don’t forget any side walkways or access from your driveway. This is important no matter what time of year it is, but especially important when the path to your home can be difficult to navigate due to snow and ice. When visitors pull up to the home and see you’ve made a hospitable path to the front door, they will notice.

Let there be light! I’ve said it before, but lighting is so important when trying to sell your home. Strategically open up those blinds to give off a pleasing amount of light in the home. If you want to set more of a cozy mood, utilize holiday lights on the mantel and candles at an open house. Today, there are so many variations of wickless candles and battery-powered candles it’s hard to tell which ones are real! Display the lighting properly and it will transform your room. Also, because it can be a bit more dreary outside in the winter, make sure to brighten darker rooms with open blinds and lamps in corners. Use a pop of color with pillows and throws. After all, it’s the holiday season! Take advantage of using tasteful lighting and décor.

Holiday decorations. When trying to sell your home over the holidays, it may not make sense to cover every corner of the home, every open space on the wall, with decorations. It’s best to limit the holiday décor so the potential buyer can still see the “bones” of the home. Too many holiday decorations may detract from the home itself. If you aren’t sure what may be considered “too much”, I’m happy to offer suggestions. There are also many online resources you can use for decorating ideas.

Making sense of scents. When showing our homes off, we tend to want to deodorize it with sprays, candles and oils…especially if we have pets. At some point our noses become immune to all of the smells! For guests, the smells can become overwhelming. Make sure that you keep the scents to a minimum when opening up your home for buyers, especially during this time of year because there are more good smelling, seasonal options available. Another tip is if you burn a sugar cookie candle in the entryway, it’s also a smart plan to offer cookies in the kitchen so as not to disappoint! A clean, well-kept home will always impress the eyes AND the nose. It’s fine to add a holiday scent to the mix, just don’t overdo it.

It’s all in the mood you create. With the winter weather, you have the perfect environment for bringing buyers into your cozy, warm home. Especially during the holidays, most of us relish the time we spend enjoying family, friends, and entertaining. The stage is set! Now is your chance to showcase your home to its best potential. Hang those fluffy robes in the master bath, use fresh pine in the entryway, hang wreaths and place dried, winter flowers around the home. When you sell your home, you are also selling a vision of things to come and memories made within it.

It’s a bustling time of year; so don’t add undue stress to it. There are small things you can do to show off your home’s beauty and potential, without having to start a big remodeling project this holiday season. Adding less stress to this already busy time will let you focus on your family and the year ahead. Want more expert advice? Contact me at 618-978-2384 or by email. I’m sure I can find you the perfect home, making 2017 the best year yet. Happy Holidays!

Why Now is the Best Time to Buy

best time to buy a houseIf you’ve been looking at buying a new home for a while, it’s not too late to take advantage of the lower mortgage rates still available in 2016. We’ve all seen how the mortgage rates have been at amazing lows, trickling down and tempting many to make a new home purchase. This January, there’s still time to act! CNN Money, among other sources, are indicating that there are many factors involved in making this year ideal for buying or building that new dream home you’ve always wanted.

Real estate values have risen but are expected to slow their pace in 2016. If you are a potential buyer and have hesitated because of increased prices, it’s a great time to jump in again and buy. In a thriving community like Edwardsville, (currently voted one of the top 11 St. Louis/Metro East suburbs) for example, there are many subdivisions and properties to choose from that offer price point options depending upon your budget. Whether you want a home with acreage or prefer all the benefits a neighborhood has to offer, as real estate prices begin to flat-line, the New Year can be an exciting time to get the home of your dreams!

Another benefit associated with this real estate trend is that homeowners often decide it’s time to put their homes on the market, offering buyers more choices. Keep in mind: these home owners have seen their existing homes appreciate in value, making it a prime time to sell and reap the reward for their investment. In the Edwardsville/Glen Carbon residential area and beyond, we’ve also seen the new home market grow with a focus on starter and middle-range homes. This can encourage a more diverse group of people to buy, boosting inventory and offering more options for buyers. More homes available in the market place means finding a home that suits your needs hasn’t been this easy in quite some time.

Other things to consider, the Federal Reserve is expected to begin increasing interest rates, so it’s better to act now in your house hunt before the low rates start to diminish. Even if it’s a gradual increase, the domino effect of higher rates will increase borrowing costs and mortgage payments. Experts believe the earlier you buy in 2016, the better. So, while other families are taking down their holiday lights and décor, maybe it’s time to take a drive with your family around the different neighborhoods, looking for that perfect house to finally call “home”.

One final reason buying now makes good, financial sense. Rental prices are anticipated to be on the steady climb in 2016. In most cities and towns, buying a new home is going to cost you less than renting. Even with increased mortgage costs on the horizon, buying is still the best financial decision one can make. For example, interest rates would need to increase to around 6.5% for the cost of buying a home to equal the cost of renting one. Why spend your money on renting a home that you will never own?

As a licensed Realtor, I know the local market and have first hand experience in what potential buyers look for in our area. If you are planning on buying a new home, or selling your existing home, or even are in need of expanding or building, I have the experience and knowledge you want. Contact me for your real estate needs while the mortgage rates are low. 2016 can be the best year yet for finding you and your family an ideal home for making new memories. Happy New Year!

What is Simplified Living and Is It For Me?

small knights bridge kitchen angle fridgeThe American Dream is owning a home and while high on our priority list, the up-keep falls to the bottom of the list. What would your dream look like if you could own the home, but not worry about the to-do list? What if there were neighborhoods designed with this type of dream in mind? Relax, there are.

Located here in our area are two communities designed specifically for those who desire homeownership without the stress of cutting the grass, landscaping, shoveling the snow or watering the lawn. These affordable neighborhoods are designed for the busy professional, the empty nesters or the growing family, all who want to focus on a simple lifestyle by spending more time with their families, or on hobbies or careers. It’s where we encourage families and neighbors to gather and enjoy each other and connect to the community.

Brookshire Hamlet and @Cloverdale are communities that define Simplified Living. Homes in these developments are designed to assist homeowners with the chores and tasks we all face, but would rather not have to devote our limited time to “getting it done”. You have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of home ownership, without the hassle.

What are the benefits to a life simplified?

Lifestyle
Simplified Living gives you back your time. It allows you to enjoy life the way you desire. You are free to focus on your family and do things you may not have had the time to do before. The hassle of a long to-do list can finally be put to rest. The lifestyle you desire can be achieved with less responsibilities and more time on your hands. You are free to be more active or simply have time to relax and recharge.

Connect with the Community
Simplified Living means a great location. Brookshire Hamlet and @Cloverdale are conveniently located in Edwardsville, Illinois. This growing, vibrant community features diverse shopping and dining along with many cultural attractions and events. There is easy access to the many miles of the Madison County Trails for walking and biking activities and 25 minutes to downtown St. Louis.

Quality Construction
Simplified Living means quality construction. Professionally built homes are constructed with the finest attention to details, inside and out. Maintenance-free exteriors and decks provide years of “no worry” and interiors are complete with luxurious Master Suites, flexible floor plans, finished lower levels and flex rooms for offices or crafts.

Let Simplified Living be a new start to living well and enjoy your free time the way you desire. Contact me today to learn more!