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Posts Tagged ‘downsizing’

Spring Time Tips For Buyers in Real Estate

Tips for buyers in real estate

The real estate industry is bustling in the spring months, beginning as early as February! With even the thought of temperatures rising, people in the market for a new home or looking to sell begin to become motivated. Homes are hitting the market and in our area, if the home is priced right, they can have an offer that same day. If you are looking to make a change or looking for your next “home sweet home”, Spring can be a perfect time to find the perfect match.

We’ve focused on tips to sell your home in the past, but if here are some Spring time tips for buyers in real estate.

Realtors rule!

Hire a real estate professional to help in your next real estate adventure. In today’s market, a professional Realtor® is experienced in many, many transactions. If you want to find a home in your ideal location, using a Realtor® can make your entire buying process easier. A Realtor® does a lot, going beyond just the home search. We help with contracts, negotiations, inspections and any other unforeseen obstacles that may pop up. An agent understands trends in the market today and can help you navigate this fast-paced buying/selling season. Keep in mind that it costs nothing to hire an agent because the seller of your new home will pay the commission.

Pre-approval for a home mortgage helps.

So, your budget is prepped and ready to go. If you know exactly what you can spend and what you may consider a “comfortable” budget for that next home, you’re heading in the right direction. You can also meet with a mortgage specialist to determine an accurate budget for that new home, and then take steps to obtain loan pre-approval. Of course, it’s okay to go to open houses and scan the web for homes for sale, but there are benefits to getting a pre-approved loan. When buyers are already pre-approved, sellers are more likely to take notice of an offer because they know you are serious at making a purchase.

Know what you want in a new home.

If you are ready to buy, it makes sense to sit down with family members and discuss your needs as well as your wishes. Whether it’s finding a new home in a certain school district or having an unfinished basement so you can add your personalized touch, what you want in your new home should be listed and prioritized. We’ve all watched House Hunters on HGTV when a couple can’t seem to agree on their perfect home! One wants a big back yard in the outskirts of town, while the other wants no yard in an urban environment. When buying a home, you should have a strong understanding of your requirements, and if there’s any conflict among other family members make sure you rank them in order of importance.

Keep in mind, it’s helpful to be flexible because your wants may shift based on availability in the market, market trends and budget, but the better you understand the most important features you desire of your new home, the smoother this process will be.

Be prepared to compete when buying a home.

In today’s market, it’s not unheard of that buyers compete for their dream home. You may need to prepare yourself to either back down during negotiations or pay more than you had originally anticipated paying. Bidding wars have been on the rise for a while. By working with your agent, you can think of unique ways to stand out from the other buyers, going beyond just price. Maybe you offer the sellers an extra week to move out? Or honor other stipulations when looking to close the deal? I can help you find ways to create incentives when making an offer on your next home.

If it’s time to buy or sell that new home, I can help! As a licensed Realtor® it’s my goal to help make your real estate dreams come true, sharing my knowledge of our local market as well as offering recommendations during the real estate process. Now is a great time to buy a house that your entire family will love! Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at Sandie@SandieLaMantia.com

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.

When Downsizing Makes Sense

When Downsizing Makes SenseIf you have ever watched “Tiny House” shows on HGTV, you’ve probably talked about the downsizing pro’s and con’s of a smaller home. In some cases, the homes are so tiny it seems almost unrealistic to believe the families can live comfortably on top of each other every day! Even though tiny houses aren’t for everyone, there are some real benefits to downsizing your living space but it really does depend on your lifestyle.

Discussions about downsizing can begin to happen when the oldest child registers for college courses on a campus two states away. Or, if you’re lucky, you have retirement plans to escape a few months each year to a golf course community on a beach somewhere. Why keep that 3,000 square foot home when you’re only living in it part time? Whether you are tired of your oversized current home or are just in the mood for a change, downsizing might be the ideal scenario for you.

Less of a house also means less upkeep and many empty-nesters (or soon to be empty-nesters) like the freedom that a smaller sized home allows. Let’s face it, when your children get older they begin to spend less time at home. As young adults begin to leave home and venture out into the world for their education and careers, the home begins to become more tranquil with less cleaning and picking up constantly after everyone. Soon, that larger home that was filled to the brim with kid’s belongings becomes less clustered and tidier. Is it really necessary to have those empty bedrooms and closets that are barely filled anymore?

Sacrificing size does not mean you have to sacrifice amenities. There are many areas in the Edwardsville, Glen Carbon and surrounding communities that offer beautiful options for couples or smaller families wanting to downsize. Many clients still want the luxury in their smaller homes, just with less square footage. Big islands, high-end appliances and countertops with outdoor living space is still considered important to clients wanting to downsize. You may have to sacrifice smaller second bedrooms and storage spaces, but the trade-off will be worth it to get nicer amenities without too much sacrifice. Brookshire Hamlet, The Enclave at Augusta Greens, and Villas in Bethalto are just a few of many communities now focused on big living but in a smaller home footprint.

Many simplified living communities, like @ Cloverdale, are built with the empty-nesters in mind. For example, the @Cloverdale community boasts modern and functional amenities, like first floor master bedrooms, open floor plans, and spacious front porches, all within easy walking distance from downtown Edwardsville. In the @Cloverdale community, the front porch functions as an extension of the home and is the perfect place for friends to gather and make memories happen. Both @Cloverdale and Brookshire Hamlet, another simple living community, take care of the outdoor maintenance so you don’t have to.

There are many reasons homeowners decide to downsize. The good news is downsizing size doesn’t mean you have to downscale your new home’s craftsmanship. Builders today acknowledge and appreciate the fact that people are living longer, having healthier lifestyles and seeking the convenience of smaller homes as they age. The empty-nesters trend is here to stay, which means more options and variety when looking to downsize.

Take advantage of my expertise on the many wonderful communities in Edwardsville, Glen Carbon and beyond. Whether you need a larger home for a family of 8 or are looking to downsize, it’s easy to find the perfect place to call “home” in the Metro-east. I make it my priority to know the local market and have first hand experience about the many benefits living here has to offer. Ready for a change? Then it’s time to give me a call at 618-978-2384 so I can answer your questions and find you the home of your dreams, sized just right.

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!

Tips on Making the Downsizing Process Less Stressful

pre-move-stepsMoving from a large house to a smaller house can be tricky sometimes. You might tell yourself to just get rid of your extra stuff, but that’s easier said than done. Here are a few tips to help you make downsizing less stressful.

Take Inventory of Your Belongings

You need to ask yourself if you lost everything you owned, what would you want to replace? This will tell you what things are important to you and what things you can do without. It might also help to make three lists: Must haves, things you can live without, and things that can be replaced. The must-have list is obviously going to your new place with you. The things that you can live without you can sell or donate to a charity if space concerns become an issue. The things that can be replaced can be used to sell and buy smaller items to fit in your new home, like a smaller TV or a smaller sofa.

Sell Items You Absolutely Don’t Need

If it’s been stuffed in a closet or still in a box after a year or more, you don’t need it. Organize a yard sale with your neighbors. The more money you make, the more money you will have to purchase the size-appropriate things that are the right fit for your new home. Or save the money and enjoy your new, clutter-free space.

Do Not Duplicate

If you are downsizing because you are moving in with someone else, you need to sit down together and make sure you don’t have any duplicates of anything. This is where your inventory comes in handy. You will need to make decisions about which sofa to keep and which set of dishes to keep, and so on. Even if you are not moving in with someone else, duplicates are not a good idea. In your smaller space you probably don’t need twenty wine glasses for a party. A small set of six would be a better idea.

Make Good Use of Storage Space

Once you move into your new home, make sure you maximize the use of your available storage space. Ottomans that have storage space inside, shelves mounted on the wall, and under-the-bed storage boxes are all great ideas for storage in your smaller home. A good rule for storage in a small space is store up, not out. Make use of shelves in your new home to keep things off of the floor and out of your living space.

Stay Organized

Once you move into your new home, be careful about what you let into your new space. In your new home space is at a premium, a small space can quickly become cluttered. You need to be sure that any new items that you purchase can fit into your storage space and that is it actually something that you need. If you buy a new chair, get rid of the old one. If you buy new clothes, get rid of a similar item in your closet.

Downsizing doesn’t have to be a terrible experience. You may be sad about parting with your things, but think about the new life you’re getting in exchange for getting rid of extra stuff. Whatever your reason is for downsizing, attitude is essential. The more upbeat you are about the process, the smoother it will go.

If you are looking to downsize your home, Sandie will work tirelessly to make finding your new home as easy for you as possible. She can assist you in preparing to sell your home and can help you find the right neighborhood for you with her up-to-date knowledge of the neighborhoods and communities in the Edwardsville/Glen Carbon area.

If you have any questions, please CONTACT Sandie. She’s here to help!