The Howell Realty Group Real Estate News and Information

 

Sept. 27, 2021

Silence Is Golden: Quieting False Alarms

 

Alarms play an important part in keeping your home safe. Smoke alarms and other fire alarms can give you an early warning in case a fire breaks out somewhere in your house, which is why it’s recommended that you keep your alarms in working order. To make this easier, some homeowners opt for hardwired alarms which don’t require periodic battery changes to stay active; these alarms are powered by your home’s electrical wiring, so they’re always functional as long as you have power.

 

 

Unfortunately, these alarms sometimes go off when there isn’t a fire threat as well. While you don’t want your smoke alarm or other warning system to miss signs of an actual fire, it can be pretty frustrating if your alarm goes off all the time when there’s no actual danger. If you have issues with an alarm that seems to always be going off, here are a few things that might help.

 

Cleaning Your Alarms

If you have a smoke alarm that’s way too sensitive, especially if I didn’t used to be, then there’s a good chance that you need to clean it. Dust, dirt, and similar small particles are some of the most common causes of alarms becoming too sensitive over time. The reason that this occurs is that these small particles can interact with your alarm in the same way that smoke particles do, triggering its sensitive mechanisms. Carefully cleaning your alarm with canned air or using a vacuum designed for electronics use can remove the dust and restore the alarm to proper working order.

It’s worth noting that insects might also be part of the problem with your alarm, especially if there’s a bit of a dust buildup on the alarm unit. These may be cleared out when you blow the dust free from your alarm, but it’s possible that you’ll need to place insect baits or spray bug spray on the wall near your alarm to help get rid of them. Just make sure that you don’t spray the alarm itself, and keep in mind that even spraying near the alarm might temporarily set it off.

Humidity Issues

If dust isn’t the culprit for your overly sensitive alarm woes, humidity might be the problem. If the humidity is too high, water condensing on the sensors within the alarm, or even just water vapor or steam interacting with those sensors, can interfere with the alarm and cause it to go off. This can be especially problematic as too much water within the alarm can actually damage the alarm mechanism and cause it to completely stop working or start sounding all the time.

If humidity is your issue, the only way to take care of the problem is to remove the humidity. This can be accomplished with a dehumidifier placed in overly humid rooms, pulling water from the air and keeping it from affecting the alarm. If the problem is that the alarm is too close to a stovetop or otherwise being exposed to steam, you’ll need to do a bit more work to fix the issue; you’re going to have to install a hood, vent, or some other method of redirecting the steam before it comes in contact with the alarm. If you don’t, the steam will likely ruin the alarm sooner or later.

Professional Maintenance

In some cases, issues with smoke alarms are caused by electrical problems or insufficient current to keep them properly powered. For battery-powered alarms, all that’s required is to change the battery every few months to keep the alarm in good working order. With hardwired alarms, though, it’s a little more complicated. You’re going to need to call in an electrician to check out the situation, and they’ll either have to fix the wiring or possibly replace the alarm if it’s found to be defective.

Sept. 24, 2021

House Hacks to Keep Cold Air at Bay

 

As summer slowly shifts to autumn, cooler days and chilly nights are just around the corner. While this can be a relief after the summer heat, it won’t be as much of a relief when your heating costs start stacking up. Fortunately, it’s possible to prepare in advance to avoid some of the extra costs of winter while still keeping your home comfortable throughout the season. Though there are countless ways to do so and the right options for you will largely depend on your specific home, here are some little things you can do now that will have a big impact on how well your home keeps out the cold air this winter.

 

Prep for the Cold

The first thing that you should do when trying to get ready for the coming cold is to make sure you’ve blocked off many of the ways that cold air enters the house. There are a lot of potential fixes and preparations you can make, so here are a few suggestions to give you an idea of the sort of things you should do:

  • Check the caulking and weatherstripping on your doors and windows, making repairs as needed
  • Check the insulation in your attic, replacing any that’s tattered or upgrading all of it to insulation with a higher R value
  • Inspect your roof for signs of damage and repair any leaks or damaged shingles
  • Look for cracks or other damage in both your windowpanes and the frames of the windows
  • Store any window air conditioners or close their vents and cover them with an insulated air conditioner cover
  • Cover windows with a layer of thermal plastic on the inside, using a heat gun or hair dryer to shrink the plastic once it’s in place to create the strongest barrier to heat transfer
  • Place covers or sheets of wall insulation over crawl space doors and other areas where cold air might get under your house

These preparations should be done alongside any other winter prep that you do, such as applying insulating pipe covers and covering outdoor faucets to prevent possible pipe freezes.

Sept. 21, 2021

Remote Work Is Here To Stay. Can Your Home Deliver the Space You Need?

A lot has changed over the past year. For many people, the rise in remote work influenced what they’re looking for in a home and created a greater appetite for a dedicated home office. Some professionals took advantage of the situation and purchased a bigger home. Other people thought working from home would be temporary, so they chose to get creative and make the space they already had work for them. But recent headlines indicate working from home isn’t a passing fad.

If you’re still longing for a dedicated home office, now may be the time to find the home that addresses your evolving needs. More and more companies are delaying their plans to return to the office – others are deciding to remain fully remote permanently. According to economists from Goldman Sachs in a recent article from CNN:

“Job ads increasingly offer remote work and surveys indicate that both workers and employers expect work from home to remain much more common than before the pandemic.”

Other experts agree. A survey conducted by Upwork of 1,000 hiring managers found that due to the pandemic, companies were planning more remote work now and in the years to come. Upwork elaborates:

“The number of remote workers in the next five years is expected to be nearly double what it was before COVID-19: By 2025, 36.2 million Americans will be remote, an increase of 16.8 million people from pre-pandemic rates.”

The charts below break down their findings and compare pre- and post-pandemic percentages.Remote Work Is Here To Stay. Can Your Home Deliver the Space You Need? | MyKCM

How Does This Impact Homeowners?

If you own your home, it’s important to realize that continued remote work may give you opportunities you didn’t realize you had. Since you don’t need to be tied to a specific area for your job, you have more flexibility when it comes to where you can live.

If you’re one of the nearly 23% of workers who will remain 100% remote: 

You have the option to move to a lower cost-of-living area or to the location of your dreams. If you search for a home in a more affordable area, you’ll be able to get more home for your money, freeing up more options for your dedicated office space and additional breathing room.

You could also move to a location where you’ve always wanted to live – somewhere near the beach, the mountains, or simply a market that features the kind of weather and community amenities you’re looking for. Without your job tying you to a specific location, you’re bound to find your ideal spot.

If you’re one of the almost 15% of individuals who will have a partially remote or hybrid schedule:

Relocating within your local area to a home that’s further away from your office could be a great choice. Since you won’t be going in to work every day, a slightly longer commute from a more suburban or rural neighborhood may be a worthy trade-off for a home with more features, space, or comforts.

Bottom Line

If ongoing remote work is changing what you need in a home, let’s connect to find one that delivers on your new wish list.

Sept. 20, 2021

Is It Time To Move on to a New Home?

 

Is It Time To Move on to a New Home? | MyKCM

If you’ve been in your home for longer than five years, you’re not alone. According to recent data from First American, homeowners are staying put much longer than historical averages (see graph below):Is It Time To Move on to a New Home? | MyKCMAs the graph shows, before 2008, homeowners sold their houses after an average of just five years. Today, that number has more than doubled to over 10 years. The housing industry refers to this as your tenure.

To really explore tenure, it’s important to understand what drives people to make a move. An article from The Balance explores some of the primary reasons individuals choose to sell their houses. It says:

“People who move for home-related reasons might need a larger home or a house that better fits their needs, . . . Financial reasons for moving include wanting a nicer home, moving to a newer home to avoid making repairs on the old one, or cashing in on existing equity.”

If you’ve been in your home for longer than the norm, chances are you’re putting off addressing one, if not several, of the reasons other individuals choose to move. If this sounds like you, here are a few things to consider:

If your needs have changed, it may be time to re-evaluate your home.

As the past year has shown, our needs can change rapidly. That means the longer you’ve been in your home, the more likely it is your needs have evolved. The Balance notes several personal factors that could lead to your home no longer meeting your needs, including relationship and job changes.

For example, many workers recently found out they’ll be working remotely indefinitely. If that’s the case for you, you may need more space for a dedicated home office. Other homeowners choose to sell because the number of people living under their roof changes. Now more than ever, we’re spending more and more time at home. As you do, consider if your home really delivers on what you need moving forward.

It’s often financially beneficial to sell your house and move.

One of the biggest benefits of homeownership is the equity your home builds over time. If you’ve been in your house for several years, you may not realize how much equity you have. According to the latest Homeowner Equity Report from CoreLogic, homeowners gained an average of $33,400 in equity over the past year.

That equity, plus today’s low mortgage rates, can fuel a major upgrade when you sell your home and purchase a new one. Or, if you’re looking to downsize, your equity can help provide a larger down payment and lower your monthly payments over the life of your next loan. No matter what, there are significant financial benefits to selling in today’s market.

Bottom Line

If you’ve been in your home for 5-10 years or more, now might be the time to explore your options. Today’s low rates and your built-up equity could provide you with the opportunity to address your evolving needs. If you feel it’s time to sell, let’s connect.

Sept. 15, 2021

Understand Your Options To Avoid Foreclosure

Even though experts agree there’s no chance of a large-scale foreclosure crisis, there are a number of homeowners who may be coming face-to-face with foreclosure as a possibility. And while the overall percentage of homeowners at risk is decreasing with time (see graph below), that’s little comfort to those individuals who are facing challenges today.Understand Your Options To Avoid Foreclosure | MyKCMIf you haven’t taken advantage of the forbearance period, it may be time to research and understand your options. It starts with knowing what foreclosure is. Investopedia defines it like this:

Foreclosure is the legal process by which a lender attempts to recover the amount owed on a defaulted loan by taking ownership of and selling the mortgaged property. Typically, default is triggered when a borrower misses a specific number of monthly payments . . .” 

The good news is, there are alternatives available to help you avoid having to go through the foreclosure process, including:

  • Reinstatement
  • Loan modification
  • Deed-in-lieu of foreclosure
  • Short sale

But before you go down any of those paths, it’s worth seeing if you have enough equity in your home to sell it and protect your investment.

Understand Your Options: Sell Your House

Equity is the difference between what you owe on the home and its market value based on factors like price appreciation.

In today’s real estate market, many homeowners have far more equity in their homes than they realize. Over the last year, buyer demand has been high, but housing supply has been low. That’s led to a substantial increase in home values. When prices rise, so does the amount of equity you have in your house.

According to CoreLogic, on average, homeowners gained $33,400 in equity over the last 12 months, and the average equity on mortgaged homes is now $216,000 (see map below):Understand Your Options To Avoid Foreclosure | MyKCMSo, what does that mean for you? Over the past year, chances are your home’s value and therefore your equity has risen dramatically. If you’ve been in your home for a while, the mortgage payments you’ve made over time chipped away at the balance of your loan. If your home’s current value is higher than what you still owe on your loan, you may be able to use that increase to your advantage.

Frank Martell, President and CEO of CoreLogic, elaborates on how equity can help:

Homeowner equity has more than doubled over the past decade and become a crucial buffer for many weathering the challenges of the pandemic. These gains have become an important financial tool and boosted consumer confidence in the U.S. housing market.”

Don’t Go at It Alone – Lean on Experts for Advice

To find out what your house is worth in today’s market, work with a local real estate professional. We’ll be able to give you an estimate of what your house could sell for based on recent sales of similar homes in your area. Since home prices are still appreciating, you may be able to sell your house to avoid foreclosure.

If you find out that you have to pursue other options, your agent can help with that too. We’ll be able to connect you with other professionals in the industry, like housing counselors who can look into your unique situation and offer advice on next steps if selling isn’t the best alternative.

Bottom Line

If you’re a homeowner facing hardship, let’s connect to explore your options and see if you can sell your house to avoid foreclosure.

Sept. 14, 2021

The Truth About Today's Buyer Demand

When it comes to the latest news in real estate, there are a lot of sensational headlines in the media. In times like this, when it can be hard to know what to believe, put your trust in the experts. Those of us in the housing market respect that buying or selling a home is a major life decision, and we offer advice based on what the data shows.

Despite what you may have read, the housing market is still undeniably strong. Here’s a look at what leading experts have to say about buyer demand today and how it continues to shape the industry:

Michael Lane, President at ShowingTime:

“In general, there are definite signs of cooling demand. However, buyer traffic is still at historically high levels compared to pre-pandemic showings.”

Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American:

“Seasonally adjusted purchase applications tick up slightly to the highest level since July. Demand for homes remains strong and steady. Excluding 2020 (not a good benchmark) purchase applications are the strongest in a decade.” 

Selma Hepp, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic:

Home buyer demand pushed price growth to a new record high in June, with S&P CoreLogic national Case-Shiller Index clocking in an 18.6% year-over-year growth rate. The month-to-month index jumped 2.18%, making it another strong monthly growth, and the fastest May-to-June increase since the data series began.”

What It Means for You

As a seller, buyer demand is an important factor that helps influence how fast your house will sell and how many buyers may be competing for it. When buyers have to compete against each other for a limited supply of available homes, bidding wars can drive prices up. While things have cooled slightly since the peak of the pandemic housing rush, buyer demand is still far surpassing historical norms. That’s why we’re still in a sellers’ market.

Bottom Line

If you’re torn on whether or not you want to sell your home this year, rest assured it’s still a great time to make a move. Let’s connect to discuss how you can sell now and do it on your best terms thanks to today’s buyer demand.

Sept. 13, 2021

How Does a Radiator System Work?

 

Keeping the climate in your home under control is important throughout the year. Not only do you need to have a reliable way to keep the heat of the summer sun at bay, but you’ll also want some method of keeping toasty and warm on cool autumn evenings and throughout the frigid winter. For many homeowners, this means a forced-air heat pump, usually as part of a combined central heating and cooling system. This isn’t the only option that’s available, however.

 

 

Though you might think radiator heating is a product of a bygone era, radiator heating systems are actually the second most popular home heating option out there. Depending on where you live and the type of system you use, they can actually be more comfortable than forced-air heating and may even use less electricity to keep running. If you’re considering upgrading your home heating system, here’s what you need to know about radiator heating to help you decide if it’s right for you.

 

Radiator Basics

The function of a radiator system is pretty simple: heat travels through the system, warming up the radiator. The heat then radiates out into the open air, creating natural circulation of the air in the room. As more heat enters the air, the warmer air rises toward the ceiling and cooler air drops down closer to the floor. This air is in turn heated up by the radiator, causing it to rise, cycling heat throughout the room. After a little time has passed, the entire room will be warmed up without the noise and dust or allergen circulation that forced-air units often cause.

Though radiators come in a variety of forms, the actual radiator units typically have a lot of bends, folds, and fins in their design. This is to maximize the surface area of the radiator unit, giving it more contact with the surrounding air. The more surface area there is, the more heat can be transferred at once, and the faster the radiator will heat the surrounding area.

Radiator Types

The old type of radiator that you’re likely most familiar with are steam radiators, which function by pumping in steam that’s heated elsewhere in a boiler. The steam heats up the radiator, and as it cools it condenses into water which drains and returns to the boiler. While this was a functional system, the pressure created by the steam could sometimes cause radiator units to rupture or create other hazards. That’s part of the reason that these radiators have kind of fallen out of favor in modern times.

More modern radiator systems use hot water instead of steam to transfer heat, as this can be done without creating potentially dangerous pressure build-ups. Heated water enters the radiator, cycles through the loops to transfer its heat, and then cooler water leaves through another valve. The water is then reheated and cycles back through the radiator so that it can continue to heat the room. What pressure might build up in the form of air within the water lines is released through bleed valves that are mounted on the radiator units themselves.

Is Radiator Heat Right for Your Home?

While radiators aren’t right for everyone, they do provide quality heat without the added noise of forced-air systems. Many homeowners consider radiator heat to be less dry overall than forced-air heating, and the heat that radiators provide can last for a while even when the radiator isn’t operating due to the more gradual heat release that they use. They do take a while to get going, however, so they aren’t ideal for those who want to be able to turn on the heat and immediately see the mercury start to rise.

If you think that a radiator system might be good for your home, consult with a home heating expert to see what options are available to you.

Sept. 9, 2021

More Places to Store Odds and Ends

 

Having enough storage space is a struggle that many homeowners face. Even when you have plenty of closets and cabinets, there are often additional odds and ends that don’t really seem to belong anywhere. The resulting clutter can be frustrating, and often results in things like unorganized junk drawers or a desk that becomes something of a cluttered catch-all for things that don’t have anywhere else to go in the house.

 

 

There are ways to get around some of this clutter, though. You’re likely already familiar with some spaces where you can store some of your odds and ends, but there may be options that you haven’t considered yet. Here are a few more areas that you might consider to help declutter your home and find a place for everything.

 

Under, Over, and Behind

When you look in your cabinets or closets and see the clutter there, you might actually be missing one possible solution to your problem. There’s usually some empty space around the clutter that you can take advantage of with relatively little effort, provided you recognize it for what it is. Instead of focusing on what’s on the shelves or in your existing storage areas, start looking under, over, and behind those areas. Options include:

  • Hang a shoe holder on the back of a closet door and place various small items into its pockets to better organize the space
  • Install under-cabinet hardware to mount can openers, paper towels, sliding drawers, or even things like your microwave to free up counter space
  • Place hooks on the backs of cabinet doors or on cabinet walls to hold measuring cups or other small items, organizing them for easy access
  • Add shelves or an over-the-toilet organizer to your bathroom to hold towels, soaps, makeup, and other items that might otherwise sit around your sink or crowd your bath area
  • Install hooks near entrances, in bathrooms, in the laundry room, and in other locations where you might need to hang up coats, towels, or other items

There are a lot of other options available as well, and you can find a wide range of racks, storage solutions, and modular shelving kits that will help you to take advantage of this otherwise unused space.

Making More Storage

If you need a bit more storage than a shoe rack or a bin can provide, there are a few slightly larger projects that can give you a lot more space for your odds and ends. While some of these require a bit of construction, others focus on replacing some furniture pieces to make them more functional. Just a few of these projects include:

  • Make better use of the space under beds by adding bed frames with built-in drawers that slide out for easy access
  • Install a shelving system in your attic or garage and use it to hold storage bins, organizing the contents of each bin and labeling them for easy reference
  • Add a small set of shelves to your broom closet, laundry room, or other out-of-the-way area, cutting out an area between studs so that you can add recessed shelving if necessary
  • Replace ottomans, nightstands, coffee tables, or other furniture pieces that are purely decorative and opt for versions that contain more storage

Depending on the layout of your home, there may be other options available to you as well. If you do a lot outdoors, you might also consider adding a shed or other outdoor storage solution to get the items you regularly use out of the house and where you actually need them.

Bring In Some Help

Organization can be tricky, so don’t be afraid to bring in a pro to help. Professional declutterers, interior decorators, handymen, and more can help you find places to put all your odds and ends or make suggestions on the best places in your home to add more storage.

Sept. 8, 2021

Your Agent Is Key When Pricing Your House [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights

  • Pricing your house right takes market experience and expertise.
  • To find the best list price, your agent balances current market demand, values of homes in your neighborhood, where prices are headed, and your home’s condition.
  • If you’re ready to sell, don’t guess on the price. Let’s connect today so we price your house to attract multiple offers and maximize your return on investment.

 

Posted in Infographics
Sept. 7, 2021

Reasons You Should Consider Selling This Fall

If you’re trying to decide when to sell your house, there may not be a better time to list than right now. The ultimate sellers’ market we’re in today won’t last forever. If you’re thinking of making a move, here are four reasons to put your house up for sale sooner rather than later.

1. Your House Will Likely Sell Quickly

According to the Realtors Confidence Index released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes continue to sell quickly – on average, they’re selling in just 17 days. As a seller, that’s great news for you.

Average days on market is a strong indicator of buyer demand. And if homes are selling quickly, buyers have to be more decisive and act fast to submit their offer before other buyers swoop in.

2. Buyers Are Willing To Compete for Your House

In addition to selling quickly, homes are receiving multiple offers. That same survey shows sellers are seeing an average of 4.5 offers, and they’re competitive ones. The graph below shows how the average number of offers right now compares to previous years:Reasons You Should Consider Selling This Fall | MyKCMBuyers today know bidding wars are a likely outcome, and they’re coming prepared with their best offer in hand. Receiving several offers on your house means you can select the one that makes the most sense for your situation and financial well-being.

3. When Supply Is Low, Your House Is in the Spotlight

One of the most significant challenges for motivated buyers is the current inventory of homes for sale. Though it’s improving, it remains at near-record lows. The chart below shows how today’s low inventory stacks up against recent years. The lighter the blue is in the chart, the lower the housing supply.Reasons You Should Consider Selling This Fall | MyKCMIf you’re looking to take advantage of buyer demand and get the most attention for your house, selling now before more listings come to the market might be your best option.

4. If You’re Thinking of Moving Up, Now May Be the Time

If your current home no longer meets your needs, it may be the perfect time to make a move. Today, homeowners are gaining a significant amount of wealth through growing equity. You can leverage that equity, plus current low mortgage rates, to power your move now. But these near-historic low rates won’t last forever.

Experts forecast interest rates will rise. In their forecast, Freddie Mac says:

“While we forecast rates to increase gradually later in the year, we don’t expect to see a rapid increase. At the end of the year, we forecast 30-year rates will be around 3.4%, rising to 3.8% by the fourth quarter of 2022.”

When rates rise, even modestly, it’ll impact your monthly payment and by extension your purchasing power.

Bottom Line

Don’t delay. The combination of housing supply challenges, low mortgage rates, and extremely motivated buyers gives sellers a unique opportunity this season. If you’re thinking about making a move, let’s chat about why it makes sense to list your house now.