The Howell Realty Group Real Estate News and Information

 

Oct. 18, 2021

Sellers: Your House Could Be an Oasis for Buyers Seeking More Options

Sellers have a great opportunity this season as buyer demand still heavily outweighs the current supply of homes for sale. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), today’s housing inventory sits at only a 2.6-month supply. To put that into perspective, a neutral market typically features a 6-month supply. That places today’s market firmly in the sellers’ market category.

That same NAR data also shows today’s inventory of single-family homes is trailing behind the level we saw last year (see graph below):Sellers: Your House Could Be an Oasis for Buyers Seeking More Options | MyKCMBecause of the ongoing supply challenges, buyers can feel like they’re wandering across a vast, empty desert when searching for their next home. That means your house could provide an oasis for buyers thirsty for options – and it could increase the chances of buyers entering a bidding war for your home.

The latest Realtors Confidence Index Survey from NAR shows houses are receiving an average of 3.8 offers. A multiple-offer scenario lets you select the best offer and gives you incredible leverage when you sell this fall.

Bottom Line

Buyers today are looking for relief as they wander today’s inventory desert. Listing your house this fall – before more options appear – gives your house the best chance to be noticed by multiple buyers. Let’s connect today so your house can stand out as the oasis it truly is.

Oct. 15, 2021

Year-Round Savings With Ceiling Fans

 

In general, people tend to think about air conditioners as a way to keep a home cool and heating units as a way to keep it warm. There’s nothing wrong with this line of thinking, of course. If you’re only relying on heaters and air conditioners to maintain the temperature, though, then you may be spending way more than you need to keep your home comfortable.

 

 

One key part of controlling your home’s heating and cooling costs that you might be ignoring is the humble ceiling fan. By using ceiling fans effectively, you can keep your home at more consistent temperatures throughout the year while spending a lot less on heating and cooling. If you like the thought of staying comfortable while spending less, here’s what you need to know about using your ceiling fans effectively.

 

Ceiling Fans Save Money

Modern ceiling fans are incredibly energy efficient, giving you a way to keep air circulating in your home without breaking the bank. In fact, the average cost of running a ceiling fan comes out to around only one cent per hour; compare this to 36 cents per hour or more to run an air conditioner, and you can see how big of a potential difference a ceiling fan can make. That’s not to say that you’ll be using a ceiling fan instead of an air conditioner, but using a fan in conjunction with air conditioning helps to create a windchill effect within your home that lets you set the thermostat a few degrees higher while maintaining the same comfort level in the home. This results in less overall time with the air conditioner on and lower overall spending on cooling.

A similar effect can be had during the winter. Heat rises, meaning that you’re spending a lot of money on heating in order to essentially heat your rooms from the top down. Having your ceiling fan going keeps the air circulating, preventing the warmest air from staying near the ceiling and making it easier to maintain comfortable temperatures without having to run the heat excessively. This can actually result in a more enjoyable heat as well, since the circulating air will help you avoid cool pockets and drafts near the floor. 

Proper Fan Usage

If you’re using ceiling fans in your rooms throughout the year, it’s important to make sure that the fans are placed properly. Ideally you should have fans placed near the center of the room they’re installed in, hanging around 7 to 9 feet from the floor with around a foot clearance between the fan and the ceiling. Large fans are best so long as they work with your room layout and don’t interrupt your décor; as they have larger blades, they can move more air at once even when running at lower speeds and will save you more money than smaller fans.

During the summertime, you should have your ceiling fans spinning in a counterclockwise direction to create the desired windchill effect to keep things cool. When possible, you should also close curtains and blinds to prevent sunlight from heating up the air as well. Once temperatures start to drop and you turn on the heat, flip the switch on your ceiling fan so that it starts spinning clockwise to circulate the air without the windchill. Open up the blinds and curtains as well, letting in that free heat from the winter sun.

Installing Ceiling Fans

If you’re installing new ceiling fans in your rooms, you’re going to want to bring in an electrician to get everything wired correctly and make sure that the fans are hung properly.

 

Oct. 14, 2021

Why Winterize?

 

It’s around this time of year that you usually start hearing a lot about “winterization” and preparing your home for the cold months ahead. You may be wondering whether winterization really helps you get your home ready for the winter months. You might also wonder when the right time to start winterizing actually is. If you find yourself asking these questions, the answers are pretty simple. Not only should you winterize your home, but you should winterize it well before the cold weather starts moving in.

 

 

Winterizing your home can be a big job, so it’s important to understand how different winterization tasks will benefit you. The more you understand about winterization as a whole, the better you’ll be at figuring out which specific winterization tasks will provide the most benefit for your home and circumstances. While it’s a large topic to cover all at once, here is some basic information to cover then whens, whys, and hows of winterizing your home.

 

When to Winterize

Winterization should start once the temperature starts to fall and nights start getting a lot cooler. In many areas this is late October and early November but depending on where you live you might want to start winterizing even earlier than that. Some people think that the timing is just so that cold weather doesn’t take you by surprise, but the actual reason is a bit more practical than that.

Winterization involves a number of home maintenance and repair activities, and some of these involve adhesives, sealants, and other materials that have to cure or dry. The colder it is, the longer it takes for these materials to set up properly. In some cases, they might even experience shrinkage or fail to set up at all if the temperature is too cold for too long. Starting winterization early enough in the fall ensures that you have enough time to get everything done before temperatures drop into the trouble zone.

How to Winterize Your Home

Winterization can be broken down into three general types of activities. These general groups are inspection, repair, and prevention. The specifics of these activities will depend on where you live and how your home is laid out, but here are the basics:

  • Inspection activities involve checking to see how barriers and equipment are holding up to make sure that they’re ready for winter. Examples include checking your roof for signs of damage, checking for drafts or other signs of window leaks or damage, and having your furnace or heat pump inspected to ensure that it’s clean and working properly.
  • Repair activities involve fixing damage and checking items off your to-do list to prevent things like drafts or unwanted animals or insects from getting into your home. Examples include fixing your siding, replacing damaged shingles, or getting repairs done to your HVAC system.
  • Prevention activities are tasks that help you to preemptively take action so that potential winter problems never come to pass. Examples include covering pipes with insulation to prevent freezing, taking window unit air conditioners out of your windows to prevent heat loss, installing thermal film over your window interiors, and disconnecting hoses from outdoor faucets before installing faucet covers to prevent leaks and freezing.

It can be a big job to cover all your winterization tasks, but each one that you complete can help you to avoid problems and even save some money over the course of the winter. Many winterization tasks are common DIY activities, though some will require a bit of professional help to complete.

Professional Winterization

It’s increasingly common for homeowners to bring in professionals to help with some or all of their winterization activities. This includes things like professional roof or HVAC inspections, calling a plumber to inspect the pipes under the house and make sure that they’re insulated, and installers to replace old drafty windows with new ones. 

Oct. 13, 2021

What's Causing Today's Competitive Real Estate Market? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights

  • Today's strong sellers' market is the direct result of high demand and low supply.
  • Low mortgage rates and generational trends have created an increased demand for homes. Meanwhile, the slower pace of new home construction and homeowners staying in their homes longer have both led to today's low supply.
  • If you're thinking of selling, let's connect to talk about our local area and how you can take advantage of today's housing market.
Posted in Infographics
Oct. 12, 2021

111,285 Reasons You Should Buy a Home This Year

The financial benefits of buying a home versus renting one are always up for debate. However, one element of the equation is often ignored – the ability to build wealth as a homeowner.

According to the latest research from the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

Homeownership is a key pathway to building wealth and narrowing the racial income and wealth inequality gap. Housing wealth (equity) accumulation takes time and is built up by price appreciation and paying off the mortgage.”

An increase in equity builds the wealth of the individual that owns it. This wealth can be passed down to future generations. The Federal Reserve in an addendum to their Survey of Consumer Finances explains:

“There are numerous ways families can transmit wealth and resources across generations. Families can directly transfer their wealth to the next generation in the form of a bequest. They can also provide the next generation with inter vivos transfers (gifts), for example, providing down payment support to enable a home purchase or a substantial wedding gift.”

The Federal Reserve also explains another way wealth (including the additional net worth generated by an increase in home equity) can benefit future generations:

“In addition to direct transfers or gifts, families can make investments in their children that indirectly increase their wealth. For example, families can invest in their children’s educational success by paying for college or private schools, which can in turn increase their children’s ability to accumulate wealth.”

Here’s a look at how equity can build your wealth over time when you own a home.

Equity over the Last 30 Years

The NAR research reveals that the average gain for homeowners over the last five years was $139,134 and over the last 10 years was $218,505. Looking even further back in time, the article says:

“Homeowners who purchased a typical single-family existing-home 30 years ago at the median sales price of $103,333 with a 10% down payment loan and who sold the property at the median sales price of $357,700 in 2021 Q2 accumulated housing wealth of $349,258.”

Homeownership builds household wealth which also enables households to more easily move to the home of their dreams. As Mark Fleming, the Chief Economist at First American, explains:

“As homeowners gain equity in their homes, they are more likely to consider using that equity to purchase a larger or more attractive home – the wealth effect of rising equity.”

If you missed out on the equity gains over the last 30 years, don’t fret. Experts are still calling for substantial growth in equity over the next five years.

Looking Forward at the Equity To Come

The most recent Home Price Expectation Survey, a survey of over one hundred economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists, expects home values (and therefore equity) to increase as follows:

  • 2021: 11.74%
  • 2022: 5.82%
  • 2023: 3.94%
  • 2024: 3.56%
  • 2025: 3.55%

The survey estimates a 31.8% cumulative appreciation over the next five years. Using their annual projections, the graph below shows the equity build-up a purchaser could earn, using a $350,000 home as an example:111,285 Reasons You Should Buy a Home This Year | MyKCMThat’s a potential increase in household wealth of $111,285 over five years.

Bottom Line

Owning a home is one of the best ways to grow your wealth over time. House wealth can impact generations. In many cases, the largest single investment a household has is their home. As that investment appreciates in value, the financial options also increase.

 

Oct. 11, 2021

The Howell Team OCTOBER 2021 Homeward Bound Newsletter

Posted in Newsletter
Oct. 11, 2021

What is Terrazzo?

 

If you’ve been looking for a stylish and durable material for floors, countertops, or other surfaces, there are few finishes more timeless than terrazzo. A material in use in some form for at least 600 years, terrazzo continues to dazzle and dominate in all kinds of locations in the modern home.

 

Terrazzo: A Brief History

The Renaissance was an incredible time for artists and architects, with plenty of ground-breaking innovations in the arts coming about. But alongside all the fancy sculptures and haunting stained glass, there was an incredible amount of waste in the form of scrap chips. It was probably an accidental discovery outside of artisan workshops that led to terrazzo, but over time, Italians noticed that walking over those marble, glass, and other durable chips pushed them into workshop floors.

The result was an early form of the breathtaking material we know today. Over time, Italians learned to create terrazzo on purpose, by scattering the chips from workshops onto clay bases, compressing them, and polishing them for a more uniform look. It has since been used in such famous locations as St. Peter’s Basilica and George Washington’s Mount Vernon, and spread like wildfire in new homes built from the 1940s through the 1960s.

Looking for Sustainability?

Terrazzo is considered a sustainable floor option, provided you choose one made the old fashioned way: out of recycled materials. Leftover bits of glass, marble, stone, and even more modern materials like plastic can be included in a terrazzo floor to create a unique look. And with a zero VOC base, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a floor that’s safer or greener. It’s even approved for LEED-certified buildings and contributes to the points that are required for LEED certification.

As long as there are manufacturing processes going on, there will be plenty of waste that can be turned into terrazzo. It’s an excellent way to use up these materials and prevent them from ending up in a landfill. Plus, the material is incredibly durable, even when used in high traffic areas like entryway floors, so unless you simply want a change, there’s no reason to worry they’ll need to be replaced.

Choosing Terrazzo for Your Home

Terrazzo is one of the most flexible surface coverings available, and considering its long lifespan, one of the best values. Of course, if you’re not planning on being in your home for a while, you may find that the cost (which is similar to high end ceramic tile) to be a bit more than you’d budgeted for. However, if you’re in your dream home or at least the one you’re planning to retire in, there’s nothing that works harder or lasts longer.

You can use terrazzo indoors or out, on floors, inside showers, on walls, or as a backsplash; the possibilities are literally endless. Since it can be purchased as premade tiles or poured in place, it’s also a great solution for oddly shaped areas. There’s no pattern to match, and no wrong direction to turn terrazzo tiles, making a tile option a reasonable DIY project for people who want to try their hand at their own backsplash or shower tile.

If you’d rather use a pour-in-place terrazzo option, you’ll likely need professional help. There’s a great deal of equipment and skill involved in getting everything just so to keep your terrazzo at its best for the long haul.

Oct. 6, 2021

Don’t Tackle Selling Your Home on Your Own – an Agent Can Help

If you’re looking to maximize your sale and minimize your effort, you need to work with a real estate professional. In a sellers’ market like today’s, it can be tempting to list your house on your own – known as For Sale By Owner (FSBO). But the truth is, a real estate professional can save you time and money by managing every step of the process, from pricing your home to reviewing documents and handling negotiations.

Before you decide to sell your house on your own, here are five reasons why working with an agent is your best bet to maximize the sale of your home.

1. First impressions are everything – and an agent knows how to make a great one.

Prepping a house for sale requires a significant amount of time and effort, even though it may seem simple at first glance. Doing it right so it stands out takes expertise and an understanding of what buyers are looking for. An agent considers things like:

  • Should you take down any personal art or pictures?
  • How much landscaping should you invest in to boost your house’s curb appeal?
  • What wall colors are most appealing to buyers?

An expert real estate advisor relies on their experience to answer these questions and more so you don’t invest in the wrong things. Your time and money are important – you shouldn’t waste either.

2. Agents have tools to maximize the number of views your home gets.

Put plainly, the more buyers that view your house, the better your return will be. In our current market, homes are receiving 3.8 offers on average per sale, according to recent data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). While that’s promising for the sale of your home, it’s important to understand your agent’s role in bringing buyers in.

Agents have multiple tools at their disposal – from social media to agency resources – to ensure your home is viewed by more prospective buyers. Leveraging the tools available to your agent and your agent’s expertise may help boost your sale price as well.

3. An agent won’t miss anything in the fine print.

Your agent can also save you time by taking any guesswork out of navigating the required documentation. Today, more disclosures and regulations are mandatory, meaning the number of legal documents you need to juggle is growing.

Because there’s so much to take care of, it can be hard to truly understand all of the requirements and the fine print. That’s where an expert advisor can truly shine. They’ve been through the process before and can be your guide to avoid any costly missteps.

4. Expert advisors know the market and how to price your home.

Another way your agent maximizes the sale of your home is by making sure it’s priced right. Real estate professionals have the experience to compare your house to recently sold homes in your area. They also understand the market at large and can factor in any upgrades you’ve completed to your home. Combining these factors is the key to making sure your home is priced to move quickly – and at a competitive price.

When you FSBO, you’re operating without this expertise. Even with your own research, you may not find the most up-to-date information and could risk setting a price that’s inaccurate or unrealistic. If you price your house too high, you could turn buyers away before they’re even in the front door. This could also cause problems when it’s time for the appraisal.

5. Your agent will be an expert negotiator.

In addition to their experience navigating sales, real estate professionals understand how to negotiate every aspect of a deal. They also know all the parties that will be involved with the sale, including:

  • The buyer, who wants the best deal possible.
  • The buyer’s agent, who will use their expertise to advocate for the buyer.
  • The inspection company, which works for the buyer and will almost always find concerns with the house.
  • The appraiser, who assesses the property’s value to protect the lender.

An agent relies on their experience and training to make the right moves during the negotiation. They’ll know what levers to pull, how to address each individual’s concerns, and when you may want to get a second opinion. Selling your house as a FSBO means you’ll need to be prepared to have these conversations on your own.

Bottom Line

Selling a house takes time, effort, and expertise – don’t go at it alone. Let’s connect to make sure you have an expert on your side to make the most of your sale

Oct. 5, 2021

Basement Wet Bars and You

 

Even before the pandemic, basement conversions that included bars and other entertainment spaces were becoming more popular. Now, with many people still entertaining in small groups at home instead of going out, having a home bar downstairs can really liven up those times when you get together with friends. While there are a number of ways you can set up a bar area in your home, having a wet bar on hand makes everything more convenient.

 

 

If you aren’t sure exactly what a wet bar is, it’s pretty simple. As opposed to a “dry bar” that only has cabinets or other storage options, wet bars feature plumbing lines that are used to hook up a sink and occasionally even water-using appliances such as an automatic ice maker or dishwasher. If this sounds like a great idea for your entertainment space, here are some thoughts on having a wet bar in your basement and really making it your own.

 

Planning Your Wet Bar

The first thing you need to do when planning a wet bar is decide just how much space you want the bar to take up. Some people want a full bar area with seating for friends and a wide range of storage options. Others want a wet bar that just has a small sink next to a few cabinets and a mini-fridge. The design of your bar affects how much room it takes up in your basement, and this will in turn affect how much space you have available for other activities around it.

Another consideration as you plan out your bar area is how much lighting it will require. A small bar area will only need enough light for you to prep drinks and perform other basic actions, while a larger bar will need enough lighting to allow for conversation and interactions among your guests seated at the bar. Larger bars are more likely to have decorative lighting, higher-quality countertop materials, and two-tiered bar areas as well, so those
will need to be taken into consideration.

Wet Bar Decoration

If you’re going to be entertaining with a wet bar in your basement, you’ll want your bar area looking nice. That includes the decorative lighting and countertop materials already mentioned, but there’s a lot more that goes into the look of your wet bar area than just that. You’ll need to consider flooring, and you’ll want something that’s waterproof and hard since you’ll be mixing drinks and dealing with things like ice and water. Wall coverings are also important, and can range from water-resistant painted walls to paneling, stone, or tile. Decorative storage options such as liquor shelves or built-in wine racks can also affect the look and organization of your bar area.

Whatever options you go with, it’s important to set up your wet bar so that it looks like it belongs with everything else around it. The more it matches the look and feel of the rest of your basement, the more it will seem to be just an extension of your entertaining area. This doesn’t mean that you can’t liven up the area around your bar a bit to help it stand out, but the style of the bar should at least complement the rest of your basement so that it stands out without sticking out like a sore thumb.

Wet Bar Decoration

If you’re going to be entertaining with a wet bar in your basement, you’ll want your bar area looking nice. That includes the decorative lighting and countertop materials already mentioned, but there’s a lot more that goes into the look of your wet bar area than just that. You’ll need to consider flooring, and you’ll want something that’s waterproof and hard since you’ll be mixing drinks and dealing with things like ice and water. Wall coverings are also important, and can range from water-resistant painted walls to paneling, stone, or tile. Decorative storage options such as liquor shelves or built-in wine racks can also affect the look and organization of your bar area.

Whatever options you go with, it’s important to set up your wet bar so that it looks like it belongs with everything else around it. The more it matches the look and feel of the rest of your basement, the more it will seem to be just an extension of your entertaining area. This doesn’t mean that you can’t liven up the area around your bar a bit to help it stand out, but the style of the bar should at least complement the rest of your basement so that it stands out without sticking out like a sore thumb.

Oct. 1, 2021

A-door-able Updates!

 

It goes without saying that your doors are an important part of your home. They provide security, help to control the temperature, and even play a big part in the overall look of your home. Your front door is one of the first things that people notice when coming to your home, and the state that your door is in can have a noticeable impact on the impression that people have of your house and property. Stop and think about it for a moment: What sort of a message is your front door sending?

 

 

If you don’t like what your door is saying or aren’t really sure how others view it, you might consider getting an upgrade. There are a few different types of updates you can give to your door depending on what you want and the sort of budget you’re dealing with, so you definitely have options. Here are a few things to think about while trying to decide if you’re ready to update your door or not.

 

Does Your Door Need an Update?

The first thing you should think about is whether your door actually needs updating. Don’t just think about your front door, though. While that’s the door in your home that gets the most attention, you should also stop and think about interior doors, back doors, and other doors that you, your family, and your guests will see. These other doors aren’t as likely to need a major update, but if they’re damaged or otherwise out of style then you might consider making some changes.

As you consider your doors, look at their physical condition: Is there any visible damage, or perhaps weathering or warping? Do the doors have trouble opening or closing, even after tightening hinge screws or making other adjustments? Think about how they look and how well they match the surrounding walls or other fixtures like shutters; do their colors and styles cause them to blend in, stand out, or contrast? What about features such as windows or other design work in the doors? Do they match what you envision for your home? This may seem like a lot of questions, but you want to consider both the look and the functionality of your doors when trying to decide whether to update or replace them.

Door Upgrade Options

If you’ve spent some time considering either your front door or other doors in your house and found them in need of some changes, it’s time to think about exactly what sort of change you want to see. Is it something subtle, or something more significant? Regardless of how you’d like to change the look and feel of your home, there’s likely some door updates and upgrades that can help you achieve it.

One of the most basic updates you can make to your door is to change its color with a fresh coat of paint. This can be especially useful if you just want your door to stand out a bit more and appear more welcoming. If you want a larger color upgrade, paint the door and then paint or replace your window shutters to match. Windows or other door inlays can be installed into some doors, though it’s more likely that you’ll buy a new door to accomplish this major change in look. There are a few other reasons to buy a new door as well, especially if you’re looking at damage or warping. There are both wood and metal doors available depending on your needs, so be sure to shop around to find the perfect doors for your home.