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Jennifer Carstensen's Blog

By Jennifer Carstensen | Agent in Memphis, TN
  • Curb Appeal Tips for Fall

    Posted Under: Home Selling  |  October 8, 2013 6:44 PM  |  185 views  |  No comments

    Make sure your house catches home buyers' eyes this fall with these stylish updates and landscaping design ideas.

    Spruce Up Your Lawn

    Keep your grass trimmed and free of sticks and leaves for maximum curb appeal.

    Plant Fall Flowers

    Give your landscaping a boost of color with fall blooming flowers, such ass chrysanthemums, in gardens and borders.

    Highlight Your Front Door

    A lick of colorful paint and a welcoming wreath say, “Come in!” to potential buyers.

    Clean up the Exterior

    Replacing loose shingles, siding, peeling paint can all make your home more attractive to potential buyers

    Clear Out the Gutters

    Keep gutters free from leaves, sticks, and other unsightly-and potentially damaging-debris.

    Outdoor Lighting

    Thoughtfully placed outdoor lighting makes your home all the more welcoming to potential buyers.

    Keep Decorations Simple

    Simple is best when it comes to outdoor decorations.

    Source: FrontDoor.com


  • Millennials Show Strong Interest in Home Ownership

    Posted Under: Home Selling  |  May 27, 2013 9:01 AM  |  110 views  |  No comments

    The majority of Millennials are strongly interested in becoming home owners, according to a survey from national home builder PulteGroup.

    The PulteGroup Home Index Survey found 65% of renters ages 18-34 with an income of more than $50,000 want to buy a home.

    Most of them plan to be coupled in their home with 76% indicating they will live with a spouse or significant other. Among those not moving in with a significant other, 22% anticipate having a roommate, including a friend, parent, in-law, grandparent, or sibling living with them.

    “Millennials have witnessed the housing boom and bust, but still believe home ownership is a good investment,” said Fred Ehle, vice president for PulteGroup. “Consistent with other third-party research that shows more than 90% of Millennials plan to buy a home someday, we see a lot of young adults who are making financial sacrifices to afford a place of their own.”

    Millennials View a Home as an Investment

    More than 50% of Millennials reported that the desire to own/build equity was the primary reason for purchasing their new home. The second largest reason, at 12%, was that Millennials were tired of apartment living.

    Millennials overwhelmingly want an open/layout space in the kitchen and family rooms for entertaining family and friends.

    In addition to the obvious home features, including sleeping, eating, and bathroom areas, Millennials rated the following aspects in a new home as extremely important/very important:

    • 84% said ample storage for daily items
    • 76% said space for TV, movie, sports watching
    • 73% said the entry to the home
    • 63% said outdoor living/deck
    • 36% said the ability to conduct business from home

      Source: National Association of Realtors
  • This Month in Real Estate - March 2013

    Posted Under: Home Selling  |  March 5, 2013 5:43 PM  |  137 views  |  No comments

  • Home Sales Shift to Sellers’ Market in Many Areas of U.S.

    Posted Under: Home Buying, Home Selling  |  February 28, 2013 4:28 PM  |  217 views  |  No comments

    Existing-home sales edged up in January, while a seller’s market is developing and home prices continue to rise steadily above year-ago levels, according to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Sales rose in every region but the West, which is the region most constrained by limited inventory.

    Total sales of existing single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops increased 0.4% and were 9.1% above the pace set in January 2012.

    Tight inventory is a major factor in the housing market, said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Buyer traffic is continuing to pick up, while seller traffic is holding steady,” he said. “In fact, buyer traffic is 40% above a year ago, so there is plenty of demand but insufficient inventory to improve sales more strongly. We’ve transitioned into a seller’s market in much of the country.”

    There were 1.74 million existing homes for sale at the end of January, down 4.9% from December. At the rate homes are selling, that’s a 4.2-month supply, down from 4.5 months in December. It’s the lowest supply of homes for sale since April 2005.

    “We expect a seasonal rise of inventory this spring, but it may be insufficient to avoid more frequent incidences of multiple bidding and faster-than-normal price growth,” Yun explained.

    Median Home Price Rises

    The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $173,600 in January, up 12.3% from January 2012. That’s the 11th consecutive month of year-over-year price increases, something that last occurred from July 2005 to May 2006. The median price is the point at which half the homes sold for more and half sold for less.

    Distressed homes — foreclosures and short sales — accounted for 23% of January sales, down from 24% in December, and 35% in January 2012. Fourteen percent of January sales were foreclosures and 9% were short sales. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 20% below market value in January, while short sales were discounted 12%.

    NAR President Gary Thomas said the typical home is selling nearly four weeks faster than it did a year ago. He warned buyers to be careful to strike a balance between moving quickly and protecting themselves by making offers contingent on satisfactory home inspections and loan approvals.

    The median time on market for all homes was 71 days in January, down from 73 days in December, and is 28.3% below 99 days in January 2012. Short sales were on the market for a median of 94 days, while foreclosures typically sold in 47 days and non-distressed homes took 75 days. About a third (31%) of all homes sold in January were on the market for less than a month.

    Who’s Buying Homes

    The NAR data also shows who’s buying homes. The survey found:

    • 30% were bought by first-time buyers

    • 28% were sold to all-cash buyers

    • 19% were sold to investors (the ones doing most of the all-cash deals)

    Regional Home Sales and Prices

    Across the nation, single-family home sales rose 0.2% and the median existing single-family home sold for $174,100 in January, up 12.6% from a year ago.

    Existing condominium and co-op sales rose 1.8% nationally in January. The median existing condo price was $169,600 in January, up 9.4% from January 2012.

    Those national figures are based on these regional results:

    Northeast: Home sales increased 4.8% and were 12.1% above January 2012. The median price was $230,500, up 2.4% from a year ago.

    Midwest: Home sales up 3.6% and were 17.2% higher than a year ago. The median price was $131,800, which is 8.6% above January 2012.

    South: Home sales increased 1.0% and were 14.0% above January 2012. The median price was $152,100, up 13.4% from a year ago.

    West: Home sales fell 5.7% and were 5.7% below a year ago, but the median price rose a whopping 26.6% from last January to $239,800.

    Source: NAR

  • Exterior Replacement Projects Provide Biggest Return on Investment for Homeowners

    Posted Under: Home Selling  |  February 3, 2013 3:04 PM  |  184 views  |  No comments

    Homeowners looking for the most return on their investment when it comes to remodeling should consider exterior replacement projects. According to the 2013 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, Realtors® rated exterior projects among the most valuable home improvement projects.

    “Realtors® know that curb appeal projects offer great bang for your buck, because a home’s exterior is the first thing potential buyers see,” said National Association of Realtors® President Gary Thomas, broker-owner of Evergreen Realty, in Villa Park, Calif. “Projects such as siding, window and door replacements can recoup more than 70 percent of their cost at resale. Realtors® know what home features are important to buyers in your area and can provide helpful insights when considering remodeling projects.”

    Results of the report are summarized on NAR’s consumer website HouseLogic.com, which provides information on dozens of remodeling projects, from kitchens and baths to siding replacements, including the recouped value of the project based on a national average. According to the Cost vs. Value Report, Realtors® judged a steel entry door replacement as the project expected to return the most money, with an estimated 85.6 percent of costs recouped upon resale. The steel entry door replacement is the least expensive project in the report, costing little more than $1,100 on average. A majority of the top 10 most cost-effective projects nationally in terms of value recouped are exterior replacement projects; all of these are estimated to recoup more than 71 percent of costs.

    Three different siding replacement projects landed in the top 10, including fiber cement siding, expected to return 79.3 percent of costs, vinyl siding, expected to return 72.9 percent of costs, and foam backed vinyl, expected to return 71.8 percent of costs. Two additional door replacements were also among the top exterior replacement projects. The midrange and upscale garage door replacement were both expected to return more than 75 percent of costs.

    According to the report, two interior remodeling projects in particular can recoup substantial value at resale. A minor kitchen remodel is ranked fifth and is expected to return 75.4 percent of costs. Nationally, the average cost for the project is just under $19,000.

    The second interior remodeling project in the top 10 is the attic bedroom, which landed at number eight and tied with the vinyl siding replacement with 72.9 percent of costs recouped. With an average national cost of just under $48,000, the attic project adds a bedroom and bathroom within a home’s existing footprint. The improvement project projected to return the least is the home office remodel, estimated to recoup less than 44 percent.

    The 2013 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report compares construction costs with resale values for 35 midrange and upscale remodeling projects comprising additions, remodels and replacements in 81 markets across the country. Data are grouped in nine U.S. regions, following the divisions established by the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the 15th consecutive year that the report, which is produced by Remodeling magazine publisher Hanley Wood, LLC, was completed in cooperation with NAR.

    Realtors® provided their insights into local markets and buyer home preferences within those markets. The 2013 national average cost-to-value ratio rose to 60.6 percent, ending a six-year decline. The ratio represents nearly a three-point improvement over 2011-2012. Lower construction costs are the principal factor in the upturn, especially when measured against stabilizing house values. In addition, the cost-to-value ratio improved nationally for every project in this year’s report and is higher than it was two years ago for both remodeling and replacement projects.

    “A Realtor® is the best resource for helping homeowners decide what improvement projects will provide the most upon resale in their market,” said Thomas. “Each neighborhood is different, and the desirability and resale value of a particular remodeling project varies depending on where you live. When making a home remodeling decision, resale value is just one factor that homeowners should take into consideration. Consult a Realtor® to make sure you are making the best decision.”

    Most regions followed the national trends; however the Pacific region, consisting of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington, once again led the nation with an average cost-value ratio of 71.2 percent, due mainly to strong resale values. The next best performing regions were West South Central, South Atlantic, and East South Central. These regions attribute their high ranking to construction costs that were lowest in the country. While still remaining below the national average, most remaining regions showed strong improvement over last year. These are Mountain, New England, East North Central, Middle Atlantic, and West North Central.

    Source: National Association of Realtors

  • Staging Tips for the Holidays

    Posted Under: Home Selling  |  December 3, 2012 5:15 PM  |  106 views  |  No comments

    It's that time of year as calendars are packed with holiday parties, budgets are strained by gift-giving, and the roads are covered in freshly fallen snow. Alas, 'tis not the season for real estate. But the good news is, the brave few house-hunters who do venture out are serious about buying a house, and stylish trimmings will make them want to ring in the new year in your home.

    "Holidays can be personal on a lot of levels, but you want to make sure your decor is neutral," advises Amy Powers, owner of Accent Home Staging & Interiors of Atlanta. "You want to romance your buyer, not invite them to your Christmas party."

    Try these tips to get buyers in the right spirit:

    · Clean and stage. "Before you decorate, your house needs to be staged," Powers says. If your living room is already piled high with clutter and tchotchkes, your ceramic reindeer collection is only going to add to the sense of overcrowding.

    · Create a cozy vibe. The less-is-more mantra of home staging may tempt you to forgo holiday cheer this year. But a few subtle touches like a bowl of pinecones, an evergreen wreath, or a pot of cider simmering on the stove can create a warm and festive feeling in your home.

    Complement your palette. Before you start untangling your tinsel, make sure your holiday collection matches your current decor. If your living room is painted a soothing ocean-blue hue, skip the clashing red garland and opt for white snowflakes or a silver glass-ball wreath. If you've got an earthy color scheme, accent with rich tones like cranberries, forest greens and gold.

    · Accentuate the positive. Too many trimmings may distract buyers, but the right accessories can draw attention to your home's best features. Dangle mistletoe in an arched doorway, or display your menorah on the ledge of a bay window; just don't block a beautiful view with stick-on snowflake decals or clutter an elegant fireplace with personalized stockings.

    · Go light on lights. Step away from the inflatable snowman, Clark Griswold. One man's "merry" is another man's "tacky," so tone down any garish light displays while your home is on the market. (No, your neighbors didn't pay us to say that.) Instead, use simple string lighting to play up your home's architecture or draw attention to the gorgeous fir tree in your front yard.

    · Be an equal-opportunity decorator. Leave the life-sized Nativity scene in storage this year, because overtly religious flourishes may be off-putting to some buyers. "You want to keep neutrality throughout, so you can attract any type of buyer," Powers says. Not sure what qualifies? Powers adds, "No matter what your religion is, you're not going to feel offended by a nutcracker."

    · Mind the tree. A tall Christmas tree can help you show off your two-story great room, but make sure the wide base won't overwhelm the floor space. If your living area is on the small side, save space with a skinny tree. Swap the gaudy heirloom ornaments and trim your tree in a cohesive theme such as icicle lights and silver tinsel, for example, or blue and gold glass balls.

    · Clear the clutter. A few decorations can stir the holiday spirit, but don't feel obliged to hang every last ornament. "A lot of people, when they decorate, tend to use all the extra space in their house," Powers says. "You still want each space to look as spacious as possible." Limit yourself to a few hints of holiday flair, but stash the rest in the basement for now. If you start to miss your Santa figurines, just remember that with a little luck, you'll be celebrating next year's holidays in a new home. And you can decorate that place any way you please.

  • Top 10 Tips for Selling Your Home During the Holidays

    Posted Under: Home Selling  |  November 26, 2012 4:02 PM  |  101 views  |  No comments

    The holiday season from November through January is often considered the worst time to put a home on the market. While the thought of selling your home during the winter months may dampen your holiday spirit, the season does have its advantages: holiday buyers tend to be more serious, and competition is less fierce with fewer homes being actively marketed. Here are the top 10 holiday home selling tips:

    1. Deck the halls, but don't go overboard.
    Homes often look their best during the holidays, but sellers should be careful not to overdo it on the decor. Adornments that are too large or too many can crowd your home and distract buyers. Also, avoid offending buyers by opting for general fall and winter decorations rather than items with religious themes.

    2.Hire a reliable real estate agent.
    That means someone who will work hard for you and won't disappear during Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year's. Ask your friends and family if they can recommend a listing agent who will go above and beyond to get your home sold. This will ease your stress and give you more time to enjoy the season.

    3. Seek out motivated buyers.
    Anyone house hunting during the holidays must have a good reason for doing so. Work with your agent to target buyers on a deadline, including people relocating for jobs in your area, investors on tax deadlines, college students and staff, and military personnel, if you live near a military base.

    4.Price it to sell.
    No matter what time of year, a home that's priced low for the market will make buyers feel merry. Rather than gradually making small price reductions, many real estate agents advise sellers to slash their prices before putting a home on the market.

    5. Make curb appeal a top priority.
    When autumn rolls around and the trees start to lose their leaves, maintaining the exterior of your home becomes even more important. Bare trees equal a more exposed home, so touch up the paint, clean the gutters and spruce up the yard. Keep buyers' safety in mind as well by making sure stairs and walkways are free of snow, ice and leaves.

    6. Take top-notch real estate photos.
    When the weather outside is frightful, homebuyers are likely to start their house hunt from the comfort of their homes by browsing listings on the Internet. Make a good first impression by offering lots of flattering, high-quality photos of your home. If possible, have a summer or spring photo of your home available so buyers can see how it looks year-round.

    7. Create a video tour for the Web.
    You'll get less foot traffic during the holidays, thanks to inclement weather and vacation plans. But shooting a video tour and posting it on the Web may attract house hunters who don't have time to physically see your home or would rather not drive in a snowstorm.

    8. Give house hunters a place to escape from the cold.
    Make your home feel cozy and inviting during showings by cranking up the heat, playing soft classical music and offering homemade holiday treats. When you encourage buyers to spend more time in your home, you also give them more time to admire its best features.

    9. Offer holiday cheer in the form of financing.
    Bah, humbug! Lenders are scrooges these days, but if you've got the means, then why not offer a home loan to a serious buyer? You could get a good rate of return on your money.

    10. Relax -- the new year is just around the corner.
    The holidays are stressful enough, with gifts to buy, dinners to prepare and relatives to entertain. Take a moment to remind yourself that if you don't sell now, there's always next year, which luckily is only a few days away.

    Source: FrontDoor.com

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