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Buyer Demand Is Outpacing the Supply of Homes for Sale

The price of any item is determined by the supply of that item, as well as the market demand. The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) surveys “over 50,000 real estate practitioners about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions” for their monthly REALTORS Confidence Index.

Their latest edition sheds some light on the relationship between Seller Traffic (supply) and Buyer Traffic (demand).

Buyer Demand

The map below was created after asking the question: “How would you rate buyer traffic in your area?”

Buyer Demand Is Outpacing the Supply of Homes for Sale | Keeping Current Matters

The darker the blue, the stronger the demand for homes in that area. Only six states had a weak demand level.

Seller Supply

The Index also asked: “How would you rate seller traffic in your area?”

As you can see from the map below, the majority of the country has weak Seller Traffic, meaning there are far fewer homes on the market than what is needed to satisfy the buyers who are out looking for their dream homes.

Buyer Demand Is Outpacing the Supply of Homes for Sale | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Looking at the maps above, it is not hard to see why prices are appreciating in many areas of the country. Until the supply of homes for sale starts to meet the buyer demand, prices will continue to increase. If you are debating listing your home for sale, shoot me an email and let me help you meet buyer demands by listing your home today.

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Stuck on You: 6 New Wallpaper Trends That Will Make You Say ‘Wow’

Just like Joan Jett, wallpaper has a bad reputation. For many, the word conjures up visions of garish florals covering every possible square inch of an otherwise adorable home.

And removing it? Well, that’s a whole other horror show. If you’ve ever had the unfortunate task of scraping off reams of tacky wallpaper from your parents’ kitchen, you probably walked away with one main thought: Never again.

But today’s wallpaper ain’t like your mama’s wallpaper. Wallpaper is making a big comeback, and it’s better than ever. Seriously.

“Wallpaper is back in the spotlight,” says Cassie Crooke, the studio manager at Rumor Designs in Steamboat Springs, CO. “Wallpaper scarred homeowners in the past, with outdated patterns and adhesives making the entire experience cumbersome and dreaded.”

But modern wallpaper is easier to remove—and easier to apply. (Some simply peel off the wall, making those miserable hours seem like a cruel joke.) What’s more? Modern wallpaper designs are bold, fun, funky, and graphic. Begone, itty-bitty flowers and pink borders. Adieu, fat stripes that made your childhood bedroom look like a circus.

From city skylines to innovative embellishments with beading and tile, wallpaper is no longer outdated—it’s design’s next frontier. Here are some of the trends to watch:

1. Metallic wallpaper

Eclectic Bathroom

We’ve gilded our teacups and dotted our bookshelves with bronze objets d’art—why not add a little gleam to our walls?

“We’ve seen a trend in metallics shining through simple patterns and textures,” Crooke says. Whether they’re integrated into complicated stripes or geometry or used to add depth and interest to an eclectic pattern, expect modern wallpapers to boast an Art Deco–inspired pop of glamour.

Just be careful if you go the DIY route: Matching complicated patterns might require a pro, because the metallic shine emphasizes any irregularities. Perfect edges are hard enough without a material that makes it glaringly obvious where you’ve screwed up.

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2. Silk wallpaper

Contemporary Dining Room

Silk wallpaper might seem like the kind of luxury you simply can’t justify. But just consider how amazing it can look paired with dramatic art and streamlined furniture. And then treat yo’ self.

Created by applying silk threads to a paper backing, this elegant, neutral wallpaper “creates a light, elegant texture,” says Warren Sheets, an interior designer in San Francisco. That makes the effect ideal for dining rooms and bedrooms—but maybe skip the kitchen.

“This style is very delicate and not for high-use areas,” Sheets says.

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3. Embossed wallpaper

Davenport Ranch - Westlake

Embossed wallpaper is a new take on texture, allowing homeowners with tighter budgets to mimic classic plaster work designs such as the fleur-de-lis or acanthus leaves. If you can swing it (a roll can easily cost hundreds of dollars), you’ll feel immersed in luxury.

Most patterns require painting afterward to bring out the raised, textured effect. With careful brushstrokes and a steady hand, your entire wall might appear plucked from a 19th-century French country estate. Or aim for modern drama by painting the entire assembly in a rich, vivid jewel tone.

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4. Embellished wallpaper

Hollywood Regency Powder Room

Manufacturers are increasingly adding ornamentation to their designs, Sheets says. Today’s wallpaper features beading, recycled tile, and glass to give your walls an upscale, mosaic-like effect. It’s the perfect way to create a luxurious space that’s (admittedly) just a bit over the top. But is drama in decor ever really a bad thing?

Three-dimensional embellishments aren’t the only luxury upgrade designers are adding to today’s wallpaper. Hand-painted accents bring dimension and class to a small space. Just prep your wallet beforehand: Embellished wallpapers can be tremendously expensive, making them good choices for accent walls and small spaces.

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5. Geometric wallpaper

The Art Apartment

Cool, right? Geometric wallpaper is having a moment right now. And with such a wide variety of fun, timeless designs (cubes, herringbone patterns, or blocky and bold) available, we don’t expect this trend to disappear any time soon.

Brave homeowners can cover a whole room in these funky geometric patterns, but if you’re worried the effect might be too busy, consider an accent wall. Choose a dark background with a light (or metallic!) design, and pair it with a simple wood console for a high-impact statement wall.

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6. Digital print wallpaper

Powder Room

Modern technology means wallpaper is no longer limited to simple, repeating patterns.

“The evolution of digital printing has enabled wallpaper designers to go in wild new directions,” Sheets says. Instead of opting for a small-scale trellis pattern, you can turn your bathroom into a veritable garden. Plaster your wall with colorful insects or a sky full of shooting stars.

Nature isn’t your only large-scale wallpaper option. Consider watercolor, or simply get your favorite image printed.

Whether or not you have plans of selling your home, you should always make sure to invest in its appearance. You bought yourself a house because it looked great when it was staged. Don’t let that be the end of it. What it will look like will depend on you.


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Staging VS Decorating: What’s The Difference?

Selling your home means selling a lifestyle, but not necessarily your own. In home staging, you’re striving for a look that is fresh and welcoming yet not really taste specific. People with varying tastes need to feel that they can make the home their own if they purchase it.

This is the distinction between decorating your home and staging it to sell. It can be hard to understand at first, but if you don’t know the difference, you might not sell your house as quickly as you like.

Although everyone has different tastes in decor and furnishings, most people want a home that is welcoming, functional, peaceful and organized. Tailor your house so that buyers will describe it in those terms rather than by your style of decorating. Getting rid of clutter and having fewer but larger accessories is a great place to start.

Making sure your home isn’t taste specific doesn’t mean your rooms should be devoid of color. Instead, keep color schemes simple and dose them with an on-trend neutral, like a clean tan, a soft gray or a warm white.

contemporary-living-room

If you have a distinctive decorating style — whether it’s Tuscan, shabby chic or modern — you’re going to need to scale it back a bit. If you don’t, your home will appeal to the small percentage of potential buyers who love your chosen style. Staging is about strategic editing and depersonalizing, rather than decorating and personalizing.

Gustavian Bedroom

Dated is dreary. Strive to stage your space with a current and fresh feel. Use updated neutrals on the walls and furnishings that are clean-lined and simple. Punches of color are great; just use them sparingly. A room arranged symmetrically and centered on the architecture reads as peaceful — one of those important aesthetics every buyer is drawn to.

Bauman Photographers

This guest bedroom is full of great staging ideas. It has lots of on-trend design details, but it’s sparse on accessories and other distractions. The color palette is simple, easy on the eyes and would be attractive to both men and women. Most potential buyers would remember this appealing room long after leaving the house.

Interior Repaint by Warline Painting

This clever arrangement draws attention to the unique architecture in the space and illustrates a smart use for the area under the stairs: an office nook. This area is nicely decorated, not staged.

If I were staging this area, I would keep the desk, chair and lamp, remove overly personal items such as family photos, and leave a few pieces of art and an attractive notebook and pen. Simple accessories can help draw attention to a functional space.

If you are updating a kitchen or bath before putting your home on the market, keep the finishes neutral and classic. This is not the time to show off your personal style. You want to broaden your buying audience by appealing to a wide variety of tastes and preferences. This bathroom would definitely appeal to buyers with either traditional or contemporary taste, and could later be personalized with the new homeowner’s preferences for color and accessories.

Refined Rustic Master Bath Remodel: Ambler, PA

Sure, this may not be what normally sits on your countertop, but doesn’t it look better than the usual bills and coupons? Remember, you are selling an idealized lifestyle, not your reality.

The bottom line is that you have to get outside your head and inside the mind of a potential home buyer. It’s very difficult to be objective about your own home, but it’s crucial if you want to sell it.

Cottage and Vine
Make your home stand out with classic yet catchy interior design that’s sure to captivate even the sharpest eyes. Keep yourself updated with this blog for more home improvement tips!


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Tips for Renovating a Home to Appeal to Baby-Boomer Buyers

Follow these tips from HGTV’s Christina El Moussa to catch the savvy baby-boomer eye.

On average, the American population is getting older. More than 76 million Americans were born between 1946 and 1964 (the baby-boom generation), which means a large portion of our population is aged 50 and older. Baby boomers are either retired or reaching retirement age, and they are quickly becoming empty nesters.

These aging Americans are looking to downsize because they no longer want or need their five-bedroom, two-level homes. A home that better fits their current lifestyle is much more appealing, especially if it means they don’t have to make the move to a retirement home.

When Tarek and I are flipping a house in a neighborhood that attracts baby boomers (a less expensive neighborhood with smaller homes), we make sure to include features that appeal to this generation. An easy-access shower or a main-floor bedroom may be some of the features that first come to mind, but baby boomers have other preferences and needs that make a future home more appealing.

If you’re flipping a home that could attract baby boomers, you’ll want to keep these tips in mind as you renovate.

Luxury features

While baby boomers may be looking to downsize in square footage, they’re looking to upsize the luxury in everything else. Budget-friendly remodeling tricks (such as painting the kitchen cabinets) might work just fine for younger homeowners, but chances are baby boomers will be a little more choosy. After all, they’ll most likely be living in this home for the rest of their lives.

You can’t go wrong with installing luxury features like wood floors, granite countertops, and stainless steel appliances. These features are sure to bring potential baby-boomer buyers to your flip.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

More convenience

Baby boomers are tired of living in an old home that requires maintenance and work. Instead, they want something new that provides more convenience and less stress.

Boomers love modern appliances that they won’t have to repair, a yard that’s easy to maintain, energy-efficient windows and doors to save on their heating bills, and a large, open floor plan that provides lots of space and natural light.

Additionally, baby boomers prefer a one-story home because they won’t have to go up or down stairs to get to their bedroom.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Home office

Many baby boomers are still in the transition phase from working a full-time job to retiring. Often boomers want to keep working even after they’ve retired because they enjoy bringing in the extra income. A home office will allow them to work from home without having to commute every day.

While you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money on transforming a room into an office, setting aside a room to be used specifically as a den or an office will be appealing to those baby boomers who want to continue working.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Easy-to-maintain yards

This goes hand-in-hand with more convenience, but I can’t seem to stress it enough. Put simply, baby boomers want a yard that doesn’t need a lot of work.

While finding a zero-maintenance yard is not very likely (except, of course, in maintenance-free communities), hardscaping a portion of the yard or replacing the lawn with a patio will cut down on yard work.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Extra space

Baby boomers love extra space — but it has to be flexible space. They enjoy space they can adjust to their lifestyle and preferences. Rooms they can easily transform from a guest room into an office and then a hobby room are much more attractive than a space meant to be a bedroom forever.

Boomers like the freedom to choose how they use their extra space, especially when it doesn’t require a lot of work on their part to make the changes.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Baby boomers require unique features in their homes, which can be overwhelming if you’re not sure how to appeal to their generation. But keep these tips in mind during your next flip and you’re sure to attract baby boomers.

If you are serious in selling your home this year, you have to follow these tips to attract the biggest buyers of the market. When you’re ready and your home is set, give me a call and let’s get your home listed!


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Got Savings? How To Build A Down Payment For A Home In 1 Year, 3 Years, Or 5 Years

Thinking about buying a home in the near future? Whether it’s a home for sale in Kihei or Wailuku, you’ll need a solid savings fund to accomplish this goal. In addition to covering such expenses as closing costs, escrow, and initial payments on taxes and insurance, cash is necessary for a down payment on your mortgage.

Planning to have 20% of a home’s purchase price to use as your down payment is a smart move. It not only makes you a more attractive borrower to a lender, but it also makes you a more reliable buyer. The more money you put down, the less likely your financing (and your home purchase!) will fall through.

A 20% down payment is a great savings goal, but it’s also a lot of cash. Let’s say you want to buy a home that costs $250,000. You’ll need $50,000 in cash to put down. That’s no small number. But you can make it happen in the near future. Here’s how you can work to build a down payment in one year, three years, or five years.
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Raise a down payment in one year

If you target this goal, know upfront that you’ve given yourself a serious challenge. Building a savings fund of $50,000 in 12 months will require you to set aside $4,167 per month and take some extreme measures to make it happen. First, look at every single dollar you can cut from your current spending. Here are a few ways to aggressively trim your expenses.

Move in with a friend or family member to slash your rent. In addition, you could offer to do work around the house or help out in other ways to cut your rent further (or even live rent-free!).

Sell useful but not strictly necessary assets, like your car. You can also comb through all your possessions to determine what you could sell, from old collections to used textbooks to clothes and more. Consider consignment stores, online yard sales, and other ways to sell your stuff.

Get rid of every nonessential expense, no matter how inexpensive it may feel. That can include everything from services like Spotify and Netflix to discretionary spending like shopping or new tech.

house_piggybank

Downgrade essential services for cheaper options. Perhaps you can reduce your insurance coverage and drop the cost of your monthly premiums. Other places to consider: your cellphone plan and your groceries. Your new rule should be “If I don’t need to buy it, I won’t.” Remember, you need to bank $4,167 every month. Many people’s total monthly budgets don’t add up to the amount you’re trying to save!

Save for a down payment in three years

While it’s still an ambitious savings goal (you’ll need to save $1,389 per month), your approach won’t need to be quite as extreme. However, the basic steps remain the same: Cut unnecessary costs and look to increase your income so you have more cash to save. Here are a few ideas to help you eliminate expenses and immediately save hundreds per month.

Switch to a streaming service. The average cable bill costs about $100 per month. Most streaming services are less than $10 per month. This will give you a monthly savings of $90!

Reduce the number of meals out you buy each week. If a daily lunch costs you $10 but packing your own costs only $4, that adds up to a monthly savings of $180.

Eliminate expensive entertainment. Even one date night to the movies per month can put a dent in your efforts! Two tickets, sodas, and a large popcorn typically cost about $35. In comparison, a rental from a video kiosk (or your streaming service) that you can enjoy at home with microwave popcorn? Maybe $5.

down-payment

Cut back on your vices. Beer, wine, and cigarettes don’t come cheap. If you’re used to buying a bottle of wine and a six-pack at the store each week, you may be spending close to $65 per month on alcohol alone. Cut back to just once a month (try the no-spend weekend!), and you could be looking at a monthly savings of $45.

Work out at home. There are countless alternatives to a pricey gym membership, from fitness communities to printable workouts to YouTube videos and more. You can slim down both your body and your budget for a monthly savings of $60 per month.

Negotiate your bills. Call your service providers, insurance companies, and cellphone carriers and ask about lower-cost options. You can switch to a more basic service, request discounts, or consider cutting the service altogether. This can add up to a monthly savings of $50 or more!

Making the changes in this list could save you $455 per month, which means you’re down to finding about $1,000 in your cash flow to allocate to your down payment goal. Additional sacrifices could include cutting dinners out to only twice a month. It might mean walking or taking public transportation instead of grabbing an Uber. And it may mean simply not buying things you don’t actually need.

Giving yourself three years also lets you make sustainable and lasting strides with earning more. You can develop a side hustle and turn that into a strong income stream. Or you could work your way up at your current position to take on more responsibilities that come with higher pay.

Every time you earn a raise, get a bonus, or make extra income, contribute it straight to your savings fund for your $50,000 down payment. That will either allow you to reach your goal sooner or require you to cut back less in spending.

down-payment-for-a-house

Build your down payment in five years

This timeline gives you the most flexibility in saving your $50,000 down payment. You’ll need to save about $834 per month to meet this goal. It’s still a lot of money but completely doable if you’re willing to cut back in places you currently spend. Use the tips above to help you cut costs and free up more cash for your down payment.

You might also consider investing your down payment savings in a taxable brokerage account. With five years until you need the money, placing it in the market enables your money to work harder for you. But remember, all investments carry risk. Don’t take this approach if you’re uncomfortable with the fact that you may end up earning 5% or more — but you could also only break even or even lose money.

The biggest challenge in saving $834 per month for this length of time is staying focused. To help, create an automatic transfer from your checking to your savings each month so you know that money consistently moves to your down payment fund even if your attention sometimes wanders to other, nearer-term issues.

And of course, working on earning more during this time will help too. Just as you would if you shot for the three-year goal, you can work to make lasting, big-impact changes to your earnings. If you’re entrepreneurial, that might mean starting something on the side and slowly growing that to a full-time business that generates more revenue than your current gig. The possibilities are endless, and with five years, you have much more time to test different paths and figure out what works best for you.

When you have successfully saved up for your down payment, call me and let us get your dream home ready!


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Why Pre-Approval Should Be Your First Step

In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes greatly outnumbers the amount of homes for sale. This has led to a competitive marketplace where buyers often need to stand out. One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search.

Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, knowing your budget will give you the confidence of knowing if your dream home is within your reach. 

approved-mortgage-loan-application

Freddie Mac lays out the advantages of pre-approval in the My Home section of their website:

“It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.”

One of the many advantages of working with a local real estate professional is that many have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you with this process. Once you have selected a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding “your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.” 

Freddie Mac describes the 4 Cs that help determine the amount you will be qualified to borrow:

  1. Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
  2. Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
  3. Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
  4. Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time

Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and it often helps speed up the process once your offer has been accepted.

Bottom Line

Many potential home buyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores needed to qualify for a mortgage today. If you are ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to do so as well.

In real estate, it pays to be informed in the process. Get your pre approval and let’s work on getting your dream home in a snap–I’ll be glad to help.


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6 Surprising Things That Can Stall Your Mortgage Approval

Your offer has been accepted on your dream home and you were pre-approved for a mortgage. Now it’s just a little more paperwork until you’re hosting your first BBQ, right? Not necessarily. Even one slip-up before closing can cause stressful delays. Watch out for common stumbling blocks that can stall your closing by following these six tips:

1. Avoid a big purchase or a new credit card

Right before you close, the lender will do a final check on outstanding debts and credit inquiries. Any new debt could present a problem, so hold off on buying new furniture or applying for a credit card while waiting to close.

“I tell people to be as boring as possible: Go home, don’t spend any money, just watch TV until I get you the keys,” says Brad L’Engle, a certified mortgage planner in Folsom, California. “I had a client take out a Mervyn’s credit card to save 10 percent on a $33 purchase, and that popped up during the approval process and delayed it,” he says.

Whatever it is you think you need, wait until after your closing to buy it.

2. Don’t change or leave your job (if possible)

Try to avoid any changes in your job status while waiting to close. If there are any, inform the lender right away. Judy Richardson, a realtor at Red Oak Realty in Oakland, California, recently represented a buyer who was pregnant and took her maternity leave early. “When the lender called to verify employment, her employer said she was on maternity leave.” The buyer ended up needing to obtain written confirmation from the employer that she would return following her maternity leave, and the escrow closed three days late.

“The regulations around the loan are very strict, so buyers should be extraordinarily diligent with everything regarding credit, banking and employment when escrow has yet to close,” Richardson says.

3. Think twice about appealing an appraisal that’s lower than the purchase price

Since the subprime mortgage crash of 2008, the recession and subsequent financial reforms, there is much tighter regulation of the apprareal-estate-investmentisal process. Gone are the days when homes automatically appraised for the purchase price offer. In a competitive market where many homes receive multiple offers, it’s not uncommon for the appraisal to come in lower than the winning offer.

“If the appraisal comes in low, you can appeal the appraisal or the parties can renegotiate the contract,” L’Engle says. Either of those options will require more paperwork and potential delays, however. Because an appeal involves paying for another appraisal and there are no guarantees of success, many buyers and sellers choose to negotiate the contract instead.

4. Closely monitor the status of agreed-upon repairs

Whether it’s a termite problem or a new water heater, repairs can cause delays if not negotiated and executed properly. Any repairs the seller agrees to complete must be done satisfactorily before the buyer and lender will close a deal. “Sometimes sellers and buyers will go back and forth for weeks about repairs to the property,” L’Engle says.  “If it was an issue flagged by an appraiser, now the appraiser has to go back out and verify that it’s been done.”

5. Avoid any open disputes on your credit report

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Lots of people find erroneous information on their credit reports and dispute it, but if you are applying for a mortgage, think twice. After you file a dispute, the creditor has 30 days to respond. Lenders usually won’t approve a mortgage until the dispute is removed.

Being proactive is the best way to avoid this problem: “It’s always important to run your credit annually so you can deal with fixing any credit issues prior to getting too deep into the process of looking for a home,” Richardson advises.

6. Be sure the title company checks for problems prior to escrow

Most of the time, the title company will uncover and resolve any outstanding liens or other problems with the title long before escrow. But if not, problems can arise. “If a title company does not pull a pre-escrow [report] prior to the property coming on the market, then a ‘surprise’ lien—even as small as a garbage lien—can cause delays,” Richardson says.

“I once had a transaction where a business lien was found on the seller side the day before closing,” she says. “Any lien needs to be addressed prior to close of escrow or the property will not transfer. These liens can take days or even months to clear.”

One more piece of advice: Slow it down

Brad L’Engle has one suggestion for all home buyers and their realtors: “In a tight housing market, many agents feel the only way they can get their client’s offer accepted is to close quicker. I try to tell people to write [the contract] for 45 days and give themselves a little bit of breathing room. What’s another two weeks? That way you will have a smoother, more relaxed transaction.”

Get approved on a mortgage before hunting for your dream home. When it’s all settled, give me a call and let’s get you started in living your Maui dream!