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Should I Go or Should I Stay?

Dear Monica:

I have been a local resident for most of my life and have loved living here,  The value of my home has grown so much that I feel that it may be time to cash out and retire to less expensive home.  The problem is that I don’t know where to go.  What would you advise?  Elizabeth D.

 

Dear Elizabeth:  This is a dilemma for many people who have been fortunate enough to have lived here and have seen their property values increase substantially, but who want to retire and use their equity to fund their retirement.  Many also worry that they should sell now because this strong market may not be as strong in the future.

 

I would recommend that you not rush into a decision like this unless you have a good idea of where you want to move.  The market isn’t likely to crash, although normal fluctuations will occur.  Once you are excited about your next home, it will be much easier to make the move.  Your needs rather than market conditions should direct you.

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Landscaping is Like Adding a Room

Dear Monica:  I have a received a bid to landscape my property and it’s very expensive.  I don’t know whether it is worth spending the money on this project but it will make my property more attractive and useable.  What would you advise?  Grace M.

 

Dear Grace:  Beautiful landscaping is not cheap, as you have found, but what a difference it can make to your home.  We are reminded during the summer months of how enjoyable it is to be outside either alone or entertaining guests.   Well-done landscaping is like adding a room to your house and one that you can use many months of the year.

If you are wondering whether you will recoup your investment if you should sell, the answer is yes if the landscaping is done well and if the market remains stable and strong.  And most importantly,  consider too the enjoyment you will get from the beautiful and useful addition to your property.

 

Time to Begin Winterizing your Home

Dear Monica: It’s still summer but I know that fall and then winter will be here soon. I know I need a new roof for my house. What other maintenance would you suggest I do? Peter M.

Dear Peter: The roofing companies are starting to get very busy so you are smart to get moving on this. It takes time to get bids and schedule the work. You might also improve your insulation, if you have an older house, and make a list of all of the items you know should be fixed including electrical, fencing, window replacement, fumigation for termites, among others. It may also be time for a new furnace and water heater and it would be good to get those items replaced before the weather turns. Another major maintenance item is painting. If it’s time to repaint, get it done now.

Should I Buy in a Retirement Complex?

Dear Monica:  I am considering buying a very nice three bedroom unit at a complex for adults 60 years of age and up.  It is in a prime location in a city with strong real estate values. Do you think this is a wise investment? Elizabeth D.

Dear Elizabeth:  First, an important consideration for you is whether this retirement complex will serve your physical and social needs as you advance in age.  It sounds as though it does.   If it is also in a prime location in a prime city, all the better.  If both of these factors are positive, you should have confidence that you are buying a good property.  The demographic who wants this kind of real estate is growing in number and this bodes well for your home being a stable investment.      This wasn’t the case during the downturn of 2008-2010 when older buyers were hesitant to buy anything until they knew if prices were going to rise again.  But now the combination of an aging population and a stable real estate market are good signs that your purchase in a retirement complex will not carry much, if any, risk.

Finding A Rental Is Competitive Too

Dear Monica:  I applied for a great rental, offering exactly what they asked and providing strong financial validation.  Unfortunately, they chose another applicant, and now I wish we had offered more money.  Is the current rental market very competitive everywhere?Patty B.

Dear Patty: The rental market has indeed become more competitive in recent months, especially in the $7500-$15,000 per month range.  There have been multiple offers on the nicest ones, resulting in some applicants being disappointed.   Now that you have lost out on your first attempt at renting, be prepared to use some of the strategies buyers have become accustomed to using, such as offering a higher price and paying for more incidental expenses.  Ask your agent to help you find offerings that may never come on the open market.  Not every rental is publicly offered and some rent before the owner has a chance to expose them.   If you do these things, you should be successful soon.

Do Restrictions on Renting My Condo Help or Hurt Its Value?

Dear Monica: I live in a very nice condo complex that includes in the HOA rules a restriction on renting one’s unit.  I am going to sell my condo this year and am wondering if such a restriction is a good or bad thing from a marketing standpoint.  What do you think? Joan D.

 

Dear Joan:  Whether a rental restriction is a good or bad thing depends on the owner/buyer.  Some owners love the fact that all residents are owners because they feel that owners have a vested interest in the complex and that it is harder to enforce condo rules on a renter than on an owner.   Even if the  lease stipulates that the tenant must adhere to the rules, some HOA owners don’t think this is enough to maintain control if rules are broken.

 

From a marketing standpoint, rental restrictions can be a negative selling point.  Buyers don’t necessarily want to buy a home that they can never rent if, for example, they are relocated and want to keep their condo.  There are also buyers who want to rent for a while until they move in but can’t do this with rental restrictions.  Thus it narrows the market considerably and potentially affects the value of the home.  You will still be able to sell your condo even with this restriction but fewer buyers will be interested in the property.

Should I Remodel Before Selling?

Dear Monica: I plan on selling my house in two years and there are aspects of it that I don’t like and would like to change, such as remodeling the bathrooms and sprucing up the kitchen.  Should I bother to do this now or do nothing and sell in two years?  I have substantial equity in the property.   Barbara T.

 

Dear Barbara:   It can be a very good idea to remodel before selling, with some guidelines.  First, get advice from your agent about what buyers’ tastes are and then update your finishes to reflect this, while keeping with the general style of the home.  By bringing your home in line with current tastes, you will appeal to a larger market than you would if it is not remodeled. Choose quality appliances and finishes but don’t overspend for the value of the house and the neighborhood.   Try to refresh with new paint, countertops, appliances and plumbing fixtures rather than do large remodels that involve gutting entire rooms.

 

Just before you market the home in two years, make sure the paint, carpets, and grounds are pristine.  Depending on the market at the time you choose to sell, you should appeal to more buyers and enjoy more success than if you would have if you had done nothing.

What To Do With A Pool

Dear Monica:  A house has just come on the market that I love but almost the entire back yard is taken up with a pool.  I don’t want a pool and I don’t know how difficult it is to remove one.  Can you advise me?  Jack B.

Dear Jack:  If you like the property don’t be deterred because the pool is there.  Removing it is neither difficult nor is it expensive.  Depending on the size and accessibility, a pool can be removed in the $15,000 range.  You will need to invest in new landscaping after removing the pool but your garden will be much more usable.   You can create the spaces that suit your taste and needs and your enjoyment of the property will increase tremendously.

Appraised Value is Not Always Market Value

Dear Monica: My father died recently and we had a date of death appraisal completed by a fee appraiser.  The appraiser found a relatively high value, which is good, but our realtor is saying that this value is too high to use as a list price.  What do you think?  James D.

 

Dear James:  If an appraisal is done to support a contract price that was agreed to by a willing seller and a willing buyer, and the sale followed normal marketing procedures, it is safe to say that the appraised value and the market value are the same.  If however the appraisal was done without an actual purchase, then the value found is more subjective and not necessarily what the property would sell for on the market.

 

You and your realtor should discuss market value versus appraised value thoroughly so that you can see where your property falls within the range of recent comparable sales.

You should price the property according to the best recent sales, rather than only relying on the date of death appraisal.

 

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