Lewiston Luxury Home Sales Ramp Up for a Bustling Fall Market

With summer drawing to a close (say it isn’t so!), it’s time to cast an eye towards the prospects for this year’s fall home sales market. Fall can be a great time to list a home, but it can be especially opportune for luxury home sales in Lewiston. It’s a season that traditionally brings out serious buyers—those looking to find a home and complete the move before the holidays. If you are selling a property that falls into the luxury home category, before you roll up your sleeves and get to work in earnest, here are some broad-brush pointers real estate writers cite most often:

Make Sure You Work With the Right Agent

Before you even begin other preparations, you can make the most efficient use of your time by first being sure you have recruited the right agent. Aim for a professional who has earned a reputation for successful luxury home sales in Lewiston. A solid portfolio is the best demonstration that you’ve identified someone with the know-how (and the right contacts) that so often make the difference in luxury home sales.

Details Matter

Even more than with an average listing, Lewiston luxury home sales depend on every detail being well handled. Don’t just have the windows cleaned—scour the screens, too. Don’t just put out a vase of flowers in the dining room—where tasteful, think about placing them by the beds; in the bathrooms, too. Make sure the entryway is always clear at every showing. In short, sell the dream of the picture-perfect luxury home. By treating every detail with care, you validate your luxury-level asking price!

Highlight Features

You know your property best—which gives you valuable insight into the features that make your home a standout. Make a list of additions, enhancements and luxury touches you have added, and other elements that would make any new owner proud. Where is the light most magical? When do the gardens burst with color? Your agent can determine which details will have the most impact in the each of the marketing media.

Know What to Expect

With luxury home sales, it’s a good idea to always keep the nature of the market in mind. Luxury home sales in Lewiston can happen quickly, but more often than with an average property, success can take a little longer. A good agent will let you know how long similar homes have taken to sell in your price range—it’s useful background knowledge. Most often, the key to luxury home sales is the quality of showings rather than the quantity.

If you’d care to hear more about what we can expect for this fall’s luxury home sales in Lewiston, contact us today. We’ll be happy to share an up-to-the-minute market analysis—the best way to project the outlook for the upcoming market.

Does Assessed Value Matter When I Set The Listing Price for My Lewiston Home

The answer to this question depends on the market. If the market is appreciating as most are now, our answer would be, “Sure! As long as you are comfortable with selling your home for less than what it is worth and thereby leaving money on the table.” If it is a declining market, we would say, “Sure! If you are okay with not selling your home.”

Forgive us for being a little bit flippant in the above paragraph but in the vast majority of cases like those above, that is exactly what will happen. In order to fully understand this, we need to fully understand how your tax assessment works.

Your property tax assessment is a value put on your Lewiston home by your local government. This value is used, based on the tax rate, to compute how much you owe the local government in taxes. Most localities divide this tax amount into 2 payments broken out over the course of the year. These funds are used to pay for the services your government provides.

What most people do not know is that the assessed value of your Lewiston home is typically computed every other year. So how does this relate to where to price the home you are selling?

When a buyer buys your home, their lender is going to require an appraisal of your property to determine what its current value is. An appraiser will only use comparable sales from the last six month or less. This is where the condition of the local real estate market comes into play.

In an appreciating market where the values are rising, home sales will most likely sell above their assessed value. If you remember, the assessed value could be as much as 2 years old. If the homes have been appreciating since the last assessment, a seller who sells at the assessed value may be leaving a lot of money on the table.

Conversely, if the market is depreciating and home values are dropping, home sales will most likely sell below their assessed value. In this scenario, a home seller who prices their home based on an old assessment takes a major risk in not selling at all. Buyers will base their offers on current market conditions, not an old assessment that might be currently inflated.

When it comes time to pricing your Lewiston home for sale, please take note that your tax assessment will typically run behind the current market place. Pricing a home is truly an art. When interviewing agents, ask how they came up with a price for your home. Using the assessed value is one small part to determine home value. If the agent used it exclusively, find another agent.

If you’re looking for the right agent to help direct your sale every step of the way, we hope you’ll give us a call!

Online Lewiston Virtual Tours & Video

In today’s Lewiston, more and more often shopping of all kinds has become a virtual affair. Instant information is at everyone’s fingertips—nowhere truer than in Lewiston real estate. No sooner has today’s buyer made the decision to start looking than—boom!—the laptop/tablet/iPhone is out and Lewiston virtual tours are underway.

What’s most surprising is the key finding of the joint Google-NAR study of the growth of the web in home buying. “90% of home buyers searched online during their home buying process,was the headline highlight. That’s 9 out of 10!

What’s surprising about that?” you might be asking yourself. The answer: that data is more than two years old! And we know online searches and virtual tours have skyrocketed since then.

To capitalize on the online home search juggernaut, real estate agencies increasingly bring video to their Lewiston virtual tours. Many video formats are being used, but the even the most basic use zooms and pans that draw prospects into the picture in a way stills cannot.

First-rate Lewiston virtual tours, whether they include video or not, augment the buyer’s search experience. Motion makes it feel as if you’re right there, touring the house in person.

But…The negative aspects of some virtual tours using video are, unfortunately, just as clear. Slow download time and lagging video streams can lose otherwise interested prospects. In some cases the property itself forces awkward angles that make filming complicated and viewing uncomfortable. It’s simply true that virtual tours are not a good idea for every Lewiston, NY property. They are, however, a great idea for some.

How can you tell the difference? It’s usually a question of the spaciousness of the property itself. Usually, the bigger the home, the easier it is to film a tour—and the better impression it will make on viewers. High-end Realtors® gain from producing and sharing video virtual tours on their websites, but others get strong results by just sticking with high-quality photos. Sometimes the best impression of a small dwelling will be made by a talented still photographer. When selling your Lewiston NY home, in a well-rounded marketing plan it is the unique aspects of your property that should shape the media.

If you’re looking for an agent to represent your home in its best light, you’ve come to the right place. Call us today!

Selling Your Home in Lewiston is a Collection of Decisions

Selling your home in Lewiston: from the first inkling that you will be putting it on the market until you sign off on the paperwork, the process can be seen as a series of dozens and dozens of decisions. Many are not simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ decisions, either; and many have answers that no one can ever prove was right or not.

From your Lewiston real estate agent’s perspective, providing counsel on the choices when asked is an important part of the service we provide. We get to offer a deep reservoir of experience: what has worked (and not worked) before here in Lewiston, as well as where the latest trends are pointing. Pricing, timing, marketing approaches are all areas where our input can be of immense value—can shape how quickly the selling of your home succeeds. In addition to the thunderously clear absolute imperatives like de-cluttering and removing an overabundance of personal items, there are also less vital areas where small touches can nudge prospective buyers in the right direction.

These are details that aren’t vital—details that sometimes may not even have any impact at all on some prospects—yet which sometimes come into play. Here are a few examples of touches that you can decide to consider when you are in the process selling your own Lewiston, New York home:

Kitchen: clean that refrigerator; defrost that freezer! You’d be surprised a many buyers open the refrigerator door (whether it’s included in the listing or not). For some reason, it seems to be a natural thing to do…even though when you’re prepping your house for a showing it’s one of the last things you think about. But taking the time early-on to do a deep cleaning and defrosting will make it simple to keep up, and the ‘newer home’ impression that results can be worth doing.

Fixtures: A little changing out of outdated bathroom fixtures, as well as knobs and pulls on cabinet doors and drawers, can make a huge difference in whether a room comes across as old and tired—or newly updated and presentable. The decisions about whether and what to consider changing can be less than obvious, so giving some thought and imagination into them will be necessary.

Presentation: Set the table? Arrange fresh floral cuttings in more than one room? Leave a note thanking your visitors for considering your home?

Decisions, decisions, decisions! If you will be selling your home in Lewiston, NY this summer, your Realtor will be by your side, helping you make informed choices about which are worth pursuing. Starting early is the first one that’s a definite right choice…and we hope calling us for a complimentary assessment will be your second!

Housing in Lewiston May Be Headed for a Transformation

Of the things Americans take for granted, one of the least questioned is the future availability of familiar housing circumstances: housing that’s ‘like where I grew up.’ For urban dwellers, that might be an apartment or condominium; for others, a single-family home—a house with a yard, or perhaps a farm or ranch house. It may be time to re-examine that whole idea.

Over the past few years, there has been a significant increase in multi-generational living arrangements. We read and hear a lot about the housing situation that sees many young adults now living with their parents—but that’s not the whole story. Seniors are increasingly likely to live with their children. The latest census housing data confirms that 9% of seniors now live in a household headed by their children. If you are planning to sell your home this summer, it’s worth thinking how multi-generational living is affecting housing here in Lewiston.

In the past, multi-generational living was the rule rather than the exception. In 1900, 57% of Americans aged 65 years or older lived with other family members. Following World War II, increased education, better access to loans and the GI bill meant that more young adults could buy homes. At the same time, older adults benefited from social security and medical care which let them live longer independently. By 1990, only 17% of people aged 65 years or older lived with their families.

The recession of 2008 created a job crunch that produced the “boomerang kid” phenomenon: many young adults took longer to leave their parents’ home to seek housing on their own. Too, the growth in the aging proportion of the population has meant that many older Americans are living with their adult children. A third contributor is the increase in the number of ethnic minorities with cultural biases for more than one generation to share housing.

It’s not surprising if the result of these trends is to influence Lewiston housing preferences. According to the American Institute of Architects’ Home Design Trends Survey, there has been a traceable rise in demand for “in-law” suites over the past year. There has also been an increase in demand for homes with a master bedroom and full bath on the ground floor—the layout most popular when older parents will be accommodated. Other features such as ramps, home elevators and non-slip floors are also gaining popularity. Den, attics and basements are all also increasingly being converted into bedrooms and living areas for younger adults and older parents.

Developers are also responding to the same trend by introducing housing best described as “multi-generational-friendly”. In 2011, national builder Lennar introduced their “Next Gen” house plan: a layout that has the capacity to become two houses in one. The attached house has its own entrance, bedroom, kitchen and living space. A connecting interior door can convert the house into one big home—but when closed, the two residences are separate. Apparently, the idea has been a notable success: Lennar now offers 50 different Next Gen floor plans in 120 communities across the country.

The return to multi-generational living seems likely to have a significant impact on the types of Lewiston housing that will be developed in coming decades. Lewiston houses with in-law and young adult-friendly features (such as additional rooms and bathrooms) are likely to grow in demand. Especially if you’re thinking of remodeling your home, don’t hesitate to contact us before you start. We can offer relevant feedback about how your remodel is likely to affect your sales price now—and throughout coming years.

Lewiston Seller Financing Agreements Can Make Deals Happen!

When home prices in Lewiston are on the rise, one side effect is that first-time homebuyers may run into a financing obstacle. Although the stricter lending standards of the past few years have been easing somewhat, it still can be difficult for some folks (younger buyers, especially) to purchase the Lewiston home they have in their sights.

In that situation, an alternative to a traditional bank mortgage is seller financing. Many prospective buyers know little about the details that make up a seller financing agreement, and how it can–or cannot—help them secure a home.

What Seller Financing Is…

It’s as simple as the words themselves. When part or all of the purchase price of a property is carried by the current owner rather than a bank, it is considered to be “seller” or “owner” financed. Buyer and seller reach agreement on the loan details, including the monthly repayments, term of the loan, and interest rate. The security for the loan is the property itself—a fact which is documented on public records for the safety of both parties.

The Benefits of Seller Financing…

For the buyer, the principal benefit of seller financing is avoiding the requirements that are the hallmarks of traditional bank loans. Motivated sellers, who may be anticipating having trouble selling their home in a timely manner, be willing to advance a loan to buyers who do not traditionally qualify for a loan. Another benefit for the seller is having an investment which returns a fixed rate of return—one that is secured by the property. In the case that the buyer defaults on the loan the seller can foreclose on the property. With seller financing of a Lewiston property, the buyer will often compensate for a lower-than-bank-required credit score by agreeing to pay an above-market interest rate (another inducement for the seller).

Financing Part of the Purchase Price…

In some cases, the buyer may be able to secure a traditional loan for only part of the full purchase price. In that case, the buyer can ask the owner if they would be willing to finance the missing piece. Again, the buyer may sometimes offer an interest rate that is above current market rates as an inducement. It’s often possible for the buyer to plan on refinancing the ‘missing piece’ at a later time when the credit picture has improved, hoping to lower the combined interest rate.

But, then…

These advantages are so clear, you might expect that Lewiston seller financing arrangements would be very common. There are several reasons why that’s not true. First, owner financing can only be offered by sellers who own their property outright. Second, should a buyer fail to live up to his or her side of the agreement, foreclosing on the property can be a lengthy and expensive process—during which it’s likely that no money will be paid by the buyer in default.

In Lewiston, seller financing can be a deal-saving alternative for buyers who may not meet lending standards set by banks, but who can nonetheless afford to service a mortgage. Not all sellers will consider owner financing—but for those who are willing to support the added risk, it can meaningfully expand the pool of prospective buyers. Seller financing is just one of many possible strategies. If you are thinking of buying or selling in Lewiston, give us a call as soon as possible to take advantage of this summer’s market opportunities!

Real Estate: America’s New Favorite Long-Term Investment

For Lewiston real estate investors (BTW, that includes homeowners and soon-to-be homeowners of all stripes), there’s some long wished-for news: the solid reputation of real estate as an investment is back! After years of falling off, the latest Gallup poll on the economy and personal finance finds that Americans are now convinced that their best long term investment is in the housing market. Real estate won out against all other alternatives: bonds, gold, stocks, mutual funds and CDs.

For the past few years, gold had been investment #1—but see-sawing gold price movements have whiplashed public sentiment. Just as takes place everywhere in the nation, whenever Lewiston’s real estate market improves, so does its reception by potential buyers who view their home as a savings vehicle as well as a place to hang their hat. As Gallup Economy’s headline put it, Americans Sold on Real Estate as Best Long-Term Investment.

Public sentiment by itself is, of course, not reason enough to change long-term investment strategies. But when any investment class is on the rise in public’s estimation, the effect is to create competition among buyers—and further price improvement often follows. It can make a difference when it comes to Lewiston real estate.

One possibility for those selling real estate in Lewiston this summer might be to consider capitalizing on the investment trend by including a marketing approach: one that targets investors. You can have your agent or a local property manager provide a rental evaluation for the property, along with approximate leasing fees and property management fees. Having such an evaluation at the ready lets investment-minded prospects evaluate the potential cash flow and return. It’s even possible to post the information on your sales website, and to display it along with other marketing materials at showings and open houses.

In many neighborhoods, Lewiston real estate prices have a lot further to go to near their previous high water marks; if you look at neighborhoods individually, you can find some plum opportunities to make a sound investment. If you are thinking of buying or selling in Lewiston this summer, contact us to discuss your ideas—and how you will make the most of America’s new Number One investment opportunity!

Summertime Open House in Lewiston: the Timing is Perfect!

Estimates so far indicate that summer 2014 is likely to be a better than usual season for Lewiston home sales. The past winter threw a wet blanket over all kinds of business activity, creating a perfect scenario for a sales bounce back—and that’s exactly what is beginning to show up in the stats. As Bloomberg News reported last week, sales of homes “climbed in April for the first time in three months…the biggest in six months…”

If you will be taking advantage of the uptick by listing your property for this summer’s market, having an open house in Lewiston NY is a prime way to attract prospective buyers. With a little focus and energy, getting your home in shape can be easier than you might imagine.

The checklist is short:

Landscaping

The place to begin is with the landscaping—it frames the picture that’s the first thing buyers see when they pull up during the warm months. If you don’t have summer flowers planted, that’s okay—improvise! Purchase a few hanging baskets and potted plants. Place them along pathways, the entrance, and other places that could use a little bit of color. Hose the exterior, but if the years have been too tough, you may need a refresher coat of paint or trim. Perk up the lawn with an easy-to-apply lawn food spray; edge where needed; then mow and admire!

Get a Fresh Outlook

Give your windows a good cleaning (outside first)—it’s surprising the amount of sparkle that simple job can add to your Lewiston open house. Air the house thoroughly as you do a deep clean where it’s needed: usually a shampoo of carpets and rugs will accomplish the lion’s share of the work. Add some summer color to your rooms with fresh throw pillows, and as your open house draws near, see where a few well-placed floral arrangements would add bright color to draw the eye.

Last Checks

Before the day of your open house, there are a few more quick checks to be made. Walk around the house. Are the air conditioner units clean? Are the gutters and rain spouts in good shape? Outdoor spaces are great selling points to make your home more attractive to buyers, and a summertime Lewiston open house creates the perfect opportunity to show them off. There are always a few little things you’ve been meaning to attend to…now is the time!

Looking for more open house tips? Call us today if you’re thinking of listing your Lewiston home for sale. We can discuss a marketing plan to get your home S-O-L-D this summer!

Lewiston Home Sellers May Benefit from New U.S. Mortgage Rules

U.S. Backs Off Tight Mortgage Rules” screamed the top headline on the front page of The Wall Street Journal last week. For Lewiston mortgage shoppers, it could scarcely have been better news. Probably.

‘Probably’ because any change is not yet a done deal, but it’s hard to see what will derail the likely full reverse of the federal establishment’s years-long tight home loan policy. Why is this suddenly in the cards? The full answer is complicated, but here is a quick (admittedly over-simplified) summary of what’s been happening to Lewiston mortgage applicants—and what probably lies ahead.

The ongoing real estate recovery has been less of a boon to banks (including Lewiston’s mortgage originators) than to other participants because of tightened lending guidelines. Since the economic meltdown had been triggered by the crash of too many ‘easy money’ mortgages that had been repackaged and sold to Wall Street investors, regulators created mortgage guidelines that were much stricter.

Although borrowers found it harder to qualify for mortgages, at the same time, the Federal Reserve held interest rates at such bargain-basement levels real estate sales hummed. But first-time borrowers found it hard to qualify.

But lately, observers of the national scene have been worrying. Over the past months, the gradual cooling of real estate activity may have been welcome in the sense that the torrid rate of activity had slowed from an unsustainable pace—but some economists began to fret. Even though there was still some growth, now there wasn’t enough—and that could stall the recovery for the whole economy.

Washington has decided to listen to the worrywarts: hence last week’s WSJ headline story. It reported on the first speech delivered by Mel Watt, the new boss of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage giants whose policies largely guide what happens when you apply for a Lewiston mortgage.

Among a number of other rules, there had been in place a basic guideline calling for minimum 20% down payments (and punishing repercussions for banks who didn’t agree). But one result came as a surprise to regulators: lenders were newly fearful of requirements that might penalize them for even reasonable loans that went bad, so they became even tougher than the guidelines! Real estate loans began to dry up. It had been hoped that private lenders would take the place of Fannie and Freddie, allowing the government to gradually back out of its leading role. But the lenders sat on their wallets.

Of his decision to lighten up on credit barriers, Mr. Watt explained that he hoped “that lenders will start operating more inside the credit box that Fannie and Freddie” provide. In other words, that mortgage originators will add to the easing effect by hewing to the guidelines instead of exceeding them. If so, we can expect an influx of long-frustrated first-time homebuyers.

If you have been thinking of offering your own Lewiston, NY home for sale anytime soon, that should be a most encouraging development!

Selling A Lewiston Home In Summer Can Need Special Staging

As the days grow longer and the thermometer rises, everyone wants to start spending more time outdoors—to make full use of our yards and patios. But what if your Lewiston home is going to be on the market this summer? Does it mean you have to stop enjoying yourself, stop entertaining guests, just because you want to keep the place in showable condition?

The answer is, of course, of course not. Using the outdoor spaces of your home means striking a balance between living your life and ensuring everything is in top condition when buyers come calling. It’s actually a staging opportunity, because most of your prospective buyers will be favorably impressed if your outdoor staging areas make it easy to picture themselves enjoying our beautiful Lewiston summer weather.

Staging your home’s landscaping thus takes added importance during summertime, beginning with overall curb appeal. Any time of year, potential buyers are often swayed by that first impression: as they approach the house, the impact will be one they’d like their own future visitors to have. Staging an inviting front yard appearance does wonders for your selling prospects.

Make sure your lawn is trimmed and the yard edged. During springtime and fall, a 2”-3” grass length is recommended, but as the hotter summer months approach, longer grass will help shade the soil and keep roots comfy. Minimize brown spots and thin patches by giving the blades an extra half inch.

Staging walkways and driveways means keeping cemented areas free of volunteer growing things. Having weeds, clover, or anything sprouting between stones or pavement is not only unsightly, it brings to mind the work required for upkeep (a turnoff to prospects). Although chemical herbicides are popular, an eco-conscious (and penny-conscious) alternative is plain old kitchen vinegar.

The most important staging advice for the outside of the house is that it give the impression that a fresh coat of paint won’t be needed for quite a while. Cleaning it can be enough, or if not, new paint may be needed. You can opt for professional painting, but if your home is sided, or if you’ve recently (within the past five years) had your home painted, pay attention to details like windows and other smaller touchups you can easily do yourself.

If staging the back (and possibly front) yards is likely to be a really important part of marketing your Lewiston home, give some attention to outdoor furniture. It’s expensive stuff, so if it’s going to really be a key selling point for the property, it might be worth the effort to really make the space shine. If you don’t have any outdoor furniture (and don’t plan to need any in your new house), consider hiring a stager just to handle the exterior spaces. Less expensive than a full home staging, exterior staging can make a huge difference in the overall appeal of your Lewiston home during the outdoor months.

Once you’ve revitalized of your home’s outdoor areas, keeping it in top showing condition need consist of little more than the regular weekly yard work and cleanup, a relaxing prospect for enjoying your property throughout the good weather months. And do give us a call—We’re standing by to take care of the rest!