Boost Your Lewiston Home’s Curb Appeal in a Single Weekend!

It’s usually the curb appeal Lewiston properties put out there that either plants a winning first impression…or a ho-hum (maybe it’s more interesting inside) reaction. This holds for casual passers-by as well as serious prospects who are pulling up for a scheduled house showing. It’s simply true: you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

If you will be listing your home this summer, adding a thoughtful extra touch or two to the outside can transform your Lewiston property’s curb appeal into its first strong selling point. After all, what buyer won’t favor a home they’d be proud to have friends and co-workers visit?

Here are some simple and affordable projects—each of which can be started and finished in a single weekend!

  • Exterior lighting styles are constantly being reinvented, so if it’s been more than five years since the last time you thought about the amount of curb appeal your current fixtures add, this one’s for you! Once the sun goes down, take a look at what passers-by see—and compare it with your Lewiston neighbors’. Explore the latest fixtures available at area lighting shops and the big-box hardware stores—there are plenty of imaginative new designs. Even consider improving your home’s nighttime sparkle by adding a lighted path from driveway to door.
  • Your prospective buyers will be favorably impressed when an Youngstown home’s curb appeal invites them to see themselves as part of the picture. That’s not an abstract notion—investing in a few pieces of attractive, comfortable-looking outdoor furniture and arranging them on the front porch all but compels it! Buyers will automatically picture themselves enjoying a leisurely chat out there…and if the porch layout is right, you might make it extra-inviting with a warm indoor/outdoor rug and some weatherproof decorative pillows.
  • Extensive flower beds can turn some buyers off if they don’t want the hassle of upkeep—but a few flower pots or window planters look wonderfully inviting when people drive up to the house. Decide if some large pots along the driveway, sidewalk, or entryway would provide color and character; or put up a pair of ready-made window boxes. Filled with easy-maintenance annuals like marigolds, petunias, or impatiens, this simple touch can make a disproportionately effective difference.
  • Sometimes you don’t have to paint the whole house when you put your house on the market: just spruce up the front door, shutters, or trim. Some sandpaper, a wire brush and modest amount of paint can do the trick. This is a quick and affordable way to add curb appeal to the entire house—a facelift without spending tons on painters and paint.
  • Ancient, peeling house numbers on the mailbox or by the front door can destroy curb appeal. Lewiston prospects usually spot them first when they search for your address, so save the day with a new mailbox (or just some gleaming new replacement numerals).

Ready to list in 2014? Preparation should start weeks (even months) before the marketing goes live—making for a much less stressful opening weekend. Contact us soon for a preliminary evaluation to get your Lewiston home ready for the market!

Repair Demands: Par for the Course for Selling a Lewiston Home

If you have taken good care of your property, you rightfully expect that selling your area home will result in its fetching a good price when it hits the market. That’s the right mindset for success, but it serves sellers best when it’s only a starting point. Dealing with flesh-and-blood buyers can require some judicious flexibility—for one reason, there is usually an inconspicuous (somewhat annoying) fly in the ointment. The metaphoric fly is the fact that no property is without its flaws; and its metaphoric buzzing is likely to get louder as your sale’s closing grows nearer.

Structural elements of a house have varying life spans since wear and tear is inevitable in any space where people live. Many of a home’s features eventually require repair, and if it’s very soon, given that most informed buyers expect to take over a property with as few problems as possible, post-inspection demands can result. Especially if you’ve put a good deal of effort into getting everything shipshape, it can be maddening.

Nevertheless, plan to ignore any impulse to scrap the sale and tell the buyer to take a hike. Since some post-inspection requests are par for the course, you should know your options when you’re selling a home in Lewiston and your buyer requests repairs.

Repair Obligation for the Seller

As the seller of the property, you are not required to fix anything in the home inspection report. Any repairs cited are points of negotiation: just because an inspector cites flaws, that doesn’t mean repairs have to take place before the sale can be completed. If you don’t want to accept a purchase agreement that is conditioned on the completion of repairs, that is your option.

Purchasing a Home Warranty for the Buyer

Buyers sometimes request that you as seller pay for a home warranty. A home warranty generally covers the buyer’s outlay for major defects for a year following purchase. Such a warranty will typically cost no more than $600, and again, the decision to purchase one is up to the party selling a home.

Major Repairs

In many cases, requested repairs will be relatively minor, so it’s often preferable to have them made to proceed without further wrangling. But (you can almost hear that fly buzzing louder) should requested repairs be more extensive, you’ll have to evaluate the cost against the sale price.

Whether to Complete a Repair

Your home might be your pride and joy, but it is important not to take requests for repairs personally. Selling a Lewiston home is most successful when the seller first carefully examines the request, then makes a rational assessment based on what will produce the optimal outcome. If a next-best offer is on the table, its terms should be reexamined. You can also offer to proceed with the original purchase agreement but not agree to complete the repairs as requested. If the buyer likes your home and believes the price is reasonable, he or she may agree to proceed with the purchase as-is.

Whether or not you are concerned about potential repairs, if you are thinking of selling your home in Lewiston this summer, contact us today for a complimentary evaluation!

A Lewiston Mortgage Application Should Be Smooth Sailing

Everyone expects that finding and buying the right Lewiston, NY home will take a good deal of attention and energy. After all, it’s as important a purchase as we ever make. But when you add in the potential that something on your mortgage application could bring everything to a screeching halt, that’s one detail that has the potential to trigger what could turn everything into a truly harrowing experience.

The average credit score in America is around 688. That might look like a respectably large number, yet it’s considered mediocre when it comes to mortgages. And the truth is that most Americans are blissfully unaware of what is going on with their credit reports most of the time…that is, until they’re presented with a Lewiston mortgage application. Ideally, everybody should take a look at their report well before they are faced with a mortgage application—but if you’re one of the majority who hasn’t done so, there is no need to panic. You may still be able to deal with credit issues that threaten to delay your otherwise smooth transaction.

The most common issue that Lewiston homebuyers come up against during the mortgage application process is one or more late payments that ding the final score. In most cases, these are small amounts that were likely forgotten and can be quickly cured. Schedule an immediate payment—and be sure to record the receipt. Once the bank sees that the account has been brought current, they will most often proceed.

Issues stemming from a stolen identity can be more severe and may take a bit more time and effort to straighten out. First, let the bank know that the charges on your report are not yours; then document the entire process of disputing the charges with the credit bureau and having them removed from your report. The downside is that this typically takes from 1 – 6 months to complete. In most cases, your bank will proceed—but will delay closing until you can furnish proof that the issues have been resolved.

In the event that you have late payments that you cannot afford to bring current, you may be able to make a settlement with the creditor that the bank will accept. The Catch-22 is that they will typically want you to pay off the debt completely. This is when it’s going to be necessary to have a candid discussion with your Lewiston NY mortgage specialist: once you have made the situation clear, he or she will explain your best options.

If you haven’t taken a recent look at your credit report, now is the time to do so. You don’t have to wait until you’re filling out a mortgage application to benefit from identifying potential credit issues…in fact, keeping tabs on your score can pay off in every situation where credit comes into play!

Questions? We’re happy to refer you to one of our great Lewiston mortgage brokers even before you get your house hunt started. Call us!

Lewiston New Home Market Reflects Shifting U.S. Patterns

For decades, the three-bedroom house has been a cornerstone of the American dream. Now, as with the rest of the nation, Lewiston’s real estate profile for new single family homes seems to be changing. And last year we may well have reached a turning point in the national new home market: now four bedrooms seems to have become the new norm!

Last year, a full 48% of new homes—nearly half—were built with at least four bedrooms. That’s quite a jump when you compare it with just four years earlier: in 2009, the figure was 34%. We asked ourselves why the nation’s preferences would have undergone such a sizable shift. A little research revealed some likely answers—and some interesting history behind them.

The Rise of Bigger Homes

The footprint of the average new home built in the U.S. went Yeti in a very short time. In the late 1940s, Postwar America began producing single family homes on a massive scale—with an average size of about 750 square feet. As the economy expanded, so did house sizes until by 1973 the three-bedroom home dominated the new home market (Lewiston included). By 2013, average new home sizes had reached 2,701 square feet according to the Census Bureau.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but at the same time the number of bedrooms was increasing, the size of the American household was heading in the opposite direction. The 3.6-person average of the 1940s had, by 2013, contracted to 2.58. That means the living space for each individual had grown by 80%!

House Sizes Shrink, Then Expand Again

In 2009, as a side-effect of the last decade’s real estate market downturn, single family home sizes had retreated by about 6%. But now the economy’s slow recovery has reversed the reversal. According to the most recent report from the National Association of Home Builders, the average size of a new home built in 2013 was 2607 square feet— a 300-square foot increase over just two years earlier.

Fewer New Buyers = Bigger Homes

One of the reasons for the new home market shift toward larger four-bedroom designs can be ascribed to a decrease in the number of first-time homebuyers. Largely due to previous tightening in lending criteria and rising mortgage rates (both trends have at least momentarily stalled in the Lewiston new home market), the smaller homes favored by first-timers claimed a proportionately smaller chunk of the market.

It’s hard to avoid the general conclusion that what were once considered luxurious additions are effectively today’s norm. The en-suite bathrooms, two-car garages and even three-bedroom homes that would have been out of reach for most of the new home buyers of the past are practically standard fare in 2014. But another fact is that every Western New York area differs from every other. If this has you wondering how your home compares with what today’s buyers are looking for in your own neighborhood—why not give us a call?

Showing Your Lewiston Home—Organization’s the Trick

When you’re selling your home, keeping it ready to show at a moment’s notice can sometimes make a major difference. In a perfect world, prospective buyers will always have time to schedule showings in advance—but exceptions do occur. That’s why experienced sellers know how to juggle living a normal life at the same time they are keeping their place ‘show-ready’ by calling on a few organizational tricks. They really aren’t all that difficult (but do take a commitment to stay organized). When you follow them, it makes showing your home in town a snap!

Supplies at the Ready:

The easiest way to stay on top of messes is to nail them when they start. Stock up on wipes and ready-to-use supplies (think pre-soaked wipes and erasers instead of rags, sprays and mops)—and stash them in key locations around the house. Between showings, you can even keep them in plain sight: it reminds you to wipe down surfaces after each use without making it a major project. Regular quick wipe-downs will keep your home shiny and inviting—even when showing your Lewiston home comes as a last-minute surprise.

Simplify Storage

Place a few attractive bins and storage ottomans strategically in rooms that are prone to clutter (playrooms, bedrooms and dens). Encourage everyone to make a habit of throwing the odds and ends into them before the end of the day, and removing things only as they are needed. Showing your home on a dime becomes a no-brainer when the clutter lives out of sight.

Start Packing

If you haven’t already started packing, get going early. Pack up everything you don’t use regularly—like those shelves of books you haven’t touched in years. And deal with the off-season wardrobe: when you’re actively showing your home in Lewiston NY this spring or summer, those fall and winter items should be headed into storage.

Make Small Adjustments

This idea is optional—but it really works! Encourage everyone to remove their shoes at the front door. Place a decorative mat at the entrance (and include a coat rack if the weather calls for it). This temporary house rule works to get everyone in on the act, and subtly helps keep them conscious that showing your home is partly everyone’s responsibility. It’s also a reminder to keep packages and bags from building up near those doorways.

When showing your Lewiston, NY home is part of a well-planned and systematic project, just a few of these relatively minor adjustments can keep you and your family cool and collected—and make even last-minute showings a breeze. Our clients make the rules for what the minimum heads-up time for scheduling a showing will be, and we stick to it. But when they are able to create an environment when the odd last-minute showing is a no-stress possibility, it does seem to have a way of increasing the odds that the latest showing…becomes the last!

Lewiston Home Sellers: Adapt to Millennial Real Estate Preferences

The generation born between the early 80s and just after the turn of the century (aka Millennials) have been slower to take the first steps toward home ownership than previous generations. That’s likely one of the byproducts of the cultural and economic shifts which have combined to make real estate less affordable (and proportionately less appealing). While there is no denying that lately it’s been a difficult environment for many Millennials to jump into the real estate market in Lewiston, there are still plenty of young people who would like to buy a home.

But what makes Lewiston real estate attractive to these younger prospects can be a lot different than what has traditionally drawn previous generations of buyers. And with fewer motivated prospects in this younger generation, if you will be selling your own Lewiston NY property anytime soon, you should have your antennae up for how to include them in with your other potential buyers.

It’s no secret that Millennials devote a disproportionate amount of their time in the online world. In 2013, the number of hours Millennials spent on the Internet increased by 25% to nearly 25 hours per week. In short, homes with poor wireless and mobile connections will be a difficult sell to millennial buyers. If your current connection is slow, research other providers which will be available for a new buyer. Just the fact that such options are available can be enough to remove what could potentially block a sale.

Millennial buyers (well, most buyers, actually) don’t like cluttered homes—especially those littered with outdated furniture: it’s just too much of a leap to picture how they could make their own lifestyle fit into such a space. According to real estate website Homegain, sellers who invest just $500 in home staging can be expected to reap an average 343% on that investment.

Millennials work from home in greater numbers than ever before—so presenting one of your rooms as a home office can create an appealing environment. Even if a room is currently being used for other purposes, having a wireless device working in a corner will usually be enough of a cue to point out its home office potential. If no dedicated room is available, staging a corner in the kitchen as a mobile docking/work station can also do the trick.

Millennials aren’t just refraining from purchasing homes—they’re also avoiding car purchases in the same numbers. The percentage of 16- to 24-year-olds with driver’s licenses has been dropping since 1997 (it’s now under 70% for the first time since the early 60’s). Walkability is the term describing how easy or difficult it is to walk to work, public transportation, stores, parks and other facilities. If this factor is a real estate plus for your home, create a bullet point list of approximate times or distance to local features that are closest to your property. Five or six should be enough (even if some are just a pond or small local market!)

There is a convincing amount of evidence indicating Millennials are simply delaying real estate purchases—rather than planning to skip home ownership altogether. As the economy slowly improves, we expect greater numbers of younger buyers to enter town’s real estate market. For now, if you will be listing your property in town this spring or summer, it’s important to keep all potential client pools in mind. We’re here to help cover all the bases—call us today if you want get going with a marketing plan designed to sell!

Spring is Prime Time to List a Lewiston Vacation Home

Before April 15th came and went, perhaps you and your accountant had one of those occasional chats about your assets and liabilities. If owning your vacation home in Lewiston has resulted in more taxes or less financial gain than you’d planned for—or if you and your family just don’t use the place as often as you used to–this spring or summer is a good time to consider selling. If you have lost some love for your extra house, but don’t want to go through the rigmarole of renting it out season-to-season, the selling alternative could be at hand.

USA Today recently featured an article headlined, “How to Sell Vacation Property.” In it, author Jennifer Eblin pointed out, “Your real estate agent should understand that selling a vacation property is different from selling any other piece of property…and have intimate knowledge of the surrounding area.”

That kind of experience is doubly helpful when it comes from dealing with vacation homes similar to your own. If your home-away-from-home is in a condominium community, a Realtor® who is familiar with the community is most likely to have intimate knowledge of price points, selling points—and deal breakers that can sometimes make all the difference for your own sale.

Just as important as teaming with the right real estate agent is making sure the property is in top condition. Few Lewiston vacation home buyers will be looking for a “fixer-upper”—so plan to spruce up the house before it goes on the market. Make small repairs, repaint dull or off-color walls, and depersonalize as much as possible. Picture what drew you to the property back when you bought it: present that same space and feeling to the new owners.

In almost every case, right about now is a highly favorable time to list a Lewiston vacation home. This is the season when people are looking forward to the warmer months and wishing they had a great place of their own in which to enjoy them. With winter still fresh in people’s minds, a well-priced Lewiston vacation home listing stands the best chance of drawing a crowd.

The bottom line is that selling a vacation home in Lewiston is about selling an idea—whether it’s a rustic escape or a luxurious retreat from the daily grind. Make sure your property speaks that language, and we’ll be standing by–ready to do the rest!

Lewiston Mortgage Rates May Rise—But You Can Still Save!

Mortgage rates may rise or fall this spring (lately they seem to be falling!)—but that needn’t prevent you from saving even more money when it’s time to structure your own Lewiston mortgage. The underpublicized fact is that mortgage rates are only one of the factors that affect how much you wind up paying. No matter what happens to mortgage rates in 2014, here are some keys to making mortgage decisions that result in significant savings:

Tailor the term

Evaluate your budget and see whether it is possible to increase the amount of your monthly payment. By increasing monthly repayments, you reduce the term of your Lewiston mortgage. Over the course of the loan, this can save tens of thousands of dollars.

Refinance for five years instead of two

The interest you pay on a refi loan isn’t the only cost. The origination and other fees can easily end up costing four figures. It’s a numbers game: simply calculate the anticipated savings from refinancing, then subtract the amount of the fees. The difference tells you your net savings…and demonstrates why one of the easiest ways to grow those savings is to refinance less frequently.

Change to biweekly

Changing to biweekly payments instead of monthly payment can save you more than small change. The reason is on the calendar: there are 52 weeks in a year, but only 12 months. If you make 26 1/2 payments every year, that equates to 13 monthly payments. It’s a stealthy way to make an additional month’s payment every year without really noticing it. When choosing a loan, opt for one where the bank allows you to choose biweekly payments (as long as they don’t want to charge an additional fee). Also request that the extra payments be deducted from the principle.

Improve your credit score

On this count, every mortgage guru sounds like a broken record. Although the average quoted mortgage rate may rise or fall, that’s not necessarily the rate that you pay. Your FICO score is the primary determinant of your Lewiston NY mortgage rate. The difference between a good FICO score and a bad one can be significant, so get a copy of your credit card record and challenge any damaging inaccuracies. Lenders want to see a long history of paying on time with a mixed use of credit.

Mortgage rates in Lewiston will almost certainly increase in the future because they’re still well under historical averages. But there are plenty of steps you can take to cut thousands of dollars from your ultimate Lewiston mortgage costs. And if you are ready to buy a house in Lewiston this spring, contact us today—We’re ready to show you what’s coming up at your price point!

Taking Advantage of Lewiston Commercial Property Opportunities

This year, it looks as if the busy spring real estate season extends beyond the residential arena. Latest reports show commercial property sales on the rise throughout the nation—and in volumes that make it one of the main contributors to the overall economic upturn.

The most reliable data comes from the National Association of Realtors®, whose latest quarterly survey shows year-over-year sales increasing a full 11% (with prices rising 4%). It’s an encouraging backdrop for businesspeople and individual investors who are gauging the opportunities in today’s Lewiston commercial property market. Despite the vagaries of the tax and political climate (it is an election year, after all), with rental rates increasing and leasing activity up across the nation, the market does invite a closer look by anyone considering a fresh entry into Wheatfield’s commercial property arena.

While working with a buyer’s agent to find and purchase a Lewiston commercial property isn’t an absolute essential, it certainly can be more efficient to have professional assistance and guidance throughout the process. When you choose a Realtor who has specifically commercial experience in the Lewiston area, you make the same kind of choice as when you seek expert help in any other area of your business or personal endeavors—an expert’s insight can be priceless!

Whether you are buying or selling a commercial property, it’s also important to avoid fixating on short-term impacts. Today’s cash flow may be your leading financial factor, but balancing with the long-term impacts is a juggling act worth mastering. Buying or selling a commercial property has long term impacts that spread out well beyond this year’s bottom line. Don’t hesitate to discuss your current business model with your accountant or tax professional. They are sure to have concrete ideas about potential impacts that will be quite real five and ten years from now. The right commercial property in Lewiston NY will be one that is able to accommodate your needs both now and into the future.

With the right agent and clear-cut financial goals, your search for a Lewiston, NY commercial property can result in the best financial move you make this year—or for many years to come. If you’re weighing the value of purchasing a commercial property or placing your own for sale, call us to open the discussion about the opportunities in today’s market.

Remodel or New Home in Lewiston? The Pros and Cons are Significant

Last week’s Rasmussen Reports survey reported that the majority (52%) of Americans consider their home to be a family’s best investment at the same time that the number of people who are choosing to remodel their home is on the rise. According to the Houzz & Home survey, the number of people who planned improvement projects rose a dynamic 12 % last year. Of those, 40% wanted to remodel their home or build an addition.

While remodeling may be becoming more popular, there are still plenty of advantages to the alternative route: purchasing a new home in Lewiston. Here are some of the pros and cons of each route:

    • Before you start your remodeling project you should take a personal inventory. Do you have the experience and skills to manage the project…and is the prospect appealing? Remodeling your home will require that you deal directly either with tradesmen, contractors, architects— or the whole bunch! It may be the greatest advantage to purchasing a new Lewiston NY home: getting the additional space and amenities without the work.

 

  • The loss of privacy during a remodeling project is not something to be underestimated. Depending upon the scope of the project, it may be months before the dust settles and you have the house to yourself again. There is also the inconvenience of not having access to multiple areas of your home while work is proceeding

 

  • For most of us, there really is no place like home. If you’re like us, even when you’ve been on a terrific vacation, eventually you begin to yearn for the comfort and familiarity of your good old home base. Although one or two irksome features of your current house make moving seem like a no-brainer…before you commit to a move, be sure that you really want to leave. History, a sense of community, and the roots you’ve established in your current neighborhood are all reasons to opt for a remodel rather than a new home.

 

  • Selling your existing home and buying a new Lewiston home is a sizable financial commitment. Moving costs, transaction fees, commissions and taxes are part of the equation to weigh against remodeling costs. A sharp pencil is definitely in order before the dollars and cents can be realistically reckoned—particularly if your finances have improved, and the remodel is meant to bring your home up to an improved standard of living.

The danger lies in overcapitalizing a property in a location where the resale won’t support the expense. Even a great home will still fetch a price that’s relative to other properties in the neighborhood, obliterating the wished-for ‘investment’ value of extensive remodeling.

While it’s important to be informed about the factual tradeoffs of your decision, it’s likely the end choice will also be influenced by what just feels right—as it should be. Whether you’re considering a remodel or a purchase, if you’d like to run some numbers, call us today for a confidential price evaluation!