Sellers: Here’s How to Update Your Home With Looks Buyers Love

From the desk of Modesto REALTOR Lynn Albro:  Planning to sell your house this year? Don’t be overwhelmed by all the details involved in preparing it to go on the market. Set aside a couple of weekends to do the work, and follow these four simple updates. 

Before you list, tweak your home decor and finishes to up your odds of attracting a sale.

When you’re putting your home on the market, you want it looking its best. You know you’ll need to clean and declutter, but what about making cosmetic updates?

Investing in a new look for your home might be well worth the effort. The recent Zillow Paint Colors That Sell Analysis reported that certain paint colors in specific rooms can impact the sale price of a home. And many buyers perk up when they see terms like granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and subway tile in a home’s listing.

Let’s take a look at ways to work these trends into your home for maximum impact.

More natural, less fussy

Today’s buyer is looking for fresh and natural design elements that easily blend between varying styles, from tailored and traditional to ultra-cool and modern.

Zillow discovered that shades of cool blue spoke to these home buyers, and offered a semi-blank canvas for them to put their own spin on. A natural blue tone also looks best in listing photos and videos.

Photo from Zillow listing

Many elements impact a home’s value

While Zillow’s research shows that applying a fresh coat of paint to your home helps boost its value, there are many more components that impact a buyer’s willingness to pull out their checkbook.

In addition to paint, other elements of the kitchen and bath are important to keep in mind. Updating the countertop or flooring often breathes new life into a space.

Photo courtesy of Board and Vellum

If you don’t want to dip into construction territory, smaller scale projects like swapping out hardware, adding artwork, or installing stylish storage are all great fixes that signal your home’s been well cared for.

Dip your toe

We always tell clients who are nervous to jump into a new color or pattern this simple piece of advice: Dip your toe in and try it out.

As Zillow found, shades of blue are the go-to for home buyers today. However, that doesn’t mean you have to splash navy blue paint across your walls.

If you’re staging your home to sell, or just want to see what the color looks like in your environment, start small with throw pillows, an area rug, or window coverings. These decorative accents are small but mighty, and may offer just the right amount of impact to boost your home’s value.

Photo from Zillow listing

Now that homeowners are gravitating toward fresh, bright and clean coloration, we can expect hues of blue and gray to offer the tranquility potential buyers are looking for.

Paired with classic white countertops and cabinets, these shades complement nearly every kitchen and bathroom, making your next home sale a slam dunk — especially if sky blue or periwinkle is involved!

Source: zillow.com ~ BY KERRIE KELLY

California Homes Selling at the Fastest Pace in 13 Years

  • California single-family homes sold in an average of 22.4 days in June, while homes in the nine-county Bay Area sold in an average of 20.4 days.
  • The median sales price in the Bay Area rose to $908,740 in June, a year-over-year increase of 7.9 percent.
  • Home prices rose from June 2016 in all nine local counties. San Francisco, San Mateo, Marin, and Santa Clara counties are the only ones in California where the median sales price is higher than $1 million.

From the desk of Modesto REALTOR Lynn Albro: This is good news for home sellers. If you’re thinking about selling or know someone who is – text me at 209-614-8010.

Stubbornly low inventory conditions motivated Golden State homebuyers to act quickly in June, while prices continued to rise statewide and in the Bay Area.

The latest home sales and price report from the California Association of Realtors says that single-family homes in the state sold in an average of 22.4 days in June, the fastest pace of sales recorded since May 2004. California home prices remain at their highest level in a decade, climbing to $555,150, an annual gain of 7.0 percent. According to CAR President Geoff McIntosh, the state’s inventory drought is the primary factor fueling the brisk pace of sales and price appreciation.

“With active listings 13.5 percent lower than last June, we’ve now experienced a full two years in which active listings have fallen on a year-over-year basis and the lowest inventory level this year,” he said. “Would-be sellers aren’t listing their homes as many of them would also face an inventory challenge if they were to turn around and buy another property.”

California’s monthly supply of inventory of single-family homes fell to 2.7 in June, down on both a monthly and yearly basis. The nine-county Bay Area continues to suffer from the state’s fewest number of homes for sale, with the MSI declining to 1.8. San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, San Francisco, and Contra Costa counties have California’s most severe inventory shortages, all ending June with less than a two-month supply of homes on the market.

A limited number of homes on the market continues to drive Bay Area appreciation, with the median sales price for a single-family home at $908,740 in June, a year-over-year gain of 7.9 percent.  Home prices rose in all nine local counties from June 2016, ranging from 12.6 percent in Santa Clara County to 3.2 percent in Sonoma County. Five local counties have the state’s most expensive home prices: San Francisco ($1,469,000), San Mateo ($1,433,750), Marin ($1,272,500), Santa Clara ($1,182,500), and Alameda ($900,000).

Bay Area buyers needed to act in less than three weeks to score a home last month, with single-family homes in the region leaving the market in an average of 20.4 days. San Mateo County had the state’s fastest pace of sales, with properties selling in an average of 17.6 days, followed by Alameda (17.8 days) and Santa Clara (17.9 days) counties.

Source: blog.pacificunion.com

Pool Care Basics

To keep your pool’s water sparkling clean, a few basic maintenance steps are required. Find information on the usage of products, care and how to test your water for easy pool maintenance in this section.

The Role of the Pump

The center of the circulation system is the pump. It moves water from the pool and sends it through the filter for removal of any dust, dirt and debris prior to sending it back to the pool.

How long should you run your pump? Piping size, pool size, swimmer load and the actual pump size all play a role in determining how long you should run your pump. For the proper time consult your pool professional. They can determine, based upon your specific pool, the proper amount of time required to keep your pool clear and clean. A good rule of thumb is to run your pump about 1 hour for every 10º of temperature.

If your pump is not running, the water from your pool is not being properly circulated or filtered. Running the pump and circulating the water is the best way to help prevent problems.

The Filtration System

The job of the filtration system is to remove any undissolved dirt and debris from the pool water. While the skimmer basket and the hair and lint basket in the pump all play a role in the filtering of the pool water, the primary element of the system is the filter itself. If you backwash sand or DE filters too often, the filter cannot reach its cleaning potential and you are wasting water. Most filters require back washing when the pressure gauge rises 8-10 psi from clean. Consult your pool professional to understand the role that the skimmer and pump basket play in keeping your pool clean. Always consult your owner’s manual for specifics related to the type of filter you have.

Filter Types

There are three types of filters that are used in swimming pools to remove dirt and debris that enter the water through swimmers and the environment.

  1. Sand Filters – Dirt is removed from a sand filter by “backwashing” or reversing the water flow. The filter should be backwashed when the pressure gauge indicates a 7-10 lbs. increase over normal operating pressure. This is the pressure indicated on the pressure gauge when the filter is completely clean. Sand filters are more efficient when they are slightly dirty; consequently they should only be backwashed when required by the increase in pressure. Sand filters should be cleaned at least every season with a filter cleaner.
  2. Cartridge Filters – Dirt needs to be removed from a cartridge filter when the pressure gauge indicates an increase of 7-10 lbs. over normal operation pressure. Remove the cartridge(s) from the filter and hose off all loose dirt and debris. Then soak the element(s) in filter cleaner for at least 12 hours. This will remove all oils and greases imbedded in the filter element. After soaking, remove the cartridge(s) and rinse thoroughly with fresh water. Peak filter efficiency is achieved if you allow the filter element(s) to dry prior to reinstalling in the filter. To avoid any “down time” for the circulation or filtration systems, it is advisable to purchase a second set of cartridge elements so they may be interchanged on a regular basis with the first set.
  3. Diatomaceous Earth Filters – Like sand, the DE filter is cleaned by backwashing the filter when pressure increases 7-10 lbs. However, once the filter has been backwashed, new DE must be added to coat the grids in the filter. This is accomplished by pouring DE through the skimmer. To cut oils and other natural oil build-up, DE filter grids should be cleaned at least once every season using filter cleaner.  Also, at least once a year the entire DE filter should be disassembled and cleaned thoroughly as well as being inspected for tears or rips in the grids.

Testing Your Pool

Testing your pool 2-3 times a week during the summer and once a week during the winter is important to maintain adequate water balance and sanitizer levels plus to insure swimmer comfort. Test strips are a quick way to test the pool for adequate sanitizer levels as well as pH and total alkalinity. Proper testing also ensures that calcium levels are maintained and that there are no metals present in the pool water. These tests can be completed by you or your pool professional. In order to prevent scaling or corrosive action and to achieve maximum swimmer comfort, the pool water should be balanced to the following levels:

Balancing pH

pH is the measure of acid and base in the pool water. The pH of the pool should be tested and adjusted, if necessary, on a weekly basis. If the pH of the pool water drifts to the acid side of the scale, corrosion of pool surfaces and equipment can occur. If the pH of the pool water drifts to the base side – scaling, deposits, and cloudy water can occur. Use a pH increaser to increase the pH of the pool. At 8.5, chlorine is only about 10% active. At 7.0, chlorine is about 73% active. If you maintain pH around 7.5, the chlorine will be 50-60% active. Keeping the pH in check will allow you to use the full potential of the chlorine that is already in the pool. To lower the pH of the pool, use a pH decreaser. Follow the label directions for the proper amount of the products to add based upon test results and pool size. Take a sample of water to your pool professional dealer every 2-3 weeks for complete test and analysis.

NOTE: Always follow label directions when adding any pool maintenance products to the pool. Never mix products together. If unsure how products are to be used, contact your local pool professional.

Calcium Hardness

Calcium Hardness is the amount of dissolved calcium in the pool water. Low calcium hardness levels can cause plaster finish etching and shorten the life of vinyl liners. High calcium levels can result in calcium deposits on the pool surfaces as well as equipment. The proper range for calcium hardness in pool water is 200- 250 ppm (parts per million) for concrete pools and 175-225 ppm for vinyl pools. Your pool professional can advise you of the best method for treating your pool if you encounter high calcium hardness. If tests indicate that you have extremely high calcium levels in your pool, take a sample of your fill water (water used to fill the pool) to your pool professional for analysis as well.

Total Alkalinity

To prevent the pH varying up and down, the proper amount of acid buffers, or total alkalinity, must be maintained in the pool. The pool should be tested weekly with a total alkalinity of 1 20-150 ppm (parts per million) maintained. Low total alkalinity can not only result in pH bounce and fluctuations, but corrosiveness and the possibility of staining increase. High total alkalinity also can cause the pH to fluctuate as well as cause cloudy pools along with possible scaling. To lower total alkalinity, follow the directions from your pool professional. To raise total alkalinity, an alkalinity booster is recommended.

Metals

There should not be any metals present in your swimming pool water. Metals can cause staining in the pool and cause the pool to turn colors. The most common types of metals that appear in pool water are copper, iron, and manganese. If metals are present in the pool, a stain and scale remover should be used on a regular basis to prevent staining. You should determine the source of the metals and remove if possible.

Sanitize with Chlorine

Stabilized chlorine products sanitize your pool water and kill bacteria. Stabilized chlorine products are protected from sun light degradation and are an ideal means to keep your pool clear and clean. Most stabilized chlorine products are available in a variety of forms:

  • Chlorinated Tablets 3”
  • Chlorinated Tablets 1”
  • Skimmer Sticks
  • Multi-functional Chlorinating Granules

Your pool professional can determine the best form and type of sanitization program for your particular needs. A free chlorine level of 1-3 ppm should be maintained in the pool at all times.

NOTE: You will get more out of chemicals if you add them after the sun has set.

Sanitize with Bromine

You may want to use bromine instead of chlorine to sanitize your pool. Bromine tablets provide a reliable method for killing bacteria and keeping your pool clear and clean. To utilize bromine effectively, an automatic brominator should be installed in your pool.

Shock

Shocking the pool on a regular basis is an important element in keeping the pool clear and clean. Swimmers and the environment add waste to the pool that must be eliminated on a regular basis in order to prevent problems such as algae and cloudy water.

Algaecide

Preventing algae is the key to an enjoyable pool. Algaecides act as a backup to your normal sanitization program and prevent algae from starting and growing in the pool. Algaecide should be added after every shock treatment.

Source: swimmingpool.com ~ Toll Free Number: 888.476.7665

What’s Really Included In Closing Costs?

Expect property taxes, homeowners insurance, and lender’s costs to be part of your settlement-day tab.

From the desk of Modesto REALTOR Lynn Albro: I get this question often, this article is very helpful.

With your house-hunting and lender searches now in the rear view mirror, you can start steering your way around the final bend that leads to the driveway of your new San Angelo, TX, home: settlement day and closing. A few days before you meet with your real estate agent, a title company representative, and your loan officer for this joyous event, you should have received from the title company a copy of your closing documents. Read these documents carefully — they will include details on the closing costs that are due upon settlement.

  • Closing costs are lender and third-party fees paid at the closing of a real estate transaction, and they can be financed as part of the deal or be paid upfront. They range from 2% to 5% of the purchase price of a home. (For those who buy a $150,000 home, for example, that would amount to between $3,000 and $7,500 in closing fees.) Understanding and educating yourself about these costs before settlement day arrives might help you avoid any headaches at the end of the deal.

  • What’s included in closing costs?

    Closing costs will cover both recurring and nonrecurring fees that are a part of your transaction. Recurring costs are ongoing expenses that you will continue to pay as a homeowner, with a portion due upon closing; nonrecurring fees are one-time fees associated with borrowing money and the services that were required to purchase the property.

    Recurring closing costs are placed in your escrow account, which you might view as a forced savings account for those upcoming home expenses you’ll be facing. They can vary, but the most common ones are property taxes (one to eight months’ worth, depending on when your home purchase coincided with the local tax billing cycle), homeowners insurance (the annual premium is typically due at closing, plus another two or three months’ worth of payments), and prepaid loan interest (for the number of days you’ll have the loan until its first payment is due). Also placed into escrow are costs for title insurance, which is considered a must because it protects you in case the seller doesn’t have full rights and warranties to the title of the property.

    Nonrecurring closing costs are fees paid to your lender and other professionals involved in the transaction. They include: any home inspection fees; any discount points you’re paying upfront to lower your interest rate; an origination fee, which is charged by the lender to process your loan; a document-prep fee, which covers the cost of preparing your loan file for processing; an appraisal fee, which covers the cost of a professional estimating the market value of the home; and a survey fee for verifying the home’s property lines. Also expect as nonrecurring costs: an underwriting fee for the cost of evaluating and verifying your loan application; a credit report fee for pulling your credit scores; title search and recording fees; and a wire-transfer fee for wiring funds from the lender to your escrow account.

  • How to prepare for closing costs

    The best time to study closing costs is when you’re shopping for a lender and can compare your desired loan amount with interest rates you’re offered (plus any discount points you might plan to pay upfront to lower those rates). Then use a closing-cost calculator to determine what your costs might be. The calculator will gauge your monthly mortgage payments, based on whether you’re financing the closing costs into your mortgage or whether you’ve decided to pay them upfront.

    Source: trulia.com