Blog :: 08-2020

Welcome to our blog! Here you will find information regarding market, local and Lakes Region information and events! Along with DIY projects and more! Come back often to see what's new and leave us a comment if there's something you'd like to see.

Home Sells in a Mere 12 Hours After Remote Staging

Remotely staging properties is a growing trend in the pandemic. And the service may stick around even after the health crisis is over, considering the success some stagers are having.

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey

Home stager Francesca Mahoney was able to transform a space without ever stepping foot inside. Francesca along with Creekhill Designs LLC in Holly Springs, NC, did a video staging consultation with sellers in April, and then the home went under contract in just 12 hours. The homeowner emailed pictures of the home to Mahoney, and they met over a FaceTime video call for two hours to stage the 3,000-square-foot property, inside and out.

In the family room, Mahoney honed in on the fireplace in the back corner. She had the sellers move the sofa and pare down the furniture and accessories, which drew eyes to the fireplace first. She also urged the sellers to remove distracting decorative items and accessories, limiting kitchen countertops to only three items.

On curb appeal, she guided them in showcasing the front porch, such as with the addition of rocking chairs, hanging baskets of flowers, a fresh coat of paint on the front door, and a new doormat. “Today’s buyers are very discerning due to HGTV and Pinterest,” Mahoney says. “Getting compelling and beautiful listing photos is always critical, but even more so in our current reality.”

Mahoney plans to continue offering remote staging consultations even after the pandemic. “I have been pleasantly surprised at how effective they are,” Mahoney says.

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Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine

 

Inventory on the Way: New Homes Post Big Gains

Housing is giving a boost to the economic recovery and housing inventories. Single-family and multifamily construction jumped nearly 23% last month, the Commerce Department reports. This marks the highest production rate since February.

Broken out, single-family construction jumped in July by 8.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 940,000. The multifamily sector, which encompasses apartment buildings and condos, rose 58.4% to a 556,000 pace, the Commerce Department reports.

“The market is being buoyed by historically low interest rates, a focus on the importance of housing, and a shift to the suburbs as more buyers are seeking homes in suburban communities, exurbs, and more affordable low-density markets,” says Robert Dietz, the NAHB’s chief economist.

New construction for single-family and multifamily units now nearly matches pre-pandemic activity from the first quarter. “Such growth is needed to steadily relieve the housing shortage,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of REALTORS®. “This kind of growth is also a major contributor to local economic recovery.”

However, Yun cautions that the increase in multifamily units may lead to an oversupply of apartment buildings, notably in city centers where there has been some shift in consumer preference for single-family homes in the suburbs during the pandemic.

On new-home construction, buyers may face higher prices. Builders caution that an increase in lumber prices—by more than 110% since mid-April--is adding about $14,000 to the cost of building each new single-family home.

Nevertheless, high buyer demand is still increasing the construction of single-family units, a sign Yun says is “welcome.” Housing inventory nationwide for homes for sale is down by 19% from a year ago. “There is intense buyer competition in the market as a result,” he notes. In particular, the Western region of the U.S. is seeing competition, as new-home construction is not rising as much and the inventory shortage is most pronounced.

Combined single-family and multifamily starts saw the largest jump last month in the Northeast, increasing 9.3% annually, followed by a 5.9% increase in the Midwest and a 5.2% uptick in the South. The West saw the lowest increase but still rose 1.4% annually.

Despite the recent increases in new-home construction, Yun predicts inventory shortages will remain problematic for the remainder of the year but sees an opportunity for a more balanced market with housing supply in 2021.

Housing permits, a gauge for future construction, rose 18.8% to a 1.50 million unit annual rate in July, the Commerce Department reports. Single-family permits jumped 17% while multifamily permits increased 22.5%. Housing permits were highest in the South, up 5.4%, and the Midwest was up 3.2% annually, but permits were down 6.2% in the Northeast and by 1.6% in the West.

Source: National Association of REALTORS® and National Association of Home Builders

 

Looking for Something Fun To Do This Weekend?

29th Annual NH Water Ski Championships

Presented by: Abenaki Water Ski Club
Location: Back Bay
Wolfeboro, NH 03894
Telephone: 603-520-5413
Web: Abenaki Water Ski Club

  

Spectators can easily access viewing of show from along Bridge Falls Path. Stand or bring a chair! Benches, picnic tables and public restrooms available. Unlimited, free parking in Glendon Street Parking Lot.

Slalom  2C,  Trick 2C,  Jump  2C

Both rounds of each event: Slalom then tricks then jump. Boys-girls-women-men 30-32-34-36. Same order for all 3 events.

 

6 Home Trends Buyers Love

Open floor plans, smart homes, and outdoor areas are among the features in top demand for home shoppers this year. Home improvement website Fixr’s recent study, Single-Family Home Construction and Remodeling Trends 2020, highlights the renovation and construction choices of buyers and homeowners in 2020. The results reveal some key areas of interest in home design.

By Yuka Kato

1. Open floor plan and two-story homes represent the most popular layouts.

While there has been a trend toward open floor plans for the past few years, 2020 is seeing an overwhelming consensus: 90% of experts selected an open floor plan as the most popular single-family layout. And it’s likely to remain so in the future.

As quarantine periods and social distancing guidelines force families to spend more time together at home, large common areas command a premium value. Family rooms, dens, and open kitchen areas are acquiring new importance.

Another large percentage—77%—are favoring two-story houses in 2020. Compare this to the 29% who preferred single-story homes, or the 2% who favor split-level residences.

2. Smart homes rank first among design choices.

A growing trend in home design is the smart home, in which AI-based automation systems are seamlessly incorporated into electric circuits, heating/cooling systems, and entrances. Buyers this year are likely to appreciate homes in which smart thermostats, security cameras, and smart outlets are already installed.

3. Most homeowners make accessibility modifications to their home for future personal use.

Homeowners looking to age in place are exploring renovations that allow them to do so more easily. Homes with accessibility features likely will be more attractive to senior buyers as they look toward a future of independence, even as their physical abilities may decrease. This future need is a motivating factor behind such renovations (54%) than current personal use (11%) or current use for an aging relative (22%).

Buyers also are evaluating potential homes with accessibility modifications in mind. For instance, a front yard with space for a ramp will be more appealing than one with front steps leading directly to the street.

4. Energy efficient homes with tight building envelopes are among the top designs for green construction.

As Americans deal with furloughs, layoffs, and economic uncertainty, many are paying more attention to their energy bills. Energy efficient homes are suddenly much more attractive than conventional properties, and buyers who may not have ever considered green construction are making energy efficiency a priority.

Sixty-two percent of design experts say energy efficient homes are a top priority in 2020, according to Fixr’s study, far outweighing other options like cool roofs or solar panels.

Experts say a tight building envelope—more than exterior or interior insulation—is the most common way to prevent energy seepage. A tight building envelope minimizes air transfer and can be an important feature of an energy efficient and environmentally friendly home. A home with both effective insulation and a tight building envelope will provide the best value to a buyer who desires lower energy bills and minimal heating requirements.

5. Family space and outdoor kitchens are trending in 2020.

Outdoor playsets, firepits, and recreation-oriented yards are seeing an uptick in popularity, especially among married couples with kids. 

This is a 2020 trend that has only been cemented by quarantine rules and social distancing regulations. As playgrounds, parks, and outdoor amusements became unavailable, families were forced to think in terms of what outdoor activities they could offer their children on their own property.

But outdoor living spaces aren’t limited to playgrounds, decks, and patios. Fixr’s research shows that outdoor kitchens were nearly twice as popular as a traditional patio. The outdoor kitchen is another trend that has been steadily increasing over the past few years, and it will be interesting to see how it continues to evolve in 2020 and 2021. New recommendations for socially distant entertaining, which may be better suited for meals and meetings with friends outside, may increase the number of homeowners wanting both outdoor kitchens and seating spaces.

6. Contemporary and modern will be the most common styles used in modular construction.

Modular and prefab construction continues to be widely used, and Millennials are most likely to build modular homes. As part of the Fixr survey, consumers were asked which style of prefab building would be most popular in 2020. A large majority (62%) indicated that a contemporary, modern style would be most commonly selected by home buyers. The runner-up choice was ranch-style—but it was only selected by 22% of respondents.

This year has been in many ways an uncharted year, full of unexpected surprises. But even as priorities have changed, many home buying and renovation trends have remained consistent. 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Yuka Kato is an industry analyst at fixr.com, a leading home improvement website dedicated to providing the most accurate cost guides and advice. She writes about interesting trends and insights in the construction and remodeling industry.

How to Move While Social Distancing

Are you getting ready to move to a new home or just looking for ways to help keep your family healthy as cold and flu season approaches? Find tips to help you manage your goals this summer in the article below.

   

By Christopher Kelly of RE/MAX

Summer is one of the most popular times to move, but how do you gather your friends, family, or hired movers together safely while practicing safe social distancing? Whoever you recruit to help move your belongings from point a to point b, here are some tips to help you and your family stay safe.

Provide Essentials 

Make sure you have soap, water, hand sanitizer, masks, gloves, and shoe covers available during your move. These items, when used correctly, can help prevent the spread of germs.

Set Some Ground Rules

Whether the people helping you move are there as volunteers or earning a living, you should take charge and outline basic precautions you want everyone to use. Ask your helpers to wear a mask, wash or sanitize their hands often, and stay 6 feet apart whenever possible.

Use New Boxes

Experts estimate that cardboard can carry COVID-19 for 24 hours, so it may be best to invest in new boxes instead of opting for used boxes for your next move. You can purchase moving boxes from most moving or storage companies.

Sanitize Before and After the Move

Sanitize your furniture, boxes, and household touch points before your moving help arrives to help create a safe moving environment. You should also sanitize these items after unloading them at your new house.

 

 

How to Attract Birds to Your Yard (Hint: Don't Just Wing It)

With a little effort, you can build a swanky bird paradise even your fussiest feathered friend will love.

Source: Zillow Feed

While you’re spending time at home, why not find ways to bring the natural world to you? Backyard bird watching is an enjoyable way to experience your local ecosystem up close.

It takes more than a bird feeder to attract a colorful variety of songbirds to your backyard. Think of your feeder as a drive-thru fast-food joint in an unsafe neighborhood: The birds will stop to eat, but they won’t stick around for very long. They want to get home to their comfy nest in an exclusive deciduous broadleaf community, where they can get fancier food anyway.

If you want to see more than bird backsides at a millet buffet, you need to give them all the luxuries they’ve come to expect.

Create a habitat

Birds prefer townhomes to single-level ranch houses. They need perches for preening, thickets for hiding, branches for bickering, wide-open spaces for showing off, and, eventually, a tree cavity where they can nest and paint their nursery a nice robin’s-egg blue.

Give them privacy by planting walls of foliage. Native shrubs, small trees, and even tall grasses and perennials offer the versatility they need to make a quick escape.

Create a ceiling of tall deciduous and evergreen trees at the back of your property, and plant small understory trees between them and your house. Selectively prune lower limbs of shrubs and small trees so you can easily see perching birds from your window. They’ll appreciate the perch, and you’ll appreciate the camera angle.

Grow your own birdseed

Money doesn’t grow on trees, but, conveniently enough, birdseed does! It also grows on shrubs, perennials, grasses, annuals and anything else that qualifies as a plant.

To grow the seed that your local bird species prefer, however, choose the native plants that they’d otherwise find in the wild. Native plants vary by region, but some good choices include coneflower, blanketflower, beautyberry, asters and sunflowers.

Attract hummingbirds with nectar-filled trumpet honeysuckle and cardinal flowers. Native oaks, hollies, dogwoods, sumac, cedars and spruces provide nuts and berries, as well as shelter.

Stage your birdhouse

Research the birds that you’d like to attract, and give them the house that suits their needs. For example, bluebirds like their nesting boxes out in the open, while chickadees like thick leaf cover.

Whichever bird you try to attract, keep that nesting box away from human noise and activity so you’ll never have to witness the heartbreaking sight of abandoned eggs in an empty nest. Also, keep your cat indoors, if possible. Otherwise, you may find birds not only in your backyard but on your front doorstep too.

If birds haven’t moved in yet, be patient. Sometimes all your birdhouse needs is a little lichen, moss, or wear and tear to make it more appealing.

Turn a birdbath into a Jacuzzi

If your birdbath is emptier than a swimming pool in January, there could be a reason. The ideal birdbath doesn’t look like you’d expect — it’s placed directly on the ground in a shady space with nearby shrubs.

Add some gravel to the basin so birds can find their footing, and even add a few rocks on the outside to serve as steps. Include a small pump or fountain, if possible. This turns your birdbath into a miniature water feature, and the circulation keeps the water clean and helps birds cool off on hot days.

Leave the leaf litter

If you’re looking for an excuse to get out of gardening chores, you’ll be pleased to know that you’re absolutely allowed to keep that accumulation of dead leaves and small branches on your garden’s floor. It gives birds everything they could ever ask for — bugs and other small animals for snacking, materials for nesting, and even a hiding place from predators.

If things begin to look untidy, just break down the larger branches by hand or with a pair of anvil pruners, and spread everything out evenly. Everyone loves free mulch.

Invest in your feeder

Rather than spending money on multiple feeders that you have to replace year after year, invest in a feeder that’s made with quality materials, has a tightly fitting lid, and drains easily. Better yet, purchase a sturdy pole and squirrel baffle.

Even the best feeder will need maintenance, so give it a thorough cleaning every year, and break up any clogged holes so moisture doesn’t accumulate. Trust me on this — cleaning out a maggot-infested feeder is something nobody should have to experience.

 

 

5 Ways to Make Your Home Office Work (Even if It's Your Kitchen)

Working from home? Get tips to make your workspace more functional, fun and productive. Even if you set up shop on your bed. WFH is the new normal for many Americans. Here’s how to get your workspace functioning well — and looking great.

    

From Zillow.com

With social distancing mandates in effect across much of the country, many people working in industries deemed “non-essential” are doing their work from home. And while the constant stream of COVID-19 news, in addition to caretaking or homeschooling responsibilities, can make it hard to stay focused on work, modifying your space can help. An organized and visually appealing work area can help you feel more productive — and more relaxed.

Here are five tips for elevating your home workspace.

Commit to your space

For those of us who don’t have a home office — which is a lot of people — work-from-home routines can easily get derailed. Designating an area for work, even if that place is the bill-paying area in your kitchen, is a way to stay in your routine and get yourself in the work mindset. Whatever spot you choose, just make sure it feels like a dedicated and functional work area. That means adequate lighting, a comfortable chair — the right height for typing without strain — a seamless tech setup that allows you to take and make video calls without having to fiddle with plugs or wires, and an overall lack of clutter on your desk and the surrounding area.

Declutter

This seems obvious, but let’s level with ourselves. When do we really get around to cleaning our desks? Well, now’s the time. Toss anything that needs to be thrown out, pair like items with like, contain those stray pens in one nice decorative cup, and make sure you have all your workday essentials close at hand and non-essential items moved elsewhere.

Curate an inspiration board

Now that you’ve set the stage, it’s time to look ahead. And that wall you’re looking at beyond your laptop should inspire you. This is as good a time as ever to put together an inspiration board and fill it with what makes you happy, from images of your favorite people and pets, to pics of your goals (like that fabulous vacation you are going to take once we’ve all gotten through this tough time!). And yes, you can put your to-dos and important reminders up there too — but keep the focus on the positive and uplifting, and keep it right in your line of sight.

Do a background check

If video calls are part of your new day-to-day, think about what your colleagues are seeing behind you — like that pile of laundry or those mostly empty wine glasses. Keep things clean and uncluttered. And if you have the space, show off your style. Some good background options might be your favorite art piece, interesting souvenirs or a not-overly-stuffed bookcase. Lastly, remember lighting: Your space should be adequately lit, or it’ll look like you’re dialing in from a submarine.

Set the mood

Never got your dream office? This is your moment. We bet scented candles aren’t allowed in your regular workspace, but you get to make the rules at home. Aromatherapy diffusers are another option if you’re worried about curious kids or pets. And now your playlist can softly waft overhead rather than through earphones. Similarly, set out some healthy snacks to avoid refrigerator trips, and nosh away. It’s OK for your home office to feel like your home, and especially now, it’s important to take time to indulge yourself with some creature comforts that feed your soul and make you feel calm and inspired.

 

What Are The Five Biggest Money Mistakes Buyers Make?

Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases you'll ever make, so there's no question that you should make an effort to spend your money wisely. Especially when you're unfamiliar with the process, it's easy to make mistakes that can have a big impact on your wallet. With that in mind, here are some of the biggest money mistakes buyers make.

 

By Tara Mastroeni 

Forgetting to shop around for a lender:

Buyers need to remember to shop around when it comes to obtaining a mortgage. You might meet a lender who, on paper, offers the most competitive rate, but don't forget to take into account other factors as well. Some banks may have special programs for first-time home buyers, or they may put money toward closing costs, or toward your downpayment. Your goal should be to find the loan that makes the most sense for you, overall.

Not working with a lender before shopping for a home:

Some buyers fail to get their finances and credit score in order, work with a lender and get pre-approved before they start their home search. Ideally, buyers should make certain they are vetted with a lender and ready to go prior to their home search. This ensures that when they see a home they absolutely love, they can move on it quickly. There's nothing worse than seeing the hurt and disappointment in a buyer who has fallen in love with a home, but is not financially ready to make an offer.

Buying a home above your budget:

Don’t look for a home that's at the very top end of your monthly budget. You need to consider what you'll do if your income goes down or some other unexpected expenses suddenly come up. Also, when buying a home, you need to factor in added costs such as higher heating and cooling, property taxes, maintenance costs. You'll also want to leave room in the budget for other expenditures such as saving for things like retirement, college funds for your children, or vacations.

Skipping the home inspection:

A lot of buyers who are penny wise and pound foolish. They think they can save a few hundred dollars by skipping inspections. While this may be true, skipping inspections can lead to them spending thousands of dollars in necessary repairs down the road.

Opening new lines of credit during underwriting:

One of the biggest financial mistakes a buyer can make is opening new lines of credit during underwriting, Whether they purchase a car or open new credit cards to purchase furniture are huge mistakes because the underwriter has to include the new debt with their debt-to-income ratio.

Unfortunately, people believe if they have an approval or conditional approval from their lender it’s okay to open the new lines of credit, but what they fail to realize is that the underwriter has to pull a new credit report on the day of closing to ensure they haven’t obtained any new debt. Of course, if they have, then the lender has to recalculate the new debt-to-income ratio and may not be able to issue a new approval.

Contributor for Forbes Magazine: Tara Mastroeni