Swimming Pools: Cool Feature To Most

At last! To the joy of every child (and most adults) you know, your Lafayette home has a swimming Imagepool! Whether you just bought the property or have recently installed a pool yourself, this is a feature that’s not only a pleasure to look at, but also a true centerpiece — a magnet for socializing and relaxing throughout the hot summer months.

Also true: that pool carries a few drawbacks, as well. You should consider both when it comes to writing an offer or selling a home with a pool

Pro 1: Boost Your Property’s Value

In today’s super-competitive housing market, it’s good to stand out from the crowd. Whether you add your property to the Lafayette home listings next week or plan to do so in the future, a pool will boost its overall value. My summer buyers’ ears always perk up when I mention the next home listing we will visit has a pool.

Pro 2: You (and Future Buyers) Will Enjoy Your Pool

We’ve all had the blissful summer afternoon experience – floating around, colorful beverage of choice in hand.  The truth is, you will enjoy your pool: friends will come over, you’ll host great BBQs, you’ll look forward to unwinding after difficult workdays. It’s hard to put a price on any of that.  Buyers influenced by the summer heat will have the same vision of entertaining and relaxing with friends and family. And the extra attention drawn by Lafayette home listings that mention a pool is unquestionable.

Con: Not all buyers want a pool. While some may avoid them because of small children, dogs, and generalized safety concerns, others may shy away from extra maintenance issues, both real and imagined. Monthly pool service, higher water bills, higher electricity and gas bills, potential for repair of pool mechanical equipment, pool re-surfacing (which can hit the $10k neighborhood!), pool leaks, replacing diving boards, pool covers…if they have had a pool before, or are merely responding to second-hand tales, the unknowns can seem daunting.  The brave do-it-yourselfers who choose to monitor a pool on their own will be taking on the task of checking chlorine levels, watching algae, measuring chemicals and above all else keeping that pool blue!

Nevertheless, the truth is that pros and cons accompany all Lafayette home listings. Every household is unique –the balance between challenges and rewards is what makes it so. If you’re having that “colorful-beverage-in-hand” vision and relish the idea of making it a reality, I’m always happy to show you the home listings that best fit your specifications.  You can even ask me what to do if the water turns green!

Energy Spikes Turn Up the Heat for Solar

 

When my Walnut Creek clients set out to buy a home, one of the elements that has been steadily moving up their list of important considerations is energy: how much will a property cost to heat and cool?

Big, drafty houses are being edged out, replaced by green, eco-consciously-designed homes.  Listings able to boast prominent cost-saving features like solar heating can provide a huge advantage to a seller.

For prospects looking to buy a home in Walnut Creek, the tradeoff between the higher price tag they can expect from a solar-equipped home and the anticipated long-term energy savings is tilting toward the latter.

What are the actual savings in dollars and cents? That’s the tricky part. Because every region is different (in Contra Costa County, for instance, the number of clear, sunny days makes the calculation different from averages elsewhere in the country), the amount of solar energy that a typical homeowner can harvest varies widely.

Solar’s renewed prominence has a lot to do with the recent spikes in energy costs. Anyone who set out to buy a home within the past year has certainly seen the writing on the wall…energy prices may be dipping momentarily, but the future shows every sign that nasty raises lie ahead, sooner or later. To the extent that a solar installation serves to offset those fears, it can be thought of as a long-term energy insurance policy. It’s a subtle ‘peace of mind’ factor that can cinch the decision to buy a home.

 Energy-saving features are only one of the many considerations that make a home purchase decision more than simply an emotional one.  If you are preparing to buy a NorCal home – whether or not you prioritize those standout green features – give me a call. Now is a good time!

 

 

Swimming Pools: Cool Feature To Most

At last! To the joy of every child (and most adults) you know, your Lafayette home has a swimming Imagepool! Whether you just bought the property or have recently installed a pool yourself, this is a feature that’s not only a pleasure to look at, but also a true centerpiece — a magnet for socializing and relaxing throughout the hot summer months. 

 

Also true: that pool carries a few drawbacks, as well. You should consider both when it comes to writing an offer or selling a home with a pool

 

Pro 1: Boost Your Property’s Value

In today’s super-competitive housing market, it’s good to stand out from the crowd. Whether you add your property to the Lafayette home listings next week or plan to do so in the future, a pool will boost its overall value. My summer buyers’ ears always perk up when I mention the next home listing we will visit has a pool. 

 

Pro 2: You (and Future Buyers) Will Enjoy Your Pool

We’ve all had the blissful summer afternoon experience – floating around, colorful beverage of choice in hand.  The truth is, you will enjoy your pool: friends will come over, you’ll host great BBQs, you’ll look forward to unwinding after difficult workdays. It’s hard to put a price on any of that.  Buyers influenced by the summer heat will have the same vision of entertaining and relaxing with friends and family. And the extra attention drawn by Lafayette home listings that mention a pool is unquestionable. 

 

Con: Not all buyers want a pool. While some may avoid them because of small children, dogs, and generalized safety concerns, others may shy away from extra maintenance issues, both real and imagined. Monthly pool service, higher water bills, higher electricity and gas bills, potential for repair of pool mechanical equipment, pool re-surfacing (which can hit the $10k neighborhood!), pool leaks, replacing diving boards, pool covers…if they have had a pool before, or are merely responding to second-hand tales, the unknowns can seem daunting.  The brave do-it-yourselfers who choose to monitor a pool on their own will be taking on the task of checking chlorine levels, watching algae, measuring chemicals and above all else keeping that pool blue! 

 

Nevertheless, the truth is that pros and cons accompany all Lafayette home listings. Every household is unique –the balance between challenges and rewards is what makes it so. If you’re having that “colorful-beverage-in-hand” vision and relish the idea of making it a reality, I’m always happy to show you the home listings that best fit your specifications.  You can even ask me what to do if the water turns green!

5-Year Plan Yields Safety in the Numbers

Even some veteran renters are looking at today’s housing market and wondering whether it’s time to start a Walnut Creek or Concord home search. With prices and mortgage rates as low as they are while rents continue to move higher, the numbers point to home ownership as an ever more obvious choice.

 

But that’s just the quick, back-of the envelope budget equation: monthly rent vs. mortgage payment less tax savings. If this June finds you at the start of your own Contra Costa County home search, many financial advisors recommend that you also consider another rule of thumb – you should plan to stay in your new home for at least five years.

 

Transaction costs are only one consideration that makes this a good idea. Here are some of the others why it’s prudent to think about the 5-year planning horizon as you conduct your home search:

 

Financial Safety – Homeowners need to have at least some extra liquidity: funds set aside as an emergency resource in the event of unforeseen loss of income. Affording a home and its maintenance costs should never jeopardize the financial health of your household.  Liz Weston of MSN.com recently asked several experts for their calculations regarding home repairs. Their answer? Plan to spend at least an additional 1% of a homes’ value on maintenance each year.

 

Resale Value – The significant overhang in distressed homes will likely continue to exert at least some pressure on home values for the near future. If you need to sell your home two or three years down the road, you may come up short when all the moving, transaction, and other expenses are considered. It may be at least that long before the familiar growth in residential real estate value resumes. 

 

Sanity – Studies have shown that moving is one of the top stresses in life (up there with death, divorce and illness). Personally, I think a well-planned move is a little less dire, but it is true that a happy homeowner is a settled homeowner.  When you’re starting your home search, consider the changes coming to your family in the coming years: New baby?  Child to college?  If you know a move is eminent in the near future, consider finding a home with long-term rental value.  Buy a home that can grow with you and you’ll find yourself much more financially secure…and sane!

 

The current low prices and 30-year fixed mortgage interest rates aren’t likely to last forever, and that old adage remains true: buy low, sell high.  If you’re looking for a reason to start your home search in Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Pleasant Hill or Concord  now, call me for a serious look at this June’s market.  

Survey Nails Outdoor Living Trends– Local Homebuyers Look for Space Young or Old: Outdoor Space Sells!

 



Those of us who focus professionally on our local real estate trends can vouch for it: outdoor living sells! And depending on what life phase their family is in, homebuyers choices tend to follow similar lines.

The 2012 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey confirms again how important those backyard grills and dining areas are when it comes to what most people have at the top of their minds when they think about buying homes. 

When potential homebuyers come to me, some of the features highest on their “must have” list virtually always have something to do with outdoor space.   Young families buying homes, for example, are usually pleased to find a grassy area off the kitchen where their toddlers can toddle.  High-profile clients often seek out impressive spaces with great foot-traffic flow for indoor/outdoor entertaining.  Empty-nesters buying homes often come to me seeking the opposite — less yard with easy- or no-maintenance landscaping.   The point is, no matter what the age or demographic of the buyer, in todays market, outdoor space sells.

So — what is hot for those buying homes in 2012? The survey I cited earlier is one conducted every year by theAmerican Society of Landscape Architects. This year they came up with some clear winners. According to the survey, top popularity goes to BBQ grill space (97.4%), followed by low-maintenance landscapes (96.6 percent),fireplaces/fire pits (95.8 percent), and dining areas (95.7 percent).  

Not so obvious winners were decorative water elements such as ornamental pools, splash pools, waterfalls, grottos, water runnels or bubblers, and pergolas. Not as popular as they once were? turf lawns at 50.9%, gazebos at 49.1%, and hammocks at 27.4%.  Go figure!

If you are considering an outdoor remodel before selling your own home, be sure to design with local buyers in mind. Contact me any time for a stop-in — Ill be happy to go over the features most clients look for when buying homes today.

You’ve Got 5 Seconds To Sell Your Home

Your Walnut Creek or Lafayette Home Deserves a Hero Shot!
Contra Costa County Realty Listings: Curb Appeal Will “Git ‘er Done!”

As a whole, we Americans are an interesting group. We are smart, educated, involved in our community…and, not unlike the rest of America, our attention span about 5 or 10 seconds. It follows that when you put your home on the market and your agent places it among the Norcal realty listings, your home has about that long to grab potential buyers’ attention.

Time and time again, studies show that realty listings with superior curb appeal get markedly more attention than those with run-of-the-mill photos. First impressions count. It’s how advertising agencies can charge hundreds of thousands of dollars to get just the right angle with just the right lighting on their perfectly-designed product packages. In ad-speak, that photo with the perfect angle and lighting is called the ‘hero shot’.

Your home can have its own ‘hero shot’. Its landscaping, color, the condition of its driveway, walkway, garage and backyard, along with the overall neatness combine to make a true ‘hero shot’ that will stand out from the other Contra Costa County realty listings. That same look (over and above the one in the photographer’s viewfinder) can also be counted upon to draw the attention of potential buyers who happen to be just driving by.

It’s not surprising, either, that curb appeal also affects the value and salability of realty listings. A study by the University of Washington found that “mature trees in a well-landscaped yard can increase the value of a house by 7% – 19%.” On the other hand, overgrown trees that obscure the view of the home can delay its sale.

The curb appeal of homes almost defines a neighborhood’s appeal, and vice versa. Any home that is well kept improves the image of the rest of the houses on any street. In the same way, a home with a neglected look can bring down the general appeal of the entire neighborhood. You already know what it’s like to drive by a street lined with houses that are all beautifully maintained. Now that’s the kind of place where you would definitely want to live!

If you are giving serious consideration to selling your Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Concord, San Ramon, Pleasant Hill or Danville home, call me anytime for a “curb appeal” consultation. Usually, just a few easy steps are all it takes to improve that vital first impression!