Category Archives: cost vs value

How Downsizing Can Free Up Your Cash

Downsizing is hardly a dirty word these days, especially as Baby Boomers begin to question the size of their home, downsizing3and more Millennials are finally making their way into the world. Home ownership is a good investment at any size, and if you’ve ever wanted to free up some cash for the rest of life’s joys (travel? new hobbies? investing?), downsizing can be a great way to rightsize your budget. Here are seven ways downsizing can foster a little more financial freedom:

 

  1. Utility costs. If your gas and electric bills have been climbing year over year, consider the pleasant surprise of heating and cooling 1,200 sq. ft. instead of 3,500. Controlling the climate in empty spare bedrooms is pointless when you don’t need the room. What’s more, you can count on fewer houseguests with less space, and this, in turn, can decrease utility costs.
  1. Maintenance costs. How big is that lawn? How many rooms need to be refreshed with a coat of paint? How many windows do you need to wash, and what about the size of that driveway that must be repaired and sealed?
  1. Insurance. Your insurance bill is based in large part on your appraisal, and if your new home is smaller, your insurance bill should shrink as well. (This can vary based on location and levels of coverage, of course, but you would be hard pressed to insure less for more!)
  1. Property taxes. Much like insurance, tax rates tend to be based on a percentage of assessed value. Here’s a few more dollars back into your wallet.
  1. Plumber vs Leaking FaucetRepairs. How many toilets do you need to have fixed? Appliances? Light fixtures to keep lit? The smaller home has fewer leaking faucets and a smaller roof to replace. Your overall spend on maintenance goes down when you have less home to maintain.

 

  1. Furniture. Downsizing is a perfect opportunity to sell excess furniture and find keep only those pieces well-loved or essential for your new smaller space.
  1. Hosting and entertaining. When you’ve got that sprawling home, your place is ground zero for out-of-town guests, relatives, and holiday parties. As your space shrinks, so does your annual hosting and entertaining budget. Besides, if you really want to throw a shin-dig, you can take some of that downsizing cash and pick a perfect venue.

 

Looking to downsize and redirect that extra cash? Get in touch: Barbara & Gregg, The Nicholas Team of Village Square Realtors. 973-509-2222 ext. 1126 

Can You Cut Costs & Be Safe with a Space Hwater?

As we type this it is a warmer winter day- although the sky is gray and it is a little damp feeling…today is the type of day your mother would tell you to put a sweater on because she is cold.  And that thought is what prompted today’s post- if someone in the house is cold, but not everyone – does it warrant a thermostat increase, a sweater or a space heater for certain rooms? 

The humble space heater gets a bad rap, but when used correctly it can actually represent a good option for taking the edge off the winter chill. download

 

Here are some tips about how to safely use a space heater and when it’s a good choice:

Are you heating a whole house when the family is concentrated in the living room? Turn down the central heat and use a modern space heater rather than heat the empty rooms.

  1. A space heater can be a wise choice when you live in an uninsulated or poorly insulated home.
  2. Avoid unvented combustion space heaters. Instead, look for electric space heaters, preferably with a fan to circulate the hot air.
  3. Never plug a space heater into an extension cord.
  4. Maintain three feet of clear space around the heater in all directions. Be aware of loose rugs, blankets, or other potentially flammable objects nearby. spaceheatersafety
  5. Unplug your space heater when no one is around to keep an eye on it.
  6. Do not use a space heater in a damp room (i.e. bathroom!) unless it is specifically designed for outdoor or bathroom use.
  7. Don’t hide the space heater electrical cord where it might get torn or degraded under foot. Run it where it is visible, but does not create a tripping hazard.
  8. If you’re shopping for a space heater, consider this handy Consumer Reports buying guide: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/space-heaters/buying-guide.htm

 

By the way: Heating and cooling a large home after the kids have moved out can be a waste of your retirement dollars. If you’re thinking it might be time to downsize (or rightsize!) your home, get in touch today:  we are never too busy for you or your referrals!   Barbara & Gregg 973-509-2222

 

 

 

What Does It Mean to Sell A House “AS IS “?

Sometimes people inherit a home they simply need to unload and other times they don’t want to make the effort to make repairs or tune up the home’s curb appeal. In today’s world, it can also be a financial concern to finish projects or catch up on some of those deferred maintenance items. sell-my-house-as-is For these home owners looking for a quick sale, they often think selling a home “as is” is the way to go. If you’re like most folks, you might think the “as is” sale means “take it or leave it” and “what you see is what you get.”  

But an “as is” sale isn’t necessarily a cakewalk. It doesn’t mean you’re completely exonerated from taking some responsibility for the home’s condition. While advertising a home “as is” lets buyers know they’re likely to have to do some work, it also broadcasts that the home is probably going to be a relatively good deal, provided they’re willing to take on repairs.

home-disclosureAs is” doesn’t relieve you from disclosing problems with the home.   What you know about, you must disclose by law. Failure to do so could get you into hot water. If you know about a problem but hope it slips by the buyer’s inspector, you’re at risk. The seller’s disclosure provided by most listing agents to their their sellers to fill out; is a great way to list any of the improvements you might have done on the home as well as a chance to give buyers an idea of how old the roof or the heating system might be… these are two questions almost every single buyer asks – they are concerned about the big ticket items needing to be replaced or repaired.

 

And that’s another thing: “As is” homes still go through the inspection process. While your “as is” sale may indicate your unwillingness to make repairs, it doesn’t mean the buyer won’t ask you for compensation based on condition issues. You may not come out of pocket, but it could come right off the top of your listing price, so keep this in mind. What’s more, once these conditions come to light you generally must disclose them to future prospective buyers if the current one bails-in other words, if one buyer walks after an inspection – you must now disclosure all known defects to other prospective buyers.  Keep in mind, safety and environmental issues or hazards are almost never – AS IS. Underground abandoned storage tanks, wood destroying pests, and lead paint are just a few of buyers concerns.

calculaterWith any luck, your “as is” buyer will be a cash buyer, but if not, prepare for the appraisal. Banks don’t want to loan money unless they deem the value of the home is acceptable. If the appraisal comes in low, your buyer may find themselves without the funds necessary to meet your price.

While selling “as is” may seem like a viable alternative to bringing a house up to its full market potential, recognize there are some trade-offs. Go in informed and you’ll find the process much easier to navigate.

Thinking-About-Selling-Your-HouseWhether you’re looking to sell “as is” or not, I’m happy to help you get the best price possible for your home. Let’s talk when you’re ready!

Here’s how to know if you’re ready to sell your home.

I love to sell homes. It’s a privilege and an honor to be a part of the process. I get great satisfaction from making my living helping people move on to the next phase of their life, whether it’s upsizing, downsizing, or simply relocating to a new neighborhood.

But there is one sort of home seller I can’t really help: The seller who’s not really ready to sell.

If you’re thinkingsell about selling your home, don’t enter into the process lightly. It’s a big deal. There’s some stress and there’s a great opportunity for joy. There’s a big investment at stake. This, along with a lot of other reasons large and small, is why you want to be 100% sure you’re ready to sell your home. If you think you’re ready to sell, but it turns out you’re not, you waste a lot of time and energy (and sometimes money).

So how do you know if you’re really ready to sell your home?

1. You’re fine with the process. You must have no problem with the idea of a stranger poking around your house, talking about renovating it, or treating it like a used car. If you’ve lived in your house a long time, it’s natural to have emotional attachments. So if the process of selling the house makes you feel protective or defensive, you may not be ready.

2. You are flexible on the right price. Motivated sellers understand selling a home involves negotiation and competitive market pricing. If you have a number “you must get” in order to sell, then you might want to think again. Also, if all of the agents who price your home come back too low for your standards, take a breather and ask yourself if it’s go time or not.

3. You know where you’re going next. Prepared sellers have plans, even if those plans aren’t 100% firm. They’re anticipating the move and they are probably even shopping for houses, if only casually at the moment. moving day If you can’t clearly answer the question, “Where would you like to live after you sell?” then you’re not quite there yet.

If you’re iffy on any of these, take a step back and consider how you feel. While some markets favor sellers more than others, a home can sell in any market for the right price. Don’t jump into something before you’re ready.

However, when you’re ready, we’d be happy to help. Give us a call when the time is right: Barbara & Gregg, The Nicholas Team of RE/MAX Village Square Realtors   realestate@thenicholasteam.com    973-509-2222

 

Adding an Independent Living Area to Your Home

suite2Years ago, it wasn’t so uncommon to have multiple generations living in the same home. Sometimes these were aging parents moving back in with their kids, and other times they were college students getting their finances in order after graduation. Many homeowners utilized extra space in their home to create independent apartments or separate living spaces. Though they go by many common names (in-law unit, granny flat, garden cottage, basement apartment), these types of spaces are known as ADUs, or Accessory Dwelling Units.

If you have extra space such as an above-garage loft, or extra land where you could build a freestanding structure, you might be interested in adding an ADU to your home. Even if you don’t have a family member in need of the space, they can be great for hosting out-of-town visitors or earning extra income from short or long-term rental agreements.

While communities have different rules regarding ADUs and their permitted uses, there’s a high likelihood that you can find a pathway to adding one to your property if the idea appeals to you. According to AccessoryDwellings.org:

Flexibility in housing makes sense for environmental, lifestyle, and financial reasons. Though many people buy houses and live in them for decades, their actual needs change over time. But the way that houses are currently built doesn’t reflect those changes, especially the way households may spend decades with just 1 or 2 members. Many American houses are too big for 1- or 2-person households, which is too bad, because size is probably the biggest single factor in the environmental impact of a house.

If you have a reasonably sized house, and an even more reasonably sized ADU, you’ve likely got a pretty green combination with some social benefits as well. You could have your best friend, your mother, or your grown kid, live with you. This kind of flexibility and informal support could really help as the nation’s population ages. Most people want to stay in their homes as they age, but finances and design can be problematic. An ADU could help aging people meet their needs without moving.”

(Source: https://accessorydwellings.org/what-adus-are-and-why-people-build-them/)

If you’re interested in exploring ADUs, be sure to check out AccessoryDwellings.org for an extensive library of resources on the topic.

If you’re looking for a home with an existing ADU, or want to find one with land or enough space to create an ADU, I’d be happy to help you find one ASAP. Just reach out to on of us today:  Barbara & Gregg, The Nicholas Team of RE/MAX Village Square  realestate@thenicholasteam.com  973-509-2222

Undertanding Your Home’s Equity

home equityThe dream of home ownership is about more than just a stable place to live, exempt from the whims and decisions of landlords. For many, home ownership is a piece of the wealth building picture, essential to a future retirement or financial independence. The idea is pretty basic: You purchase a home and pay it down while hoping the value of the home increases over time. Generally speaking, this is what happens over a long enough period of time. (Remember, real estate is meant to be a long term investment.) As you go, you build what’s called “equity.”

 Equity is defined as “the market value of a homeowner’s unencumbered interest in their real property—that is, the sum of the home’s fair market value and the outstanding balance of all liens on the property.” If you were to sell your home and pay off the balance of the mortgage (and any other debts, such as home equity credit lines or liens), the cash you would have leftover is your equity. Your “equity position” changes over time due to a variety of factors.

 As you’ve probably noted, the biggest variable in your home equity position is the home’s true market value. A variety of factors can influence your home’s value, including: Market demand for homes in your area, local amenities, schools, your home’s particular features, upgrades you’ve made, condition issues, and quite a bit more. So how can you tell your equity position?

 First, you need to know what you owe on your home. This is as simple as checking home equity 2your mortgage statement to see what your principle balance is on the loan. This number can differ slightly from your actual payoff amount due to closing dates, interest, and other issues determined during the sale, but generally speaking your principle balance is the number you need to know. If you have any other debt on the home, you need to add the value of this debt to the principle balance. This might include credit lines, liens, or second mortgages, for example.

 Next, you need to know the value of your home. While there are sites such as Zillow and Trulia out there which will tell you what your home’s value is, these “automated valuation models” are generally not very accurate when it comes to your home’s value, as they exclude many crucial factors. Often they come in quite a bit higher. They can, however, give you an idea of general changing trends in your market over time.  Learn more about market values and prices here.

Hiring an appraiser is one way to determine your home’s value from a more bank-like perspective. While an actual sale may be above the appraisal, this thorough, conservative option is a good way to go. The downside? You may have to pay up to $500 for the appraisal.

 Of course, We’re happy to help you get a handle on your home’s current value with a comparative market analysis (CMA). Just get in touch today: THE NICHOLAS TEAM, Barbara & Gregg, realestate@thenicholasteam.com  Office: 973-509-2222 ext. 1126

Remodeling Without Return: The Home Office

Many home remodeling projects do wonders for the value of the home. Certain upgrades and renovations pay dividends when it comes time to sell, and you often can recoup the money you’ve invested in the upgrade.

There are exceptions, however. And one stands head and shoulders above the rest (or should I say below) when it comes to return on investment:

The home office.

Surprised? It may seem like a home office would be a boon for your home at sale time, especially considering the number of people who telecommute and work online. But the fact of the matter is, a home office seldom recoups more than 45% of the money invested in the remodel.

Why? A couple of main factors.

First, even people who work at home often don’t work at home. When was the last time you walked into a coffee shop and didn’t see a laptop open? Many people still find space outside the home to work.

Second, a full-on home office renovation often takes up a bedroom which new owners might want to be able to convert back into a bedroom. If you’ve spent the time and money having built-in furniture added, media wiring, and other “office like” details installed, it represents a cost to restore or lost-usage for the new owners.

Of course, if you need a home office and want to have the home office of your dreams, it might be worth it to you to put the return on investment aside. But don’t undertake the project thinking it will pay off down the line.

Curious which home remodeling projects pay off at the sale? Let’s talk about what you’re considering: THE NICHOLAS TEAM, Barbara P. Hughes and Gregg Nicholas  RE?MAX Village Square REALTORS  realestate@thenicholasteam.com