Harrisonburg Housing Matters

Pricing Your House, Hitting The Sweet Spot

This is part four of a five part series on pricing your home and pitfalls to avoid.

shutterstock_168228989-604x270The best pricing strategy is using an agent.  Particularly one who uses comparable sales or comps.  These should be more than just your  neighbor’s house.  Preferably they should be homes in the same area, with similar properties.  Things that will affect the value are style, age, size and location among other factors.

Once they have gathered the comps, they will compose a CMA, Comparative Market Analysis.  Don’t confuse this with an appraisal.  An appraisal is based on hard data, not market trends or projections.  An appraisal is a tool used by lenders to determine how much they can safely lend on a given property.

After analyzing the data, they will work with you to determine a reasonable price.  The number they give you may not be what you want to hear, but can often help you avoid a long listing process, that may not sell.


Pricing Your House, Hitting The Sweet Spot

This is part three of a five part series on pricing your home and pitfalls to avoid.
A popular real estate website features an automated valuation model that is often inaccurate, yet is often believed to be a guide for the value of a particular home.  Some people look at real estate assessments as a gauge of what a house may be worth.  Both of these are dangerous sources of actual value.  Unlike your potential buyers the automated valuations have not seen your house, and have no idea of the resale value of your home.  In Zillowreal estate, we have a saying “A house is worth what a ready, and able buyer is willing to pay.”  Keep in mind that even though a buyer is willing to pay a given amount for a property, the lender will ultimately require an appraisal to substantiate the money they are willing to loan.  For example, if a buyer contracts on a property for $200,000, and will be using an FHA loan which will finance 96.5% of the purchase price which in this situation is $193,000, but the appraisal comes in at $185,000 due to outdated features or deferred maintenance, the lender will only finance 96.5% of the appraised value.
So, don’t rely on automated valuations rather the advice of an agent familiar with homes in your area.

Pricing Your House, Hitting The Sweet Spot

This is part five of a five part series on pricing your home and pitfalls to avoid.

Knowing when the price is too high

Once your home is on the market you will start accumulating another set of data based on sold-sign-clipart-2buyer and agent feedback.

If you have no showings, you are probably well overpriced.  If you have lots of showings and no offers, your house has been marketed well, but is still overpriced.

With few exceptions, it always comes down to price.  What price is a buyer willing to overlook a particular location, dated features or other aspect of your house?  Answer that question, and you will have hit the sweet spot.

Pricing Your House, Hitting The Sweet Spot

This is part two of a five part series on pricing your home and pitfalls to avoid.

The Pitfall of Over-Pricing

Most sellers think it’s okay to start a little high, because who knows you might get it.  Or Dated house“We want to leave some room to negotiate.”  While you can always lower your inflated price, you will sacrifice a lot in the long run. The most obvious potential pitfall is that your house may stay on the market longer, or worse you may find “the one” and be unable to buy it, or buy it and be stuck with two mortgages.
Continually lowering your price runs the risk of turning buyers off, and wondering what’s wrong with the house.

In the past year 38% of homes sold in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County sold in less than 30 days.  However of the active listings, only 20% have been on the market less than 30 days.  So 20% of the listings make up 38% of the market.

Pricing Your House, Hitting the Sweet Spot

This is part one of a five part series on pricing your house and the pitfalls to avoid.

Farmers marketWe always talk about location as being a leading factor when selling your house.  Sellers need to keep in mind who their potential  buyers are going to be.  They need to ask themselves a few questions related to location when discussing price.  How appealing is the neighborhood?  What amenities or schools are nearby?  Is this a walkable neighborhood?  All of these location questions are important in determining who a probable buyer will be.

Homeowners often price with their heartstrings rather than relying on hard data, and the location is an immovable object that can only be overcome with price.

6 Materials to Never Use in Your Kitchen

By Stacy Freed

Here’s what to avoid, what to choose for your kitchen remodel.

About to remodel that old kitchen? Unless you’re cool with treating the hardest working room in your house like a museum exhibit, resist the temptation to buy the cheapest or shiniest materials available and go for durable options that can stand up to regular abuse. Trust us: Although it may be tough to leave that raised, tempered glass bar top (ooo!) in the showroom, repairing its first (and second, and third) chip will get old. Very fast.

Picking the right materials is easy if you do your homework. “There are amazing products out there,” says Jeffrey Holloway, a certified kitchen designer and owner of Holloway Home Improvement Center in Marmora, N.J. “You’re looking at price point, sanitation, how easy it is to clean the product, its durability and maintenance.”

Keeping those all-important features in mind, here are some materials to avoid during your next kitchen project.

  1. Plastic Laminate Counters

First off, there’s plenty of great laminate out there. It’s the entry-level, plastic laminate to stay away from, Holloway says. These are the ones that look thin and dull, as opposed to richly textured. They scratch easily, and if the product underneath the laminate gets wet (say, from steam rising from your dishwasher), it can delaminate the countertop, which means the edges will chip pretty easily. Also, one misplaced hot pan on the plastic will result in a melted disaster zone you’ll remember forever.

But if you’re watching your budget, plastic laminate at the next level up is a good choice. “It’s got good color consistency, and there are a lot of retro and trendy patterns available,” says Dani Polidor, an interior designer and owner of Suite Artistry, and a REALTOR® in Pittsford, N.Y.

New laminate counter technology offers scratch resistance, textured surfaces, and patterns that mimic real wood and stone. “There are even self-repairing nano-technologies embedded in some laminates,” says Polidor, “and others have antimicrobial properties.”

For an average 10-by-20-foot kitchen, the next-level-up laminate will cost about $3,000, Polidor estimates, and those super cool technology options add another $200 to $300. For durability and longer life, the investment is well worth it.

  1. Inexpensive Sheet Vinyl Flooring

You spend all day stepping on your floor, so quality really matters. At the lower price point, about $2.50 per square foot, the cheapest sheet vinyl floorings tend to be thin. “If your vinyl floor is glued down and the underlayment gets delaminated, say, by water seeping from your dishwasher or refrigerator, you’ll get bubbles in your floor,” Holloway warns.

Compare that with luxury vinyl tile (LVT) that costs about $5 per square foot. It’s still usually glued down, but it’s a little more forgiving than its less classy cousin — and it can come in tiles, which you can grout so they mimic the look of higher-end stone, Polidor says.

  1. Some Laminated Cabinet Fronts

Holloway suggests staying away from lower-end thermofoil cabinet fronts. What is thermofoil? Contrary to its name, there’s no foil or any metal-type material in it. It’s actually vinyl, which is heated and molded around fiberboard. If the cabinet is white and the price is waaaaay affordable compared with other cabinets, think twice. Cheaper thermofoil has three critical issues:

  1. It’s not heat resistant. If near a dishwasher or oven, it could delaminate.
  2. It can warp and yellow with age, revealing its cheapness.
  3. The “wood” underneath the thermofoil is also poor quality and won’t hold up over time.

But just like with plastic laminate, science has made great strides, and now there are a host of new cabinets that are remaking thermofoil’s reputation. “New European laminates have become all the rage for the clean-lined, flat-panel look,” Polidor says. “It’s budget-friendly and can look like wood or high gloss. It’s not your grandmother’s thermofoil.”

And it doesn’t come at grandma’s prices, either. But still, the new thermofoil is much more affordable than custom cabinets, and still satisfies with its rich look and durability.

  1. High-Gloss Lacquered Cabinets

A nice shine can be eye-catching. And spendy. About 20 layers of lacquer go on a cabinet for the high-gloss look. Ding it or scratch it, and it’s costly to repair.

“It’s a multi-step process for repairing them,” Polidor says. A better option for the same look is high-end thermofoil (see? We said there were good thermofoil options!). Thermofoil has a finish that’s fused to the cabinet and baked on for a more durable exterior. And it’s way more budget-friendly, too. High-gloss can be in the thousands of dollars, whereas thermofoil can be in the hundreds or dollars.

  1. Flat Paint

Flat paint has that sophisticated, velvety, rich look we all love. But keep it in the bedroom. It’s not KF (kitchen-friendly). Flat paint, also known as matte paint, has durability issues. It’s unstable. Try to wipe off one splatter of chili sauce, and you’ve ruined the paint job. About the only place to use flat paint in your kitchen is on the ceiling (unless, of course, you have a reputation for blender or pressure-cooker accidents that reach to the ceiling, then we suggest takeout).

Instead, you want to use high-gloss or semi-gloss paint on your walls. They can stand up to multiple scrubbings before breaking down.

  1. Trendy Backsplash Materials

Tastes change. So avoid super trendy colors and materials when it comes to permanently adhering something to your kitchen walls. Backsplashes come in glass, metal, iridescent, and high-relief decor tiles, which are undoubtedly fun and tempting. They can also be expensive, ranging from $5 to $220 a square foot, and difficult to install. And after all that work and expense, if (er … when) your tastes change in a few years, it’ll be mighty tough to justify a re-do.

Stick with a classic subway tile at $2 to $3 square foot. Or, even more budget friendly, choose an integrated backsplash that matches your countertop material. “If you want pops of color, do it with accessories,” Polidor suggests.

Stacy Freed writes about homes, design, remodeling, and construction for online and print national trade and consumer publications, including “Better Homes & Gardens.” Previously, she was a senior editor at “Remodeling” magazine. Follow Stacey onTwitter.



September Market Snapshot

Market Snapshot

Year over year August slipped compared to 2013.

The homes that sold in August, closed at a slightly higher median sales price.

Homes that closed in August spent more days on the market than in 2013, but fewer than in previous years.

In spite of the apparent strength of the market, we are lagging behind sales totals from 2013.

There are more homes for buyers to look at this year as compared to a year ago.

Interest rates continue to be extremely favorable. We expect to see interest rates increase over the coming months. They are continue below historic averages, and offer an opportunity for today’s buyer to make their housing more affordable over the long term of ownership.

To discuss this or any other real estate issue, please contact Jan or Jay.

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