Crazy fashion trends do more than strain closet space. They can sometimes send the message that trendiness is more important than building wealth. Here’s to save the money you spend on new clothes for something more rewarding – a down payment on your own home.

Reduce your wardrobe. Consign, donate or give away clothes you haven’t worn in a year or two. Keep anything that goes with at least three other items, like a jacket that works with a dress, skirt and blouse, or jeans.

Take better care. Fast fashion doesn’t last, so when you wash clothes, turn pants, skirts and blouses inside out first. Don’t use wire hangers. Fold knits instead of hanging them. Your clothes will look better and last longer.

Buy less. If you buy something for $100, look at how long the season is to wear it (four months) and how many times you’ll actually wear it (17). Take the cost ($100) and divide by the number of wearings. That’s a tax of $5.88 every time you wear it.

Bank the money. If you spend $200 a month on clothes, try a year without buying anything new and let that $200 multiply in a savings account, 401K, or CD. That’s $2,400 that could grow with compound interest and investment growth. In three years, you could have over $10,000 or more and that’s a good start toward owning a home.

How do you know if you have your home insured for the right amount? Your lender may require insurance to cover the loan amount, but what you owe and actual replacement costs can be vastly different.

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), replacement costs are the amount it would take to replace or rebuild your home or repair damages with similar materials and quality, without deducting for depreciation. Actual cash value is the amount it would take to repair or replace damage to your home after depreciation. Standard plans require policy limits of at least 80% of replacement cost.

Replacement costs should include loss of your possessions.  Create a room-by-room inventory of your possessions, including photographs and/or video, cost of goods, and how long you’ve had them. Give documentation to your insurer and keep copies in a safe place or on the cloud.

The NAIC advises that you compare cost-to-repair and cost-to-replace prices for your area with your insurer. There are different packages of home insurance that protect against specified damage-causing events, such as fire, windstorm, and theft. They also contain coverage for property damage, living expenses during repairs, personal liability and medical payments.

Review your policy annually. If you’ve made improvements to the home, or purchased more goods, you should inform the insurer. You may also get a premium discount for long-time loyalty, combining car and home insurance, raising your deductible, and other initiatives.

If you find yourself saying any of the following to me as your agent, you may be hurting your chances of selling your home quickly and for the most money possible.

“I’m not making any repairs.” According to the 2018 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report from the National Association of REALTORS®, 47 percent of buyers under the age of 37 purchased new homes to avoid renovations and problems. If many buyers don’t have the will, skill or time to make repairs, you’re eliminating a number of buyers who would otherwise love your home.

“My home has to be worth more than that.” You may believe your home should be worth more than you paid for it and provide you with enough equity to move. Your listing agent will supply you with tools to understand current market value. The comparable market analysis shows what homes have recently sold for and what other sellers are asking for similar homes as yours, as well as price and sales trends.

“Let’s price it higher and see what happens.” Pricing above comparable homes is a real risk. You’ll outprice buyers who would want your home. Buyers who can afford your home will quickly find that your home doesn’t compare to others.

In any of these cases, you’ll be looking at a price adjustment, and have lost valuable marketing time. Realistically, your home is only worth what the most qualified buyer is willing to pay for your home.

Known for its cutting edge yet relaxed style, the West Coast sets the pace when it comes to housing trends and environmentalism.

The Mid-century Home

The first ranch-style home was built in 1932 in San Diego, CA by builder Cliff May, whose low, horizontal architectural design took unique advantage of the climate. Now known as the mid-century home, the ranch-style home is typically a one-level L-shaped box with all or most load-bearing walls on the outside, making the homes easy to decorate and remodel.

Spanish Colonial Revival Homes

For design inspiration, the West Coast utilizes Spanish and Asian influences, as well as indigenous native American Eskimo and Indian cultures. Of these the best known is the Spanish Colonial Revival.

Offering a mix of Spanish Baroque, Mexican Churrigueresque and Moorish Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival homes arose from centuries-old presidios and missions from Spain’s conquest of Mexico. The style features plaster and stucco walls, clay tiles, terracotta or cast concrete ornamentation, and decorative iron trim and is popular in the West, Southwest and Florida.

Environmentalism

Environmentalism trends such as green-building with sustainable bamboo and hemp and xeriscaping with drought-friendly native plants are not only socially responsible, but mandatory in many West Coast communities.

Pacific colors

From the warm waters of the South Pacific to Alaskan icebergs, the blues and greens and whites of the ocean are popular color choices, as well as the terra cottas and yellows of the desert and the deep greens and browns of the forest.

Market conditions are like a weather report; they show you what to expect so you can make plans, pick your listing price and decide on your marketing strategy.

One thing is certain: Markets are either going up or they’re going down, so as conditions change, you need to know the long and short-term trends. If the market is heating up, you can ask a little more for your home. If it’s cooling off, you may need to lower your price to attract buyers.

So, how are buyers behaving? Are they making multiple offers and paying over list price? Or are they sitting on the sidelines, looking but not making offers? The answers tell you if you’re in a buyer’s or seller’s market.

A seller’s market is characterized by confident buyers, rising prices, short “days on market”, supply levels of less than six months on hand, and offers close to full price, at full price or above list price offers.

A buyer’s market is characterized by fearful buyers, longer “days on market,” inventory supply levels of six months or more, and low offers. To get buyers to come in from out of the storm, sellers must offer incentives such as seller-paid closing costs or throw in a home warranty.

To find out where your market stands, go over the Comparable Market Analysis (CMA) that I can provide you. Using this knowledge, you can price your home to sell quickly, and for the most money possible.

As you browse listings on BerkshireHathawayHS.com or  realtor.com, you may find homes you like that appear to be unavailable, due to some kind of contingency. If you find the perfect home, but it’s labeled Cntg/KO or Cntg/NoKO  should you pursue it or forget it?

The reality is that contracts fall through sometimes, however you might want to keep it as a backup option instead of your first choice. If you have a back-up contract, you can buy the home should it come back on the market. I can send you auto emails that will let you know when the status of the properties you are interested in change.

Coming Soon:

This means that a property is scheduled to be listed in the MLS and on the market on date that is coming soon – typically within 2 weeks.

Active:

This property is currently active in the MLS and on the market. They are accepting offers at this time.

Contengies/ Kick Out:

Active kick out means the seller has accepted a contingent offer, such as the buyer has a home to sell before they can close on the seller’s home. The seller can reserve the right to accept a better offer and “kick out” the previous buyer. They must give the first buyer 48 to 72 hours to either remove the contingency and move forward with the purchase, or back out of the contract.

Contingencies/No Kick Out or normal Contract:

Nearly all offers-to-buy have contingencies. Typical contingencies include provisions that the home must meet the appraised value by the mortgage lender’s third-party appraiser, or it must pass a professional third-party home inspection to the buyer’s satisfaction. The buyer may make the contract contingent upon the lender funding the purchase.

 

Contract:

This means the property is fully under contract, with no more contingencies to fulfill and will be closing soon.

Sold:

This means the property is officially off of the market and a buyer has become the new owner.

Temp Off:

This means the house has been temporarily taken off of the market. In most cases the seller has decided to make some repair or renovation that will help the house to sell more quickly when it goes back on the market, but there can be other reasons for a temp off.

Withdrawn:

This means that the property has been withdrawn from the market. The sellers plans may have changed, they may have changed their minds about selling, or a host of other scenarios could lead to a withdrawn property. This may or may not be back on the market.

Expired:

This means the brokerage agreement on this property has expired. They may be coming back on the market soon though!

To learn more, contact me!

Kitchens decorated with mostly white hues never seem to go out of style but there’s a fine line between white that’s serene and beautiful and white that’s stark and clinical. If you love the color white, here are some tips to make your kitchen modern and sophisticated:

  1. Include a little grey. Choosing a light grey to accompany white in your kitchen will still give your white color some dimension. It’s like a shadow that helps define the white.
  2. Go monochromatic. Monochromatic doesn’t mean using all the same hue. If you look at paint colors, tiles, countertops and appliances, there are hundreds of whites. Each white has an undertone, typically blue or yellow. Choose the shade you like best and make sure all the colors you use are in the same family.
  3. Break it up. White can bring the drama if you have an element like stainless or black matte appliances instead of white. Or choose a backsplash in a color that you can repeat in a fabric like curtains or placemats.
  4. Bring the outdoors in. A great view of side or backyard landscaping can bring a lot of color indoors. And what looks lovelier with the color white than nature’s woods and greens?
  5. Pop your white colors with art. Your only “color” in a white hued kitchen might be a contemporary painting with splashes of red, orange or blue. Accessorize with dishes or enameled cookware to complement other color accents.

To make your home more attractive to homebuyers, you could plant fresh flowers or you could put plants in containers and take your garden with you when you sell your home!

Containers can accent your home’s personality – like washtubs for a farmhouse look or colorful fired pottery for a bohemian vibe. They’re the perfect solution for styling a porch, entry or walkway.

Follow these easy tips to make sure your potted gardens thrive:

Pick the right container. A confined space means substituting what the plants would get if they were in the ground. You need to have enough space for plants to grow and proper drainage holes so your plants don’t become sodden.

Use fresh potting soil. Good potting soil doesn’t clump and allows roots to spread. It contains nutrients to give plants a good head start.

Group plants according to sun and water requirements. A mix of cascading plants, tall leafy plants and various flowers make a beautiful composition. You can even mix in edibles like vegetables and herbs, but make sure all the plants in one container require the same amount of sun and water.

Water frequently. Container gardens dry out quickly, especially smaller pots. Check that the container is draining properly and you don’t have to worry about overwatering. Water daily in warm weather.

Bigger is better. Larger containers hold more soil, allow plants to grow larger, offer more room for variety and require less frequent watering.

Home prices have been rising for over seven years, and mortgage interest rates for five years. Should you wait to buy a home? The numbers say no.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, the median existing home price is more than $250,000, the highest it’s ever been. If you wait to buy a home, you’re losing the opportunity to build equity, or ownership, in a home of your own.

If you’re worried that homes are priced too high and you’re afraid of losing money, consider this: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, prices for housing were 50.88% higher in 2018 versus 2000, for an average increase of 2.31 percent a year. The average inflation rate for the same period was 2.07 percent. Home ownership beat inflation by 0.24 percent.

Mortgage interest rates hit all time highs in October 1981, when a benchmark 30-year fixed rate was 18.45 percent (with 2.3 points paid by the borrower), according to Freddie Mac. The lowest took place November 2012 at 3.35 percent with 0.7 points. At about 4.5 percent for a conforming fixed-rate for those with good credit, mortgage interest rates are tantalizingly low.

The best time to buy a home is when you want to, not when you think the market timing is best. Unless you have a crystal ball, you don’t know if prices and interest rates will recede, plateau and or rise. Look at homebuying for the long term, and you’ll be glad you didn’t wait.

As always consult your financial professional for interest rate information and advice.