Archive for September, 2014

Keeping your home sales ready! Home Maintenance Schedules

September 19, 2014
Proper home maintenance can prevent major repairs and can help your home to always be ready to go on the market!

Proper home maintenance can prevent major repairs and can help your home to always be ready to go on the market!

One thing that many homeowners do not consider is the aspect of keeping your home in sales ready condition. As you live in your home, you rarely think about selling until the time comes where you need to sell. However, it is important to keep your home in sales ready condition so should you need to sell quickly, your home will already be ready. There are several reasons you may need to sell quickly such as a job relocation, job loss or other financial concerns. In these instances, you probably will not have the money or time to do the minor repairs to get your home ready for sale.

Some of the things that can assist you in being ready to sell at a moments notice is to keep on top of weekly and monthly maintenance issues such as changing air filters, HVAC inspections and minor cosmetic items such as dings in the walls. Do you need a maintenance schedule? That depends on the individual, but it’s not a bad idea to have some plans in place to ensure these issues are addressed in a timely manner.

You can find several maintenance schedules pre-printed throughout the Internet, but I will warn that non are all-encompassing and you may have to find several schedules to create your own schedule that is specific to your home. If you live in a townhouse or a condo, then obviously the exterior maintenance will be addressed by the homeowner’s association, not you. Even then, you will want to follow-up with the property manager to ensure everything is being done on schedule and correctly. For instance, when my townhouse building was painted recently, the painters used the wrong tape and when I removed it after they were finished, it removed some of the paint from the backdoor frame. The job wasn’t done properly, so I had to make sure it was.

What are some typical maintenance issues you can expect to perform on a regular basis? Here is a list of several items, but again, is not all-inclusive. Do your own homework for your specific property!

Monthly items

  • Inspect and possibly change air filters. Depending on the type of filters you use, you may have to change them monthly or quarterly. There are many different types of filters and I would encourage you to investigate the pros and cons with each of them. Personally, I do not use the higher end ones that take out the smallest particles because this forces your HVAC unit to work harder to circulate the air through these filters and can cause your unit to age and deteriorate quicker.
  • Clean kitchen sink disposal. Ice cubes is one of the easiest ways to clean the disposal as the process of breaking up the cubes will help dislodge any lingering food particles. I have seen where some have used vinegar ice cubes which will freshen the smell of the disposal. Personally, I don’t use the vinegar cubes, but I will drop a part of a lemon in the unit to freshen it up.
  • Clean the range hood filter. This can be a messy job and one that can lead to safety issues. Grease buildup can potentially cause fires, so you want to make sure it is cleaned.
  • Inspect fire extinguisher. Again, a safety concern because you don’t want to learn after a fire that your extinguisher is not working properly. You want to make sure it is reachable in a timely manner and that the pressure gauge shows enough pressure.

Quarterly items

  • Test smoke/carbon monoxide detectors. Another safety concern as you want to make sure they are properly working. I typically plan to replace the batteries when I change out the air filters as I have the ladder and can do both easily.
  • Test garage door auto-reverse feature. This is a safety concern, especially if you have small children in and around the house. It can be easily done by simply placing a 2 by 4 piece of wood at the base of the garage door and the door should automatically reopen once it touches the wood.
  • Run water and flush out toilets in unused spaces. If you have a guest room and bathroom that isn’t used often, you will want to run water through the toilet to make sure there is not buildup that could cause clogging or worse, water leaks.
  • Check water softeners, add salt when needed. If you don’t have a water softener, you do need to worry about this, but it is an easy task. You shouldn’t need to add salt every month.

Biannual items

  • Test your water heater’s pressure release valve. This will prevent mineral and corrosion buildup and potential leaks. It can also aid your units efficiency.
  • Give your house a deep cleaning. Every six months, spend a Saturday to have a whole house cleaning to include the windows, dusting every nook and cranny. This will help keep dirt particles out of the air and may help your health.
  • Vacuum your refrigerator coils. This can help your refrigerator operate more efficiently and can save you up to $100 per year in electricity bills. Your refrigerator uses approximately 15% of your home’s electricity and if the coils get dirty, it will take more electricity to operate the unit.

Of course there are many more items and I would encourage you to review other items. I will not go into all of them in this post but remember there are also annual items that need to be addressed such as cleaning gutters, checking exterior drainage, roof inspection and much more. I have found this blog post to be very helpful and plan to utilize this list for the future maintenance issues for my home. Please visit here to learn more about these additional items.

Remember, you never know when you will need to sell your home quickly and these items will help your home to always be prepared to go on the market. Additionally, these items can ensure your home operates as intended and reduce the major repairs that can be avoided with regular maintenance.


Today’s Housing Market…In short order!

September 5, 2014
Banked Owned homes have increased in Wake County from last year!

Banked Owned homes have increased in Wake County from last year!

Today’s housing market is improving, but challenging at the same time. There are more positive metrics than negative ones for the period ending July 2014, but those that are alarming can be imposing to overcome. The positives include the days on market and the odds of selling your home, but the challenges come with the number of foreclosures in the market, both on the market and those homes in pre-foreclosure action.

The good news, despite showings being down a bit over the summer, sales increased over July of 2013. Closed sales were up in July by 2% over the same period a year ago and up 3% year-to-date, while again being up slightly from the previous month (2%). These are positive trends, though it shows a slow improvement in the housing market, not a full-scale rebound.

The total inventory was up 2% with new construction accounting for a 20% increase and re-sale dropping by 2%. For July, new listings entered into the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) rose by 5% with 38% having experienced at least one price decrease during the listing period. Additionally, 50% of all listings have been on the market for at least 58 days. With all of that said, it is still an improvement for our market. Though the percentage of listings with a price reduction was up slightly in July, the average days of market of 58 days is well below the 130 average days on market from July 2011.

Stacey P. Afindsen of the Triangle Area Residential Reality (TARR) reports that he believes “the majority of price dropping is coming from upper end price brackets or those sellers with residences that are not in move in condition.” He goes on to say that he believes the lure of new or updated homes are luring buyers out of their preferred geographical locations, which is adding a new layer of competition for many sellers.

The average sales price for the overall market and re-sale market rose by 6%, which is a positive that the re-sale market is keeping pace with new construction. The supply of housing demand is still squarely in favor of the seller with the majority of price points having less than a 6 month supply with some at less than a month’s supply. The sectors that are above the 6 month supply tend to be the higher-end homes which is always the case. The more expensive the home, the fewer buyers that are available and the longer it takes to sell it.

What are the odds of selling your home? Obviously there are many differing factors that may impact your specific home (price, location, condition, etc.), but as a general rule in Wake county, it stands at 36% for July. This number is down slightly from the previous months and down from 37% in July 2013.  Despite the minor drop in this number, the odds are still strong that you will sell your home.

Now for the negative…foreclosures. I don’t always bring up foreclosures since in theory, a foreclosure does not affect the value of your home, but in reality, it can have an impact if a large percentage of homes in your neighborhood are foreclosures or distressed homes. RealtyTrac, a company who specializes in tracking foreclosure throughout the nation, reports that Wake County has a larger percentage of foreclosures than the entire state of North Carolina and the nation as a whole. Furthermore, it reports that the pre-foreclosure notices for Wake had increased over the previous months and July had the highest number over the last twelve months.

Where bank-owned properties are down for the month, the number of pre-foreclosures is up. How will this impact the market over the next six months? It is anyone’s guess, but it largely depends on how much of this inventory is released by the banks for sale. If a large number are released into the market, it can negatively impact the housing values. However, if they release them slowly, the impact will be lessened..which is what I expect to happen.

In closing, the housing market is good, but not as good as it could be. It is improving, but not as fast as it did last year. For my community, the new construction has brought greater traffic to the community so our few re-sales have sold quickly…much more so than in the past several years. Ultimately, real estate is local and that means that your community may be better or worse than the county as a whole…it requires a more in-depth analysis to make the best determination as to whether it is a good or a bad time to sell your home.

For specific information about your community, please contact me and I will be happy to assist you.