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5 Tax Benefits of Owning a Second Home

As a RSPS certified realtor I can help you find your perfect family get away. Realtor.com explains how owning that home can even help get you more tax benefits.


 5 Tax Benefits of Owning a Second Home

STEPHEN WEBSTER/Getty Images

There are tons of benefits that come with owning a second home: novelty and adventure, a place to escape and unwind, an opportunity to create memories that last a lifetime, a valuable tool to make vacation-craving friends like you a whole lot (for better or for worse).

But there’s another benefit that’s often overlooked: the tax breaks.

You already know that owning a home usually offers some tax deductions. But what if you own two? Or three? What if you’re a regular Donald Trump (back in his real estate, meat magnate heyday, of course)?

Since we know you won’t mind a little extra cash to spend while soaking in your surroundings during your next getaway, we thought we’d tell you how to reap the fruits of your second-home purchase.

1. Mortgage interest—yes, again

When it comes to owning a second home, the interest on your mortgage is deductible. The same rules that come with writing off mortgage interest for your first home apply to your second.

In fact, you can write off as much as 100% of the interest you pay on up to $1 million of debt, which includes total debt taken on to pay for both homes, as well as money spent on improving the properties. (That’s not up to $1 million for each property—just up to $1 million in total.)

2. Home improvements

Is your second home a fixer-upper? If you want to spend the off-season making improvements to your hideaway, you can deduct the interest on a home equity loan or line of credit.

But there are a couple of exceptions.

For starters, there will be a limit on the amount you can deduct if the home equity loan on your main or second home is more than $50,000 if filing single or $100,000 if married or filing jointly.

Second, the amount you can deduct has a limit if the mortgage is more than the fair market value of the home, says Gil Charney, director of The Tax Institute at H&R Block.

For example, let’s say a taxpayer has a mortgage of $220,000 and takes out a home equity loan of $65,000. The property’s fair market value is $275,000. Since the difference between the fair market value and the mortgage is $55,000, then $55,000 of the home equity loan can be deducted, not the full $65,000.

3. Property taxes

You can also deduct your second home’s property taxes, which are based on the assessed value of the home. That’s good news. Even better news? Unlike the mortgage interest tax deduction, there’s no dollar limit on the amount of real estate taxes that can be deducted on any number of homes owned by the taxpayer.

But beware: Taxpayers who can afford two homes are likely to land in a higher tax bracket—which means slimmer pickings for tax savings. For example, in 2016, a married couple whose gross income exceeds $311,300 would have limits on the types of itemized deductions they could take.

4. Renting out your home

If you rent out your second home for 14 days or less over the course of a year, that rental income is tax-free—and there’s no limit to what you can charge per day or week. Score!

But if you’re hoping to put your secondary digs on Airbnb or another rental site for more than 14 days during the year, be prepared to do some heavy math come tax time.

You’ll want to figure out the number of days you rent your home and divide that by the total number of days your home was used—whether it was you or a renter staying there. (The total number of days that the home was vacant doesn’t fall into this equation.)

For instance, let’s say you rented out your vacation home for 30 days within a year, and vacationed in your home for 90 days.

We’ll divide 30 (the days you rented it out) by 120 (the total number of days the home was used). The result: 25% of your rental-related expenses—which could range from utilities to the cost of a property manager—can be deducted. Now, if your home is losing value, that same percentage (in this example, 25%) of depreciation costs can also be deducted.

Here’s the caveat, Charney explains: Depreciation costs can be deducted only if there is rental income remaining after taking into account other deductions, such as mortgage interest, property taxes, and direct expenses tied to renting your home—like agent fees or advertising.

5. When it’s time to sell

Maybe you bought a far-off hideaway that you’re lucky to visit a couple of times a year. Or perhaps your vacation home is just a quick drive away, and you spend every possible moment there.

If it’s the latter—and you don’t already know which of your homes is your primary residence and which is the second home—now’s the time to figure it out. Distinguishing between the two can have big tax implications when it comes time to sell.

That’s because a capital gain of up to $250,000 (or $500,000 for taxpayers who are married/joint filers) on the sale of the principal residence may be excluded from taxable income.

Your principal—or primary—residence is the home you used most during the five years prior to the sale. But other factors—such as your job’s location, voter registration address, and banking location—could also come into play. Among other requirements, you must own and use that principal residence for at least two of the five years before the home is sold.

We know—that’s a lot of heavy stuff to take in. But you knew your second home would pay off in more ways than one, right? Now, hurry up and file your tax return—so you can escape to your happy place and forget about burdensome things. Like taxes.

The Land Title Summit County Market Analysis

Screen shot 2016-01-24 at 5.45.18 PM December 2015 Year End Market Analysis

Please note that Land Title data comes from actual recorded transactions at the County Clerk and Recorder’s Office for that particular month. The information is not directly related to MLS data. The data is an unofficial tabulation of Summit County Records that are believed to be reasonably accurate. If you choose to utilize this marketing information in any publications or websites, please make sure you are quoting Land Title as your source. You are welcome to utilize this link within your own websites.

December 2015 Highlights:

  • Market Analysis by Area for December: The last month of the year turned out to be a busy one with 276 transactions and $141,435,873 monetary volume. Average transaction price for all 18 reported areas: $512,449: Average residential price:$525,692: Average residential PPSF $372.
  • Market Analysis by Area YTD 2015 (12 months):  Final year Monetary volume was $1,372,793,984 with 2537 transactions.-Average transaction price: $543,881, average residential price: $546,678 and average PPSF: $348.
  • Market Snapshot for Years 2015 vs 2014:  Final 2015 values held strong and are as follows: Average Indicators for $: Single Family +9%, Multi- Family +12% and Vacant Land +17%. Median Indicators for $: Single Family +7%, Multi- Family +19% and Vacant Land +8%.
  • Market Analysis % Change Complete Full Year 2015 Data: Monetary volume ($141,435,873) in December was up +57% compared to December 2014. Number of transactions (276) were up 48% in December 2015 compared to December 2014. Full year 2015 Summit County real estate is up 30% in monetary volume and up 18% with number of transactions compared to full year 2014.
  • Residential Market Sales by Price Point: Residential volume in December had 230 transactions with $120,909,250 gross volume. There were 16 properties that sold for $1M and above in December.  The most active price points were again in the $200K-$300K range this month. There were 71 Single family, 159 Multi-family and 19 Vacant land transactions in December.  Full Year 2015, there were 678 Single family, 1422 Multi-family and 156 Vacant land residential transactions.
  • Full Year 2015 Average Price History: Average residential pricing continues to increase for 2015- Single Family: $855,925, Multi- Family:$399,232 and Vacant Land was $372,794, all up the past 4 years.
  • Historical Cost Breakdown for Full Year 2015: There have been 2100 residential transactions YTD and $1,148,024,568 volume with 198 properties selling for a $1M and over-compared to 2014, there were 1731 transactions and $858,667,681 gross volume, 126 properties at $1M and over and in 2013, there were 1563 transactions with $769,965,955 gross volume, 122 properties at $1M and over.
  • Top Lender Graph: There were 604 loans in December, 65% of the loans were related to sales, there were 131 REFI’s and 294 loans were timeshare related. 35% of the real estate closings were cash transactions. Full year 2015, the average for cash closings ended at 34%. The list of lenders and number of transactions for all the 5684 loans are listed in a link below.
  • Market Highlights: Please see page 10 of the Market Analysis-Higher priced sale in December (Shock Hill). There were no bank sales again in December.
  • Foreclosures: Foreclosure actions ended 2015 way down with only 63 on for the year, there were only 3 Foreclosure actions in December compared to 12 in December 2014.
  • Land Title Purchaser Highlights (Page 14): There were 20 higher end sales in December, similar to November’s 21 – you can see the details on this report. Full year 2015, our buyers for real estate transactions were the Front Range demographic at 40% of our market, 29% are local ( side note: which in part are  “retires” coming to Summit County) and 30% are out of state buyers, with 1% International. 
  • Land Title New Development Summary: This (page 15) shows all the new construction each month with 27 in December, 9 Town Centre Condos closed in December, the report also includes the Deed Restricted new construction which isn’t included on the other Residential reports.

Click here for the full Land Title Report.

6 Ways to Supersize Your Small Kitchen for the Holidays

There comes a time in your life when eventually you have to host your family or friends for the holidays. Realtor.com explains some useful ways to make your small kitchen seem a lot larger. 


 

6 Ways to Supersize Your Small Kitchen for the Holidays

By: Deborah Kearns

With Thanksgiving around the corner, odds are you’ll soon be spending plenty of time in your kitchen. (Maybe even way more then you want!) Adding to the holiday stress levels: if your culinary workspace is tight, turning out meals for a crowd may be a real challenge, especially with more helpers (aka family members) around. Don’t panic! You still have time for some kitchen-organizing hacks that can bring some order to the chaos. Plus, you can get inspiration for how to maximize your small space for next year.

1. Plan where everything will go

Before you head to Williams-Sonoma and start swooning over gravy boats shaped like roasted turkeys, take stock of what you already own and plan out how you’ll organize everything, says Susie Kurkowski, owner of Items of Interest, a home decor boutique in Brooklyn, NY.

You may have to do a holiday-specific reorg—as usual, the items you’ll use most (such as dishes, cups, and mixing bowls) should be within arm’s reach, but you’ll also need to get out your heirloom casserole dishes and other items for serving. After the big meal, those special-occasion dishes can go back into storage where they’ll be safe but won’t get in the way of your daily routine.

You’ll also want to limit the number of small appliances (just stick them in a closet, if there’s nowhere else) on your countertops, to free up prep space. And again, when the festivities are over, you may want to rethink what you put back out. The Keurig you use daily? Yes, that can remain. The dusty waffle maker you got as a wedding present and haven’t used since 2009? Say adios!

2. Pimp out your cabinets with custom inserts

Whether you inherited an antique kitchen with equally outdated shelving or you’re starting from scratch, it’s smart to buy custom inserts to organize each nook and cranny, Kurkowski says. You’ll be able to put away more things—without putting them out of reach. She recommends Rev-A-Shelf’s products, which include pullout inserts, Lazy Susan spinners, tray dividers, and door storage.

“Sometimes store-bought cabinets come with weak shelving and inserts that don’t last, so it’s best to buy those items separately,” Kurkowski recommends. “Position like items such as dishes, bowls, and cups close together to make them easy to access, and use the inserts to store all of your small appliances, spices, and other necessities to keep them out of sight and off your counters.”

3. Invest in new appliances

Switching out appliances is one of the easiest ways to bring style, increased efficiency, and a higher resale value to your petite kitchen, Kurkowski says. Although stainless steel has been the preferred choice for the past decade, white appliances are coming into vogue. Certain sizes are considered the standard, but you can opt for smaller appliances to gain more storage inches in your cabinets. Just pay attention to the height, width, and depth. Most modern appliances are deeper than what you probably have now, and you don’t want new appliances to stick out past your countertops.

4. Go easy on color

If you want to add a touch of style, just know that small kitchens are not the place to let loose with dramatic hues. Choose a more subtle color, says Allison Petty, an interior designer with Homepolish. Just like with other small spaces, keep darker colors at the bottom of your kitchen and use lighter shades higher up. More and more homeowners are opting to paint lower cabinets a darker shade, like gray, and the uppers with a creamy white for contrast, Kurkowski says. The effect is dramatic: It brings the eye up and makes your kitchen appear more spacious.

That said, be careful with the backsplash, which is already in shadow. A white subway or hexagon tile goes flawlessly with most kitchen designs instead of dark granite or mosaic tile, Kurkowski says. Adding a backsplash is an inexpensive and dramatic way to add some visual pop, as long as you keep colors neutral.

5. Open up your space with light

Your kitchen is no place to skimp on lighting. Use bright lights over workspaces, Kurkowski says. If you’re blessed enough to have an island, invest in a showstopper light fixture. Hudson Valley Lighting has plenty of beautiful options. Recessed lighting for the rest of the kitchen works fine, but Kurkowski thinks track lighting is even better.

“If you put a track in a suspended rectangle junction box in your kitchen, you can have up to 12 lights on one track and point them at different areas in the kitchen,” Kurkowski notes. “It is less expensive than installing several fixtures that each require their own junction box.”

6. Give old cabinets and countertops new life

Don’t have the funds for a complete gut and reno? No worries: You can transform your outdated cabinets with paint, Petty says. A popular option with avid DIYers is Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Another low-cost, eye-popping transformation is to change out or add new knobs and pulls, which can update the look of your kitchen without breaking the bank.

There’s no beating around the bush: Countertops are expensive to replace—even in small spaces. You’ll spend at least $4,000 for engineered quartz (a hot option right now). If you don’t have the money for a complete upgrade, consider painting laminate surfaces with Giani Countertop Paint (available at your local home improvement store for under $100).


 

Should You Buy a Home While Carrying Student Debt?

 on the Zillow.com blog examines what it means and how you can buy a house with student loan debt. There is some great advice from financial experts on how to move forward with buying a home financially. “The single most effective way to get rid of student loans while saving and building wealth is to live below your means. When you start significantly upgrading your lifestyle, you lose flexibility with your budget. — Katie Brewer of Your Richest Life Planning” 


Should You Buy a Home While Carrying Student Debt?

Financial experts give their two cents on managing both student debt and a mortgage.

It’s challenging for first-time buyers to break into the housing market as rents keep rising and the inventory of low-value homes remains scarce in most areas. Add thousands of dollars of student debt to the equation and potential buyers may assume they simply cannot afford to buy. Recent data showed that home buyers who completed at least a bachelor’s degree are minimally affected by their student debt when shopping for homes.

Check out some tips from personal finance experts about acquiring mortgages while carrying significant student loan debt.

If you had student loan debt, what was your payment strategy to get rid of it?

I used the debt snowball method to pay off my student loan debt. In 2005, I still owed $13,000. Since my loans were serviced through Sallie Mae, I took advantage of the 1-year forbearance to pause my loan payments so I could aggressively pay off smaller loans that we owed. While the interest still accrues during the forbearance period, I was able to focus on clearing up other debt faster. After the year passed, I was able to start paying off my student loan with more traction. It only took another year and a half to retire the remaining student loan balance. — Toni Husbands of Debt Free Divas

Personally, I was lucky enough to make it through undergraduate and graduate school without accumulating any student debt. My wife, however, accumulated between $10,000 and $20,000 in student debt from going to a small private college for her undergraduate degree. Once we got married, I “married” her student debt as well. Currently, she still has around $11,000 in student loan debt. To manage the payoff, the first thing we did was to call the loan administrator and request a lower interest rate, which they did to our surprise without any problems. Currently, the interest rate is only 3 percent annually, which equates to $124 per month. At this level, I do not feel that much of a hurry to pay it off. Instead, it is more along the lines of a low-interest home mortgage, which we are paying off at the required rate, but no more. — Jacob Irwin of My Personal Finance Journey

If you’re still carrying student loan debt, what is your financial plan to eliminate it?

Slow and steady! — Heather Jarvis of Ask Heather Jarvis

I currently hold quite a bit of student loan debt — over $85,000 — but I like to think that my resolve is tantamount to the balance. When I first graduated, I had nearly double that amount to pay off. But by making the pay-off my first financial priority and sending over $1,700 to pay it down every month, I was able to make a sizeable dent in that number quickly. I also cut out spending elsewhere to have more to send toward my loans whenever possible. This meant limiting meals out, having multiple roommates rather than living alone, and forgoing cabs in favor of public transportation. — Mario Bonifacio of Debt Blog

If you’re a homeowner, did you have student loan debt at the time you bought? How did that impact your purchase?

We didn’t let the student loan debt hold us back from buying a home, but we also purchased a home that easily fit into our budget instead of purchasing a home that stretched our budget. — Katie Brewer of Your Richest Life Planning

We purchased a condo while I had an outstanding student loan balance. The pre-approval process takes into account your debt-to-income ratio when determining the amount you’re able to borrow. Those purchasing a home without outstanding student debt should ensure that their monthly payment does not exceed 25 to 30 percent of your monthly income. We started with a small condo with very affordable monthly payments and assessments that allowed us to have breathing room in our budget to address our outstanding debt — including my student loans. — Toni Husbands of Debt Free Divas

The student loan debt did not impact our purchase much at all, since the home we wanted to buy was very affordable based on our income. For us, I do not believe it would have been better to pay off the student loan prior to buying a house, since our debt was fairly low, carried a reasonable interest rate, and does not tie up a large portion of our monthly income. — Jacob Irwin of My Personal Finance Journey

In hindsight, would it have been better to pay off your student loan debt before or after your home purchase?

One thing I would do differently would be to focus on repaying my students loans aggressively as soon as I graduated from undergrad. Instead of taking on car loans and living in high-priced apartments, I could have been much more aggressive as a single person with no children. Instead, I was comfortable with the idea of paying the minimum amount for the full loan term because that was the normal approach to dealing with debt. — Toni Husbands of Debt Free Divas

If you’re not a homeowner, is your student loan debt prohibiting you from buying?

I don’t believe that my student loan is prohibiting me from purchasing a house, though I may have been able to contribute a down payment fund by this point if it weren’t for my student loans. I still feel like both my personal and professional life are in limbo, and at this stage I feel like renting is the smart choice for my situation. I’m currently contributing extra money toward both my 401(k) and my personal IRA account each year and I could instead allocate some of that money towards a down payment if purchasing a home was one of my priorities. My student loans have definitely put the thought of even saving for a home on the backburner, but it was also not a priority of mine to begin with. — Debt Hater of From Debt to Dreams

What are your tips for folks carrying substantial student loan debt?

The single most effective way to get rid of student loans while saving and building wealth is to live below your means. When you start significantly upgrading your lifestyle, you lose flexibility with your budget. — Katie Brewer of Your Richest Life Planning

Maintain a positive attitude. The best plans and the most sophisticated math in the world don’t mean a thing if you make yourself miserable and give up. Second, make a budget. Knowing where you spend will help you make meaningful cuts and not beat yourself up over meaningless cuts (like single-ply toilet paper or bad Q-tips). Lastly, put together a sensible timeline of how quickly you might be able to pay off all your debt. Having a timeline can change the way you look at your debt; whereas hundreds of thousands of dollars might seem insurmountable, you know that December 2019 will definitely arrive and can therefore plan the months leading up to it. — Mario Bonifacio of Debt Blag

First, use the federal government to your advantage. It offers programs to consolidate and, in some cases, even forgive student loans. Sadly, not everyone knows about them. For instance, a relatively new program is called Pay As You Earn, or PAYE for short. It actually caps the monthly federal student loan payment at 10 percent of your discretionary income. Second, don’t stop paying. The same government that offers helpful programs can also garnish your wages, take a portion of your Social Security benefits, and confiscate tax refunds. Call your loan servicer and ask about your options. But be careful of student loan repayment scams. Only deal with reputable organizations that have excellent reviews and a Better Business Bureau rating. Third, get creative. For instance: volunteer with organizations like AmeriCorp. They offer loan forbearance (which means you don’t have to pay on the principal or interest while working). After your service, you receive a monetary award you can put toward your loan. — Howard Dvorkin of Debt.com

What advice do you have for prospective home buyers limited by their student loan debt?

Build a strong credit history by making your payments on time. Improve your debt-to-income ratio by paying down credit cards and other consumer debt. Balance your competing goals of paying down debt and saving for a down payment. — Heather Jarvis of Ask Heather Jarvis

Don’t let student loan debt hold you back from buying a home. It is important to make sure that you don’t take on more than you can handle, but it’s also important to balance student loan debt with other important financial goals. Make sure you purchase a home that allows you some room in your budget to focus on other goals. — Katie Brewer of Your Richest Life Planning

For anyone looking to buy a home and carrying loan debt, I would say that it is all about balance as with most things in life. You need to set your goals and figure out what is important to you. Are you OK with stretching your student loans out a few more years in order to save for that down payment? Or does the student loan payment need to be eliminated so that you have breathing room in your budget for a mortgage? It may be best to pay off your student loans as quickly as possible (especially if they are high-interest loans), and then switch your focus toward purchasing a home. If you do have any outstanding credit card debt, I would advise you to pay that off before even starting to save for a down payment. If you have sufficient income to pay off your student loans a little slower and buying a home is a priority for you, start shifting some of that money toward your down payment instead. If you come up with a sound financial plan and make sure that you can afford the monthly payments, I don’t feel that there’s any reason that a student loan will prevent you from owning a home. — Debt Hater of From Debt to Dreams


 

 

 

9 Ways to Stay Warm This Winter Without Turning Up the Heat

Realtor.com is at it again. Maureen Dempsey explores 9 ways to stay warm this winter without relying simply on the heat. One of my personal favorites is the heated towel rack.


 

9 Ways to Stay Warm This Winter Without Turning Up the Heat

D Trocio Photography/Getty Images

By: Maureen Dempsey

The chill will be here before you know it—or, depending on where you’re reading this, it’s already arrived with a scary vengeance. Now you have three options: Crank up the thermostat, up your layering game (and risk looking like the Michelin man), or search for other types of home heating products to keep you and the family toasty.

Here’s the good news: There’s a slew of products that can warm your home in an array of astonishing ways, from heated rugs to countertops to driveways (no more shoveling snow!). Here’s a sampling of the innovative options.

Heating panels

Radiators and vented systems work perfectly well throughout the house, but add a few radiant heating panels to your room of choice to fire up the cozy factor. Starting at $600; warmlyyours.com.

Heated driveway

You might love a fresh snowfall a little more (instead of cursing it) if you don’t have to shovel it. You can increase safety and eliminate snow and ice by installing a heated driveway. Around $2,500 plus installation; heatizon.com.

Heated rug pads

A heated rug sounds pretty appealing, no? The plug-in pad slips under a standard area rug. We have a feeling the kids (and pets) will be flocking to this one. Starting at $150;cozywinters.com.

Heated countertops

The cool touch of granite is fabulous in the summer, but it’s not so great when you’re trying to make coffee on a chilly winter morning. The solution: heated countertops. Installable and stick-on are available. Starting at $750; feelswarm.com.

Heated towel rack

You can banish après-shower cold shocks with this toasty towel rack, one of the products that helped kick off the whole heated gear trend a few years back. $160;wayfair.com.

Heated mattress cover

Ten heat settings and dual control means everyone will be snug on this sherpa mattress cover. Starting at $65; target.com.

Boot heater

Can’t bear the thought of slipping your little piggies into wet, cold boots for another schlep outside? Avoid the torture with a space-saving boot dryer. $35; cozywinters.com.

Heated slippers

http://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/ways-to-stay-warm-this-winter/?iid=rdc_news_hp_carousel_theLatest

These heated indoor-outdoor slippers work as shoes, too, depending on your definition of footwear and, um, style. $125; brookstone.com.

Heated toilet seat

Let’s be honest: This heated toilet seat (with night light!) is quietly appealing. We’ll leave it at that. $122; homedepot.com.


 

Let’s be honest though, all of these sound amazing. Here in Summit County these little improvements could help make the long winter a little bit warmer. 

When Is Housing’s Black Friday? Some Surprising Holiday Home-Buying Trends, from Realtor.com

So today is Black Friday, but when is the “Black Friday” of the Real Estate market? sRealtor.com explore when the “Black Friday” of real estate is, and surprisingly it seems to be in the winter. Yuqing Pan writes, “So what is the true Black Friday of the housing business? Here’s a holiday shocker: Dec. 28 was actually one of the busiest days for real estate searches in the entire year, despite the fact that Dec. 24 was the single slowest.”


When Is Housing’s Black Friday? Some Surprising Holiday Home-Buying Trends

Rusanovska/iStock; prosado/iStock from Realtor.com

By: Yuqing Pan 

Thanksgiving evokes certain unshakable images: Long tables crammed with too much food. Beloved and bickering family members consuming way too much of that food. Overstuffed family members staggering away from the table to watch football. And once the crumbs and turkey bones and cranberries are cleared away, just about everyone gearing up for the biggest shopping day of the year: Black Friday.

While prowling the malls for fantastic deals has become enshrined as a traditional part of many Americans’ holiday season, it has long been considered conventional wisdom that this sales fervor doesn’t extend to shopping for a home—that there’s no deluge of would-be buyers surfing the Web for listings or slogging through the (presumed) snow to open houses.

But does the housing market really come to a screeching halt during the holidays? The realtor.com® team decided to put down its Best Buy circulars and Victoria’s Secret gift cards long enough to find out for sure. In order to measure people’s interest in shopping for a home, we used traffic data on realtor.com from throughout 2014. Not-quite-spoiler: Traffic is much lower on an actual holiday. But what about directly afterwards? And in different parts of the country?

We compared the traffic data for realtor.com on Thanksgiving Day 2014 with that of an average day in 2014’s fourth quarter, and then we identified states where house-hunting activity appeared to be most and least impacted by the holiday.

Source Realtor.com

In balmy Hawaii, the amount of people house hunting on turkey day is only 10% less than the average for that quarter. However, in New Hampshire, the number is down by almost 60%.

And overall, the Thanksgiving slowdown only lasts as long as it takes to digest that huge mass of poultry—and hit a few Black Friday sales. By Saturday, it’s pretty much business as usual.

But according to our database, the number of scheduled open houses on the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend is going to be only 6% of the number from this past weekend. So for buyers serious enough to attend a Thanksgiving open house, your effort will likely pay off—you will be dealing with equally determined sellers and facing less competition.

Moving beyond Thanksgiving, we looked at the impact of all major holidays. Take a look at the graphic: Dark red indicates higher traffic, while light yellow indicates lower traffic.

So what is the true Black Friday of the housing business? Here’s a holiday shocker: Dec. 28 was actually one of the busiest days for real estate searches in the entire year, despite the fact that Dec. 24 was the single slowest.

The reason: When we’re over the holiday hump but still on break, it’s a great time to look for our dream home. The same reason explains the surge of activity on New Year’s Day. And, perhaps buying a house is a popular New Year’s resolution?

Another surprising, best-performing day on a holiday weekend: the other side of the year, July 6. Instead of traveling, many buyers apparently use the long weekend in the height of the buying season to search for homes and go to open houses.

Overall, the spring market typically has the best combination of inventory and value—more homes go onto the market, but prices have not yet thawed. If you miss out on that sweet spot, the second-best opportunity is in fall. Sept. 1, on Labor Day weekend, was another top performer—it’s all part of a seasonal pattern that buyers and sellers can use to their advantage if they are not constrained by school schedules or job transfers.

Besides family-oriented holidays, there’s one more holiday that significantly slows down home-searching activity. Nope, not Mother’s Day, not Father’s Day, but … Valentine’s Day. Think about it: Your significant other wants to take you out for a romantic dinner. Are you gonna say no because you want to stay at home to browse photos of fixer-uppers?

Yuqing Pan


Any time of year is a great time to find your High Country get-away!

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

Turkey2-247x225

Some fun Summit County Thanksgiving Day Events:

  • Keystone Thanksgiving. Click Here for more information.
  • Kidtopia opening at Keystone, November 27th
  • Turkey Day 5k: Town of Frisco. Click Here for more information.
  • Frisco Adventure Park Opening, November 26th
  • Midnight Madness at the Outlets at Silverthorne: November 26th 8pm-12am, November 27th 8am-8pm

J.D. Power: Mortgage Customer Satisfaction Up in 2015

The 2015 U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study released today by J.D. Power has found overall mortgage customer approval of lenders is on the rise, which is a good sign for future home-buyers. 


J.D. Power: Mortgage Customer Satisfaction Up in 2015

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While a certain federal regulatory agency in Washington run by a one-time Ohio attorney general may insist that Americans are unhappy with their mortgage companies, the 2015 U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study released today by J.D. Power has found overall mortgage customer approval of lenders is on the rise.

Using a 1,000-point scale to measure satisfaction, the new study found the overall customer approval rating was 793 in 2015, a seven point increase from last year. The growing level of customer appreciation was primarily fueled by a 22 point increase in the application and approval process factor.

The study, which polled 4,666 Americans and was conducted in two cycles covering February and March and later in July and August, found overall satisfaction with several mortgage application-related activities, including the completion of an application (799), submitting documents (804) and receiving status updates (811). But Craig Martin, director of the mortgage practice at J.D. Power, warned that the new TRID rule that went into effect on Oct. 3 could alter how consumers view lenders.

“While a lot of effort has been placed on ensuring compliance with new regulations, it is imperative that lenders improve their education and communication about the impact of these changes or risk losing customers,” said Martin. “Effective communication remains one of the most important aspects of a satisfying mortgage experience, especially if the process is taking longer than it has historically.”

Millennials played a prominent role in this year’s study, with the finding that 37 percent of these youthful customers stated the origination process was not completely explained to them, and 58 percent indicated their options, terms and fees were not completely explained. Martin also warned lenders to be cognizant of the communications methods favored by Millennials.

“This generation is highly digitally connected, so ongoing communication and transparency via the channels they prefer, particularly mobile, are vital,” he said.

Among the nation’s top originators, Detroit-based Quicken Loans ranked highest in primary mortgage origination satisfaction for a sixth consecutive year, with a score of 850, up 15 points from 2014. Fifth Third Mortgage came in second with a score of 812, followed by Bank of America and BB&T (Branch Banking & Trust Company) in a tie at 811 each.

 


 

Open House Hacks: 9 Tips from Realtor.com

Realtor.com narrows down 9 helpful tips for a successful Open House, including something as simple as “white-ing out” your bathroom by using clean simple white towels. Celeste Perron outlines these 9 tried and true tips. 


Open House Hacks: 9 Tips for Staging Your Home to Sell

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Whipping your place into its most marketable shape might land you a buyer with a dream offer. And it might all spring from a terrific  open house—the kind where every attendee is entranced, the hors d’oeuvres are delicious, and nothing remotely goes wrong.

You don’t have to hire a pro home stager and rent all new furniture to get the look buyers love. We asked agents and home staging experts for their secret staging hacks. Here are nine little moves that have a great impact for minimal effort or money.

1. Strip the windows

“Light and bright is what sells,” says Randy Wine, a real estate agent in Rutherford, NJ. So pack away your curtains. “They might be beautiful, but they’ll darken and date the room. You can leave the sheers, but take down the drapes.”

Pull the blinds all the way up. “If blinds are left in the down but open position, that can reduce light by 50% over the course of the day,” says Justin M. Riordan, founder of Spade and Archer Design Agency in Portland, OR. And make sure your windows are sparkling clean; they let in more light and just look nicer, too.

2. White-out the bathroom

Just as hotels use white items to reinforce the idea that they’re clean, white in the bathroom makes things look fresh and new.

“Even if you can’t replace cabinets or countertops, at least purchase fresh white towels,” says Sheila Schostok of Your Home Matters Staging & Redesign in Lake County, IL. And add a white shower curtain, white soap dish, and new white bathmat (though, if your bathroom floor is a selling point, skip the bathmat).

3. Update kitchen fixtures

You don’t need to replace the countertops or even paint to give your kitchen an update. The solution is simpler and cheaper.

“Replacing an old light fixture with a nice modern one from Home Depot can do a lot to improve the look of your kitchen,” says Wine.

If your drawer pulls and cabinet knobs look dated, swap them out for the style and finish that’s most sought-after in your area, whether that’s brushed nickel or polished brass—ask your broker what’s hot.

4. Flip every switch

Lighting up the house by turning on every lamp and overhead light will make prospective buyers confident that you have nothing to hide. Remember, you’re not trying to create “atmosphere” like you would at a dinner party—you’re showcasing a product for sale. Place floor lamps in dark corners. “An inexpensive, high-intensity floor lamp directed at the ceiling can do a lot to make a room look bigger and brighter,” says Wine.

5. Replace wall art with mirrors

Whether your walls feature fine art or family photos, swap those personal pieces out for a large mirror on one or two key walls. Since people’s taste in art varies a lot, you should hide prominent paintings or art photographs unless you are confident they have broad appeal.

“Mirrors have the advantage of maximizing light to make rooms look bigger and brighter,” says Wine. If you have a nice backyard, try placing a mirror on the wall across from the window that looks out on the yard, so the greenery will be reflected and visible from multiple angles in the room.

6. Roll up rugs

Hardwood floors are a major selling point for most buyers, and a rug that’s even slightly stained or tattered is a turn-off. So don’t hide wood floors, unless they’re a mess or your rugs are classic and pristine. Always remove area rugs from your kitchen, because the room will feel cleaner and more spacious without them.

7. Swap out lampshades

To make a room look more light, clean, and modern, replace any old lampshades for new white drum shades, which are cheap and readily available at Ikea and Target.

8. Set the table

Elaborate table settings can have an overly staged look, but if your dining room table has seen better days or the room could use some livening up, set the table with simple modern place settings from CB2 or Bed Bath & Beyond. Go for modern white plates, sleek stainless-steel cutlery, and stemless wine glasses atop neutral-hued place mats or a tablecloth. If the room could use a touch of color, add vibrant napkins.

9. Add a metallic accent

Making a room look more luxurious and contemporary is as easy as adding a metallic accessory or two—like a silver leather throw pillow, a bronze side table or garden stool, or a copper tray.

“Metallics add visual appeal, but they’re less controversial than color,” says Wine. “They’re like glamorous neutrals.”

By: Celeste Perron


 

For original article: Open House Hacks: 9 Tips for Staging Your Home