New Years Resolutions for Your Home -PART TWO

If you missed the first post, check it out here.

Kids are back in school, work has resumed, and life is in full swing. 2017 can be just like every other year where you resolve to make changes and then lose steam a few weeks or months in, OR you can take the necessary steps to set yourself up for success. Having a plan, set goals and defined timeframes is a surefire way to stick with these resolutions. The benefits of a healthy, efficient home far outweigh the initial time investment it takes to implement them. Read below to find five more resolutions as they pertain to your home:

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Eat Healthier

You are what you eat! In your diet and in your home. Think of gas or electric as the food you eat. It gives you energy to do the things you need, and want, to do. Energy consumption in the home is something we can control through some simple efforts.

  • Fan/space heater in one room instead of heating/cooling entire home
  • Make sure your home doesn’t allow heat to escape
  • Adjust thermostat seasonally
  • Plug entertainment devices into a power-strip and turn it on and off
  • Investigate if gas or electric is most cost-effective for you

The debate of gas versus electric is as long lasting as it is long winded. In order to know which option is best for you, take note of the rates for each in your area. This information should be easily accessible on your bill, or on the provider’s website. Once you have all the information you can re-evaluate your appliances and heating

 

Drink Less. 

Laying off the libations is great for your waistline and your wallet! In your home, especially in California, consuming less water is a necessity. We all know the typical tricks, like reducing shower time, turning off the tap while you brush your teeth and lather your hands, but what can you do to reduce water use in your home?

  • Check for leaks, and fix them promptly
  • Switch to timed watering systems in your yard
  • Reduce lawn space, or better yet, switch to dryscapes
  • Update fixtures. Switching to low-flow toilets or aerated faucets can potentially off rebates as well!

 

Exercise More

Do you have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to “Someday I’ll do This….” but you haven’t done any of it? Exercise your DIY muscle! Why not tackle one of those projects? Repurpose that old outdated furniture. Move it into a new space. Transition your backyard from pile of stuff to haven of rest. You live in California, take advantage of it! There are so many resources, YouTube tutorials, How-To books, and guides to give you step-by-step of any project! Houzz.com is a great place to gain inspiration on larger projects, while Pinterest can give you thousands of ideas from quick and inexpensive to huge and costly. You get to take on whatever you want AND you get to benefit from your handiwork! Hop to it!

 

Family Time

Time is our most precious resource and the only thing can never get more of. Setting a space within your home for family time can be as simple as designating a movie night where family members rotate picking the film, or setting a game closet that kiddos can easily access. Other fun ways to enjoy your home with those you love are:

  • Plant an Herb garden
  • Invite the kids (or significant other) to help you cook
  • Tackle a house project together
  • Makeover the kids bedroom as a family, rework the furniture and it can feel like a new space!
  • Plant a family tree!
  • Install a swing
  • Build a sandbox

 

Reduce Stress

In our homes, just as in our personal lives, many things contribute to added stress. Your heater and air conditioner may have it’s work cut out for it if you’re not taking care to insulate your home properly. Checking window and door seals can be a quick and inexpensive way to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. If you have the ability to update old windows, or take on larger, more expensive projects– think about spraying insulation into existing walls. Not only will it help the comfort of the space, but it serves as a noise barrier as well. Local energy companies will often do free in home analysis’ providing you with suggestions on how to cut costs, usage, and how to maximize heating and cooling efforts.

Other items in your home that may not be standing up to the stress of regular wear and tear are flooring, fixtures, appliances and lighting. Changing out one of all of these can provide you an updated look, energy-efficiency and potential cost savings in the long run.

 

Understanding your home is the first step in knowing which areas need a little extra love. Implementing these resolutions could allow you to be prepared if you take the leap of listing your home, if it sells faster than you anticipate, or if you decide to purchase. Having your life organized, being educated and prepared will make the moving process far easier to handle. I am always available as a resource and am happy to answer any questions, refer you to resources, or help to navigate your next step toward homeownership. I look forward to finding your first home, an additional income property, or your forever home. Give me a call (831) 801-8206 or shoot me an email at KJurevich@gmail.com and let’s resolve to make a move in 2017!

 

Cheers to the New Year!

Why Americans Love Real Estate

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By Gino Blefari
President & CEO
Intero Real Estate Services, Inc.

Results from a new Gallup poll out this past month show that Americans still view owning a home as the best place to park their hard-earned cash for the long term. And of course, opinion writers jumped on the chance to point out holes in the thinking.

Results from an April 3-6 Gallup poll on the Economy and Personal Finances showed that 30% of Americans saw real estate as the top long-term investment, up from 25% a year ago. This follows a February survey from Fannie Mae that showed Americans’ positive views on housing.

One Washington Post writer was quick to point out the pitfalls of real estate as a long-term investment, quoting research from Robert Shiller that shows housing’s return paling in comparison to stocks and other forms of investment.

“Over the past century, housing prices have grown at a compound annual rate of just 0.3 percent once one adjusts for inflation, according to my calculations using Shiller’s historical housing data. Over the same period, the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index has had comparable annual returns of about 6.5 percent.”

We’ve heard this argument before. And while you can’t argue with arithmetic, there are two very large considerations missing: one, real estate is local. We cannot stress this enough. While the national median price may have shown only incremental increases, individual markets often tell very different stories. For instance, if you had bought a house in Sunnyvale, California, in the 1960s, as my parents did, you probably would’ve paid less than $20,000. Today, that house would be worth approximately $1.5 million. Just think, if they had continued to rent, how much money would have gone down the drain over the last 54 years.

The other consideration that is constantly missed in the “housing is a bad long-term investment” argument is lifestyle – something you can’t quantify with numbers, charts and graphs. By succumbing to a lifetime of renting in order to keep your money tied up in the stock market, you’re also signing up your family for a lifetime of uncertainty. You have no control over your monthly housing costs. And you have no control over surprise letters in the mail stating it’s time to move because the landlord decided to sell.

This is why housing will always be top of mind for Americans when they think about where they want to invest their money. Because at the end of the day, it’s about more than money. It’s about security, controlling your own destiny, and rooting your family in a certain lifestyle. For these reasons, and though it may defy logic when put to long-term graphs, housing is and will be the best investment for the majority of Americans.

 

What Bubble?

By Alain Pinel
General Manager of Intero Prestigio international
Intero Real Estate Services, Inc.


Are we spoiled, or are we bored, or are we blind? Is the Silicon Valley the eternal land of plenty or just a Fools’ Paradise?

I don’t know about you but I feel like I caught a virus that makes me a bit gloomy these days. No matter what business paper I read, I feel like being brainwashed about new impending dotcom slide. The word “bubble” is coming back in fashion. Every decent brain has a theory on the matter and they are ruining my days preaching tougher times in the tech industry and whatever business (like real estate) that benefits from it.

What are we talking about? The hi-tech euphoria which caused some IPO’s to reach stratospheric levels over the last two years, is dissipating. Valuations are being challenged, especially in the social media arena and biotech. Balance sheets do not support stocks performance. By the time employees of most new tech IPO’s can sell their shares, the median value shrinks substantially. The tech-heavy Nasdaq is down so far this year. Warning signs?

Anything can happen. I have not forgotten the tech boom of the 90’s in the Silicon Valley and the brutal wake-up call that followed in late 2000 & 2001. But what I see from my window, today, is that too many people believe way too much in Murphy’s Law. It is a good conversation topic around a dining table to predict a slowdown, just like we predict the next big quake can happen anytime, but the fact is that today’s “bubble” has no similarity to that of 2001.

Back in those days, the giants of the industry were still young and financially unsecure. Their market was, for the most part, limited to the country boundaries. IPO’s were mushrooming right & left, fueled by plenty of VC money looking for a quick return.

Today, the giants of the tech sector are loaded with cash. They are doing as well if not better overseas. They are grabbing new innovative tech companies at record prices without feeling any pain. Investors are in for the long term. VC people are hot about growth revenues prospects and are investing billions in the Valley, particularly in San Francisco, which appears to be the new destination. The returns sure beat other investment opportunities in this anemic economy.

Of course those same people complaining about overvalued tech stocks about to fizzle, are announcing the same prospect for the local real estate activity which depends so much on the tech sector in the Silicon Valley. The market, however, is behaving just fine. The only negative is that the so-called Spring market has not, so far, brought the thousands of new listings that we expected and we so badly need to satisfy a steady demand.

Most of the uncertainty regarding the regional residential market is not related to a tech slowdown; it is just a new normal here and everywhere else in the US given a sluggish economic recovery. NAR, the National Association of Realtors, was remarking a couple of weeks ago on the fact that the current sales activity in underperforming by historical standards. “In contrast, price growth is rising faster than historical norms because on inventory shortages.”

Last year, the Silicon Valley has fared quite well compared to most other areas. In the “money-towns” of the Mid-Peninsula, such as Atherton, Woodside, Portola Valley, Menlo Park, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills & Palo Alto, the dollar volume of sales exploded year over year, up to 28% in Woodside and 22% in Palo Alto. Unit sales also jumped to new highs, except in Menlo Park, Los Altos & Palo Alto where the inventory of active listings was particularly low.

When you compute the price appreciation over a 5 year period, homeowners did pretty well: Atherton jumped 28%, Woodside 29%, Portola Valley 38%, same for Menlo Park and Los Altos, Los Altos Hills 15%, and Palo Alto…57%! Is that enough to talk about a bubble? Not in my book since it is mostly a function of the dichotomy between supply & demand. Yes, 2014, so far, has been a bit weak, but you give me a lot more listings and I’ll give you a lot more sales without inflationary prices. The Silicon Valley is OK. Keep the faith. Thank you.

 

Home Sales Hit Highest Level in Six Years

By Gino Blefari, President & CEO, Intero Real Estate Services, Inc.

Home sales ended the summer on a high note, reaching their highest level in over six years in August. Prices went along for the ride, with the median price trending nine consecutive months of double-digit year-over-year increases.

Recovery meets growth. Now we’re making serious progress.

According to the most recent data from the National Association of Realtors, total existing-home sales – including single-family, condos, townhomes and co-ops – increase 1.7% to an annual rate of 5.48 million in August. The pace was up from 5.39 million in July and 4.84 million in August 2012.

To give you a bit more perspective on how the market is doing overall post-recovery, August sales were at the highest pace since February 2007, when they were 5.79 million. Sales have outpaced year-ago levels every month for the past 26 months.

How long can we expect the trend to continue? Will we hit a peak before the end of the year?

These are logical questions to which there’s never a clear answer.

NAR’s chief economist said we may be seeing a temporary peak, citing two factors that threaten to slow pace: tight inventory and rising interest rates.

There were 2.25 million existing homes available for sale in August – a 4.9-month supply at the current sales pace. This was down from a 5.0-month supply in July. The limited inventory in some markets has created multiple bid situations, meaning some buyers are being priced out. NAR said that 17% of all homes sold above the asking price in August, although 63% sold below list price – showing yet again that in housing, it’s all relative to location. Some markets are moving rapidly, while others are still slogging through.

In pricing, the national median price for existing homes was $212,100 in August, up 14.7% from the same month a year ago and the strongest yearly gain since October 2005.

The share of distressed home sales is shrinking, accounting for 12% of August sales, down from 15% in July and the lowest since monthly tracking began in October 2008. Meanwhile, 8% of August sales were foreclosures, and 4% were short sales.

The time it takes to sell a home was little changed in August – 43 days, compared with 42 days in July. However, much progress has been made in the last year, as it took 70 days on the market in August 2012.

Overall, it was a fantastic summer for housing nationwide, with some markets enjoying rapid sales with multiple bids and others simply enjoying healthy pace. The question remains of whether we’ll see a dip in market activity between now and the end of the year. For some markets, that’s likely to happen. But for others – especially where inventory is low but buyers are eager to purchase – we’ll likely continue to see growth in both volume and price.