Top Housing Trends Emerging This Spring

The spring tends to be real estate’s most active season of buying and selling. So what housing trends are emerging right now that you should be aware of? The Street recently took a look at three trends it sees as getting bigger this spring:

1. Inventories are favoring the seller. With a limited number of homes for sale across the country, home sellers have the upper hand as home buyers are forced to compete for limited inventories.

2. More buyers may consider a new home. Some home buyers may seek greater alternatives to limited inventories and consider building a home and buying new.

3. Buying is cheaper than renting. Seven in 10 respondents of a recent Freddie Mac survey believe it’s cheaper to pay rent than a monthly mortgage on a home. Saving for a down payment may a big hurdle for many. However, studies show that buying trumps renting in 98 of the 100 largest metros in the nation.

What is dual agency? Larry breaks it down…

Q. I am totally confused by dual agency, can you explain it?

A. Dual agency is the most commonly misunderstood real estate relationship. In dual agency, an agent represents both buyer and seller in the same transaction, such as when an agent sells his buyer his own listing.

The part of this arrangement that confuses people is that an agent representing both buyer and seller becomes a neutral party. They cannot advocate or seek an advantage for either client. They must be extremely careful about what they say to each party.

They legally cannot share the other party’s confidential information so as not to create an advantage on one side or the other. They must represent both equally and fairly. Dual agency must be fully disclosed in writing and consensual by both parties.

There are some benefits, however – the paperwork can move a little faster, the agent may work for a reduced commission, and communication can be more efficient.

In reality there is no distinct advantage to either the buyer or seller to dual agency, but there can be significant problems if all parties do not clearly understand the implications of this arrangement.

The very basics of dual agency make it impossible to serve clients in the best way possible, which is why more and more states are doing away with it.

The only clear advantage is to the agent who makes more money in the transaction by getting a commission on both sides of the deal.

I’d be more than happy to discuss this further with you and answer any questions you may have. Just give me a call.

Highest price gain in years is seen by Sellers

Home Sellers on average in March sold for $30,500 more than what they paid for their home — and in Orange County and the surrounding areas the numbers soared even higher.

With a lack of homes on the market in our area, this is considered to be a prime sellers market, with homes reaching average price gains close to those during the last historic housing boom.

Contact Larry at Coastland Realty and I can help you capitalize on this new housing boom.

A Time For Searching

Our goal is, “The good life for our clients and our good clients for life.” When we list the good things we have in life, you are on that list.

Thank you for your past, present and future support.

If you would like to know the value of a home you own, or would like to own, please call us for a free, no-obligation professional evaluation.

You are appreciated!

Spring Home Checklist

Winter takes its toll on your house. Here is a checklist to help you target the areas that need maintenance.

Examine roof shingles. Shingles that are cracked, buckled or loose or are missing granules need to be replaced. Check flashing around plumbing vents, skylights and chimneys.

Check the gutters. Make sure downspouts drain away from the foundation and are clear of debris.

Fill in low areas. Fill low areas in the yard or next to the foundation with compacted soil.

Inspect the concrete. Fill cracks with a concrete crack filler or silicone caulk. Power-wash and then seal the concrete.

Move firewood. Remove firewood stored near the home. Firewood should be stored at least 18 inches off the ground and at least 2 feet from the structure.

Check outside faucets. Check outside hose faucets for freeze damage. While you’re at it, check the garden hose for dry rot.

Clean and repair your screens. Screens help reduce your electric bills in the summer and allow you to open windows at night.

Repair any cracked or peeling paint. Also caulk any cracks around windows.

Service the AC Unit. An annual service call will keep the system working at peak performance levels.

Change interior filters regularly.

Check Power Equipment.

Clean equipment and sharp cutting blades will make yardwork easier.

Data Breaches – A Growing Problem

A data breach is an incident where information is stolen or taken from a system without the knowledge or authorization of the system’s owner. Victims of data breaches are usually large companies or organizations, and the data stolen may typically be sensitive, proprietary or confidential in nature (such as credit and debit card numbers, social security numbers, health records, customer data, trade secrets or matters of national security).

Data breaches are a major threat that can involve billions of dollars. Since 2005, more than 250 million records containing sensitive information have been involved in security breaches. Although word of such massive breaches can leave you feeling helpless, there are things you can do to protect yourself and prepare for the worst.

Do your homework. You should be able to find out about prior security lapses involving data systems at major banks. Before doing business with a financial institution, go online for information regarding past data breaches.

But just doing your homework won’t be enough. For example, it’s tough to be aware of existing back-end relationships between companies you do business with and their card processors. Banks share their data with these firms, and a breach at one of these third-party companies can expose massive amounts of a company’s data — including yours.

Prioritize information protection. All security breaches are not alike and some information needs to be more closely guarded. Your social security number is a higher risk than a credit card number. Other information, such as health information and date of birth, represents a lower risk, but should still be protected. It is not wise to put your date of birth on Facebook, as many do.

Stick to credit. Credit card information represents a lower risk than the loss of debit card information. While many issuers have zero-liability policies to protect consumers from unauthorized charges on either debit or credit cards, it can take more time to recover debit card funds, since they’re taken directly from your account. During that time, an empty account can mean bounced checks and overdraft fees.

Monitor all accounts. If the bank has notified you that one credit card was compromised, for example, experts encourage cardholders to monitor for unusual activity across all their accounts. That’s because the threat is not limited to that one point of attack. When a hacker has one piece of information in all likelihood, they have others. Consumers need to be vigilant about scanning their entire credit report for strange activity.

Continue to monitor. If your personal information is compromised, be vigilant for an extended period following the actual breach. Data can remain unused for a time before the identity thieves actually use it. If the breach is initiated outside the United States, your information may pass through several hands as it gets sold and then used.

Consider your options. Consumers whose data is compromised may be offered their bank’s free credit monitoring service, which experts say can be a good option for spotting any follow-up fraud activity. A credit freeze can prevent fraudsters from opening any new accounts in your name. Experts advise checking your credit report regularly for any unauthorized activity that could indicate identity theft. If you find a debt that isn’t yours, be sure to dispute its accuracy with the lender.

Take extra care with medical records. While checking credit reports allows consumers to find fraudulent financial activity, medical information is less frequently used by consumers and more difficult to access in a single place. But lost medical data is still a cause for concern. Medical identity theft is the only type of identity theft that can potentially kill you. If someone piggybacks on your insurance information and gives their medical information to the doctor or hospital, medical professionals may have the fraudster’s blood type and allergies on record instead of yours.

Deal with debt collectors. Be prepared for phone calls from debt collectors seeking money for accounts fraudulently opened in your name. If you do get a call, get the identity of both the debt collector and the lender to whom the debt is owed. Then take immediate action.

Contact your state. Forty-six states have passed laws requiring businesses to notify consumers in the event that their sensitive personal data is stolen. Reach out to your state’s attorney general for help. States have the best infrastructure for providing residents with redress, either administratively or via the courts.

Stay vigilant and don’t panic. Most instances of data breach don’t result in identity theft. Even if your personal information is compromised, take heart. As long as you bare paying attention to charges your account, there isn’t any liability for residents of the 46 states with existing notification laws.

Real Estate Corner: Are there renovations that decrease home value?

Q. Are there renovations that decrease home value?

A. There are things you can do to your home that may seem like a good idea now but could cost you when you attempt to sell in the future. For instance; knocking down the walls between two bedrooms to make a bigger one could cost you tens of thousands of dollars.

Houses with more bedrooms command higher prices. Three bedroom homes sell the most. Unless you have more than 3 bedrooms, think long and hard before deciding to renovate your home into one with fewer bedrooms. Fewer bedrooms will also limit the number of people who will be interested to even look at your future listing.

Buyers also want lots of closet space. You may be tempted to eliminate a closet to make space for a something else but don’t do it. If you really need more space, then simply change a room’s layout, but never, ever, remove the closets.

These days, people use their garages for storage or even use a part of it as an office. That is perfectly fine and acceptable. But don’t make it a permanent conversion and eliminate space to park a car. Most people want a roof over their cars, especially in areas where the weather can get a bit wild come winter.

Use wall paper sparingly. Some wallpaper can be notoriously difficult to remove so it goes without saying that a prospective buyer may not be very happy when the whole house is smothered in wallpaper. Removing them and prepping the walls for paint can easily cost a few thousand dollars, and that’s something that can put off potential buyers

You want to make your house your home. But by going for home renovations that add value and function, you will still be able to have the features you want without compromising your home’s market value.

I’d be more than happy to discuss this further with you and answer any questions you may have. Just give me a call.