Adding value through special features

When looking to add value to your property it’s important to know what features are attracting potential buyers now.

  • Kitchen island: A well-designed kitchen island changes the look of the room entirely, often making it appear larger than it actually is as well as greatly improving the functionality of the space.
  • Granite countertop: Beautiful kitchens are a strong selling point these days and nothing is impressive as a granite countertop.
  • >Walk-in closet: A popular feature requested these days by home buyers, a well-designed space that accommodates additional cabinets and drawers will certainly add value.
  • Swimming pool: Back in vogue, a swimming pool is again seen as a real plus for outdoor gatherings.

Housing inventory ready to rise?

While housing inventory continued to decrease – down 0.2 percent in the last year – analysts say a turnaround may be coming with up to 8 percent increase in new listings, which would be the largest jump since 2013.

Larger cities are already seeing an in crease in listings with San Jose, Calif.; Seattle; Jacksonville, Fla.; San Diego; and San Francisco posting increases of 31 percent or more.

With inventory still low, houses are continuing to sell at a rapid pace with the average time on the market in the U.S. at 65 days. In the Bay Area, of course, houses sell at a much more rapid rate.


Good news on unemployment; wages not so much…

As the unemployment dropped to its lowest rate since 1969 – 3.7 percent – wages only increased 0.2 percent after inflation. This is not considered the norm as when the jobless rate reaches 4 percent – considered full employment – real wages generally climb faster than inflation.

One explanation is that the unemployment rate only accounts for those actively looking for work; it does not include those “discouraged workers.” When looked at in this light the percentage of the population ages 25 to 64 that is working is still lower than it was in 2007 and considerably lower than in 2000.

One ramification of this dichotomy is that while consumer spending is increasing at a fast pace, incomes are not, forcing consumers to borrow more and save less.


At least 670 new home coming to Richmond … eventually

The Richmond city council has voted to allow six qualified developers to submit a request for proposal in the coming months for the desirable Point Molate site. Long a point of controversy, the city of Richmond reached an agreement with a Native American tribe that had wanted to build a casino on the site that calls for 70 percent of the 413 acres to be kept as open space as well as preserving buildings in the Winehaven Historic District.

To add to the complexity, the area currently has no water or electricity so a fair amount of infrastructure work must be completed before actual development can begin.

Needless to say, considerable work remains to be done before these 670 homes will be completed. But it’s a start.


Time to sell?

According to a recent survey by the National Association of Realtors, 77 percent of home owners believe that now is a good time to sell a house. While 55 percent believe that home prices will continue to rise over the next six months, most understand that the period of fast gains is nearing an end, thus making this an optimum time to sell.

The survey also reported a general optimism over the state of the economy with those in higher brackets of household income much more positive than those who make less.


Trade tariffs may drive up home prices

The national Association of Home Builders is warning that the next round of trade tariffs aimed at China could target close to $10 billion of goods used in home construction. This includes approximately 6,000 imports used in the construction of new home and apartments.

The construction industry is already dealing with a 20 percent tariff on softwood lumber imports from Canada which add thousands of dollars to the cost of a single-family home.

These increases in costs is just another burden on the housing industry which is already dealing with a labor shortage causing many builders to delay or cancel projects.


Expect changes when you buy a home

Buying a home will probably be the biggest financial investment you ever make so it’s best to be prepared for what’s to come:

  • Expenses will increase with all that comes with home ownership.
  • Credit will improve as you make mortgage payments.
  • Other loans will be easier to qualify for as you now have a major asset.
  • Your home builds equity.

Buying a home will change your financial life forever.


When inheriting a house…

An excellent article on issues to consider when inheriting a house.

  • Keep, rent or sell: Competing interest among siblings may settle this one quickly: sell
  • Property investment: If there are siblings, is this going to work in the longterm?
  • Renovate/repair: If selling or renting, how much improvement is necessary?
  • Furnishings; An older home is likely to come with older furniture. How is this to be dealt with?

These are all questions that the executor must consider when a home is inherited.


Fall maintenance for your home

And just like that summer’s over: the beach umbrella and inflatable raft have been stored away and it’s time to turn your attention to the seasons ahead. Here’s a quick checklist to get you started:

  • Clean the gutters: Before the leaves fall, make sure the gutters are clean. if you use a gutter guard – a good idea – make sure it’s in good working order.
  • Attic insulation: If you’re home is older, check that the insulation has settled or shifted, leaving gaps or covering vents in the eaves.
  • Weather stripping: Consider removing or replacing the stripping around door frames with expansion foam to keep out winter drafts.
  • Remove window air conditioners: If you leave the A/C units in year round, make sure the exterior is covered with an insulating wrap.

It’s not the Starbucks, it’s the gentrification

A recent study by the Harvard Business School reported that having a Starbucks open in the vicinity can add a 0.5 percent increase in housing prices in the neighborhood. However, other analysts were quick to point out that it wasn’t the presence of Starbucks per se but an indication of affluence in the area.

Commonly referred to as gentrificationthe process of rebuilding homes and businesses accompanied by an influx of middle-class or affluent people at the expense of earlier, often poorer residents – it is usually associated with increases in the numbers of grocery stores, cafes, restaurants, and bars in the area.