What I’ve Learned From Visiting 100-Plus Open Houses in a Year

I’ve been house hunting for over a year (and counting) and visited over a hundred open houses in that time. Let me be clear: I’m not some overly picky real estate window shopper, because I have made offers, and been outbid. In New York City, where I’m looking, that’s just par for the course.

Still, though, my experiences have turned me into an open house aficionado of sorts. I know what makes buyers swoon (myself and others), as well as what repels buyers the moment they set foot inside.

So if you’re a home seller who hopes to bowl over buyers rather than send them running, I’m here to help. Let me tell you about a few things I’ve learned that could kill your chances of selling your home.

Personal quirks on display

Steak sauce, mustard, and hot sauce. These condiments were not in the kitchen (as one would expect) but on a dresser in a bedroom of an open house I attended in Queens. Right then and there, I knew I had to get out of the house. Who knows what was going on there, but it was just too weird for me to stick around and ponder the possibilities.

“First impressions matter,” says Gary Malin, president of the New York brokerage firm Citi Habitats. “Remember, you want the prospective buyer’s attention to be on the home, not your personal life.”

Remove all personal items, including family photos, unusual collectibles, memorabilia, and misplaced condiments.

Hovering home sellers (or their kids)

At an open house in Brooklyn, there was also a surprise in the bedroom: I walked in to find cute kids under the covers half-asleep. Granted, these kids weren’t there alone; their parents were lingering, too. But adult supervision or not, all these family members nearby made me want to flee, because I felt like I was intruding on their personal space.

“Home sellers often make the mistake of leaving their place too late and returning too soon,” says Aaron Hendon, an agent for Christine & Company with Keller Williams in Seattle.

A well-advertised open house will attract people early, and there will definitely be people arriving just as the agent is locking up. So plan on getting everyone up and out of bed an hour before the open house starts.

Dark, dusty rooms

A three-bedroom, two-bathroom condo I checked out in the suburban county of Westchester was spacious, but very dark. The windows were covered not only by lace curtains, but also by valances and vertical blinds. It felt less like a home and more like the inside of a crypt. I tried to open the curtains to get a sense of what the room would look like with Vitamin D. But there were too many window coverings to remove, and I could manage to let in only one ray of sun. Then I gave up and got out.

“The aim is to get as much natural light as possible and then turn on every lamp,” says Ashley Baillio of the Keyes Company in Florida.

She also recommends dusting blinds. If you don’t, the light will catch the dust and make the whole house appear dirty.

Cluttered closets and drawers

Open houses are all about strangers opening and closing things—closet doors, kitchen cabinets and drawers. I recall one apartment I instantly loved and was ready to make an offer on—until I opened the kitchen pantry. There were products in there with packaging I recognized from my childhood … at my grandmother’s house. It was only then that I realized the house actually needed a ton of work and had not been updated at all since the 1980s.

Bottom line: Every detail of your house resonates with buyers. Yet Linda Bettencourt of Sotheby’s International Realty in San Francisco often gets pushback on this topic.

“Clients will say, ‘People don’t care what my closet looks like!'” says Bettencourt.

But buyers do care, and all the details they glean help them form an opinion of your property

“Rather than remembering the beautiful skylight, they remember the medicine cabinet with a leaking bottle of Jean Naté body wash from 1983,” she adds.

Lack of snacks (As a Realtor this part made me laugh (just so you know – I provide snacks  – Sabrina)

There’s something about a platter of baked goods that makes people like me go wild. Think cookies and small bottles of water. (You may want to skip baking the cookies yourself, which can make savvy buyers think you are trying to conceal funky odors.)

“Refreshments are a nice touch,” says Baillio. After all, going to an open house takes effort—sometimes I went to several a day. When an open house offered a little snack to greet visitors, I would be in a better frame of mind when testing the water pressure in the shower. Having no snacks is not necessarily a deal killer; but in general, I’ve noticed that the better open houses tend to have something to nosh on, perhaps because they were managed by people who paid attention to details.

Cloth booties

At the last open house I went to a few weeks ago, the agent had visitors put on cloth booties to protect the floor. This is fairly standard procedure, but this house had steep, narrow stairs. Two potential buyers slipped on the staircase within 20 minutes. I pictured myself buying the house, only to fall to my death as I went downstairs for coffee. So as much as I liked the home, I didn’t make an offer that day. My husband made me tour the home again, sans booties. And after discovering the stairs were safe if you didn’t wear slippery booties, I fell in love and made an offer.

In this case, at least, I learned a lesson: First impressions can be deceptive. So if no one’s swooning over your open house immediately, don’t obsess about what you’ve done wrong. Sooner or later, the right buyer will come along.

By Margaret Heidenry

Got Questions – The Caton Team is here to help. We are but a call or click away!

The Caton Team is comprised of Susan and Sabrina Caton – a mother/daughter in law team.  We are full time, local Realtors with over 35 years of combined Real Estate experience.  How can The Caton Team help you?

I read this article at: https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/year-100-open-houses-why-i-havent-bought/

Remember to follow our Blog for the local real estate beat, a pulse on the San Francisco Peninsula at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office: 650-365-9200

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

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Or YELP me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/sabrinawendtcaton

https://www.linkedin.com/in/susancatonrealtor

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Effective. Efficient. Responsive.  What Can The Caton Team Do For You?

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE# 70000218/ Office BRE #01499008

The Caton Team does not receive compensation for any posts and the information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. 

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Should Buyers Crowdfund Their Way Into Homeownership?

In recent years, crowdfunding has become a popular way to pay for a remarkably wide range of ventures. Want to back a sliced-ketchup product, a self-serve cocktail machine, or maybe a charity race? Just pull out your smartphone. But more recently the technology has been moving a bit closer to home—right up, in fact, to your doorstep. Crowdfunding is becoming an increasingly popular way for aspiring home buyers to tap into their networks to come up with down payments.

A new wave of crowdfunding platforms, like Kickstarter for real estate, could be a game changer for younger, tech-savvy generations of home buyers saddled with student loan debt. It’s an idea that is gaining traction, with sites such as HomeFundMe and Feather the Nest, which helps folks raise money for down payments and repairs, and online registries such as HoneyFund, which includes the option of gifting a down payment contribution.

“The No. 1 challenge that we hear from millennials in terms of their ability to buy a home is the down payment,” says Jonathan Lawless, vice president of customer solutions for Fannie Mae. “Crowdsourcing is an interesting new way that a person can generate a down payment, one made possible by technology. … We think there is a great future for it.”

Users who are typically pre-qualified for a mortgage can create personal pages on these platforms, on which they can talk about their journey toward homeownership, illustrated with photos and maybe video. These pages can be shared with family and friends.

“[Many] people find they can afford [mortgage] payments, but not the down payment to own a home,” says Christopher George, CEO of CMG Financial, a San Ramon, CA–based mortgage banking firm that launched HomeFundMe late last year.

George, a father of four millennial sons, came up with the idea for HomeFundMe in 2016 after seeing the financial struggles of his kids’ generation. The crowdfunding platform is the only one of the bunch designed solely for down payments and is the first to be backed by mortgage industry giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“We’re talking to millennials saying their social network is their net worth,” George says. “Why not allow your sphere of influence [to] help as well?”

What you need to know about a crowdfunded down payment

Using gifted funds for a down payment can be tricky—mortgage lenders typically require a letter from the giver, specifying that the money is a gift, not a loan, and there are no strings attached. But using an online fundraising platform can allow buyers to bypass some of that red tape.

Using HomeFundMe, anyone can give up to $7,500 to a campaign without documentation. HomeFundMe also doesn’t charge fees to use the platform, or take a cut of what’s raised. The company will even give buyers $2 for every $1 they raise, up to $1,000, or up to 1% of the purchase price if they undergo home buyer counseling beforehand. Buyers who earn less than their area’s median income can earn up to $2,500, or 1% of the home price.

So what’s the catch? Crowdfunders must get their mortgage through HomeFundMe’s parent company, CMG Financial. They have to close on a home within a year of accepting their first gift. And if they don’t use the money to buy a home, funds marked “conditional on the recipient purchasing a home” are returned to the donor. The crowdfunder can keep the rest.

Other crowdfunding platforms have slightly different business models.

The online gift registry Feather the Nest has helped about half of its 3,000 “nesters” raise down payments since it launched in 2014, according to company officials.

Fees include a 5% transaction fee that goes to Feather the Nest, and a fee of 2.9% plus 30 cents that goes to its payment processing system, Stripe.

At HoneyFund, another online registry, about 6% of the 100,000 mostly millennial couples who use the site each year ask for down payments, according to company officials. There are no fees to use the platform, but users are charged 2.8% processing fees plus 30 cents per gift when the money is moved into their PayPal or WePay accounts.

“A lot of couples are not only saving for their home down payments but also home improvements,” HoneyFund CEO Sara Margulis says.

The dangers of crowdfunding your down payment

However, there are risks to buyers relying on crowdfunding to come up with money for a home.

“If somebody is not able to save for their own down payment, it might be because they are stretched financially. But it [also] might be that they are bad at saving,” says Fannie Mae’s Lawless. “The ability to generate savings is a critical aspect of being a responsible homeowner.”

Remember, it was homeowners who couldn’t really afford their homes that led to the financial crisis just over a decade ago. So helping more people who haven’t mastered the art of saving, or who may be so financially stretched that they can’t afford to save, is worrisome.

It’s “a very risky proposition,” says Rick Sharga, executive vice president at Carrington Mortgage Holdings, a real estate company in Aliso Viejo, CA. These kinds of buyers may be “one unexpected car payment, one roof repair, one water heater replacement away from missing a mortgage payment and possibly going into a downward cycle they can’t recover from.”

By Young Ha

Got Questions – The Caton Team is here to help. We are but a call or click away!

The Caton Team is comprised of Susan and Sabrina Caton – a mother/daughter in law team.  We are full time, local Realtors with over 35 years of combined Real Estate experience.  How can The Caton Team help you?

I read this article at: https://www.realtor.com/news/trends/online-platforms-to-help-millennials-crowdfund-payments/

Remember to follow our Blog for the local real estate beat, a pulse on the San Francisco Peninsula at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office: 650-365-9200

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

HomeSnaphttp://www.homesnap.com/Sabrina-Caton

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Visit us on FACEBOOK:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

YELP us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or YELP me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/sabrinawendtcaton

https://www.linkedin.com/in/susancatonrealtor

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Effective. Efficient. Responsive.  What Can The Caton Team Do For You?

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE# 70000218/ Office BRE #01499008

The Caton Team does not receive compensation for any posts and the information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. 

5 Ways You’re Destroying Your Lawn

A beautiful, well-manicured lawn is a source of great pride for many homeowners. Maintaining a healthy lawn takes work and hours of TLC, including regular watering, cutting, and laying down fertilizer. A lawn that’s cared for shows that you take pride in your home’s appearance. And all that curb appeal can really pay off when it comes time to sell your house.

However, your lawn can also become a source of gut-wrenching angst. Reason: Many well-meaning and proactive homeowners make mistakes in lawn care that produce dreadful and depressing results. A little too much love can be, well, too much.

If your lawn has been looking particularly sickly, you might be to blame. Reflect on your lawn care regimen and ask yourself: Have you made any of the mistakes below? The answer to solving your lawn troubles may be realizing you’ve been ruining it all along.

1. Improper watering

Water management is the No. 1 mistake made by homeowners with established lawns, according to Clint Waltz, professor and turfgrass extension specialist in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the University of Georgia. So just how much water does your lawn need per week?

“Watering just an inch of water a week is good if you have good rainfall,” Waltz says. If you’re in an area that doesn’t receive as much rain, then you’ll need to lend a helping hand with more frequent waterings.

To check how much water your lawn gets each week, leave several cups out and measure the water level at the end of seven days.

An irrigation system can help your lawn get the water it needs and maintain a consistent watering schedule. Some sprinkler systems even have rain or moisture sensors to detect water levels and turn the system on and off.

2. Planting only one type (or the wrong kind) of grass

Variety is not only the spice of life—it’s also a necessary ingredient for a healthy lawn, according to Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs at the National Association of Landscape Professionals in Fairfax, VA.

“When planting grass seed, choose a variety of seeds so your lawn is more likely to weather poor conditions like heat and drought,” she advises.

You also need to determine the best grass for your environment.

“Species selection is critical, and you have to understand which species fits in each site,” Waltz says. For example, he says, Bermuda grass doesn’t handle shady environments well. Also, if you live in the southern region with hot summers and mild winters, consider such warm-season turf types as St. Augustine grass, zoysia grass, and centipede grass.

However, if you live in the northern region and experience bitter cold winters, tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, and perennial ryegrass are better bets.

Some people live in regions with weather at both extremes. For those areas, Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, zoysia grass, and Bermuda grass are good choices. Waltz recommends checking with your local county extension agent or university specialist to find out which grasses grow best in your area.

3. Not taking soil health seriously

A healthy lawn starts below the surface, in the soil.

“If your soil is compacted or missing necessary nutrients, grass will not thrive, no matter how hard you try,” Henriksen says. She recommends aerating your lawn every one or two years, depending on your soil type. Aerating is the process of putting small holes in the lawn so water, air, and nutrients can reach the soil.

“A soil test should be conducted at least every three years to determine what nutrients are needed so the proper fertilizer can be used,” says Henriksen. Once you determine the correct type of fertilizer, she says, it needs to be applied correctly.

“Correctly means at the right time of year, in proper amounts, and with the correct applicator,” she says. “And you should consult manufacturer recommendations for guidance.”

4. Mowing the lawn at the wrong time

Contrary to what you might see on lawnmower commercials, most homeowners don’t get excited about mowing their lawn. But when the time comes, it’s important to mow your lawn under the right conditions.

“Generally, grass should be trimmed to 2½ to 3 inches, depending on the grass type, and no more than a third of the grass blade should be removed at one time,” says Henriksen. So if it’s at or below that height, hold off on cutting. Grass that’s too short stresses the grass blades and makes them more susceptible to disease, she says.

Mowing wet grass is another mistake many homeowners make. The moisture will weigh the grass blades down and make it difficult to get a clean, straight cut. The wet clippings will also clump up and make your lawn look uneven.

Also, failing to keep the mower blades sharp causes the cuts to be ragged, and this increases the chances that the grass will develop diseases and attract pests.

You should also refrain from mowing your lawn in the same direction every time; otherwise, you’ll end up creating grooves in the grass. (Grooves are not groovy.)

5. Not knowing environmental stressors

Environmental stressors are conditions that affect the ability of grass to thrive.

“These stressors include excessive amounts of precipitation, drought, temperature extremes, construction, and foot traffic,” Henriksen says, “and each can take its toll on the health of your lawn.”

For example, if you overwater your grass, the excessive moisture creates the perfect conditions for weeds, leaf mold, and leaf spots.

“Lawns that are overfertilized are also susceptible to weeds, while lawns that have heavy foot traffic can experience compacted soil, which is problematic for their health,” she explains. Too much foot traffic will prevent water from reaching the roots, and when that happens, you’ll be left with a brown lawn.

By Terri Williams

Got Questions – The Caton Team is here to help. We are but a call or click away!

The Caton Team is comprised of Susan and Sabrina Caton – a mother/daughter in law team.  We are full time, local Realtors with over 35 years of combined Real Estate experience.  How can The Caton Team help you?

I read this article at: https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/ruining-your-lawn/

Remember to follow our Blog for the local real estate beat, a pulse on the San Francisco Peninsula at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office: 650-365-9200

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

HomeSnaphttp://www.homesnap.com/Sabrina-Caton

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit our INSTAGRAM page:  http://instagram.com/thecatonteam

PINTREST: https://www.pinterest.com/thecatonteam/

Visit us on FACEBOOK:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

YELP us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or YELP me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/sabrinawendtcaton

https://www.linkedin.com/in/susancatonrealtor

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Effective. Efficient. Responsive.  What Can The Caton Team Do For You?

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE# 70000218/ Office BRE #01499008

The Caton Team does not receive compensation for any posts and the information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. 

How To Have More Energy In The Morning

Happy Monday!!!

I used to think being a morning person was something inherited. I thought some people just were, and others weren’t. Like me. I couldn’t drag myself out of bed at the crack of dawn and hated the thought of going to anything early in the morning. But I changed all that. The days seem so much longer when you use your morning hours wisely, and I love nothing more than getting up early on a weekend and getting things done.

Here’s a trick you might have missed, your attitude to sleep is the key to everything. Your energy levels in the day, your mood and attitude, and the way you work. How you sleep, and how you feel about it, determines how you wake up. I upgraded my first hour at work too and I’m more productive than ever, find out how I did it here.

The crazy thing is these days I can wake up anywhere between 5 AM and 6:30 AM and not feel a difference. I hate feeling tired and sluggish and haven’t actually felt that way in around six months since I started getting up early. So how do you become a morning person and wake up with more energy? Here’s how…

WRITE YOUR MORNING PAGES

I’ve been working through The Artist’s Way Workbook every morning. It’s a manual designed to help you be more creative and awaken parts of your brain that you didn’t know were asleep. One of the challenges will help you become a morning person. Basically, in the morning you need to wake up one hour early and fill in three pages of text. These are your morning pages.

To begin with, these pages are negative and self-deprecating. But eventually, you get used to the idea and begin to enjoy it. You might start having some enlightening ideas, it will help you process the stresses of the day, and you’ll feel so much better. Getting up one hour early and starting to write in your morning pages will help wake up your brain and give you something to focus on in the first hour of the day. It’s really helped me to become a positive thinker, but also to get a boost of energy in the morning naturally. You can easily stop the negative self-talk with a few quick tips too, find out how to here.

I use my Getting Things Done planner to write my morning pages, because it keeps everything I’m thinking and doing together. It’s the only planner that can help me structure my entire day. I can also track what I’ve eaten throughout the day, the exercise I do and make sure I’ve got my day off to the right start.

CUT OUT PROCESSED FOODS

Obviously, what you eat has a major impact on how you feel and your energy levels. High levels of refined carbohydrates and sugars can lead to low energy. I noticed that when my diet was not strict, I would struggle to wake up. So, I made the decision to cut down my sugar intake and avoid processed foods as much as possible just because I was focusing on my health.

But the one surprising side effect that had was that I could easily wake up in the morning, I didn’t feel tired at all during the day, and I felt more productive during work. The sluggish feeling was completely gone. The science shows that while these foods give you a spike of blood sugar, that always leads to a crash at some stage. Avoid them if you want to give yourself a better night’s sleep and wake up with more energy. Read more about natural energy boosters here if you want to start taking your sleep seriously.

COUNT YOUR CYCLES, NOT YOUR HOURS

I was terrible for this. I would obsess over the amount of hours sleep I had or was going to get. If I felt it was too little, I’d already wake up in a bad mood. I had to stop doing it and trust my body. If I was awake and feeling fine, I had probably had enough sleep. The one trick you can use to give yourself a proper night’s rest is to count your sleep cycles instead of your hours.

You should be getting around 5-6 sleep cycles in, no matter how many hours you sleep. This means you will go from sleepy to deep uninterrupted sleep. You can even use an app like SleepCycle Alarm Clock to help you get the healthiest amount of sleep. It will track your sleep cycle and gently bring you from asleep to awake. When you do this, you might even find you can afford to wake up an hour earlier and won’t be sacrificing your energy levels.

USE THE FIVE SECOND TRICK

Don’t roll over and go back to sleep for ten minutes. Instead, get up, make a hot drink, fill in your morning pages, work out. Having more energy in the morning will give you a chance to make the most out of the important first hours of the day. Read what successful women do first thing in the morning and inspire yourself to get ahead for the day.

Just give yourself five seconds, count down from five to one, and once you get to one, you have to do it. This is a good psychological trick to motivate yourself to do anything you set your mind to.

Got Questions – The Caton Team is here to help. We are but a call or click away!

The Caton Team is comprised of Susan and Sabrina Caton – a mother/daughter in law team.  We are full time, local Realtors with over 35 years of combined Real Estate experience.  How can The Caton Team help you?

I read this article at: https://www.careergirldaily.com/how-to-wake-up-with-more-energy/

Remember to follow our Blog for the local real estate beat, a pulse on the San Francisco Peninsula at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office: 650-365-9200

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

HomeSnaphttp://www.homesnap.com/Sabrina-Caton

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit our INSTAGRAM page:  http://instagram.com/thecatonteam

PINTREST: https://www.pinterest.com/thecatonteam/

Visit us on FACEBOOK:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

YELP us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or YELP me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/sabrinawendtcaton

https://www.linkedin.com/in/susancatonrealtor

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Effective. Efficient. Responsive.  What Can The Caton Team Do For You?

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE# 70000218/ Office BRE #01499008

The Caton Team does not receive compensation for any posts and the information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. 

There Goes the Neighborhood! 7 Landscaping Decisions Sure to Make the Neighbors Mad

 

Your neighbors couldn’t care less about what you keep on the mantel above your fireplace. And they wouldn’t expect you to check with them before you pick out new paint for your bathroom.

Your yard, however, is a very different matter.

Yes, the exterior of your house is still your property. Technically—unless you live in a prohibitive homeowners association—you can do what you like. But everyone else can see it … which will mean they care.

A lot.

“What upsets neighbors the most isn’t interpersonal,” explains Cassy Aoyagi, president of FormLA Landscaping, a high-end, sustainable landscaping firm in Los Angeles. “It’s property decisions that affect the neighborhood.”

Here are some of the landscaping decisions that are sure to give your neighbors something to complain about—possibly for years to come.

1. Gravelscaping

In an attempt to save water, some people transform their front yard or garden into a rockscape. It’s a well-intentioned gesture, but if “Lots of rocks, hold the grass” doesn’t fit your natural climate, these dry landscapes can become a heated neighborhood topic—literally.

“Here in Los Angeles, gravelscaping can amplify heat throughout the city and increase run-off, making neighboring properties less comfortable,” Aoyagi says.

Since rocks don’t absorb water, a gravelscaped yard sheds extra water. That means that your rockscape could even put your neighborhood at risk of flooding in high-water years, Aoyagi notes. Do you really want to be that neighbor?

2. Taking down trees

Blame it on the Lorax. Or Shel Silverstein’s tear-jerking picture book “The Giving Tree.” If you try to chop down a mature tree on your property, your neighbors Will. Be. Aghast.

“Trees cool properties and neighborhoods. They increase property values, not just for homeowners, but for their neighbors and communities,” Aoyagi says. “People simply grow very attached to them.”

3. Playing fast and loose with water

If you live in an area that’s fighting drought, maybe you shouldn’t put in, say, a koi pond or some other elaborate water feature.

“You definitely don’t want to be seen watering the sidewalk,” Aoyagi adds.

Even if you aren’t reenacting “Waterworld,” beware of the vibes your yard is giving off. Neighbors will scrutinize that oh-so-green grass and could jump to conclusions.

“Even a lush lawn can have people rolling their eyes, if it isn’t a lawn alternative with smart irrigation,” she says.

4. Using leaf blowers

Leaf blowers are the quickest way you’ll get to know your neighbors—but not in the “Hey, let’s be friends” type of way.

No, every time you fire up a leaf blower, you’re launching a sensory assault on your neighbors. That’s no understatement: The most powerful models can create noise levels as high as an ear-piercing 112 decibels. Studies have even shown that the effects of that kind of noise can cause hypertension and heart disease.

And it isn’t just the aggressive, brain-rattling noise that’s bothersome.

“One blower pollutes (as much as) a freeway full of cars, and blows pollen and pollutants from the ground into the air, aggravating asthma and allergies,” Aoyagi points out.

5. Letting your landscape grow wild

Can’t tell a hydrangea from a hibiscus? (And don’t care?) Does spending a weekend pruning trees sound like your own personal hell?

If you live in a rural area with large properties, no one may notice if you give up on your yard. But if you’re in a residential development, your neighbors will seethe at record speed.

“One unkempt, overflowing trash bin can bring rats,” Aoyagi notes. “A neighbor’s rundown garden can also decrease the appraised value of a home.”

Bottom line: “Whatever you have, stay on top of it,” she says.

6. Going overboard with the holiday decorations

You know what we’re talking about: amazingly bright lights that shine into nearby homes. Music your neighbors can hear while they’re home—with the doors closed. And maybe that realistic reproduction of the creepy clown from “It” cracks you up, but isn’t such a hit with the young kids next door.

And don’t forget the nightly crawl of traffic that over-the-top displays bring.

“If your decorations attract a steady procession of admirers, make sure you have a plan to keep (them) from making your neighbors’ lawns look like someone pulled a ‘trick’ on them,” advises Jennifer Susanne Sommers, a luxury real estate specialist for Nestler Poletto Sotheby’s International Realty in Boca Raton, FL.

Plus, all that traffic can make it hard to get in and out of the neighborhood—and that certainly won’t endear you to your neighbors either, Sommers adds.

7. Planting the wrong shrubs

Forget the aesthetics for a sec. The landscaping you select can be not only an eyesore, but potentially hazardous—to neighborhood pets, at least.

Case in point: oleander, a plant that’s popular in the South and Southwest.

“It flowers beautifully, but it can be a danger to pets if they eat the leaves,” cautions David Meek, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Arizona Realty in Scottsdale, AZ.

Oleander contains a cardiac toxin, he explains, and fewer than 20 ingested leaves would be lethal to an animal the size of a horse.

Throw up a few hedges of oleander—especially in areas where HOAs urge residents not to—and you’ll have some unhappy neighbors to deal with.

Curious what your thoughts are!

Got Questions – The Caton Team is here to help. We are but a call or click away!

The Caton Team is comprised of Susan and Sabrina Caton – a mother/daughter in law team.  We are full time, local Realtors with over 25 years of combined Real Estate experience.  How can The Caton Team help you?

I read this article at: https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/landscaping-decisions-neighbors-mad/?identityID=9851214&MID=2018_0316_WeeklyNL_control&RID=353497822&cid=eml-2018-0309-WeeklyNL-blog_4_badlandscaping-blogs_trends

Remember to follow our Blog for the local real estate beat, a pulse on the San Francisco Peninsula at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office: 650-365-9200

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Effective. Efficient. Responsive.  What Can The Caton Team Do For You?

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Where Homes Are Flying Off the Market—and Where They’re Lingering Longest

Where Homes Are Flying Off the Market—and Where They’re Lingering Longest

Why do home buyers and sellers alike track days-on-market stats every bit as obsessively as money managers fixate on the Dow, baseball fans on weight-on-base averages, or “Bachelor” fans on ambush breakups? Well, it all depends on which side of the sales aisle you’re on. Sellers, of course, want their homes to move to closing as quickly as possible, maybe even spurring a sweet price war en route. Buyers, on the other hand, are eager to avoid said price wars and maybe even have a bunch of different homes to choose from.

But contrary to what you might assume from reading real estate news headlines, there are metro areas where homes aren’t being snapped up at a breakneck pace. It’s a big country, after all. So we got curious. What could we learn from how long homes spend on the market in different metros?

Buyers and sellers, take note(s)!

“That info can give home buyers an idea of how much competition they face, how limited homes are in the market, and how quickly they need to make a decision if they find a home they like,” says Chief Economist Danielle Hale of realtor.com.

And sellers can get a reality check about how long their home should spend on the market—if it’s priced right and in good condition.

“It helps them get an idea of how long they have to move somewhere else,” Hale says. “In a really hot market, you can probably sell your home without making updates. But if you make updates, your home is more competitive.”

Nationally, the median number of days on the market is falling—there are too many buyers and not enough properties for sale, particularly in booming tech hubs. It hit a low of 60 days in the high-home-buying season of both May and June 2017, according to realtor.com data. That’s down from 89 days in June 2012. (Our data go back only to May 2012.)

To figure out where these home-buying headaches are the worst (or are relatively painless), we looked at the median number of days that for-sale homes in the 300 largest metros spent on market from February 2017 through January 2018.* We limited our rankings to just one metro per state to ensure some geographic diversity.

Ready? Get set? Let’s first go look at those boiling-hot metros where homes spend the least time on market.

1. San Jose, CA

Median days on market: 28.6

Median list price: $1,100,300

When it comes to high-tech jobs with correspondingly high paychecks—and a soaring real estate market—nothing can compete with San Jose. The sprawling city is the heart of Silicon Valley.

As a result of those movin’-like-flapjack homes and the resulting availability shortage, median list prices in the metro rose nearly 26.4% year over year as of February, according to realtor.com data.

Local real estate broker associate Zaid Hanna, of Intero Real Estate Services, routinely receives five to 70—yes, 70—offers per property if it’s not priced outrageously. He received nearly two dozen offers for one three-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom abode that was listed at $829,000. It wound up selling for $960,000. That’s $131,000 over asking price, and had a down payment of $600,000. And this was a property that hadn’t been updated in 35 years!

It’s not uncommon for homes to go for $100,000 to $400,000 over the asking price, Hanna says. Ouch.

“There no shortage of buyers—many of them well-heeled—in Santa Clara County, where so many tech giants are located and jobs, generally, have lately been on the rebound,” says area real estate broker associate Dawn Thomas, of Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty.  “Buyers are ‘burning’ through inventory with [still] low-interest rates.”

2. Seattle, WA

Median days on market: 34.1

Median list price: $499,950

Homes are flying off their blocks in the birthplace of Amazon and Microsoft almost as quickly as in Silicon Valley.

“Anything on the market that is halfway decent is selling immediately with multiple offers,” says Annie Radecki, senior manager at John Burns Real Estate Consulting Seattle. “New-home builders used to sell first come, first served. But more than half of them have converted to selling to the highest and best offer.”

That’s because the economy is strong with plenty of well-paid employees needing places to live. But the home shortage—as well as skyrocketing prices—is leading more buyers to venture farther out from the city limits.

Take Tacoma, about 35 miles from Seattle, where the median list price is a much more reasonable $270,000, according to realtor.com data. But prices are rising there as well. Prices jumped about 13.9% from December 2016 to December 2017, according to the most recent realtor.com data.

They were up 16.9% year over year in Seattle over the same period, according to realtor.com data.

“It’s so hot that one would have to drive an hour and a half at rush hour from downtown Seattle to get a better inventory situation,” Radecki adds. That means to find an area with a better stock of homes on the market buyers have to commute 30 to 40 miles to the north, south, or east.

3. Salt Lake City, UT

Median days on market: 38.2

Median list price: $372,450

People are flocking to Utah, particularly Salt Lake City, like luna moths to flame.

That’s probably because the economy is booming with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the U.S., ringing in at just 2.7% in December 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s leading to plenty of transplants. The city is expected to gain an additional 600,000 residents over the next 50 years, according to a University of Utah research brief.

Pair that with a relatively low cost of living, compared with some of the other cities on our list, a great public transportation system, and nearby ski slopes, and you have yourself a great big shortage of homes for sale.

“Anything under $350,000 is selling pretty easily,” says Brook Bernier, a Realtor® with Hot Property Utah. She listed one home just outside the city limits for about $285,000. Within a few days, she had three offers at $300,000. “We have zero days on market with some places—no sign even goes out because it’s already gone.”

4. Denver, CO

Median days on market: 39.2

Median list price: $543,572

Buyers can’t seem to get enough of Denver. In recent years, the capital of Colorado has been drawing swaths of millennials to its outdoorsy lifestyle and vibrant nightlife. (Legal recreational marijuana probably doesn’t hurt either.)

But in addition to all the perks, the city is also home to a robust technology scene—albeit one with a cost of living well below that of Silicon Valley. And now many newcomers who have been renting are ready to purchase homes. Unfortunately, like the other metros on the list, there are few homes to buy.

Entry-level listings, from around $300,000 to $450,000, get snapped up in minutes, say local real estate professionals. However, that demand flows up to homes priced at over $1 million. The city basically has the lowest amount of inventory its seen, with just around 3,300 homes on the market.

“We make jokes that buyers are walking into homes on fire saying, ‘I’ll take it,’” says Jeff Plous with ONE Realty. “I try to tell clients to wait and be patient, keep calm. But prices seem to keep going up.”

5. Nashville, TN

Median days on market: 40.6

Median list price: $359,950

The Country Music Capital is booming these days—a Southern hub for millennial techies, foodies, makers of craft beer and spirits, and indie fashion labels. That has translated into the area receiving an influx of about 100 new residents per day, many of whom are looking to buy real estate. That’s led to the inventory shortage and rising prices.

These days, downtown condos are selling quickly for well over $600,000, says local real estate professional Lisa Peebles Chagnon of Benchmark Realty.

She had one Midtown listing that sold so quickly, she didn’t even have to enter it into the multiple listing service, the database of real estate listings.

“We put it in the MLS after the fact for comp purposes only,” she says. “That happens a lot these days.”

———

Rounding out the metros with the fewest median days on the market are Portland, OR (44.3); Boise, ID (46); Sioux Falls, SD (46.8); Omaha, NE (47.2); and Minneapolis (47.3).

Need to slow down a bit? Let’s take a look at the other end of the market, where homes are taking the longest to sell.

 

Take your time: Where homes sit on the market the longest…

1. Claremont, NH

Median days on market: 138.8

Median list price: $245,300

The small town of Claremont has an idyllic downtown punctuated with historic buildings dating from the 1830s to the 20th century. These range from wood-frame Greek Revival buildings to the ornate Queen Anne/Colonial Revival Hotel Claremont and the Italian Renaissance Revival Opera House.

However, the real estate market isn’t quite as strong as its architecture. The population has decreased (3% from 2010 to July 2016), and the property taxes are far higher than in nearby areas. However, there is no sales or income tax in the state.

In Claremont, the property tax rate is nearly a whopping $43 per $1,000 of home value, which is considered a factor in the low demand, according to Housing Solutions Real Estate, which sells property.

Just 35 minutes away, in Hanover, NH, home to the University of New Hampshire, Dartmouth College, and a highly coveted public school district, taxes are more like $20 per $1,000. But the median home prices are also much higher, at about $520,000.

“So it’s a wash, pretty much,” says local real estate agent Ann Jacques, of Century 21 Highview Realty, of the lower prices but higher home prices in Claremont. She’s seeing a lot of locals returning to the region, along with retirees and out-of-staters seeking a cheaper cost of living. “It’s been super busy lately.”

2. Brownsville, TX

Median days on market: 129.4

Median list price: $200,000

Brownsville has experienced its share of difficulties over the past year, including budget cuts and hiring freezes at the local colleges. Unemployment is about one and a half times the national average, at 6% as of December 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The upside is that after close to a decade of high-impact fees on new real estate development, the city lowered the rate to a more affordable level, spurring a flurry of new construction. That left many of the older homes, including many of those McMansions from the early 2000s, stagnating on the market.

“Anything over $150,000 is just sitting unless it’s just a really good deal,” says Craig Grove, broker/owner Grove Realty Team. “I’ve seen more people build over the past year than the whole time I’ve been here.”

3. Salisbury, MD

Median days on market: 124.9

Median list price: $299,500

Set on Maryland’s idyllic Eastern Shore, about a half-hour away from popular beach town Ocean City, Salisbury is the largest city in this rural region.

The historic town is filled with a mix of bungalow, Victorian, Colonial, and Cape Cod homes. Those properties are selling at a slower rate than what is common in the rest of the country. But homes are still fetching top dollar, says local real estate pro Dale King of Esham Real Estate.

Homes are selling for about 97% of the list price. And Salisbury is also experiencing a lack of inventory.

“The good stuff gets snapped up,” says King. “Older stuff languishes.”

There are a lot of older homes in the area that are in need of renovation, and many local buyers just don’t want to put in the elbow grease, says King.

Plus, a couple of economic factors may be driving down demand in Salisbury. Although the city’s population has increased 8.5% from 2010 to 2016, according to Census data, the city’s median income, $37,780, is lower than the national median of $59,039 in 2016.

There is also a large renter population. Only 29.9% of housing units in Salisbury were owner-occupied from 2012 to 2016, according to Census data.

4. Rocky Mount, NC

Median days on market: 123

Median list price: $135,050

There are several reasons why homes in Rocky Mount sit longer on the market than in other cities in booming North Carolina, the fifth fastest-growing state in the country, according to Census data.

The city was slow to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Floyd in 1999, utility costs are high, and many locals prefer to live in the surrounding counties, where there is no city tax.

And the few homes that do come onto the market (about 470 active listings in Nash and Edgecombe Counties compared with around 1,200 a half-decade ago) aren’t necessarily desirable to the small pool of buyers who are looking.

The ones that move are those that have been renovated and modernized.

“If we see a good, renovated home it’s usually gone within a day or two,” says Ana Joyner, a real estate professional with Joyner-Silk Team Market Leader Realty. “We don’t have a lot of new construction, and many older houses here have not been updated—they’re the ones you’re seeing longer on the market.”

5. Pittsfield, MA

Median days on market: 121.6

Median list price: $371,775

Lying between the lush Berkshire Hills and the jutting Taconic Range, Pittsfield and greater Berkshire County are defined by the stunning New England wilderness. But like many former industrial hubs of the Northeast, the city has been losing well-paying jobs since the 1970s.

This includes the General Electric plant closures that took place primarily between the 1980s and early 1990s. Since 2000 alone, more than 40% of the area’s manufacturing jobs have disappeared, a Berkshire Regional Planning Commission told MassLive.com.

Populations have been declining throughout Western Massachusetts. Berkshire County has lost more than 3.3% of its population since 2010, according to the Census, squelching demand for the aging property supply.

The area isn’t attracting many out-of-towners from bigger cities, like New York, seeking country homes. It’s more a local’s market with homes selling under the $200,000 mark, says local real estate broker Susan Baum, of Berkshire Homes and Condos, based in Lenox, MA.

“We’re an older housing market. We don’t have [a lot of] new housing construction,” she says.

Taking the No. 6 slot for cities with the highest median days on the market is Bangor, ME (118.8), followed by Torrington, CT (118.4); Hilton Head Island, SC (114); Naples, FL (112.6); and Lebanon, PA, (112.4).

  • We looked at the monthly, median days on the market for each of the largest 300 metros. Then we created an average of the past 12 months ending Jan. 31, 2018.

 

Got Questions – The Caton Team is here to help. We are but a call or click away!

The Caton Team is comprised of Susan and Sabrina Caton – a mother/daughter in law team.  We are full time, local Realtors with over 25 years of combined Real Estate experience.  How can The Caton Team help you?

I read this article at: https://www.realtor.com/news/trends/hot-markets-where-homes-are-flying-off-shelves-and-where-theyre-not/?identityID=9851214&MID=2018_0316_WeeklyNL_control&RID=353497822&cid=eml-2018-0309-WeeklyNL-blog_1_homesflyingoffshelves-blogs_trends

Remember to follow our Blog for the local real estate beat, a pulse on the San Francisco Peninsula at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office: 650-365-9200

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Connect with us professionally at LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/sabrinawendtcaton

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Effective. Efficient. Responsive.  What Can The Caton Team Do For You?

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

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The Caton Team does not receive compensation for any posts and the information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

‘I Need to Report a Stolen House’

Oh My Goodness – are the words you’re going to utter when you read this.  What a debacle.  What an experience!  On a real estate note, The Caton Team always suggests taking out a title policy on your property  and obtaining the proper permits – in this case – to prove there was a … well go on and read it….

‘I Need to Report a Stolen House’

Homeowners in Madisonville, Texas, who reported the theft of their home to police on Friday got some good news: The structure has been located. But it’s too soon for them to relax yet.

On Friday, Jo and Lonnie Harrison, a couple from Houston reported the missing house to police after they went to their vacation home and discovered it was completely gone from their 10-acre property in Madisonville.

The Harrisons say the one-bedroom, one-bathroom prefab home was their vacation home that they purchased last year. The cabin has a green roof and wood siding.

The retired couple told ABC-13 that they purchased the home to escape the busy city life. They last visited the house in early November. But last Friday, when they returned, the entire house was gone.

An investigation by the Madison County Sheriff’s Department found that the building had been repossessed by a company in Temple, Texas, for nonpayment.

Sergeant Larry Shiver told ABC-13, “It was part of the deal, but the problem was it wasn’t specified in the writing. Yes, we feel sorry for them. That’s why we’re looking to find the house. They had belongings in the house. Plus, they put time and effort into the house.”

The couple says that when they arrived on Friday, the only traces of the home that were left were cinder blocks and pipes sticking out of the ground.

They reported the missing house to the Madison County Sheriff’s Department. Jo Harrison recalled telling police: “‘You know this is really going to sound strange, but I need to report a stolen house.’ They were like, ‘A house?’ I said yes. We have 10 acres and had a little cabin, and the cabin is gone. … We really would like to have our house back.”

Shiver said records don’t show the building listed on the property. He suggested anyone looking to purchase land visit their local tax assessor and run the transaction through a title company.

Source: “Mystery Solved: Police Find Couple’s Missing Vacation Home” and “‘I Need to Report a Stolen House!’: Houston Couple Wants Vacation Home Back,” ABC-13 (Feb. 6, 2018)

The Caton Team strives to be more than just Realtors – we are also your resource. If you have any real estate questions, concerns, need a referral or some guidance – we are here. Contact us at your convenience.  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

I read this article at: http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2018/02/07/i-need-report-stolen-house?tp=i-H43-Bb-1Yi-27VfQ-1p-EHi7-1c-27WWy-1svHsi&om_rid=31342700&Om_ntype=RMOdaily&om_mid=5996

Remember to follow our Blog for the local real estate beat, a pulse on the San Francisco Peninsula at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office: 650-365-9200

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

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Connect with us professionally at LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/sabrinawendtcaton

https://www.linkedin.com/in/susancatonrealtor

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Effective. Efficient. Responsive.  What Can The Caton Team Do For You?

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE# 70000218/ Office BRE #01499008

Photo originally painted by Gil Elvgren – not used with permission, found on internet – but totally too cute not to use… happy to remove if needed.

Information Deemed Reliable But Not Guaranteed