5 Groups Who Really Want to Move

Nearly 10 percent of U.S. residents say they are so dissatisfied with their current housing, neighborhood, local safety, or public service to the point that they want to move, according to a newly released U.S. Census report, “Desire to Move and Residential Mobility: 2010-2011.” But other factors are also making more Americans desire to switch their residences.

In its report, the Census recently highlighted several segments of the population who are showing some of the highest desires to move. Here are some of its findings:

1. Young householders: About 14.6 percent of Americans age 16 to 34 said they would like to move, compared to 10.3 percent of Americans age 35 to 54, and 6.3 percent age 55 and older.

2. Renters: 16.5 percent of all renters say they would like to move — more than double the rate of home owners.

3. Those who live in impoverished areas: Home owners who lived in neighborhoods with a high poverty rate tended to show more desire to move.

4. Households with children: 14.3 percent of households with children said they wanted to move compared with 8.7 percent of households who did not have children.

5.Households with a disability: 12.5 percent of households with a disability said they wanted to move compared to 8.2 percent of those without a disability.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

7 Smart Strategies for a Kitchen Remodel

If you’re contemplating a kitchen remodel, you’re also weighing a considerable investment. But a significant portion of the upfront costs may be recovered by the value the project brings to your home. Kitchen remodels in the $50,000 range recouped 76% of the initial project cost at the home’s resale, according to recent data from Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report. To make sure you maximize your return, consider these seven smart kitchen remodeling strategies.

1. Establish your priorities

Van Dorn Village
Van Dorn Village is located in Franconia VA

Simple enough? Not so fast. The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) recommends spending at least six months planning before beginning the work. That way, you can thoroughly evaluate your priorities and won’t be tempted to change your mind during construction. Contractors often have clauses in their contracts that specify additional costs for amendments to original plans. Planning points to consider include:

  • Avoid traffic jams. A walkway through the kitchen should be at least 36 inches wide, according to the NKBA. Work aisles for one cook should be a minimum of 42 inches wide and at least 48 inches wide for households with multiple cooks.
  • Consider children. Avoid sharp, square corners on countertops, and make sure microwave ovens are installed at the heights recommended by the NKBA—3 inches below the shoulder of the principle user but not more than 54 inches from the floor.
  • Access to the outside. If you want to easily reach entertaining areas, such as a deck or a patio, factor a new exterior door into your plans.

Because planning a kitchen is complex, consider hiring a professional designer. A pro can help make style decisions and foresee potential problems, so you can avoid costly mistakes. In addition, a pro makes sure contractors and installers are sequenced properly so that workflow is cost-effective. Expect fees around $50 to $150 per hour, or 5% to 15% of the total cost of the project.

2. Keep the same footprint

No matter the size and scope of your planned kitchen, you can save major expense by not rearranging walls and by locating any new plumbing fixtures near existing plumbing pipes. Not only will you save on demolition and reconstruction, you’ll greatly reduce the amount of dust and debris your project generates.

3. Match appliances to your skill level

Falls Church realtors
Byron condominium is located in Falls Church VA

A six-burner commercial-grade range and luxury-brand refrigerator might make eye-catching centerpieces, but be sure they fit your lifestyle, says Molly Erin McCabe, owner of A Kitchen That Works design firm in Bainbridge Island, Wash. “It’s probably the part of a kitchen project where people tend to overspend the most.”

The high price is only worth the investment if you’re an exceptional cook. Otherwise, save thousands with trusted brands that receive high marks at consumer review websites, like www.ePinions.com and www.amazon.com, and resources such as Consumer Reports.

4. Create a well-designed lighting scheme

Some guidelines:

  • Install task lighting, such as recessed or track lights, over sinks and food prep areas; assign at least two fixtures per task to eliminate shadows. Under-cabinet lights illuminate clean-up and are great for reading cookbooks. Pendant lights over counters bring the light source close to work surfaces.
  • Ambient lighting includes flush-mounted ceiling fixtures, wall sconces, and track lights. Consider dimmer switches with ambient lighting to control intensity and mood.

5. Focus on durability

kitchen at Turnberry Tower
Quality designs for each unit

“People are putting more emphasis on functionality and durability in the kitchen,” says McCabe. That may mean resisting bargain prices and focusing on products that combine low-maintenance with long warranty periods. “Solid-surface countertops [Corian, Silestone] are a perfect example,” adds McCabe. “They may cost a little more, but they’re going to look as good in 10 years as they did the day they were installed.”

If you’re not planning to stay in your house that long, products with substantial warranties can become a selling point. “Individual upgrades don’t necessarily give you a 100% return,” says Frank Gregoire, a real estate appraiser in St. Petersburg, Fla. “But they can give you an edge when it comes time to market your home for sale” if other for-sale homes have similar features.

6. Add storage, not space

kitchen
Kitchen

To add storage without bumping out walls:

  • Specify upper cabinets that reach the ceiling. They may cost a bit more, but you’ll gain valuable storage space. In addition, you won’t have to worry about dusting the tops.
  • Hang it up. Install small shelving units on unused wall areas, and add narrow spice racks and shelves on the insides of cabinet doors. Use a ceiling-mounted pot rack to keep bulkier pots and pans from cluttering cabinets. Add hooks to the backs of closet doors for aprons, brooms, and mops.

7. Communicate effectively—and often

Having a good rapport with your project manager or construction team is essential for staying on budget. “Poor communication is a leading cause of kitchen projects going sour,” says McCabe. To keep the sweetness in your project:

  • Drop by the project during work hours as often as possible. Your presence assures subcontractors and other workers of your commitment to getting good results.
  • Establish a communication routine. Hang a message board on-site where you and the project manager can leave each other daily communiques. Give your email address and cell phone number to subs and team leaders.
  • Set house rules. Be clear about smoking, boom box noise levels, which bathroom is available, and where workers should park their vehicles.

Consumers spend more money on kitchen remodeling than any other home improvement project, according to the Home Improvement Research Institute, and with good reason. They’re the hub of home life, and a source of pride. With a little strategizing, you can ensure your new kitchen gives you years of satisfaction.

John Riha has written six books on home improvement and hundreds of articles on home-related topics. He’s been a residential builder, the editorial director of the Black & Decker Home Improvement Library, and the executive editor of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. His standard 1968 suburban house has been an ongoing source of maintenance experience.

How Men, Women Differ on Home Buying

Men are from Mars, women are from Venus — and that couldn’t be more true when it comes to home buying. According to Prudential Real Estate’s third-quarter Consumer Outlook Survey, men and women are quite different when it comes to what they value most about home ownership and the process of buying and selling.

Women enjoy the home search more than men, with 87 percent of women versus 77 percent of men saying they like looking at homes, the survey finds. More women associate home ownership with “pride,” “accomplishment,” or “independence,” while men tend to associate it with “control over living space” and “more space for my family.”

“As the real estate market strengthens and household formation grows, men and women approach the buying-selling process from different angles,” says Earl Lee, president of Prudential Real Estate. “What’s most interesting is the dynamic that exists among couples and the role that agents play in balancing couples’ real estate objectives.”

Agents may often find themselves stuck in the middle, but both sexes say they trust their agent to be the voice of reason and settle any disagreements among couples. Eighty-three percent of survey respondents say their real estate agent was helpful in moderating an agreement, and 86 percent value the agent’s point of view as much as — or more than — their partner’s, according to the survey. Both sexes cited “honesty” and “knowledgeable” as the most important traits in a real estate agent.

Men and women tend to take on different responsibilities when it comes to home buying, the survey finds. Men take on more of the financial aspects, while women tended to take the lead on planning aspects, such as neighborhood research. Nearly 40 percent of men said they researched banks and secured the mortgage; 42 percent of women said it was their responsibility to manage appointments, and 34 percent took the lead in researching neighborhoods.

When it comes to the most important home features, men and women are mostly in agreement. Both genders ranked “safe neighborhood,” “overall condition of home,” and “number of bedrooms” the highest.

Source: Prudential Real Estate

Americans on the Move Again, Census Says

US Census BureauAfter staying in place for years, bogged down by the financial effects of the recession, Americans are finally back on the move, according to the latest U.S. Census data.

In 2012, nearly 16.9 million people moved between counties, and 7 million made long-distance moves from one state to another. For long-distance moves, that figure was nearly 5 percent higher than 2010.

The recession had the effect of “freezing people in place” as they waited out a housing and economic slump, and now there’s “at least a thawing,” Kenneth Johnson, a demographer with the University of New Hampshire, told USA Today.

The median price of an existing-home rose to $212,100 this year compared to $166,200 in 2011, the National Association of REALTORS® reports. Many home owners “didn’t want to sell a house that they viewed as a low price,” says Jed Smith, an NAR economist. “Now that the prices are up, away we go.”

Where are they going? Many people are heading to the Sun Belt states: Florida, Arizona, and Nevada, Johnson says. They’re moving from Northeastern and Midwestern cities, such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and New York. For example, the state of New York lost about 136,000 residents in 2012.

On the other hand, metro areas such as Miami-Fort Lauderdale, which lost residents during the recession, regained population in 2012 — particularly as housing and the economy recovers there. Las Vegas; Jacksonville, Fla.; and San Jose, Calif., are other metros gaining residents after a loss, USA Today reports.

Source: “Census: Americans are moving again,” USA Today (Oct. 26, 2013)

‘Missing Households’ Plague Housing Recovery

High unemployment among young adults is prompting a big loss in household formation that is critical for long-term housing demand, according to housing experts.

Of 25 to 34 year olds, about 75 percent were employed in September; that’s about the same as year-ago levels and near the levels during the recession, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Young adults who are unemployed are mostly opting to live with their parents and aren’t renting or owning their own place. Indeed, the number of adults under the age of 35 who are living at home is at the highest level since 1981. More than 30 percent of those aged 18 to 34 are living with their parents. The typical average is 28 percent.

As young adults put off home ownership, the number of first-time home buyers continues to be constrained. The National Association of REALTORS® reported Monday that first-time home buyers accounted for 28 percent of home purchases in September — down from 32 percent in September 2012.

But when young adults do get off the sidelines, it could prove a big boost to home sales.

“Assuming consistent population to household ratios and home ownership ratios, the 1.8 million individuals currently living at home would translate into an additional 590,000 households and roughly 200,000 additional home owners — roughly a boost of about 4 percent to the projected level of sales in 2013,” according to NAR’s Economists’ Outlook blog.

Source: “Did You Know: Pent Up Demand Among Young Adults Could Boost Home Sales by 200,000,” NAR Economists’ Outlook (Oct. 1, 2013) and “Employment Shows ‘Missing Households’ Still Weigh on Housing,” The Wall Street Journal (Oct. 22, 2013)

Appraisals Catching Up to Rising Home Values

In recent months, real estate professionals have had to hold their breath as they waited for an appraisal on a property to come back. Would it be lower than the agreed-upon selling price  — and by how much?

Many real estate professionals have blamed a high number of derailed transactions on low-ball appraisals.

But now the industry is noticing a change in appraised values: Appraisals are getting more in line with the agreed upon selling price, CNNMoney reports.

Appraisers are valuing homes at or above their selling prices as home prices nationwide climb and inventories of homes decrease, says Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS®.

For example, in Wallingford, Wash., real estate pro Michael Ackerman told CNNMoney that he was concerned a transaction would fall apart when a buyer agreed to pay $755,000 for a home since other comparable homes in the area had sold for $690,000.

“Everybody’s jaws dropped” when the appraised value came in at the full, agreed-upon selling price,” says Ackerman.

In some cases, appraisals are even coming in higher — which was practically unheard of just a few months ago. For example, real estate pro Cara Ameer in Jacksonville Beach, Fla., says with home prices in the area rising 15 percent over the past year, she was concerned the appraisal on a two-bedroom townhouse wouldn’t reflect the current rise. A buyer offered to pay $5,000 above the $189,000 asking price. The appraisal came in above the selling price, Ameer says.

Source: “Home appraisals no longer derailing sales,” CNNMoney (May 15, 2013)

Recent Listings

 

Morningstar: 40 Months to Clear Distressed Inventory

Morningstar’s Distressed Inventory Index shows that distressed inventory dropped 19 percent nationwide, and the number of liquidations fell 14 percent.

“We estimate that it will take 40 months to clear the national distressed inventory. This is down three months from one year ago,” says Brian Grow and Becky Cao of Morningstar. “In the recent housing market we have seen rising nationwide home prices, the heightened interest in stressed properties by investors, a higher percentage of short sale liquidations, and improved loan performance.”

As of February 2013, the number of distressed properties was at 1 million, marking a 40 percent drop from the peak of 1.8 million properties reached in 2009.

Short sales have risen in 2012, which means fewer properties are being liquidated. The percentage of short sales in total distressed sales has climbed to 53 percent, from 45 percent.

“The increase in short sales has not accelerated the overall speed of liquidation. In fact, there is a noticeable decline in the liquidation rate since the third quarter of 2012, when the short sale percentage continued to rise, but the months of inventory stopped declining,” the Morningstar report states. “While there may be benefits associated with short sales, such as quicker property disposition and higher sale prices relative to foreclosure sales, short sales alone do not appear to be doing enough to speed up the resolution of distressed loans.”

Source: “Liquidation rates shrink, despite rise in short sales: Morningstar,” HousingWire (May 9, 2013)

  • Julie Nesbitt

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    We played a game at the office this Sunday. Lots of fun. Sincerely, Will Nesbitt Principal Broker   Nesbitt RealtyAlexandria VA licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the State of Maryland 703 765 0300 (main) 571 237 7902 (direct)888 783 6391 (fax) ——– Original Message ——– Subject: The Empire Strikes Back Pictures From: [email protected]

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Affordability Remains High, Despite Price Gains

Low mortgage rates and stabilizing incomes are keeping home affordability high and giving home buyers “ample buying power,” according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

The Wall Street Journal highlights the following example on just how affordable housing has become: “Assuming a 5 percent down payment, a 3.5 percent mortgage rate, and 25 percent of a gross income devoted to mortgage payments, a buyer would only need an income of $36,500 to buy a house at the median price. With a 10 percent down payment, the required salary falls to $34,600, and with a 20 percent down payment, it falls to $30,700.”

In the first quarter, the median family income nationwide was $62,200.

Housing affordability remains high despite recent reports that show home prices in 150 U.S. cities saw their biggest year-over-year gains in more than seven years, according to NAR’s most recent report, reflecting data from the first quarter of 2013. The median price of a single-family, existing home was $176,600 in the first quarter of this year, an increase of 11.3 percent from year ago levels, NAR notes.

Source: “Home Prices Jump but Affordability Remains in Buyers’ Favor,” The Wall Street Journal (May 9, 2013)

Recent Listings

Sellers: Make a Better Offer, Without Contingencies

As the inventory of for-sale homes remains at low levels, sellers are getting more comfortable at the bargaining table and telling buyers to cool it with the contingencies. In competitive situations that attract multiple bids, some sellers are even telling buyers they want an offer without mortgage contingencies.

A mortgage contingency, often included in sales contracts, provides buyers with a safety net of being able to get out of the deal without forfeiting their down payment in case they are unable to obtain financing within a certain timeframe.

Some sellers are telling buyers they want non-contingent offers — and better yet, make it all-cash too.

“When you have a market that’s heating up, sellers feel emboldened to say to buyers, ‘I’m not going to give you this clause because I don’t want to take the risk that you can’t get your mortgage,” Marc Israel, the executive vice president of the title insurer Kensington Vanguard National Land Services, told The New York Times. “The last thing sellers want to do is tie themselves up with a buyer for some extended period of time just to have the buyer cancel the contract.”

This has put some buyers in a risky spot. If their financing is delayed or denied for any reason — which isn’t that uncommon in a tight lending environment — buyers may be left with having to turn over their down payment.

Peggy Aguyao, an executive vice president of Halstead Property, says in New York it’s not uncommon for even higher bids to be passed over by sellers in favor of lower bids because they are non-contingent or all-cash offers.

Gea Elika, a principal broker at Elika Associates, an exclusive buyers’ brokerage, says his brokerage never advises clients to proceed without a mortgage contingency. For those clients who insist, “we’ll try to go to a major lender that’s preapproved the building in the last three months. Then we may try to find a portfolio lender as a backup.”

Source: “Mortgages: When a High Bid Isn’t Enough,” The New York Times (May 9, 2013)

Pricing your home for sale

When you put your house on the market, setting the price is one of the most important decisions you make. Many Realtors believe that pricing is can make or break your sale. Under-price your home and you might cost yourself tens of thousands of dollars. Overprice your home and you risk watching it languish on the market. But how can a seller know exactly what the best price is?

Can you rely on Zillow? Not according to Zillow. Even in areas where the software has the highest confidence, Zillow says their pricing varies by 5% to 10%.

You can rely on your Realtor. Nesbitt Realty’s agents have years of experience pricing homes for sale and helping buyers and sellers. They combine this experience with proprietary real estate software to give you a valuation you can trust and to help you make your best decision possible.

[Learn more about selling your home in Northern VA]

Are Underpriced Homes Fueling Bidding Wars?

The number of homes for sale is at the lowest point in more than 10 years, but with buyer demand still high, many markets are seeing bidding wars. A TIME magazine article recently asked: “Are buyers being manipulated into overbidding for the relatively few attractive homes on the market?”

Some real estate professionals say that homes are being underpriced in order to ignite a bidding war.

“Most people are not pricing at market value,” a real estate professional told the San Francisco Chronicle. “Even in this market, you don’t want to overprice.”

For example, the San Francisco-based agent said a two-bedroom townhouse in the area was priced at $659,000  recently, even after a similar townhome had sold a year ago for $675,000.

“We priced it intentionally to get multiple offers and sell quickly,” the agent says. The townhouse attracted nine offers and sold for 15 percent above the asking price — $755,000.

Bidding wars have become commonplace in markets like Denver, where half of the new homes on the market are selling in less than 30 days. In Northern and Southern California nine in 10 homes are attracting bidding wars, as well as two-thirds of the homes for sale in Boston, New York City, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., the TIME magazine article notes.

“The only question is not whether a new listing will get multiple bids but how many it will get,” says a Sacramento, Calif.-based real estate professional.

Source: “Forget Lowballing: Bidding Wars Return in Hot Housing Markets,” TIME (April 30, 2013)

  • Julie Nesbitt

    Julie Nesbitt
    Julie Nesbitt knows the back trails and by-ways of Northern Virginia real estate.

    Read More

  • Enjoying Winkler Botanical Preserve

    We had a great time walking the trails. 

    Read More

  • Don’t take chances with real estate.

  • REDUCED: 7202 Churchill Rd, McLean

    Open House, Sunday, 1-4 BIG PRICE DROP! 7202 CHURCHILL ROAD McLean, VA 22101 6 Bedrooms 5.5 Bathrooms 6,752 SF $1,695,000

    Read More

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    We played a game at the office this Sunday. Lots of fun. Sincerely, Will Nesbitt Principal Broker   Nesbitt RealtyAlexandria VA licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the State of Maryland 703 765 0300 (main) 571 237 7902 (direct)888 783 6391 (fax) ——– Original Message ——– Subject: The Empire Strikes Back Pictures From: [email protected]

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