The RE/MAX Associates Louisville Real Estate Blog

How to Know if You’re in a Seller’s Market

Never give up in searching for a new home in a competitive market; it may take a while, but you will end up with the house you want. Here are the definite signs you are searching in a competitive market.

Cash wins, for it is king

A sure sign is when sellers are expecting cash offers for their home. Cash offers trump loan offers any day of the week. If you aren’t offering cash, don’t worry, there are other ways to get the house you want.

Bidding wars galore

When there is a bidding war, you automatically know you’re in the thick of a completive market. This is usually good for the home owner as they will see who gives them the best offer. Most bidding wars happen when they have three common features; excelling price, excellent location, and excellent condition.

Hip-town USA

Watching the growth and desirability of a city reflects its housing market. Watch what’s going on in the industries around and where they are headed. The west coast (San Francisco particularly) had a tech explosion which increased the competitiveness of living quarters drastically. One quick way to notice how hip your city is is to take a look at the amount of coffee shops and yoga studios.

Escalation clauses

An escalation clause is when you write in your offer that you are willing to increase the dollar amount of you offer up to a certain amount if there are multiple bids. This is one way bidding wars get started.

Extras

Some buyers can and will spice up their offer by making the transaction super easy for the seller. They look for their “dream sale” and go for it. How quickly do they prefer to close vs. how slowly they...

How to Downsize Your Life Properly

Moving is one of the most stressful events that can happen in your life, especially if moving down in size is what you’re doing. This means you will have to be letting go of a number of your belongings just so the rest of your stuff can fit in your new place. Look at it from the viewpoint of less is more. With fewer belongings, the less stuff you will have to look after.

How does one handle moving down in size and not become an emotional basket case? I’ll explain here.

Make a complete inventory of your stuff

Knowing everything you own will help you pare down your possessions. Take not of every object you own while going through a stroll of your home. Do this whichever way you please, tablet, pen and paper, or from your computer. While you do this, write down its current condition, and the value of it.

This inventory list will assist you in identifying any duplicates you may have, but it will also help you decide what needs to be packed first. It will also help you get an accurate estimate of your moving costs.

Sketch a floor plan of your new home

Planning what space is available will help you make the best of the space available, as well as cutting down time spent on relocating the items you won’t be able to use.

Measure each room out as well as the doorways. Measure the larger items like couches, beds, etc. and find the best way to move them in. Even though you find a way to get this giant piece of furniture in, you may not be able to locate a decent spot for it.

Consider all relevant circumstances

Some items, no matter how much you love them, may not be worth moving. Many factors come into account when you are deciding if it should stay or go.

Take into account the climate...

How Sky High Home Values Can Impact Today's Buyers

In 26 percent of the country, homes are breaking records due to the recovery, and the start of this year’s competitive housing market. It’s really no surprise San Francisco and San Jose are shattering their home price records, but homes in the Midwest, Northeast, and South are creeping above their usual median home values.

Most markets in the south (particularly Texas and Tennessee) are seeing new heights for their homes. Here is what is going on.

Low inventory increases price

This time last year there were many more homes for sale across the country. Now there are fewer homes giving buyers less options. Even if they have the finances to buy a home, finding the right one for them can be incredibly difficult.

Because the inventory is down, the competition for homes can be quite severe, creating bidding wars and pricing out beginning buyers. For those of us who are looking to get in the real estate market for the first time, we are having trouble gathering money for a down payment when home prices are rising and rent is as well.

Is this another housing bubble?

Because homes are breaking new records some experts are beginning to worry. Places with the hotter markets like several cities in California have been loving the double digit pace for months now, but it isn’t exactly normal. These places usually have plentiful of new tech jobs while their housing availability is staying the same.  Home competition is increasing in these areas and the low inventory is making it really difficult for renters to break into the market.

Returning to normal

The good part about home prices rising is that fewer homes are underwater, and they are free to sell, increasing inventory. More homes being sold on the market means buyers have more options. The...

Cleaning Hacks: How to get Your Security Deposit Back

Moving is always stressful, and wondering if you are going to get your security deposit back is one of the worst things to worry about. If you’ve been a good tenant and left the place like you found it you will probably get it back. Sometimes there are things you are responsible for like the typical wear and tear, like nickel sized holes in the walls, scratches on the floor, etc.

In order to not pay for damages that you didn’t do, do a little prep work before you move in. Request an inspection with the landlord noting every little scratch you see. Doing this will make it known what was already there, and you’ll get a feel for how strict the landlord is.

Here are some other helpful hacks to get your security deposit back.

Buff out scuff marks on the floor – Find yourself a tennis ball and a stick, and attach the ball to the end of the stick and start rubbing all marks on the floor and watch them fade. Don’t be afraid to use some muscle here, you won’t hurt the floor.

Get rid of mildew on grout – Most apartment complexes will take care of requests, so if your tile has a shade of green to it, ask them to clean it. If you fail to do anything about it, and it grows worse during your stay, they might charge you for it when you decide to move out. The best way to get rid of dirty grout is to soak a piece of cotton coil in bleach and scrub the grout. After a gentle scrub, leave the cotton on the grout overnight and it will come up with the cotton when you peel it off the next morning.

Repairing holes in walls – If you’ve mounted TVs, pictures, or anything with some weight there will most likely be holes in the walls. GO to the hardware store; grab some lightweight spackle and a putty knife. Put ample amounts of spackle on the hole...

Where Do All The Young Rich Millennials Live?

We all know this generation of millennials faces its own challenges like graduating from college with a ton of student debt, and unaffordable rent prices, but not all of them are going hungry. The segment of kids ageing from 22-34 in the tech industry are doing quite well actually; some are actually quite rich riding the wave of the tech boom.

Here are the cities where you might find a great deal of millennials who make $350,000+ a year.

Arlington, VA – almost 9 percent of millennials living in this suburb are making more than $350,000, which people 55 and older didn’t make that much. Only 7.9 percent of people 55 and older made that kind of money.

San Francisco, CA – San Francisco is one of the biggest tech capitals in the country, with a very limited housing supply. 7.8 percent of the cities millennials make more than $350,000. On the other hand, their median rent is $4,500.

Huntington Beach, CA – This little city is right next door to the famous Newport Beach, and only 5 percent of millennials make more than $350,000. It’s a nice place with almost impeccable weather, but it can be quite costly.

Sunnyvale, CA – one of the hotspots in Silicon Valley with a median home value of 1.3 million. 3.9 percent of millennials make $350,000.

Seattle, WA – Seattle is dealing with its own tech boom, and rents and home values are rising rapidly. Tied with Sunnyvale, Seattle has 3.9 percent of millennials making $350,000.

Pasadena, CA – This city has mostly rich baby boomers sitting right outside of L.A., but the millennials there making $350,000 comprise of 3.3 percent....

Why You Shouldn't Borrow From Your 401(k) to Buy a Home

We all know saving for a down payment is no small task, and is often a journey too. You may even be getting excited when house hunting. If you do happen to find a home you absolutely have to have you better have the money to put down immediately. If you don’t have the money, you may be tempted to get it from your 401(k), but ignore this idea as it is a bad one! Don’t rationalize this and say you will pay yourself back; it will end up hurting you down the road.

If you can’t afford to buy a home without your 401(k), you can’t afford to buy a home. This is the biggest reason to avoid drawing from your 401(k). Not only does it take away from your retirement fund, but it’s a ton of added stress. Live within your means, and live like you should. Here are a few reasons to not touch your 401(k) when buying a house.

You will still need those savings down the road

Unlike an IRA withdrawal, you are forced to pay back any amount of money you take out of your company’s 401(k) plan. You could tell yourself that’s great because it’ll keep you honest with yourself. Not so fast, because if you lose or leave your job you could be forced to repay the amount in full within three months. You will also see a 10% fee (hardship withdrawal). If you didn’t have the money to begin with and borrowed from yourself, chances are you won’t have the money then either. Homes are expensive and they don’t just cost what the price tag says. Repairs, taxes, and unexpected troubles will cost you a pretty penny too.

A 401(k) loan can compromise your future wealth

The average 401(k) loan lets you borrow up to 50% of your balance, up to a max of $50,000. Let’s say you do take out the full $50,000, which is growing happily at 7%. If you borrow this in your 40’s, you would have grown that to $193,000 in 20...

Preparing Your Home to Live with a Senior Citizen

Multigenerational living is the new norm on TV, and it’s becoming more popular in the real world as well. Having your grandparents live with you isn’t necessarily a bad thing; you get to create more memories this way, all while making sure they are in good hands.

Before taking on this responsibility, you should make sure your home is capable of housing a senior citizen. Chances are you will need to make some minor changes to reduce the risk of accidents. Let’s discuss the most important rooms, and the best ways to make them safer.

Doors, stairways, and walkways

Here you will want to use nightlights so they don’t stub their toes, and can see in the dark. Keep these in hallways and bathrooms.

Clear away the clutter so they have less chance of tripping over your stuff. If you’ve got loose electrical wires, tape them down.

The elderly do better with lever handles vs. traditional round handle doorknobs. They are much easier to grip for them, and don’t require twisting of the wrist. There’s even a bonus – if their hands are full, they can still manage to open them!

Something you may take for granted is the ability to go up and down stairs without rails. Throw your grandparents a bone and add some rails on the stairs.

Lighting and room temperature

As you get older your vision tends to fade, so do them a favor and increase the lighting in your home. Focus on brightening the areas in their closets, bedrooms, kitchen, and living room.

Change the switches to rockers, this way they can turn them on if their hands are full. Rocks also don’t need strong motor skills to operate.

Smart lights are very helpful too, whether they be timed, or motion sensor, this means they don’t have to be searching for the light switch....

When Real Estate Lawyers are Helpful

Most of us are always looking for the ways to save money on our real estate properties, whether it’s installing our own floors, or self-help legal documents. The norm of hiring a professional, and often pricey, real estate lawyer is fading. However, sometimes the project at hand is too complex for us laypersons.

Real estate legality can be quite confusing, so there are plenty of instances where professional help is required. Sometimes you can get away without having one, but other times they are actually required to be involved. If you find yourself wondering if this endeavor is too confusing, costly, or stressful, you best find yourself a lawyer just to be safe.

Here are four situations in which you should consult a lawyer.

When it’s mandatory

A number of states mandate a real estate attorney be present during transactions. They are there to prepare the legal documents, and highly frown upon the deal if there isn’t one present; calling it “unauthorized practice of law”.

This phrase derives from the rules of professional conduct that govern attorney practice, and can result in sanctions against an attorney-supervisor for allowing this practiced without oversight. Luckily the states that require attorneys are Delaware, Georgia, New York, North and South Carolina, and not Kentucky. In these states, buyers have the right to choose their own attorney. Realtors, brokers, and lenders aren’t allowed to make a buyer choose a certain attorney.

When it’s complex

The issues typically requiring attorneys due to the complex nature of the deal involve: oil and gas rights, beachfront properties, historical properties, zoning disputes, preserved properties, adverse possession claims, properties subject to an easement, and riparian rights.

If you have any issues regarding these, you will save money by...

How to Win the War on Pet Hair

Spring is here and you know what that means – allergies! What you won’t expect is that most allergies actually come from your pets. They will be shedding their winter coats and getting rid of the winter fur. A good deal of us have allergic reactions to our own pets, and this is because their fur harbors dust and dander. These aren’t common allergies, but allergens.

The best way to keep you from sneezing this spring is to win the battle against hypersensitive fur. There are two ways to do this, first regularly groom them, and second, clean the hell out of your home.

Keeping pets tidy

Dogs typically shed their skin cells every 22 days, usually indicating they have healthy skin. If they’ve got unhealthy skin it is more like every week. The best way to ensure they have healthy skin is to bathe them every month.

If you have cats your best bet is to use grooming wipes, as they are typically not fond of water. These wipes are designed for cats and collect loose fur. We all know if we’ve got a cat who is a jerk or not, so the key to winning this is to make sure you brush them in a place where they are comfortable to be brushed. Wherever it may be, be sure to brush them on a mat or towel so they’re not sliding and you aren’t unleashing any fur to be spread.

All pets need to be groomed regularly if you plan on winning the war on hair. Don’t think of it as a chore, think of it as bonding with them. Cats can be more difficult to groom, but dogs are pleased almost anywhere.

Tricks and Tools

Your best weapon to fight this war is a big powerful vacuum cleaner. Don’t be a victim of marketing and buy the vacuum “specifically designed for pet hair”, buy one with the best suction, and comes with a variety of attachments for those hard to reach places. Lint rollers are a good line of defense...

8 Things Your Home Inspector Won't Inspect

Who can’t wait for inspection day? It’s one of the most exciting days there are! You get to explore every inch of the home looking for flaws. Run all the appliances, peel back the carpet, and test all the lights while keeping your fingers crossed!

The inspector should inspect every nook and cranny to give you an honest evaluation. If they miss anything it could end up costing you a boatload of money. Even if you hire an inspector don’t expect them to reveal every little hidden secret your house holds. Some do not inspect areas of homes they are not qualified in, because they don’t want to be held liable. Check with them first to see what areas they cover and don’t cover. Here are the following fields in which you need inspected.

Roofs

Calling in a roof specialist will save you thousands if there turns out to be something wrong with your current roof. Keep in mind when you are trying to have an inspection, because having a roof covered with snow could pose a problem.

Chimneys

If there is a question of structural damage or instability, you want your chimney to be inspected. They can use their chimney cam (video camera) to inspect the tall tube and look for damage.

Geological

Having a home on a cliff, hillside, or flood zone could be an issue, but having a geological inspection will set you at ease. They could uncover the damage possibilities you probably missed, or give advice on how to prevent a disaster, saving you thousands down the road.

Sewers

Sewer inspectors can enlighten you on the integrity of your pipes and uncover cracks or leaks from the street to your house. If your home is heavily landscaped, you will want to get your sewer inspected because roots tend to invade the pipe lines....

How to Turn Off Potential Buyers

This article will be about the best way(s) to sabotage your own home sale, or if you are renting and want to sabotage your landlords sale. Kidding obviously, but there are certain things buyers notice that will immediately turn them off. Sellers spend a ton of effort to get buyers attention and in the door, so they want to keep them interested and not lose them by means of carelessness.

If you are putting your home on the market go through this checklist to make sure you aren’t doing any of these.

  1. Turning your garage into a family room – everyone loves a family room, but if you’ve made the sacrifice of turning your garage into one, it could be disastrous. Some buyers might not have a family, and wish the garage was still a garage. A lot of the time garages also serve as storage rooms. It takes a certain type of person to enjoy a family room as a garage, and they are difficult to find.
  2. Changing bedroom into not a bedroom – the bedroom is the fundamental room every buyer looks for. They want to know how many. Turning a bedroom into a wine cellar, or poker room might work for you, but it’s not for everyone. And even though a lot of people work from home now, that doesn’t necessarily mean they want a built in home office. If you are hell-bent on changing a bedroom into another room, make sure it can easily be changed back.
  3. Lay down carpet over hardwood floors – Hardwood floors are the way to go. They are cleaner, and don’t show as much dirt. If you’ve got hardwood underneath your carpet, pull the carpet up.
  4. Install flamboyant light fixtures – fancy chandeliers can sometimes be too much for families who prefer simple fixtures. When it’s time to sell, pack up the chandelier and take it with you, replacing it with a simple fixture. You are appealing to the masses when trying to sell, not what kind of taste you have.
  5. Turn your kid’s room into another planet – Yes it’s fun...

4 Awesome House Plants for Every Home

Having plants around your house is a simple way to keep your home lively. They do a lot of good things for a home like provide pretty decoration, smell nice, soak up unhealthy toxins in the air, and give rooms a little more color.

These plants are easy to take care of even if you forget to water them for a few days. They just sit there are grow.

Dracaena

This is one of the most common household plants. They’re in almost every doctor’s office, and they’re perfect for any corner of a room. It will grow pretty tall, but if it gets too tall for your liking, trim the canes and dip the trimmed ends in a rooting hormone. Once you have 4-inch canes in a bag of sphagnum moss, let them sit in direct light in a pot and the roots will begin to grow. Now you have a brand new plant!

Mistletoe cactus

Buy one of these spaghetti plants. They last forever and need very little attention. They can adapt from rooms with very low light, to very high light without problem. The only thing you cannot do is drown them, they will rot. The stems can be placed in potting mix to perlite, of even a little glass of water. Eventually they will sprout little white flowers and tiny cute berries afterward.

Air plants (Tillandsia)

These don’t really need soil to survive, just a little water two or three times a week. If you have them in your bathroom, sometimes the shower steam alone can do the trick. Just place them in a cup, and watch them grow!

Haworthia

Originally from South Africa, these plants aren’t too popular yet. These are pretty shade tolerant, and really the one thing that can kill them is too much water. If all you have to do is not drown them, you should be fine. Even if they somehow get knocked over, or stepped on,...

How to Sell a House with Tenants

Many have forgotten the real estate market is still recovering, which means many homeowners have left the market, and are just now starting to get back in it.

A lot of homeowners who couldn’t sell their home became landlords, but not on purpose. They had to rent the home because they had to move. And in a down market, sellers just weren’t buying, and once the prices began to rise, they had tenants occupying the house.

Tenants can kill a deal quite quickly. As a seller planning well in advance and having open communication with your tenant is crucial for a successful sale. Sometimes having to postpone the sale until the tenant is gone is necessary.

If you’ve got a property you are trying to sell, and a tenant is living, you have two options. Here’s what you’re looking at.

Wait for the least to expire

Most real estate agents would recommend just waiting it out, because some tenants can be sort of a bull in a china shop if pressured to get out quickly. So don’t pressure them and just wait it out. Make the cosmetic changes necessary to sell, and go on with your plan.

Some tenants could become quickly unhappy, or feel betrayed if their home is being sold in front of them. They might become difficult, and that’s the last thing any landlord wants. It could make showing the home more difficult, and if they’re really difficult, they could do damage. The place would then be less appealing to any potential buyers which would have an effect on your profits.

Looking at it another way, selling an empty house could cost you money, because they aren’t there to pay the bills, or mortgage (if there is one). It could possibly take several months for a home to sell once it hits the market, and all that time the seller isn’t getting rent checks.

Sell while tenant is still living there

This option...

The Kitchen Appliance Guide

A kitchen is often times the heart of a home because it is where most of the family members spend their time. Because this is true, this is one of the first rooms to be remodeled, and new appliances are always in the conversation.

If your kitchen has been updated recently, it’s probably a bit behind on the newest appliances. These have all the newest, most high-tech features. Factor in the size of your kitchen, your aesthetic taste, your family’s cooking and eating habits, and your budget.

Like most families, money is a factor and we try to save all we can. Search online for coupons, deals, and negotiate with retailers for better deals or perks like free delivery or installation. Think for the future too; buying an appliance with an energy star means it’s “green” and will use less energy meaning lower electric bills. Before you buy the one you want, measure your doorways to make sure it will fit.

Finding a fridge

The average family of four typically uses 19 to 22 cubic feet, but now there are models offering 30 cubic feet and more. Before sheer size, there are other things to consider, mostly like door style. Other things is the whether the freezer is on top like the traditional type, or on the bottom as people don’t reach for frozen food  as often as fresh food. Fridges with side-by-side doors fit well into narrow spaces. The French door models have a freezer on the bottom, and tend to be taller and wider. And for the big spenders, having a built-in fridge to match your cabinets, while being flush is always a classy option.

For the features, look for temperature controlled bins, humidity monitoring for freshness, and easy to arrange shelves. If you feel like splurging and getting extra features like door-in-door storage and through the door ice/water dispensers, go for it.

Choosing a dishwasher

Dishwashers today...