Archive for the ‘Real Estate’ Category

By Sarah Findle

 Pop Quiz: What’s Your Architectural Personality?

A few months back we challenged you with a Stylescope Quiz, but this time it’s all about the house, not the stuff that’s in it.  HGTV’s recently came out with their “What’s Your Architectural Personality?” Quiz.  Answer 10 quick questions and find out what house style is a blueprint of your personality.

My result of “Ranch House” was spot on:

Simple and suburban by nature, you exude a cozy warmth that lets people know you don’t mind if they leave their shoes on in the house — it’s only carpet, after all! Family and friends are important to you, and you love having them stop by. While not overly fussy or vain, you care about your looks — but honestly, you’re happiest in sweatpants. To you, life isn’t measured in the goods you’ve acquired, but in time well spent.

Lover of friends, family and sweatpants? Check! I’m also definitely drawn more to experiences and memory making than material items.

Take the quiz and let us know what your architectural personality is!

By Kris Welsh

I’ve been asked many times what the letters APR stand for, as they appear next to my name on my business card. I try not to be huffy when I explain that it’s the result of years of school, additional classes and studying to be an accredited member of the public relations industry. Don’t they know the value? Don’t they understand the work that went into getting and keeping the designation? Thanks for nothing.

However, recently I found myself saying the same thing about another seemingly silly designation – the ASP®. Accredited Staging Professional from the International Association of Home Staging Professionals. As in staging a home for resale. Do these folks really need an accreditation program? How hard can it be? (more…)

By Tracy Lathan

Cottage 300x300 Curb Appeal: 4 Ways to Create a Memorable First Impression We all know first impressions are everything. Whether it’s a first date, a big job interview, or meeting your future in-laws – the first glimpse is often what forms your perception, and ultimately your opinion or feelings toward a particular person, place or thing. The same holds true for your home. You know those houses that have the ability to draw you in from the street? You know, the home you can immediately see yourself relaxing on the rocking chair on the front porch with a cold beverage, smelling the sweet jasmine trailing above?

If you are trying to sell your home, or just want to improve the exterior of your current residence, there are a few small adjustments that can make a really make a big impact. My husband and I experienced this first hand when we bought our first home four years ago. It was a 1929 bungalow in a historic neighborhood, and while we knew the foundation was there – the house had good bones – it was in need of some serious love and attention.

With a tight budget, we decided to tackle the tasks ourselves and found these few simple weekend projects made all the difference in the world. (more…)

By Home IQ Team

Think positive, but be realistic.  And, clean your house!

Oh the joys of the real estate market. The frustration of trying to sell is only (slightly) overridden by the hope that you can take advantage of the market lows when you are able to purchase. It’s certainly a catch-22 as no one wants to take a bath on their own house, yet we’re fully prepared to take some poor seller to the cleaners.

When will we sell? What will the interest rate be? Should we put an offer on contingency? While we all wish it would be as easy as Johnny Carson in a turban putting an envelope to his head and saying, “May, 2010 for 2% under asking price,” it’s a waiting game. And a preparation game.

What we do have is data. The real estate industry and the economic forecasters do nothing if not produce data. The challenge, as with all financial predications based on history and market conditions, is getting a decent analysis. From realtor websites that want to create a hospitable atmosphere to the financial pundits who are doom and gloom, it’s all about reading multiple opinions, getting local information and doing your own analysis.

Where to start? Take a quick national glance, then take it local and apply that information to your town. In December 2009, sales of existing homes in the U.S. declined significantly, coinciding with the original deadline for the first-time homebuyer tax credit program. The National Association of Realtors reported that the total sales of existing homes dropped 16.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.45 million units, down from 6.54 million in November. However, sales were up 15 percent from 4.74 million homes in December 2008.

Maybe you’re lucky enough to live in one of the more favorable areas. Reporter Liz Scherzer from reported on the top five areas of the country that Moody’s analyzed and deemed the fare the best in 2010. The predicted areas are: Tacoma, Wash., (an increase of 2.44%); Memphis, Tenn., (up 0.99%); Pittsburgh (up 0.89%); Charleston, S.C. (up 0.18%); and Seattle (decline of 0.50%).

Regardless of your locale, here are tips from for anyone selling a home:

  • Repair the little things. The potential buyer easily notices loose hinges and railings, and likely they’ll think that the bigger things have also been neglected.
  • Cleanliness is key. In a slow market, don’t turn down potential walk-throughs just because you’re not prepared. Keep it clean and take advantage of all opportunities.
  • Consider home staging, depersonalization and clutter removal. It will make it easier for the buyer to “see” themselves in that space.
  • Keep pets caged and litter boxes cleaned. Seems obvious, but….

And here are a few from us at HomeIntel

  • You know your home better than anyone. Don’t be afraid to tell your realtor exactly what you want highlighted in the brochure. Or, better, create it yourself.
  • Done any major upgrades to your home? Create a one-pager or add it to your brochure.
  • Think beyond your local community. If you live in Florida and your neighbors seem to be moving in from up north, then market your home in New Jersey or New York local media outlets.

By Home IQ Team

Even amenities and privacy don’t make these communities immune to the economy

Of all the states and all the regions in the country, would your first guess for the “most expensive zip code” be an area in New Jersey? Mine wasn’t. But after checking out Forbes’ 2009 report on the most expensive zip codes in the country, it seems that 07620 – Alpine, NJ – is the winner. Adjacent to Manhattan, this small (2,400 residents) community is on the Hudson and features some celebrity homeowners like Sean Combs and Stevie Wonder. Using Forbes interactive maps, you can see that three areas really dominate the most expensive zip codes – California, New York and New Jersey.

With a median home cost of four million dollars, this neighborhood clearly boasts some of the largest and most luxurious homes around. According to the residents, they’re willing to pay for it because of the privacy, the lack of commercialism and the fact that more than 50 percent of the land is reserved for parks.

Alpine and others like it weren’t immune to the economic issues of 2009, though. Alpine’s median home prices fell 23% over the past year, as did Atherton, CA, Forbes second place finisher. Unlike less expensive neighborhoods, the high-priced zip codes median home price declines aren’t fueled by foreclosures, according to Forbes. Simply, they are a result of gun-shy buyers who are waiting for the luxury market to hit rock bottom.

Pockets here and there fared well, like Duarte, California – zip code 91008. Duarte showed some marginal increase. A place attractive to wealthy retirees for its sense of community and beauty, Duarte is near Palo Alto and bordered to the north by the San Gabriel mountains.

What makes some neighborhoods or towns so much more desirable than others? Available amenities, proximity to culture, privacy and green space seem to rise to the top. I guess if you’re living in one of those zip codes already, the more typical items like good schools and a sense of community are already a given.

Here are the top 10 zip codes, their median home price and the median price change

1. 07620 Alpine, N.J. $4,139,041 -23%

2. 94027 Atherton, Calif. $3,849,133 -26%

3. 10014 New York, N.Y. $3,521,514 -24%

4. 91008 Duarte, Calif. $3,444,773 18%

5. 90210 Beverly Hills, Calif. $3,367,167 -5%

6. 92067 Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. $3,362,493 -12%

7. 93108 Santa Barbara, Calif. $3,284,652 -9%

8. 94024 Los Altos Hills, Calif. $3,277,500 4%

9. 10065 New York, N.Y. $3,176,534 -10%

10. 07926 Brookside, N.J. $3,121,115 17%

By Home IQ Team

picture 16 To Sell or Not to Sell...The Pros of the Holiday Housing Market

Selling a home during this time of year can be tricky, especially for homeowners who love to decorate for the holidays. While some may argue that it does not make sense to put (or keep) a home on the market during the holiday season, several realtors we have spoken to advise that it may not be a horrible idea. After all, holiday decorations make nearly any house feel more like a home. Additionally, holiday entertaining and the threat of unexpected visits from friends and neighbors delivering presents often force people to keep their homes fairly tidy during this time of year. Finally, it is important to note that while there may be fewer house hunters swinging by for an open house when it is cold and holiday festivities abound, the reality is that the people who do show interest in a home are most likely more serious. In other words, the people looking for a home right now are probably more qualified candidates than the throngs of people who check out the local open houses on the block during the warm summer months.

Below are a few quick tips for selling a home during the holidays. These tricks will ensure that your home is beautiful and festive, but not overdone in the eyes of potential home buyers who are more decor conservative.

  • Decorate, but show restraint and avoid excessive ornamentation
  • Use fresh greens to decorate and make your whole home smell great
  • String lights conservatively around the entry way for a welcoming glow, but limit the number of outdoor decorations to ensure that potential buyers actually see your house (not just the decorations)
  • Make sure that the holiday decor you choose is classic in nature to appeal to a variety of styles, and choose seasonal decorations that compliment the rest of the home
  • Avoid strongly scented candles that may be overpowering for some people
By Home IQ Team

Spending on home remodeling is expected to pick up to nearly $105.5 million in the first quarter and $107.6 million in the second quarter of 2010, according to its Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity report.

After the new year, we expect consumers will be on the look out for projects and products to help them spruce up their homes. Don’t be left behind as these shoppers hit the stores post-holiday shopping season. Remember to target home remodelers in the new year.

By Home IQ Team

On Wednesday, the National Association of Realtors shared the results of their latest survey, which showed healthy second quarter existing-home sales gains in the majority of states.

Below are a few of the findings:

  • Total state existing-home sales rose 3.8% but remain 2.9% below the 4.90 million-unit pace in the second quarter of 2008
  • 39 states experienced sales increases from the first quarter, nine states were higher than a year ago

For more insight, check out this video to hear Lawrence Yun’s outlook. As NAR’s chief economist, Yun explains that “each home sale pumps an additional $63,000 into the economy.” Yun continues by saying that “sales are drawing down inventory and that will help stabilize home values, which in turn will lessen foreclosure pressure and boost credit availability for other sectors of the economy.”

According to NAR President Charles McMillan, “housing affordability is hovering near record highs and there’s a wide selection of homes.” McMillan also explained that “various state, local and nonprofit programs target first-time buyers,” which should help rookie homebuyers find their ideal first home.

Understanding housing’s impact on the overall economy, this news is welcomed by many manufactures in the home industry. Afterall, moving is expensive in that people spend money to update their old home just before turning their eyes on their newest purchase.

By Home IQ Team

While first time buyers of yesterday spent weeks if not months researching neighborhoods, identifying their “must-haves” in a new home and compiling checklists to ensure that no stone is left unturned, today’s rookie homebuyers are finding that they have more options than ever to weigh and more pressure than ever to act quickly if they want to take advantage of special money-saving incentives like the $8,000 tax credit that is expiring on November 30, 2009.

Unfortunately, as more first timers rush through the buying process, it is likely that they may act too soon and buy a home that they are either not satisfied with or cannot afford if they are not educated along the way. That said, the role of the realtor is becoming increasingly important for this home-buying demographic.

During a time when potential first time homebuyers are speeding through the process and spending less time doing their homework, realtors will continue to find themselves educating clients on the basics of buying a home.


picture 11 As First Time Homebuyers Rush, Realtors Educate

Photo Courtesy of

Below are five nuggets that realtors should share with their first time home-buying clients. While many of these items seem like a given, it is clear that today’s rookies may need a reminder. For instance, take a look at Brendt Montgomery’s story.

  1. Prepare – Develop a list of must-haves before beginning the home buying process. Know what your dream home must have (upgraded kitchen, backyard, separate tub and shower, three bedrooms, etc) so that you know what you are looking for in your first place.
  2. Slow Down – Do your research online first so that you have an idea of what you can get for your money and what is available in the area. Next, plan on spending several days or weekends looking for a home. This process is not something that can occur in one day, so setting these expectations in advance should help your clients understand what to expect.
  3. Figure out the Finances – Prior to looking for a new home, it is essential to know your budget. Understanding what you can afford in advance will help keep you from getting your heart set on a home that you cannot afford.
  4. Read – It sounds so simple yet so many people sign on the dotted line without reading their contracts. Before signing anything, it is essential to know the terms of the contract and the implications of backing out.
  5. Ask Questions – As first time homebuyers, no one is expecting you to know the “ins” and “outs” of the process. For this reason, it is crucial that buyers ask questions to educate themselves on one of the biggest purchases they will make.

Urban Living: Here to Stay?

By Home IQ Team

As reported in Architectural Record, foreclosures and weak home sales are just two effects that the recession is having on the home/real estate industry. Although we may hear about home sales and foreclosure rates most frequently in the news, there are other forces at play that should not be overlooked.

For instance, there is the fact that rural areas of the country are suffering more than urban areas as people continue to downsize from their multi-acre plots of land and 3,000 sq. ft. homes to more compact living quarters closer to the city.

According to Architectural Record, the Woodstock Institute reported that the Cook County suburbs just outside of Chicago saw almost twice the rate of new foreclosure filings as the city proper in the first quarter of 2009.

So what is really behind this shift? While the recession is obviously the driver that is forcing people to make a move, there must be other reasons why urban living is growing in popularity among once suburban residents. Additionally, the trend begs the question as to whether the current mindset is here to stay or if people will go back to “sprawl” when the economy improves.

From our perspective, the trend in urban migration is here to stay for a number of reasons, including:

  • More and more people are looking for ways to live greener lives, so it only makes sense for more Americans to downsize to smaller homes that are closer to their jobs, use less energy to heat/cool and steps away from mass transportation
  • Baby Boomers are reaching the age where they are looking for smaller homes that require less maintenance compared to homes with acres of land that demand constant up-keep
  • Younger Americans are spending more time getting advanced degrees and enjoying their “young professional status” while also waiting to settle down. That said, city living for the 20-30-somethings is very appealing and something that this group is not rushing to escape

picture 14 Urban Living: Here to Stay?

Photo Courtesy of

We would love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to send us a quick email about the trend in urban migration and if you think its here to stay.

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