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When Should You List?


I'm often asked by prospective sellers if they should wait to list in the spring or the summer.  While warmer weather has been prime time for buying and selling in the past, I'm not seeing that as much now.  When all families were on a traditional school schedule, with three months vacation in the summer, moves were often scheduled to coordinate with a new school year. Now many families are on a year-round school schedule and I'm finding moves happening year round.  

Inventory is still a bit low in our market…an indication that sellers are waiting for warmer weather.  However, my colleagues and I are having a very busy first quarter.  Buyers are buying and if your house is not on the market, you are missing those buyers.  So my answer is this:  If you want to sell your home and it's market ready, let's list!  Now!

When Should You List?


I'm often asked by prospective sellers if they should wait to list in the spring or the summer.  While warmer weather has been prime time for buying and selling in the past, I'm not seeing that as much now.  When all families were on a traditional school schedule, with three months vacation in the summer, moves were often scheduled to coordinate with a new school year. Now many families are on a year-round school schedule and I'm finding moves happening year round.  

Inventory is still a bit low in our market…an indication that sellers are waiting for warmer weather.  However, my colleagues and I are having a very busy first quarter.  Buyers are buying and if your house is not on the market, you are missing those buyers.  So my answer is this:  If you want to sell your home and it's market ready, let's list!  Now!

Multiple Offers


In our market, we are beginning to see multiple offers on some of the most desirable properties.  I have had a few disappointed buyers who did not offer enough to overcome competitive bids and "lost' the house they wanted to buy.  Some years ago, I was working with a couple on a multiple offer situation.  We offered more than list price for the house, priced in the $200,000's and still did not get it.  Another house came available on the same street the next week.  We offered $11,000 more than asking price and won the bid by just $500.  

I am not seeing that kind of competition in the current market, but do see buyers paying more than list price in a multiple offer situation.  While I do not want to see my buyers pay too much for a home, neither do I want to see them lose the home they want by coming up just $2000 or $3000 short of the winning bid.  I remind them that, during the due diigence period, an appraisal may value the property at less than purchase price and, at that point, we would have an opportunity to try to negotiate the price to appraised value.

What causes multiple offer situations?  Limited inventory, low interest rates, and an increase in demand.  Looks like that's where we are at the moment.  Happy House Hunting! 

A View of Construction for the Next Five Years


After nearly four years of steep contraction and then two years of flat revenues, the "embers of optimism" are returning for the construction industry in 2014 and beyond – and it goes beyond residential housing.

That's according to a new report out byCurt Young, an investment banker with FMI Capital Adivisors, the Raleigh-based investment banking firm that deals almost exclusively with engineering and construction firms across the country. FMI Capital Advisors is a subsidiary of FMI Corp.

Young's report, based on forecasts by FMI's research services group, shows that while no one expects the engineering and construction industry to recover immediately all of its losses occurred over the last six years, there remains a strong desire to grow.

"Both public and private companies are under pressure from their stakeholders to get their trend lines pointed in an upward direction and capitalize on the first hint of opportunity," he writes.

Some companies are doing this by expanding into more regional territories. We've seen that happen lately in the Triangle as companies like Samet Corp.,Shealy Electrical Wholesalers and Angler Environmental have set up new offices in the Triangle in recent months.

Others are seeking greater exposure in new market sectors, such as energy, oil and gas, and health care.

According to the FMI report, here's the forecast for strong markets in the construction industry over the next five years:

  • Single family residential will grow 17.9 percent in 2014, but it will taper down to an average 15 percent growth each year through 2017.
  • Multifamily residential will grow 28.9 percent in 2014, but it will slow to an average 13.9 percent growth each year through 2017.
  • Lodging will grow 9.8 percent in 2014, and it will average 7.6 percent growth each year through 2017.
  • Manufacturing will grow 6.5 percent in 2014, and it will average 6.9 percent growth through 2017.
  • Health care will grow 3.9 percent in 2014, but it is forecast to ramp up in 2016 and 2017 to 8.4 percent and 9.1 percent growth each year respectively with an average five-year growth rate of 6.7 percent through 2017.
  • Power and energy will grow 4.6 percent in 2014, but it is also expected to ramp up to 9.4 percent growth in 2016 with an average five-year growth rate of 7.4 percent through 2017.

The weak markets in the construction industry are still those that depend mostly on government spending, such as streets and highways, water and wastewater, and conservation and development. Each one of those sectors is forecast to grow less than 3 percent on average each year over the next five years.

The office building market is forecast to grow 3 percent in 2014 and ramping up to a 6.8 percent growth in 2016, according to the report.

Homebuyers Have Regrets


Many recent homebuyers would make different choices if they had a second chance, according to a study commissioned by JPMorgan Chase & Co. New homeowners say they wish they had done more homework at the outset of the home search and purchase process. Nine of every ten buyers felt prepared when they bought their home, but in hindsight, 56 percent wish they were armed with more knowledge about the financial aspects of purchasing a home, such as the closing process (22 percent), making an offer and negotiating (19 percent) and financing (15 percent).

Many recent homebuyers were surprised by how long the home-buying process took: 40 percent say it took longer than they expected. And while more than 80 percent of buyers had considered their home move-in ready, 76 percent have done or are planning to do renovations to their home in the near-term. Two-thirds of recent homebuyers sought advice from real estate agents, the study finds.

“While consumers said they felt prepared to buy a home and were satisfied with their home purchase, our results found that there are challenges and areas for improvement,” Lisa Foradori, chief marketing officer for Chase Mortgage Banking, says.

Hiring A Professional for Renovations and Repairs


Whether selecting a designer, a cabinetmaker, or a contractor, start by getting referrals from people you know who have had similar work done. Or you can turn to the Yellow Pages for help. Then call several candidates.
On the telephone, first ask whether each handles the type of job that you want done and can work within the constraints of your schedule. If so, arrange meetings and ask them to be prepared with references and photos of previous jobs. You may want to visit former clients to check their work firsthand.
For each type of specialist you wish to hire, obtain several bids for comparison. If you are hiring an architect or designer, discuss your wishes thoroughly; they will explain how their fees are established. When hiring a contractor, provide either an exact description and your own sketches of the desired remodeling, or plans and specifications prepared by an architect or designer. Discuss which aspects of the work the contractor will handle.

Ask each candidate for a firm bid, based on exactly the same plans or discussions. Have your plans -- or intentions -- as complete as you can. You don't have to accept the lowest bid; it's more important to choose a reliable, responsible person whose work you admire, and with whom you feel comfortable.

For some jobs, you may want a written contract, which binds and protects both you and the person you hire. Not just a legal document, a contract is also a list of the expectations of both parties. When every detail is written down, a contract can help minimize the possibility of misunderstandings later. Look it over carefully before signing.
The contract should clearly identify the participants and define all work to be done, including (as applicable) specific descriptions of all the materials that will be used in the project, the time schedule, and the payment schedule. For a contractor, it should include a set of working drawings. It also should state who is responsible for obtaining permits, and researching whether plans are according to code. Copies of, or affidavits attesting to, subcontractors' licenses and insurance coverage should be included.

Newest Trends in Kitchen Designs



Wood flooring and glass backsplashes are expected to show up in more kitchens this year. Those were among two findings from the latest trend report from the National Kitchen & Bath Association, which surveyed 420 designers to find the top kitchen trends in 2014. (Stay tuned for next week where we’ll highlight the top bathroom trends identified from the survey.)

Below are some of the kitchen trends designers identified.

Trend #1: Contemporary styles

“While transitional styles are still number one, we see kitchen design trending more contemporary this year with clean, simple lines; less clutter, and little ornamentation,” says John Petrie, the 2014 NKBA president. Sixty-two of the design professionals surveyed said they expect contemporary styles to be on the upswing this year and possibly even inch closer to overtaking the popularity of transitional styles.

Trend #2: A place for electronics

The kitchen is increasingly becoming a hub for home owners’ electronics. Two-thirds of NKBA kitchen designers said they incorporated docking and charging stations in kitchen remodels. They also included a desk or home office area. Fifty-six percent said they included a flat-screen TV.

Trend #3: Energy savers

Home owners continue to look for the energy savings. Sixty percent of designers expect energy-saving appliances to be in higher demand this year. Also, 47 percent of designers said water-saving kitchen faucets likely will be another energy-saver that home owners look to incorporate more this year.

Trend #4: Quartz countertops

Quartz countertops are expected to gain popularity this year. About 70 percent of designers said they expect to see the countertops to increase in popularity. Also, about 40 percent of designers said they expect more kitchens to incorporate countertops made of recycled materials this year.

Trend #5: Satin finishes

Satin nickel has become the most popular faucet finish in the kitchen and is expected to continue to dominate in 2014, designers say. Polished chrome is second in popularity.

Trend #6: Granite composite sinks

Sink materials may be starting to change. Stainless steel is the most popular sink material; porcelain enamel is a distant second. But designers say they expect granite composite materials to become a growing option this year. Granite composite sinks, often found in darker hues, are known for being very durable and scratch resistant. They often are comprised of about 80 percent granite and 20 percent acrylic resin.

Kitchen Sinks by Houston Kitchen & Bath Fixtures Westheimer Plumbing & Hardware
Trend #7: Pets place

The pets want a place in the kitchen too. More designer report that home owners are asking for them to carve out a special space for their cats or dogs in the kitchen. These special kitchen spaces are ranging from a nook for the pet’s day bed to litter box cabinets, a feeding station, or even a doggy faucet.

Top Kitchen Features in Demand

Designers identified the following kitchen features as being in highest demand, according to the NKBA survey:

• Induction cooktops

• Steam ovens

• French-door refrigerators

• Bottom freezer refrigerators

• Touch-activated faucets

• Electronic (no touch) faucets

• LED lighting

Losing Popularity

What’s heading out of style in the kitchen? Designers said they are remodeling fewer kitchens with highly ornamented Tuscan and Provincial looks. Also, they said distressed and glazed finishes are decreasing in popularity as well as country/rustic styles, according to the NKBA study.

10 Things You Should Do To Your House This Spring


We’re all aware of the idea of Spring cleaning (whether or not we do it – we mean REALLY do it – is another story). If you’re ready to delve in, I’ve got some tips for Spring cleaning, plus a few other Spring things you should be doing to your home. Ready to Spring forward?
1. Sell something
When the weather gets warmer, it’s time for a garage sale. Gather up all your unwanted stuff and put it out on the lawn. Might as well make some money for that old, ugly chair you’re embarrassed to put in your living room.
2. Donate something
Take everything that doesn’t sell over to a local charity. Not only will you be doing a good deed for people in need, but your donation is also tax deductible.
3. Trash something
If you have large items that cannot be sold or donated, you don’t have to live with them taking up all the space in your garage. Haul ‘em out. Many cities will schedule a large trash pickup one time a year, while others have sites where you can drop off for free. Check with your local city for options.
4. Clean something
The concept of spring cleaning isn’t about your normal program of vacuuming and dusting. It’s time to go deep. Move furniture and clean underneath and behind. Those are some world-class dust bunnies. Pull back the blinds and clean the windows. And while you’re at it, clean the blinds. They’re gross.
5. Scrub something
It’s a good time to get to those things that need a little extra effort. That weird spot in the shower you’ve been watching grow? Zap it for good. Clean out your washing machine. Yes, they actually make washing machine cleaner. Irony is good, and so is a sparkling clean washing machine.
6. Organize something
The closets you’ve been ignoring? It’s time. Really. Plan your attack and go for it. You never know what you’ll find in there that you’ve been missing (or forgot about). And cleaning out your closets are also a great way to find items to sell and donate (see #1 and #2).
organized closet
7. Renew something
That ugly chair that didn’t sell at your garage sale? Maybe you could pretty it up with some paint or fabric? With a little time and effort, you might actually create a new favorite piece.
8. Plant something
Spring is the time to get your garden in gear. Flowers, bulbs, and certain veggies thrive in Spring. Urban Farmer has a great seed calendar, and see Huffington Post for vegetable planting ideas.
9. Update something
Paint colors stuck in a decade-old funk? It’s time for a fresh coat. Check out Benjamin Moore for the latest trends in paint colors.
10. Upgrade something
Maybe it’s just time to chuck it all and move. The Spring buying season is upon us, after all. If you are thinking of moving, remember that all the same rules apply for getting your home sale-ready as they do for getting Spring ready. So, basically, you’re not going to be able to get around that whole shower scrubbing thing!

Market Update


Existing-home sales slipped 7.1 percent in February compared to levels from a year ago at this time, marking the slowest sales pace since July 2012, according to the National Association of REALTORS®' latest report. But home prices continue to recover as prices in February edged 9.1 percent higher than year ago levels, NAR reports.

“We had ongoing unusual weather disruptions across much of the country last month, with the continuing frictions of constrained inventory, restrictive mortgage lending standards, and housing affordability less favorable than a year ago,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Some transactions are simply being delayed, so there should be some improvement in the months ahead. With an expected pickup in job creation, home sales should trend up modestly over the course of the year.”

Here’s an overview of some of the findings from NAR’s latest report:

Existing-home sales – which reflects completed transactions for single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops – declined 0.4 percent in February month-over-month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.60 million.
The median existing-home price for all housing types in February was $189,000 – 9.1 percent higher than February 2013.
Distressed homes – including foreclosures and short sales – accounted for 16 percent of February sales, compared to 15 percent in January. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 16 percent below market value, while short sales sold for an 11 percent discount, on average.
Housing inventory increased 6.4 percent in February to 2 million existing homes for sale. It represents a 5.2-month supply at the current pace.
The median time on the market for all homes was 62 days in February, a drop from 67 days in January and 74 days in February 2013.
All-cash sales accounted for 35 percent of transactions in February, up from 33 percent in January. Individual investors, who make up many of those cash sales, purchased 21 percent of the homes in February.
Snapshot by Region

Here’s a look at how existing-home sales fared across the country in February:

Northeast: Existing-home sales dropped 11.3 percent to an annual rate of 550,000. Sales are 12.7 percent below February 2013 levels. Median price: $237,800, up 1.5 percent from a year ago.

Midwest: Existing-home sales dropped 3.8 percent in February to a pace of 1 million. Sales are 12.3 percent below a year ago. Median price: $140,900, up 8.6 percent higher than a year ago.

South: Existing-home sales increased 1.5 percent to a pace of 1.98 million in January. Sales are 0.5 percent below February 2013. Median price: $163,400, up 8.3 percent from a year ago.

West: Existing-home sales increased 5.9 percent to an annual rate of 1.07 million in February. Sales are 10.1 percent below year ago levels. Median price: $279,400, up 18 percent from a year ago.


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Karen Johnson
Mobile Phone: 919-605-6981
Mobile Phone:
7721 Six Forks Road, Suite 110
Raleigh, NC 27615
Office: 919-518-8100

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