Redfin Estimate: Now More Accurate and Available for 11 Million More Properties – Redfin Blog

December 19, 2019 October 5, 2020 by Alina Ptaszynski

Updated on October 5th, 2020

Big news! Redfin is excited to announce today that we’ve improved the accuracy of the Redfin Estimate and expanded coverage to five new metro areas and several additional property types, including land and multi-family properties. The Redfin Estimate is a calculation of a home’s worth, built on our propriety machine learning algorithm that uses billions of data points about properties across the country. Our engineers and data scientists improved the accuracy of the estimate for off-market homes by 70 basis points, as the median error improved from 6.3% to 5.6%. An error rate of 5.6% means that half of all Redfin Estimates fall within 5.6% of the home’s eventual sale price. For a typical $300,000 home, the updated Redfin Estimate is now $2,100 closer to the market value and will be within $16,800 of the final sale price half of the time. 

Among Redfin’s most popular features, the Redfin Estimate gives homeowners, buyers, sellers and real estate agents insight into the value of more than 85 million properties. Claim your home on Redfin to track its Redfin Estimate over time and edit facts about your property to further improve the accuracy. When it’s time to sell, the Redfin Estimate is often the starting point in a conversation with your Redfin agent. 

“Everyone wants to know what their home is worth, which is why the Redfin Estimate drives so many homeowners to visit our site and start a conversation with a Redfin agent,” said Redfin CTO Bridget Frey. “In real estate, every tenth of a percentage point matters and can represent hundreds or thousands of dollars in a home’s value. Agents know that a smart, data-driven pricing strategy is often the difference between a home that sells quickly with multiple offers and one that sits on the market. The accuracy of the Redfin Estimate speaks to Redfin’s data advantage as a brokerage that employs thousands of real estate agents across the country who work hand-in-hand with our engineers, providing uniquely human insights as we train our machine learning algorithms. With the best data, top tech talent and deep agent expertise, Redfin has the necessary ingredients to transform the real estate industry through AI and machine learning.”

A highly accurate estimate is also critical for RedfinNow, our instant-offer business. RedfinNow buys homes directly from homeowners for cash, fixes them up, if needed, and then quickly resells them. 

“The new release not only improves the accuracy of the estimate, it includes back-office tools for RedfinNow that show the confidence of the estimate and project the future sales price, so we can better assess the risk and opportunity of buying a particular home,” said Quinn Hawkins, head of RedfinNow. “With continued advancements in AI and machine learning, we can envision a future where the Redfin Estimate becomes a live offer for a subset of properties.”  

More Accurate

Redfin has improved the accuracy of the Redfin Estimate for both off-market and on-market properties. For homes actively listed for sale, the Redfin Estimate error rate improved by 5 basis points, improving from 1.62% to 1.57%. These accuracy gains for both on- and off-market properties were measured by comparing the performance of the previous algorithm to the updated algorithm between February and August 2019. The Redfin Estimate error rate is dynamic and updates daily for on-market homes and weekly for off-market homes. The most current national and local error rates are listed on the Redfin Estimate page

Redfin’s engineers and data scientists improved the Redfin Estimate’s accuracy by conducting hundreds of experiments, testing and retesting new models and incorporating new data. Because Redfin is a brokerage, the company has complete access to the Multiple Listing Services (MLS) used by real estate agents to describe properties in extensive detail, with each MLS tracking different attributes of a home that Redfin can use to calculate a more accurate estimate, such as whether a home is located on the water, has a view or faces a busy street.

Expanded Coverage

Redfin also expanded the Redfin Estimate to five new markets: Connecticut, Boise, Des Moines, Spokane and Chattanooga. Previously available for three property types: single family homes, condos/coops and townhouses; Redfin can now provide estimates for several new types of properties including land, mobile homes and multi-family buildings. 

Check your home’s Redfin Estimate on redfindevelop.wpengine.com/redfin-estimate.

Source: redfin.com

Buying a House in Atlanta During Covid-19 – Redfin

The US housing market has been continuously analyzed amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, with many Americans questioning the impact Coronavirus may have on buying a home in their local market. While conditions can change rapidly, Atlanta’s housing market hasn’t seen a drastic negative impact from the virus. 

Many people are still looking to buy a house in Atlanta but less are choosing to sell, creating an inventory shortage. The pandemic has forced everyone involved to be a little more creative in order to tour homes and close deals, so we turned to our Atlanta-based real estate agents to share their experiences and knowledge about the condition of the market and answer some questions below. 

buying a house in Atlanta

buying a house in Atlanta

How are potential homebuyers touring homes right now?

In the age of Coronavirus virtual home touring has been at an all-time high, but does that mean homebuyers are no longer touring homes in person? The city is seeing a fair mix of virtual and in-person tours from those who are looking to buy a house in Atlanta. 

“I’m receiving more virtual tour requests than usual, but I’m actually getting less virtual tours than I thought. I’m seeing about 50/50 split between video and virtual tours and in-person tours” says Redfin agent Shoy Cooper. 

The majority of buyers in Atlanta, GA will tour homes in person before making an offer. When doing in-person tours, agents are very cautious and pay careful attention to the safety of their clients and the homeowners. When touring homes, it is highly recommended that only 2 people tour the home at a time and wear protective gear, including masks and gloves. 

According to Redfin agent Stephanie Beckwith “one thing we see a lot at the entrance of homes is homeowners have hand sanitizer, gloves, and other protective gear. Homeowners often keep all lights on and ask us to not really touch anything.” Even during COVID-19, agents, homeowners, and homebuyers are still able to make the home buying and selling process happen, it’s just a little different now. 

Has competition declined? How competitive are the offers on current homes listed for sale?

The competitiveness of the Atlanta housing market is largely based on the original price point. In the current market, those who are looking to buy a house in Atlanta under the $400,000 range are facing a lot of competition. Homes priced in this range, and in desirable neighborhoods are selling quickly and receiving multiple offers. 

According to Redfin agent Heather Plaisance, “the sellers that are still active in the market definitely are pricing to sell, or they just have a hot commodity and are continuing to go under contract. What I  feel like we’re struggling with is new homes coming available.” 

Because the inventory of new homes for sale is low, homes that are fairly priced, and areas with good school districts and amenities are receiving offers and going under contract very quickly. “There are just not a lot of homes and that’s the problem, there aren’t enough homes in the market for the number of buyers we still have” says Stephanie. 

As for homes in the higher price range, they are not seeing as much competition. These homes tend to stay on the market longer and receive fewer offers. Overall, the current landscape of the Atlanta housing market is still very competitive as the inventory of new homes listed for sale remains low.  

Is there a larger number of offers falling through? 

Some agents aren’t seeing listing cancellations and contract withdrawals, while others have reported cancellations due to lending restrictions on those trying to buy a house in Atlanta. Lenders becoming more strict with their guidelines has caused a few offers to fall through. 

According to Shoy, “prior to COVID-19 multiple lenders were interested in lending to potential homebuyers. These buyers were in a pretty good spot in regards to their credit scores and finances, but because lenders have become stricter with their parameters, certain amounts that they were comfortable lending allowances for before ended up falling through.” 

Other than the complications that come with stricter lending restrictions, agents have not seen many offers fall through due to other circumstances. 

Were closings being postponed due to stay-at-home orders? Can you close remotely? 

Although many things have changed and evolved during this pandemic, many deals are still being finalized on time, or even early. Due to the competitive nature of the market, closings are rarely being pushed back. In addition, closing attorneys have been getting creative and finding new ways to make closings happen safely and on time. Most eClosings have been done by buyers who are moving to Atlanta from another state. 

Shoy says, “curbside closings and eClosings have been the most common. I just had a closing that was a curbside closing. We were able to e-sign most of the documents before we arrived. But for all contracts that had to be signed in person, the closing attorney came out to the car and handed the documents to the buyer to sign as I stood nearby acting as a witness.” 

Closings during the  COVID-19 pandemic are definitely different but the new process isn’t stopping anyone from purchasing their dream home. “It’s a matter of just changing how you do things and adapting,” says Heather. 

Are homes receiving fewer offers? 

As Atlanta continues to have fewer homes listed for sale and more competition, homes are seeing more offers. Popular homes are seeing multiple offers, and some of these homes are going under contract within the same day they are listed. Stephanie found that “for homes in the desired price point, and with the low-interest rates, people are still very interested in touring homes and making offers to try to get a home under contract. We are getting into a lot of multiple offers more so right now then in the past.”

Is the current market in favor of buyers or sellers?  

There’s a general consensus that the current market in Atlanta is in favor of sellers. We are seeing fewer homes on the market, meaning these homes will most likely sell quickly, and sell close to the asking price. “Sellers are in a good position because there’s just not enough on the market, and they’re pretty much selling at the offer price or over the list price, and maybe a little bit more” says Stephanie. 

Although we are seeing a high demand for homes for sale in certain price ranges, we see less competitiveness on homes listed with a higher sell price. According to Shoy, “it’s one of those things where price point makes a difference. The higher you go, the greater your chances are that a seller will be much more flexible to negotiate with you in order to get the home sold.” So for the most part, Atlanta is currently a seller’s market. “Seller’s dictate the market, as long as they have a well priced or reasonably priced home that is marginally appealing it’s going to sell” says Heather. 

Source: redfin.com

Existing-Home Sales Rise Slightly, Despite Buyers’ Struggles With Falling Inventory>

The numbers: Existing-home sales beat
analyst estimates and rose in December, even as inventory dropped once again to
a record low.

Total existing-home sales increased 0.7% from November to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 6.76 million, the National Association of Realtors reported Friday. Compared with a year ago, home sales were up roughly 22%.

“Home sales rose in December, and for 2020 as a whole, we saw
sales perform at their highest levels since 2006, despite the pandemic,”
Lawrence Yun, the trade group’s chief economist, said in the report.

Economists polled by MarketWatch had projected that existing-home
sales would fall to a median rate of 6.55 million.

What happened: The median existing-home
price in December came in at $309,800, which is nearly 13% higher than a year
ago. Prices increased across every region of the country.

The inventory of homes for sale fell 16% between November and December. As of December, the market had a 1.9-month supply of homes for sale based on the current sales pace, an all-time low. A 6-month supply is considered to be a sign of a balanced market.

Regionally,
home sales rose the most in the Northeast (up 4.5% from November), followed by
the South (up 1.1%). Sales remained unchanged in the Midwest and fell 1.4% in
the West.

The big picture: While sales didn’t continue the downward streak from November, the increase is likely to be short-lived this winter. Mortgage application data has trended downward — most likely a reflection of tighter lending standards and buyer fears of the current wave of COVID-19 infections, said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

“The bottom line here is that the surge in mortgage demand and
home sales is over, for now, and construction will follow suit,” Shepherdson wrote
in a research report. “Home prices, however, will continue to rise rapidly,
given the imbalance between supply and demand, but we don’t expect to see any
further sustained acceleration until the summer.”

That said, economists expect mortgage rates to remain
historically low for the foreseeable future, and the economy is likely to show
signs of improvement as more people are vaccinated. That should give a boost to
the housing market in the spring.

The trouble for buyers is that it’s not yet clear whether
more people will choose to list their homes for sale in the coming months. With
the inventory of homes for sale at record lows, buyers will be forced to
compete more to purchase a home, paying higher and higher prices. Ultimately,
the supply of homes could constrain how much room home sales have to grow.

What they’re saying: “While new mortgage applications ramped higher at year-end, housing demand looks to have cooled a few degrees due to rising COVID-related anxiety, a record-low supply of available homes, and escalating prices,” Robert Kavcic, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, wrote in a research note.

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.57%  and the S&P 500 SPX, -0.30% were both down in Friday morning trading.

Source: marketwatch.com

10 Ways to Add Architectural Details to Your Home – Redfin

November 30, 2020 December 4, 2020 by Alison Bentley

Updated on December 4th, 2020

One of the best perks of becoming a homeowner is making the space your own. From furniture choices, to paint colors and décor – the style options are endless. But what happens if your home is missing some key architectural details to go with the style you have in mind? 

Architectural details are small design elements – like a stone fireplace or decorative trim – that have the power to characterize and define your entire home. Choosing the right architectural style for your home may seem overwhelming, but don’t worry – we’re here to help. So, whether you’re living in a new construction home in Sacramento, CA, or a modern condo in Atlanta, GA these 10 ideas will help you add the perfect architectural details to your home.

architectural-details-crown-molding

architectural-details-crown-molding

1) Start with classic crown molding or wainscoting

Crown molding is likely the first architectural style that comes to mind, and for good reason. Details like crown molding or wainscoting are timeless additions to your walls that will stick throughout the years. If you’re into DIY projects, you can install a peel-and-stick crown molding to your walls, or add a faux wainscoting look with a chair rail molding and some paint. For a different take, you can frame your windows with a type of molding called casings. Not a DIY-er? Talk to an architect or licensed contractor who can help design and install crown molding or wainscoting to your home without the hassle. 

2) Choose contrasting colors

When deciding on a color palette for your home, choose contrasting colors for added depth. You can easily create contrast throughout your home with stark variations in paint or furniture choices. Think white walls against a black floor or dark-finished cabinets with light-colored countertops. 

3) Add textured walls for architectural details

If contrasting colors aren’t your style, consider texture when it comes to your walls. Many painters can add texture to an otherwise plain wall with paint techniques to help add dimension. If texture isn’t your game, think about adding an accent panel using stonework or mosaic tiles.

picture-railing-architectural-details

picture-railing-architectural-details

4) Create a gallery wall or picture rail

Get creative with your photos and art by making a gallery wall. Strategically placing your photos on the wall is an art on its own, one that an interior designer can help you out with. Consider adding a picture rail to your wall if you’re looking for something a little more permanent. That way you can display your art and décor along the walls while also incorporating crown molding. A picture rail will be a statement detail no matter how many times you’ve changed the photos.

5) Hang drapery for high ceilings

One of the easiest ways to add architectural style to your home is by hanging drapery around your windows. By hanging drapes a few inches below the ceiling it will draw your eyes upward, making your walls and ceilings look taller. Bonus, adding drapes will highlight any windows in your room and create a cozy feel no matter the season. 

6) Replace the hardware on your cabinets

Another quick DIY home project to change up your interior style is to switch the hardware on your cabinets and drawers. From sleek silver handles to intricate bronze knobs, the options are endless. Replacing the hardware on your cabinets is a quick way to add simple, yet eye-catching architectural details to your home.

fireplace-reclaimed-wood-architectural-style

fireplace-reclaimed-wood-architectural-style

7) Incorporate reclaimed wood

If rustic is what you’re looking for to spruce up your home’s character, think about adding reclaimed wood throughout your home. Whether that’s having a contractor or remodeler add wood beams to your ceiling or as simple as a new table, reclaimed wood will give you the architectural style you’ve been looking for. Also, investing in reclaimed wood pieces is a great way to support the environment while achieving your style vision. 

8) Get creative with your doors

Upgrading the doors in your home can bring a whole new architectural dimension to your space. For a simple approach, a fresh coat of paint can make a big impact on your home’s style. However, if you’re looking for a larger project, think about having your doors replaced with something more unique. Think reclaimed wood doors, sleek sliding doors, or reused barn doors. These changes will instantly transform the architectural details of your home from the moment you step inside. 

9) Natural stone works wonders

If you’re looking to bring a rustic architectural style into your home, incorporating natural stone finishes will do wonders. Think about framing a fireplace with bricks or adding a custom stone design as a backsplash. You can also achieve this rustic feeling by creating a feature wall with faux bricks or a sleek slate.

10) Upgrade or install a fireplace

Adding architectural details to your fireplace will bring warmth – literally and figuratively – to your living space. Spruce up your fireplace’s mantel by painting it a contrasting color to your walls, or frame your fireplace with bricks or natural stone. If your home doesn’t have a fireplace, contact a handyman or contractor who can discuss your options for installing a fireplace in your home. They can also give you advice on what style will work best for your space.

Source: redfin.com

Covid-19 Kindled Washington, D.C.’s Luxury Market. The New Administration Could Make it Even Hotter>

For many years, Michael Stock said he never considered selling his handsome Beaux-Arts Revival-style home on Washington, D.C.’s prestigious Embassy Row—not even when representatives from a nearby embassy stopped by with a case of wine and an unsolicited bid of interest.

Then the pandemic happened, sending the local luxury real-estate market on an unstoppable hot streak. The rise in prices, combined with the promise of fresh demand spurred by an incoming presidential administration, proved too good to pass up: Mr. Stock listed his home, which he bought in 2008 and spent years restoring, for $5.5 million earlier this month.

Like many other cities whose luxury housing stock is dominated by single-family homes, Washington, D.C.’s market has only benefited from the Covid-19 crisis, as buyers—often spurred by ultralow interest rates plus the desire for dedicated home offices and large gardens—move to larger homes. As a result, the D.C. real-estate market is pricier than it has been in years, according to local agents.

Mr. Stock listed his home after seeing an upward shift in the local market.

Photo: Stephen Voss for The Wall Street Journal

Now, with a new administration taking over the White House, those agents say they are busier than ever. “I’m on meetings and showings all day long,” said Daniel Heider of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty, noting that he’s already shown Mr. Stock’s house to a couple relocating to the area to serve in President Biden’s administration.

“We didn’t know where we were going to be when Covid hit in March,” said Robert Hryniewicki. The luxury agent with HRL Partners of Washington Fine Properties said he is currently handling a bidding war for a Massachusetts Avenue Heights property priced at $5.65 million. “But after April, it really took off.”

The median price of a home sold in Washington, D.C., was $641,300 in December, a 1% increase from the same time a year prior, according to data from real-estate firm Long & Foster. The volume of sales was up 16% during that same period. The number of signed contracts in December was 731, up 40% from December 2019.

In December, there were just 1.7 months of housing supply available in Washington, D.C., down 12% from the prior year.

The ultra-high-end saw even more of an uptick. There were 72 transactions priced at $4 million and up in the capital region in 2020, compared with 53 in 2019, according to Washington Fine Properties. There were eight sales priced at $10 million or more, compared with zero the year before.

Coe Magruder, a 67-year-old hedge-fund and asset-management entrepreneur, is one of the many beneficiaries of the hot market. He sold his Massachusetts Avenue Heights home, a redbrick Colonial formerly home to the embassy of Swaziland (now known as Eswatini), for $4 million in August after receiving an unsolicited offer, he said.

He said he and his wife Denise Magruder had already relocated to Vero Beach, Fla., and were planning to do some work to their home, including a paint job and a redo of the bathrooms, before listing it for sale.

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A Grand Home on Embassy Row

 
 
Michael Stock’s home sits directly across from the Japanese embassy in Kalorama.
Cesar Olivares
1 of 8

The Vice President Next Door

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Zuma Press

Secret service. K9 sweeps. It’s not easy living in the same condo complex where Kamala Harris owns an apartment.

The market wouldn’t wait. Mr. Hryniewicki, the couple’s agent, soon had a client for whom the house was perfect. Mr. Magruder agreed to a single showing and threw in a caveat: The buyer would have to meet the fixed asking price of $4 million, or he would continue with his plans to spruce up the property and list it publicly later.

Within a week, a contract was signed for $4 million. Mr. Hryniewicki said the home sold for a notable premium over what it might have sold for prior to the Covid-19 crisis.

Being home with their two young children amid the pandemic made real-estate developer Michael Rocks and his wife Dana Rocks, who was pregnant with their third child, rethink their space. In November, they listed their four-bedroom Tudor in the leafy Wesley Heights neighborhood to move to a larger home in McLean, Va., where the children could each have their own rooms and a bigger yard.

Coe Magruder’s Massachusetts Avenue Heights home sold for $4 million last year before he could put it on the market.

Photo: Stephen Voss for The Wall Street Journal

“Little kids have a lot of energy they need to expend,” said Mr. Rocks, 35, who became a father of three in December. “They want a jungle gym, and since they couldn’t go to the playground we wanted to create something like that for them in our own yard.”

The Rockses hosted one open house and about 12 separate tours and received four offers over their $1.795 million asking price, Mr. Rocks said. “What was shocking to us was how many offers there were,” he added. The house went into contract for $2.022 million just four days after it was listed.

While they reveled in the success of a quick sale, the flip side of the market was trickier; the purchase of their new home in McLean required winning a three-way bidding war. “Everything is just so expensive and in such limited supply,” Mr. Rocks said.

Michael and Dana Rocks sold their home in the Wesley Heights area of D.C. for $2.022 million, just four days after listing it.

Photo: HRL Partners at Washington Fine Properties

Real-estate agents project the market will become even tighter in the next few months, as Mr. Biden continues to roll out new appointments.

Neighborhoods expected to be especially in demand include fashionable areas like Kalorama and Massachusetts Avenue Heights, which are known for drawing Washington high society, including major political donors, lobbyists and wealthy elected officials, as well as billionaires like Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos. In these neighborhoods, a short drive from the Capitol, high-end classic homes are clustered together on tree-lined streets.

Despite for a heavy security presence in some pockets, designed to protect residents like Jared Kushner and first daughter Ivanka Trump, the Kalorama neighborhood was quiet on a recent Sunday. A few walkers with their dogs paid little attention to the security as they passed.

Michael and Dana Rocks with their children.

Photo: Lisa Ziesing for Abby Jiu Photography

Mr. Stock, 44, leads a nonprofit that trains peacekeepers and military forces in troubled parts of the world. While his home is close to the one owned by President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, he said the security is basically discreet and somewhat reassuring. “You couldn’t find a safer block probably anywhere in the country,” he said. “Sometimes, when there are people over for an event, I don’t lock the door.”

During the last presidential transition, administration officials like Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway all bought homes within the same tiny area.

Photo: Sanna Mander

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

How do you think the luxury real estate market in D.C. will change in the coming months? Join the conversation below.

“This current administration threw everyone in the housing market for a loop,” Mr. Heider said. “There were people coming from New York and Palm Beach, who were extremely wealthy and that upper bracket market went on fire,” Mr. Heider said.

It isn’t clear if Mr. Biden’s cabinet will be as affluent, or if those Trump administration officials will leave D.C. following President Donald Trump’s departure; as of now, none of their homes are publicly listed for sale.

As for the recent riot at the Capitol, Mr. Heider said he expects it to have little to no effect on demand for homes.

“Obviously, a breach of the Capitol building is not something to brush off, but Washington has been home to protest after protest for decades,” he said, though he noted that the curfews imposed because of the riot were inconvenient for residents. “This summer, there was looting and businesses being set on fire and it didn’t impact the real-estate market. It’s just part of living in Washington.”

The Trump Administration

After Donald Trump triumphed in the 2016 presidential election, real-estate agents reported a significant bump in interest in high-end homes in Washington, D.C., as some of President Trump’s wealthy appointees relocated to the district.

Some of the transactions included those by:

Photo: Stephen Voss for The Wall Street Journal

Kellyanne Conway

In 2017, Kellyanne Conway, a longtime adviser to President Donald Trump, and her husband, attorney George Conway, purchased a roughly 15,000-square-foot mansion in the Massachusetts Avenue Heights area for $7.785 million, according to records and people familiar with the deal. The eight-bedroom house dates back to the 1920s and had previously been owned by Moeen Qureshi, once the acting prime minister of Pakistan, who first listed it for $22 million and then dropped the price several times.

Photo: Stephen Voss for The Wall Street Journal

Steven Mnuchin

In 2017, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin paid $12.6 million for a nine-bedroom mansion near Rock Creek Park, also in the Massachusetts Avenue Heights area, according to records and a person familiar with the deal. Built in 2001, the property spans about 16,000 square feet with a wine cellar and a media room.

Photo: Stephen Voss for The Wall Street Journal

Rex Tillerson

In 2017, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his wife Renda St. Clair bought a four-bedroom Colonial Revival-style home in the Kalorama neighborhood for $5.5 million, according to public records, which indicate the couple still owns the property.

Photo: Stephen Voss for The Wall Street Journal

Wilbur Ross

At the close of 2016, President Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and his wife Hilary Ross paid $10.75 million for a gated limestone Beaux-Arts mansion in Massachusetts Avenue Heights, records show. The property, which dates back to 1927 and sits on over an acre of land, was formerly owned by philanthropist Adrienne Arsht. The house had been on the market for $12 million, Zillow shows.

Photo: Shawn Thew/EPA/Shutterstock

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner

During her father’s administration, presidential adviser Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner rented a house in the Kalorama neighborhood from a company controlled by Andrónico Luksic. Mr. Luksic’s family is the wealthiest in Chile and controls a mining, banking and industrial empire worth billions of dollars, the Wall Street Journal reported. The company had purchased the home for $5.5 million in December 2016. It wasn’t clear how much the couple was charged in rent.

Write to Katherine Clarke at katherine.clarke@wsj.com

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Appeared in the January 22, 2021, print edition as ‘The Capital Market Rides a Covid Boost.’

Source: wsj.com

Most Popular Home Trends in Texas That Are Worth the Money

In today’s booming housing market, it’s crucial to stand out from the competition and appeal to as many homebuyers as possible. You want your home to sell quickly and for top dollar, right? To help incite multiple offers, and possibly start a bidding war, you may need to do some home upgrades to make your home more desirable than the home listed for sale down the street. But, what sort of home trends and features are most popular in your market with today’s buyers? 

From indoor fireplaces to recessed lighting, consumer taste often varies state-by-state, or even by city. Someone living in Seattle won’t desire a backyard pool as much as someone living in Phoenix, after all. So, if you want to get the most bang for your buck, check out these five home remodeling trends that are currently the most popular with homebuyers in Texas.*

1) Walk-In Closet

Large walk-in closet

Large walk-in closet

Once considered a feature only found in luxury homes, walk-in closets have become increasingly popular over the years and have now become one of the more important rooms in any home. In fact, homes in Texas with this feature sell for 99% of asking price. These large closets typically have space for hanging your clothes and shelves for clothes, shoes, and jewelry. 

Depending on the size of the closet, they’ll sometimes even have a lounging area. It’s common to see homeowners convert a spare room into a large walk-in closet that is highly functional, practical, and spacious. But, even with the rise in popularity, only about 20% of homes for sale have a walk-in closet. Consider adding a walk-in closet or converting an existing room into a large closet to stand out from other listings.

2) Ceiling Fan

Bedroom with ceiling fan

Bedroom with ceiling fan

With the Texas climate, it’s no surprise that ceiling fans are ranked as the second most popular home feature with today’s buyers. Still only about 14 percent of homes for sale in Texas have this feature. If you’re looking to attract more potential homebuyers, it might be time to install ceiling fans. They’re useful in keeping homeowners cool in warmer climates, but they also have many other advantages such as energy conservation, versatility, illumination, and year-round value. With ceiling fans, you can also enhance your home’s decor at an affordable price while keeping everyone cool and comfortable.

3) Covered Deck

Covered deck

Covered deck

If your outdoor space doesn’t have a cover, it may be time for an upgrade. Many homeowners in Texas prefer a covered deck or patio so they’re able to enjoy the outdoors all year round, but only about 15% of current homes for sale have one. A covered deck will offer shade so you can relax without being directly exposed to the sun’s rays, rain, or any other outdoor elements. It’s no wonder that outdoor living spaces are all the rage.

4) Security Cameras

Home security camera

Home security camera

Homebuyers nowadays are always looking for a way to boost home security and provide a peace of mind. In fact, listings with security cameras sell for almost 99 percent of list price on Redfin.com. Security cameras can be found all around neighborhoods as the demand for high-tech home security increases. These systems are now more powerful and affordable than ever before. Security cameras can deter crime, lower homeowners insurance, notify of gas or fire problems, offer remote access to your home, and more.

5) Breakfast Bar

Modern kitchen with breakfast bar

Modern kitchen with breakfast bar

A common, and often inexpensive, upgrade homeowners often opt for is adding a breakfast bar in the kitchen. A breakfast bar provides more counter space, additional space to entertain, as well as extra space for eating. Homes with breakfast bars have a median listing price of $364,900, almost $39,000 more than the average list price in Texas.

*Per home listing data on Redfin.com, as of November 2020. 

Individual results may vary. This is not intended as a substitute for the services of a licensed real estate agent, or licensed and bonded home services professional or appraiser.

Source: redfin.com

How to Increase Your Credit Score Quickly and Buy Your First House

April 27, 2020 December 18, 2020 by Emily Huddleston

Updated on December 18th, 2020

Being a first-time homebuyer is tougher these days, as banks and mortgage lenders are tightening their lending standards. While credit requirements for a mortgage can vary, depending on the type of loan and lender, a credit score of 620 is typically the minimum credit score needed for a conventional loan. However, lenders are raising the required minimum credit score and are now looking for at least a 700 credit score from new borrowers. 

So, if you’re exploring the housing market and looking to buy soon, you may need to boost your score fast to meet these new requirements. While good credit isn’t built overnight, there are still some things you can do right now to boost your credit score in record time. Check out these strategies for how to increase your credit score quickly, so you can move forward in your homebuying journey.

grey two story home

grey two story home

Clean up your credit report

While this may not be your idea of an enjoyable weekend or afternoon activity, start by getting a copy of your credit report and looking for any mistakes. Incorrect information on your credit reports could be dragging down your scores. 

First, find out your credit score by getting a credit report. There are sites where you can get a free credit report like AnnualCreditReport.com. They provide credit reports from the three credit bureaus Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion at no charge to you. You will then need to look through those reports, inspecting them for mistakes. Errors could include an incorrect name or address, credit lines that don’t belong to you, duplicate entries, and incorrect account status.

If you find a mistake, you’ll also need to bring it up with each bureau. Each one has a slightly different process for disputing errors, but you should be able to easily find instructions on their websites. Alternatively, you could enlist a credit repair service to help get those errors fixed so you can raise your credit score quickly.

Pro Tip: Correcting errors on your credit reports are not only important to your credit profile but it is also your legal right as a consumer to have any accounts on your credit report, reported accurately. – Classy Credit Repair Services

Lower your credit utilization ratio 

You might be wondering, just what is a credit utilization ratio? A credit utilization ratio is how much you currently owe divided by your credit limit. For example, if you typically charge up a $1,500 credit card balance each month and your total credit limit across all your cards is $10,000, your utilization ratio is 15%. This ratio can impact up to 30% of your credit score, making it a major player in your overall credit score. 

Pay down your balance

It’s recommended to keep your total credit utilization ratio below 30%. So if your credit utilization rate is high, paying down your credit card debt is a quick way to lower that rate, boost your score, and proceed in your home buying process

Pro Tip: Most experts recommend two approaches that could quickly eliminate debt. You could focus on the smallest bill and pay that account off as fast as possible. Once paid, move to the next bill with the lowest balance. The next option is to target the bill with the highest interest rate. As you pay the high-interest accounts off, you will ultimately save money in the long run by not throwing away money monthly in interest. – Masters Credit Consultants

Make multiple payments each month

You may think you are managing your credit card great because you always pay off your card each month. The problem is, creditors are only reporting balances to the reporting companies once a month. So if you run up a high balance or max out your card each month, it will look like you’re overusing your credit.

For example, assume you have a credit card with a $2,000 limit and you use it for everything. It comes time to pay your bill – you owe $2,000 but you pay it off like you always do. However, depending on what day of the month the credit card company reports your balance, it may look like you have a $2,000 limit and a $2,000 balance every month. That means you have a 100% credit utilization ratio.

You can easily solve this problem by breaking up your payments. You can keep charging everything to your card, but make payments at least twice a month to keep your balance low, which will result in lowering your credit utilization ratio.

Ask for a higher credit limit

When your credit limit goes up and your balance stays the same, it immediately decreases your utilization. Of course, this only works if you keep your balances low. 

Pro Tip: Call your card issuer and make sure they are able to increase your limits without performing a hard credit inquiry as that can lower your scores. You can ask for an increase in credit limit usually every 6 months. – Credit Lynx

Become an authorized user

You can also boost your credit score fast by piggyback on someone else’s. If you have a relative or a close friend with excellent credit history, consider asking them to add you as an authorized user on one of their accounts. The cardholder doesn’t have to let you use the card – or even give you the account number – but you will still benefit.

Remember, while authorized users do build credit, that credit can be good or bad. It is dependent upon how the primary account holder manages balances and bill payments. So you only want to become an authorized user on an account owned by someone responsible and that you trust.

Pro Tip: Before requesting or adding someone as an authorized user, make sure to follow these three criteria: 1) Card was issued a minimum of 2+ years 2) Balance is below 30% of available credit 3) 100% payment history. – Pyramid Credit Repair

Don’t open new accounts

Every time you apply for a line of credit, the lender will pull your credit report as part of the application process. This is called a hard inquiry and in the short term, it can hurt your credit score. A hard inquiry is placed on your credit report even if you’re not approved and even if you eventually decide to not accept the credit card. 

Pro Tip: Certain types of loans, namely installment contracts such as an auto loan, can initially bring down your credit score for several months before the payments begin to help your credit history. In addition to this, the lender will take into consideration your DTI, Debt To Income Ratio, and a new large monthly payment can possibly change those ratios and place you into a category where you no longer qualify for the loan. It is best to wait until after you have completed your home purchase before you make any other big financial decisions. – Credit 360 Consulting

Pro Tip: Revolving accounts say to creditors and credit bureaus that you are a disciplined consumer and can be trusted with credit accounts. So if you aren’t looking to purchase a home right away and instead have several months to make long-term improvements to your score, consider obtaining revolving accounts such as credit cards, personal lines of credit, or retail store cards with high limits that report to the 3 major credit bureaus. – Credit Repair of Florida

Don’t close any credit cards

If you’re a first-time homebuyer rushing to improve your credit score to buy a house, be aware that closing cards can make the job much tougher. Closing an account immediately reduces your available credit. If you have outstanding debt, this will cause your credit utilization ratio to jump up and therefore, your credit score to drop.

Pro tip: Closing a credit card account with a high credit limit could have an especially negative impact on your score, particularly if you are carrying a high balance on another card. – AZ Credit Medix

Pay bills on time

No strategy to bump up your score will work if you end up paying your bills late. Why is this? Your payment history makes up 35% of your credit score ― the most heavily weighted factor. So not making payments on time is the single worst thing you could do. Reminder – you’ll want to pay all bills on time. Not just credit card bills, but also your student loans, rent, utilities, phone bills, and so on. 

Pro Tip: Sometimes when payments are late, the creditor will automatically raise the interest rate being charged and this creates a greater problem than just being late. A simple solution to avoid being late on payments is to set up “auto pay” plans and to consider using a budgeting application such as Mint, or Everydollar. – Graves Financial Wealth Management 

Pro Tip: If you end up with debt that becomes a collection account, it’s in your best interest to pay or settle the debt as quickly as possible. To get the best deal when paying a collection its best to have a lump sum on hand. Call the collection agency and offer them 50% of the debt, you may have to do a little negotiation, but you should be able to settle for around 65% of the debt. Also, ask if they will delete it from your credit report. Some will, and some won’t, but always ask. – Credit Restoration of Texas

How long does it take to improve a credit score?

After reading through these tips you are likely wondering – “how long exactly is it going to take to improve my credit score?” Unfortunately, there’s no way to predict the exact timing for when your credit score will go up or by how much. So while you wait, remember to be patient, implement the above tips, and continue checking your credit score to see how it reacts. By following these steps you should be well on your way to improving your score and purchasing your first home. 

Source: redfin.com

How to Sell Your House in 2021

January 8, 2021 January 12, 2021 by Emily Huddleston

Updated on January 12th, 2021

So, you’ve evaluated your finances, thought about your lifestyle and made the big decision to sell your home. Maybe you’ve decided to downsize, or you’re moving out of the big city because you can now work remotely, or maybe you just want to live somewhere warmer and bought a house in Phoenix or a condo in San Diego. Whatever your reason, you’re ready to sell. With so many things to consider, selling a house can be an overwhelming process, and this is especially true during a pandemic. Luckily, for you, we put together a comprehensive guide on how to sell your house in 2021.

how to sell your house

how to sell your house

What to expect from the housing market in 2021

The coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on our lives – from how we work to how we socialize and travel. It has also affected how we buy and sell homes. So, if you’re planning on selling your house in 2021, it’s important to understand what to expect from the housing market this year and how to best prepare. Luckily, Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather gives us her keen insights into what to look out for in 2021.

“Typically, the homebuying season starts in late spring, but this year, we expect the homebuying season to begin by late January. That’s because buyers will want to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates before they begin to rise. So if you are thinking about selling this year, you should get your home ready now. Buyers want move-in ready homes because they don’t want to worry about having contractors in and out of their new home during a pandemic. It won’t hurt to list your home early.”

Regardless of if you’re a first-time or seasoned home seller, this step-by-step guide will help you navigate how to sell your house this year.

1) Hire a home inspector

You’re probably thinking, wait, isn’t that the buyer’s responsibility? You’re not wrong. When you’ve accepted an offer, the buyer will most likely request a home inspection of their own. So, why would you have one? First, if a home inspection turns up something that’s in need of repair, wouldn’t you prefer to resolve it before entering into negotiations?

In fact, if you end up needing to make repairs that take weeks to fix, you may lose that buyer altogether. Having a home inspection is a proactive approach to getting your home ready to sell. Known as a pre-listing home inspection, you can find out the exact condition of your property, what issues and repairs need to be addressed beforehand, fix them, and then focus on the next task to sell your home fast.

Also, knowing the condition of your property will further assist you during the negotiation phase with potential buyers. As you may already be aware, buyers often use their home inspection as a way of getting concessions from sellers, such as asking you to drop your list price. If you’ve already addressed these repairs, it is less likely that anything new will come up and impact your negotiation. Before hiring an inspector, be sure to inquire about what measures they are taking to protect their customers from COVID-19. 

home office

home office

2) Make repairs and small upgrades to your house

After you receive a comprehensive list of repairs you should make, it’s time to get started either making the repairs yourself or contracting out the right person. This may also be a great time to make small upgrades to your home.

Understand what today’s homebuyers are looking for

Due to the pandemic and so much time spent at home, there are certain features that are becoming a necessity for homeowners. For example, homebuyers want a home office. If you don’t have a designated office space, stage a spare bedroom or extra space as a home office. Add a desk, a plant, and a bookshelf to give it a look that will stand out on Zoom calls. Homebuyers are also looking for deluxe kitchens. This is no surprise as so many picked up cooking or baking as a new hobby in 2020. Consider upgrading your kitchen with new appliances and quartz or granite countertops. (Granite countertops are actually one of the top 10 home trends with the highest sale-to-list ratio in the U.S.)

Enhance your outdoor space

When you are selling your house, you want to find ways to make it stand out, and what better way than having the most beautiful entrance and lawn on the block. You don’t necessarily have to paint the exterior of your house to impress homebuyers. Simple things like trimming your hedges and a freshly mowed lawn will go a long way. Even freshly laid beauty bark and newly planted flowers can really make your yard pop. If these improvements seem like too much to handle while you’re trying to prepare your home to sell, look into hiring a landscaper to assist.

Brighten your home

When it comes to first impressions, a poorly lit home is at an automatic disadvantage. Darkness can make a home feel uninviting, dirty, and cramped even when it isn’t. So, before putting your home on the market, you’ll want to find simple ways to brighten your home. These can include painting your ceilings white and choosing a wall color that is brighter and more neutral, adding mirrors, replacing light bulbs, and adding additional light sources. 

bright bathroom

bright bathroom

3) Declutter and prep your house to sell

Decluttering and prepping your house are steps you should make a priority when learning how to sell your house. Renting storage units is becoming an increasingly popular method of decluttering one’s house before selling it. The idea is to limit the amount of stuff in your house so that potential future owners can envision themselves (and their stuff) in that space. Even removing photos is a great way to allow potential buyers to think about what they would hang on those walls. If you’re looking for a quick turnaround, bring in a professional organizer, or schedule a virtual consultation. They can help get your house in order, while also preparing you for a stress-free move. 

4) Find a real estate agent

Finding a real estate agent is easy, finding a great real estate agent can be more of a challenge. Getting referrals and reading online reviews is a great way to start narrowing down your options. You’ll want to understand what you’re looking for when hiring a real estate agent to represent your best interests. Here are some questions to consider asking any potential candidate:

  • How many clients have you served this year?
  • Has a client ever filed a complaint against you?
  • What is your fee? 
  • What services do you offer beyond negotiations and escrow?

After you decide on a real estate agent, you and your agent should come up with a plan of action for how to sell your house. It should include a timeline, from the pricing of your house and getting it listed on MLS to personal showings. You and your agent should be on the same page at all times and a plan of action will help ensure that.

organize kitchen when learning how to sell your house

organize kitchen when learning how to sell your house

5) How to price your house to sell

Now is the time to find out what price you should list your home. You can start by using online tools to help you get an idea of what your home is worth. However, you should never set your sights on a single number and expect it to happen. Market conditions change all the time and so does buyer behavior. 

Another option is to conduct an appraisal. Home appraisers are licensed professionals that will assess the value of your house based on the state of your property and overall housing market conditions. They will look at the size of your property, the interior and exterior conditions of your house, any upgrades, additions, or home improvements you’ve done, and then calculate your home’s worth based on the local market conditions.

Looking at comparables of recently sold homes in your area will also help you settle on a price. These homes should be similar in size, location, and sold within the last few months. Furthermore, you want to be strategic about your pricing. Instead of lumping the price of your house in with others in the area, strategize your pricing based on your home’s selling features. In other words, if there are three houses for sale in your area and they are priced at $350,000, you might be able to justify $360,000 or more because you have a larger lot size or maybe you’re located in a popular neighborhood.

staged bedroom

staged bedroom

6) Stage your home to sell 

If you don’t deem yourself a design-minded individual, consider hiring a professional home stager to help. Given the current climate, however, not everyone necessarily wants a professional stager to enter their house. Luckily, many staging services offer virtual consultations as a popular alternative. Regardless if you work with a professional or handle the staging on your own, here is a list of things to consider that will really help you make your house shine:

  • Clear the clutter: You may have already transferred most of your belongings to a storage unit by this point. Now is the time to focus on cleaning up the clutter on countertops and tables. Put away newspapers, mail, or magazines, or if you have children, help them pick up their toys.
  • Deep clean your house: Nothing turns off buyers more than an unclean bathroom. That is also true for the rest of your house. Now more than ever is the time to wash your windows, windowsills, and scrub your grimy glass shower doors.
  • Add white accents: White accents such as flowers or towels in the bathroom create a sense of welcome cleanliness.
  • Arrange furniture: You don’t have to necessarily rent furniture to stage your home. You can most likely use what you have. The key is to limit the number of furniture pieces in any one room. Then arrange them in a way that’s inviting to people as they enter the room.
  • Bring in light: Think about removing your curtains or keeping them drawn back to allow as much light into your house as possible. If you have rather large elaborate curtains, consider storing them away until you get to your next home.
  • Highlight your floors: Floors are a key feature homebuyers are looking at, especially if you have wood floors. Show them off by removing any rugs or unneeded furniture so more of your flooring can be seen. If you have wood floors, think about polishing them to really make them pop.
  • Organize all closets and drawers: Homebuyers touring your home will most likely look in your closets to determine space and, frankly, to see if their stuff will fit in there. They will also likely open kitchen drawers and cabinets as well, so make sure everything is nice and tidy.
  • Dust: Concentrate on all the areas that you’ve most likely have turned a blind eye to for some time, like ceiling fans, baseboards, on top of doorways, appliances, etc.

bright living room

bright living room

7) Get professional photos taken of your home

Nothing sells a house faster than professional photos. This is especially true now, as many prospective buyers are conducting their home search completely online due to the coronavirus. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. They are searching online, looking at every home that comes up for sale within their filtered interests the moment it’s listed. If your house is represented online by poorly shot photography, your listing will see very little traffic. Not to mention, it’s widely observed that houses with professionally shot photos, on average, sell for more money than other listings.

When planning how to sell your house, you should also strongly consider having your home digitally scanned for an online 3D tour. These 3D walkthroughs, where you point and click through a home from your computer, are more than 5 times as popular now as they were before the pandemic. And with more buyers buying from out-of-town, a 3D walkthrough can help out-of-town buyers decide whether to make an offer on your home before they have a chance to see it in person. 

Lastly, aerial photography that shows a bird’s eye view of one’s home and its surrounding area has become increasingly popular with buyers looking online. Many agencies include some or all of these services as a component of their overall services to you as a seller. Just remember, the better you represent your house online, the faster it will sell.

8) List your home to sell

Your real estate agent will list your home online on MLS (Multiple Listing Service), in order for it to start showing up on real estate websites for potential buyers. Also, don’t limit the marketing of your house to your real estate agent and online search. Market your house yourself. Spread the word through your family and friends. Share your listing on social media and send out emails asking people to share your listing with others. 

backyard

backyard

9) Have a plan in case your home doesn’t sell quick enough

You and your real estate agent should have already gone over this beforehand, but not every house sells quickly. There are many factors at play and depending on the condition of the housing market for your area, your real estate agent may have to use some other strategies in their arsenal to get your house sold. If it’s lowering the price of your home or holding more tours, you’ll want to agree on what the next steps should be in case your house isn’t seeing any offers.

10) Negotiate the sale price of your home

One thing to consider is that the buyer is trying to get the absolute best price they can, while you’re doing the exact same. There will be multiple factors to consider, as each home sold and purchased is different. For example, if it’s a buyer’s market, that means the buyer has the upper hand because there are multiple listings with fewer offers being made. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to make huge concessions in order to sell your house.

This is where your agent really steps up. They will help you navigate the negotiation process, and will give you their advice on how to proceed when offers are being made. Luckily, you interviewed and hired the right agent, so you know they have your best interests in mind.

11) Sign and close

You and your agent have been working towards this moment. You’ve agreed on a price with the buyers, all inspections and appraisals of your home have been completed, and you are now ready to sign the papers and close. To comply with social distancing guidelines, some states are now allowing completely electronic closings, called eClosings. Once you’ve signed all of the paperwork – congratulations, you’ve sold your house! 

Source: redfin.com

Building a House? A Simple Guide to the Home Building Process – Redfin

If you’ve been searching the real estate market for the perfect home and just haven’t found the one for you, building a house can be the best possible way to guarantee the house of your dreams. Building a house offers the ultimate flexibility, giving you the freedom to take your vision and bring it to life.

However, managing the construction process isn’t always easy. Building a house from the ground up takes a lot of coordination, financial resources, and professional assistance. Here is what you need to know about the home building process.

building a house

building a house

Secure Financing

Unless you have a lot of cash on hand, you’re likely going to need some sort of third-party financing to afford the cost of construction on a new home. Luckily, lending is available to homeowners for construction in a similar way to securing a mortgage for an existing home.

It’s important to note that construction-related loans may be slightly harder to secure than a traditional mortgage. FHA first-time homebuyer loans are limited as well for new construction, so those without a strong credit history are advised to do research to ensure adequate financing is available.

For homeowners who are confident in the construction process and are able to hold to a set timeline, construction-to-permanent loans can be an excellent option. This kind of loan allows property owners to pay contractors and other construction professionals as the work is done. That cost is then converted to a mortgage when construction is finished. Construction-to-permanent loans allow for a set interest rate at closing and consistent fixed payments.

Plan Your Home

Before moving forward with buying land and starting construction, you need to know what kind of home you want to build. A small plot of land may not accommodate your mansion dreams, while lots in subdivisions may have restrictions related to size and style. When planning your home, consider points like:

  • Number of bedrooms
  • Number of bathrooms
  • Home layout, like a one-story home versus one with multiple floors
  • Appearance preferences, like siding material and color
  • Storage needs, including basement and attic spaces
  • Open concept versus segmented rooms
  • Outdoor space and landscaping
  • Potential extras, like solar panels, sunlights, fireplaces, or anything else that may affect the construction process

Did you know that homes with hardwood floors consistently sell for over list price? Consider the most popular and valuable home trends across the country before building a house. 

Be aware that compromise may be part of the process. It’s not unusual for plans to change as building gets underway for cost or logistical reasons.

Purchase a Lot to Build a House on

Once you have financing secured and know what kind of final product you want, you’ll need to choose a place to build your home. Since you’re building a house you can buy land anywhere, maybe you have your sights somewhere outside of Atlanta, GA or Dallas, TX? The options are endless. Parcels of land designated for new construction may be available in numerous locations, including underdeveloped suburban areas, rural areas, and as a part of subdivision development.

In some cases, where you buy can determine things like sewer, water, and electricity. In subdivisions, these details are usually completed when land parcels are listed for sale, but in less developed areas, this may be the responsibility of the property owner. Note that more rural land not protected by the subdivision development process or city law may require title insurance.

building a house

building a house

Handle Permits and Adhere to Regulations

Home construction is a highly regulated process. It’s not possible to just purchase property and start building. All construction projects need to adhere to local zoning laws and proceed under the proper permits.

Working with the right professionals can alleviate much of this burden. Contractors and construction companies will know what kind of permits are necessary to start the building process and ensure construction follows all regulations. The lead on your project can work with you to file papers and ensure you’re prepared to move forward in a safe, legal manner.

Hire Professionals

You may be handy with a hammer, but home construction really requires a professional team to guarantee a great final outcome. In order to bring your dreams to life, you will need to hire professionals for this process. This may include:

    • Land grading company: They have extensive knowledge on issues such as how to properly work with various types of soil and plants, and can advise you on the best methods for removing obstacles, and what kinds of structures can be placed in certain areas.
    • Architect: They see the big picture. Creating the complete look of your home, interiors and exteriors, that satisfy functional needs and are exciting spaces to live in.
    • Custom home builders: A custom home builder will guide you through each phase of the home building process. They will work with you to coordinate costs and design your ideal home, inside and out. This will likely involve working with an architect, interior designer, and landscape specialists.
    • Construction company: A construction company will handle everything from building the foundation to the final framing of the home. 
    • Electricians: They’ll make sure any fixed appliance that requires electricity, as well as any electrical outlets, will have the necessary electrical wiring installed. The electrician will run cables and wires to all switches, outlets, appliances and lighting fixtures throughout your home.
    • Plumbers: A plumber will install all plumbing fixtures, septic tanks and sewer lines in the home. 
    • HVAC professionals: They will install all climate control systems in the home. 
    • Interior Designers: Hiring an interior designer early in the home building process can be helpful for everything from furniture placement to planning for special finishes to determining locations of electrical outlets and plumbing fittings. 

The specifics of hiring will vary from one property to another. For example, land sold as part of a subdivision development may not require grading, but rural land purchased outside city limits might. 

Hiring the Right Team

Land excavators, contractors, architects, and construction companies come in all shapes and sizes, and some are better than others. Instead of hiring the first names you come across online or in the phone book, be sure to do your due diligence on both reputation and abilities.

In some cases, like some government lending programs, including the USDA, approval of a particular builder or contractor is required to secure financing. Under these circumstances, it’s extremely important to pick competent, qualified professionals that can exceed expectations.

When evaluating professionals to work on your home, be sure to keep the following points in mind:

  • Work experience; a competent team should have several years minimum of experience in single-family home construction, including homes in the size and style you have in mind.
  • Adequate commercial liability insurance of $50,000 or more
  • Proper contractor or construction licensing and any other permits required to operate legally
  • Reference checks that include verification of quality service from previous clients

Many professionals provide free or affordable quotes and estimates as well. Seek pricing options from all your top candidates to best guide the decision-making process. Be aware that estimates can move and change as building progresses, so choosing a team at the very top of your budget could lead to potential problems should issues arise.

Oversee Building

Once you have secured financing, purchased land, arranged for all necessary permits according to local law, and hired the best possible professionals to help, the building process can get underway. This process can be quite fast using modern technology, but will still require numerous steps to complete.

  • Land Preparation: Before breaking ground, construction teams will need to make sure the land is ideal for construction. This can mean clearing and grading the area, digging trenches, and confirming utility installation.
  • Foundation and Footings: Once the land is ready, construction crews will build a foundation. Foundations may be slab, crawl space, or full basement, depending on region and land type, and will involve poured concrete with reinforced steel rods for security and stability.
  • Framing: When the foundation is firmly in place, construction workers will build the frame, or the skeleton of the house. This can include subfloors, joists, trusses, and studs. If construction occurs during a high precipitation time of year, windows and roofing may also be installed during framing to prevent weather damage.
  • Utility Installation: After completion of the core of a home, contractors can install electricity, water, plumbing, and HVAC systems. All of these installations should be approved by an inspector after completion.
  • Insulation and Drywall: Insulation will be added to all exterior walls, floors, and ceilings and covered with drywall. Options include fiberglass, foam, and cellulose insulation. Drywall will also be hung on interior walls and primed with paint.
  • Interior and Exterior Finishes: Once the basics are more or less complete, crews will install interior finishes, like molding, baseboards, doors, counters, cupboards, and other essentials. Contractors may also tackle things like driveways, walkways, and other landscaping requirements at this time.
  • Flooring and Fixtures: The last interior step generally involves installing flooring and all other fixtures, like faucets, light switches, tubs, toilets, and heat register covers.
  • Final Inspection: Once all features of a home have been built out, a final inspection is advised. Home inspections are a good idea for a new property as well as existing property, ensuring all elements of a home are in good working order and up to code. If builders made any mistakes in the process, an inspection can bring this to light so that repairs can be made before final project completion.

Building a house can be a stressful process, but there’s no better way to ensure your new house meets your every expectation. With a thorough understanding of the home building process, you can approach the construction of your dream home with care and confidence.

Source: redfin.com

Mistletoe Madness: Home Overflowing With Christmas Decor Is the Week’s Most Popular Property>

In 2020, many of us are going all-in on holiday decorations as a way to keep spirits bright at the tail end of a dark and dreary year. And we remain firmly on the side of anyone who wants to make their living space a unique reflection of who they are.

And this week’s most popular home on realtor.com® ticks both of those boxes in a big way.

The stately New Jersey home on the market for $2.2 million features a must-see collection of Christmas decor. The two-story foyer serves as the holiday showstopper: It’s filled from floor to ceiling with stockings, statues, tinsel, trees, garlands, and wreaths—all guarded (of course) by a pair of life-size wooden nutcrackers.

The whole house is out of this world and, yes, the decor remains in place year-round.

You also clicked on a stylish “barndominium” in Texas, a sleek glass house in a forest in Illinois, and a brand-new home in Laurel, MS—the filming location of HGTV’s popular “Home Town.” It’s another sign the show is responsible for sparking a real estate revolution in an unlikely locale.

For a full look at this week’s 10 most popular homes, simply scroll on down.

Price: $399,900
Why it’s here: Built in 1908 and completely redesigned inside, this three-bedroom Colonial has trendy touches throughout. It features a new driveway, new flooring throughout the home, and a new master suite with fireplace. Outside, there are two new decks, one in front and the other out back with a fireplace. The exterior siding is painted a crisp robin’s-egg blue.

Lakewood, OH
Lakewood, OH

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Price: $339,500
Why it’s here: Newly built in the town made famous by HGTV’s “Home Town,” this four-bedroom home was designed to appeal to the Pinterest-perfect crowd. It has the requisite amenities and custom finishes today’s buyers want, all wrapped in a stylish modern farmhouse package.

This brand-new subdivision boasts a lake, new roads, and new street lights.

Laurel, MS
Laurel, MS

realtor.com

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Price: $545,000
Why it’s here: Punctuated by one of the most severe carports we’ve ever seen, this five-bedroom home was built in 2004. It features a home theater, finished basement, pool, fountains, wine cellar, home office, and fitness room. While the carport was left intact, all the bathrooms have been remodeled.

Noblesville, IN
Noblesville, IN

realtor.com

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Price: $890,000
Why it’s here: Elegant and refined, this five-bedroom home was purchased last year by “Teen Mom 2” star Kailyn Lowry.

But after she featured the home and its renovations on social media, Lowry said the address had drawn too much attention from fans, hence the listing.

Built on a 2-acre lot in 2004 and recently updated, the home includes a pool with hot tub. It features wall-to-wall hardwood flooring, built-ins, a master suite with fireplace, and a finished basement.

Middletown, DE
Middletown, DE

realtor.com

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Price: $7,749,000
Why it’s here: Described by Florida Magazine as “one of the most unforgettable homes in Florida,” this waterfront home is said to be inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright. Built in 2008 and featuring 271 feet of water frontage and views of Tampa Bay and downtown St. Petersburg, the four-bedroom luxury residence is finished in rich woods and stone and boasts 10-foot-tall wooden doors for a dramatic entrance.

Tampa, FL
Tampa, FL

realtor.com

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Price: $410,000
Why it’s here: Designed to suit a very specific taste, this three-bedroom home was built in 1966. The listing photos indicate not much has changed in the home over the decades. Groovy design features include a sunken grotto conversation room, floral wallpaper, scattered statuary, a garden room, and indoor pool.

Chesterfield, MO
Chesterfield, MO

realtor.com

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Price: $795,000
Why it’s here: This modernist concept house was built in 1974 and recently renovated. The four-bedroom residence appears to float among the trees. In July we noted its list price of $850,000. A recent price cut spurred this current wave of interest.

The all-glass structure features white oak flooring, wood ceilings, and floor-to-ceiling views in every direction. There’s also a finished basement with rec room and wet bar, storage, and a workshop.

Downers Grove, IL
Downers Grove, IL

realtor.com

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Price: $1,800,000
Why it’s here: This local landmark was built in 1927 Dr. Stanley Clark. The sellers purchased  this French Country–inspired estate in 1974. The four-bedroom home has since been updated, but still features vintage details throughout. Highlights include four gas fireplaces and a basement with yoga room, billiard room, and wine cellar. Outside there’s a pool, gazebo, and terraced patio.

South Bend, IN
South Bend, IN

realtor.com

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Price: $699,000
Why it’s here: This boffo blue-and-white “barndominium” was built in 2019 and features 4,763 square feet of living space. For a bit of whimsy, there’s an indoor slide! The home sits on 50 acres with a 23-foot-deep stock tank and high game fence.

Abilene, TX
Abilene, TX

realtor.com

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Price: $4,199,999
Why it’s here: Maximalism meets mistletoe in this large four-bedroom home in New Jersey. It’s filled with Christmas decorations, and the listing photos make for must-see viewing—even if you’re not a Hallmark Channel addict.

For a sense of the scale, there are nearly 40 life-size Santas scattered throughout the residence.

Each bedroom has a holiday theme, and the kitchen also cooks up some serious Christmas vibes. You’ll see trees (plural), life-size nutcrackers, dozens of wreaths, bows, and bric-a-brac that must have taken a lifetime to collect. It’s very merry—and a little bit scary?

Colts Neck, NJ
Colts Neck, NJ

realtor.com

Source: realtor.com