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Date Archives: January 2022

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January
31

Sell Your Home Before They Walk in the Door

Did you know that most buyers form a strong opinion of your home before they walk through the door? First impressions matter big-time when selling your home, so you want buyers to be impressed from the moment they arrive at the curb. By maximizing the curb appeal of your property, you can go a long way toward selling your home.  Let's take a quick look at some of the aspects to consider when it comes to the outside of your home.

  • Clean and De-clutter
    Just like with the inside of the home, you want buyers to see a clean, clutter-free space when they look outdoors. The first step to boosting curb appeal is clearing clutter, removing dried leaves, and making sure there's nothing to draw attention away from the beautiful outdoor space around your home.
  • Trim Trees and Shrubs
    Shrubs, bushes, trees, and plants can provide a great accent to your home, but you never want the property to look overgrown or poorly maintained. Invest some time to trim trees and shrubs to an attractive length. If there are dead or damaged trees, consider calling a professional to have them removed.
  • Keep Your Lawn Manicured
    A healthy, well-maintained lawn is a sign to buyers that you care about the property, and have invested the time necessary to keep it in great shape. Make sure that your lawn is mowed, edged, and trimmed, especially when you know that buyers will be visiting.
  • Add Color to Your Landscaping
    Planting some fresh flowers and plants to your landscaping can be a great way to catch the eye of buyers, and add vibrant color to your curb appeal. If you'd rather skip the gardening, landscaping, and lawn maintenance, a professional landscaping team can take care of all your outdoor maintenance needs.
  • Fresh Paint and Fixtures
    Painting the entire home is a significant step to take for curb appeal, and it won't always be necessary unless the paint on the home has seen better days. Even if the rest of the home doesn't need a fresh coat, painting the front door and adding new fixtures can be a great way to add curb appeal. The cost is minimal compared to a completely new paint job, and a fresh look for your home's entrance can really make a difference.
  • Inviting Outdoor Spaces
    Do you have any outdoor patios, gardens, or gathering spaces that buyers will see when they arrive? Make sure that those areas are at their best, with attractive landscaping, quality furnishings, and well-maintained patios.
  • Clean Driveway and Walkways
    Renting a pressure washer for a day and getting to work can truly transform the look of the hard surfaces around your home. Driveways and walkways accumulate years worth of dirt, stains, and discoloration that is hard to remove without a pressure washer, so the benefits are substantial.

Once you have your home looking great from the curb, it's important to keep it that way. Selling your home is so much easier when buyers have something to be excited about from the moment they arrive for a showing or open house, and curb appeal can even encourage buyers to stop for a look when they happen to pass by the home during their daily travels. The time, money, and elbow grease you invest in curb appeal is a small cost for the potential benefits.

January
28

Why selling your home with a modern agent is more important than ever in 2022

We know you've seen endless episodes of real estate TV shows on HGTV, follow bloggers who "sold their home on their own" and spend hours studying online real estate websites to see what homes are selling for and what the market is like.

You might feel like you have a good grip on how the whole selling your house thing works but here are 3 reasons why it's important to have an agent you can trust working in your best interest:

1. You can't call that online website or design blogger when you get 12 offers and have no idea how to choose the strongest one (it's about more than price and there are things you won't know how to interpret in that contract if you're not a professional).

2. That online website has never been inside of your house. It is absolutely impossible to rely solely on an estimate coming from the internet when pricing your home.

3. You'll never know if you're truly maximizing your sale price when you're doing this without the advice of a professional. There are multiple points within the transaction that can end up with you leaving money on the table that you didn't necessarily have to.

This just touches the surface of the importance of working with a licensed agent when selling your home. Here's the best news - We are an open book. If you have a question, reach out and ask us. Our experienced agents are always happy to walk through different scenarios and show you what it could look like to have a modern agent working with you through your home sale (and why you're more likely to net more money in that scenario).

January
26

THANK YOU AND MORE
By Brad Gosslee, President, Coldwell Banker Gosslee

I want to start this month's local housing update with three BIG thank yous! We ended 2021 as the top real estate company in Northwest Louisiana once again. It was our 29th straight year at the top! And it wouldn't have happened without our support staff, agents, buyers and sellers.

I am convinced that our support staff is not only the best in Shreveport and Bossier, but the best in Louisiana. They are incredibly invested in the success of our agents and do so much of the behind-the-scenes work and details involved in real estate transactions allowing our agents to focus on serving the needs of their clients.

Our agents participated in more than 2205 closed transactions last year leading to Coldwell Banker Gosslee setting a record with $570 million in sales volume (the total price of those homes). With so little inventory and incredible buyer demand, our agents showed their skill, professionalism and dedication while they guided their clients through one of the most challenging real estate markets we have ever encountered.

Our clients benefitted from the effort our staff and agents put forth. We understand that there is stiff competition and appreciate your trust. It's even more humbling for you to turn to us during a market like this. You challenge us every day to put forth maximum effort and deliver outstanding results. THANK YOU!

As I have said, this past year was one of the most difficult markets we have ever seen. While normally Northwest Louisiana doesn't mimic the national trends and we record steady and slow price appreciation, this year was different. The number of sales in Caddo, Bossier and Desoto Parishes surpassed 6,000 (6,027) for the first time ever, a 10% jump over 2020 which was up 13% over the previous year. That is a lot of buyer activity.

We got to the record because December was the busiest last month EVER. There were 468 home sales, 112 (+31%) more than the rolling five-year December average. In fact, November and December combined for 914 home sales alone. All of this happened despite Desoto Parish being off 15% in sales largely because of the extremely low number of homes on the market.

With so many buyers in the market, largely because of mortgage rates that spent much of 2021 at-or-near record levels, homes are being gobbled up quickly. We are now at a record low of only 770 homes on the market. This equates to a 1.5 month supply compared to 4.5 months two years ago.

This chart shows overall Northwest Louisiana sales and how they have changed over the last 5 years in December alone. The increases are dramatic:

Price Range

December 2021 Sales

December 2020 Sales

December 2017 Sales

% change over last 5 years

Total

468

450

348

34.5%

$100,000 & less

51

80

99

-48.4%

$100,000-$200,000

178

166

130

35.8%

$200,000-$300,000

133

122

84

58.3%

$300,000-$400,000

60

51

28

114.3%

$400,000-$500,000

27

15

3

800.0%

$500,000+

19

16

             4      

375.0%

 

The speed of the market is also intense. Locally, our median days on market – how fast homes sell - is a ridiculously fast 15 days, down 56% from a super-fast 2020. This figure was even lower (12 days) for the 468 homes that sold in December. We are below the national median of 19 days according to the National Association of Realtors which also shared that 79% of all U.S. homes in December sold within 30 days of being on the market.

Now look at this chart that breaks down where the greatest activity occurred for all of 2021. It's fascinating to see how our "move up" market played out with large percentage increases in the $300,000-$500,000 ranges, especially in Caddo and Bossier Parishes:

Price Range

YoY Number of Home Sales NW LOUISIANA
(% change over 2020

YoY Number of Home Sales in Bossier Parish (% change over 2020

YoY Number of Home Sales in Caddo Parish (% change over 2020

YoY Number of Home Sales in Desoto Parish (% change over 2020

Total

6,027 (+10%)

2,410 (+8%)

3,421 (+14%)

196 (-15%)

$100,000 & less

873 (-18%)

216 (-18%)

625 (-17%)

32 (-26%)

$100,000-$200,000

2,180 (+8%)

697 (-4%)

1,413 (+14%)

70 (+21%)

$200,000-$300,000

1,760 (+16%)

865 (+6%)

859 (+36%)

     36 (-48%)

$300,000-$400,000

685 (+30%)

402 (+47%)

250 (+21%)

33 (-31%)

$400,000-$500,000

310 (+63%)

151 (+66%)

141 (+62%)

18 (+50%)

$500,000-
$600,000

101 (+25%)

     44 (+29%)

55 (+20%)

2 (100%)

$600,000+

118 (+71%)

35 (35%)

78 (+81%)

5 (400%)

 

And, at the risk of sounding like grade school economist, the supply vs. demand equation naturally leads to higher prices. Our median home price (middle of all sold homes) in Northwest Louisiana finished the year at $198,950, 8% higher than a year ago while our average price ended the year up 11% to $221,840. Our agents have always heard me talk about our market as "Steady Eddie" where our price appreciation is normally 3% or 4%. But now we are just slightly behind the national price increase of 15.8%.

Yes, you read that right. The National Association of Realtors recently reported that December saw the median price across the nation skyrocket to $358,000. At the same time inventory levels (the number of homes on the market) dropped below 1 million for the first time ever to 910,000. This was 14.2% below 2020's already depleted levels. The supply equates to just a 1.8 month supply.

I'd like to focus a bit more on our supply levels. Previously I shared that we currently have fewer than 800 homes on the market. We entered 2021 with more than 1,000. Back in July 2018, we had about 2,300 homes for sale! This chart puts things in even greater perspective:

Price Range

# Homes That Came on the Market in Dec. 2021

Current Inventory

Current Month Supply

Dec. 2020 Inventory

Dec. 2019 Inventory

Dec. 2018 Inventory

Dec. 2017 Inventory

Total

354

770

1.5

1,027

1,813

2,058

2,126

$100,000 & less

44

223

4.4

234

348

437

447

$100,000-$200,000

116

220

1.2

349

665

667

771

$200,000-$300,000

112

141

1.1

176

394

467

448

$300,000-$400,000

50

73

1.2

101

165

223

230

$400,000-$500,000

16

41

1.5

69

100

106

102

$500,000+

16

72

3.9

98

141

158

128

 

One of the major reasons that I write that blog is to make certain that our local buyers and sellers know what is occurring here vs. what they hear about the national scene. Here is a look at how we compare nationally using the National Association of Realtors Existing Home Sales report as a guide:

 

U.S.

(change over Dec. '20)

Northwest LA

(change over Dec. '20)

Median Price

$358,000/+15.8%

$203,450/+8%

Number of Sales

6.18 million/-7.1%
(annualized)

468/+4%

Inventory

910,000/-14.2%

770/-25%

Months' Supply

1.8/1.9

1.5/2.3

Median Days on Market

19/21

12/29

 As I have shared often, this rise in equity coupled with demand could make this a great time to sell your home. But you really need as much information as possible and I encourage those considering selling to contact one of our agents. They can answer any questions you might have, create a roadmap for you and also potentially connect with you with a great agent in the city or town you are thinking of relocating too. And, if you are doing a crosstown move, obviously we can help here too.

As I close out this month's blog, I want to encourage those who want even more information to utilize the Coldwell Banker Gosslee Monthly Report that shares great data from the Northwest Louisiana Association of Realtors MLS.

And once again, thank you for making us the top real estate company in Northwest Louisiana for the 29th straight year! Wow!

January
25

Little Things That Can Have A Big Impact On Your Sale

Preparing your home for a listing can be a lot of work — from cleaning to staging, you always want to position your home in a way that impresses potential buyers. However, when it comes to home sales, it's the little things that tend to often have the biggest impact. A lot of minor issues that may not give you a second thought may cause a buyer to hesitate before moving forward.

If you're getting ready to list your home, don't sweat major renovations. Instead, your time may be better spent focusing on the little things that can make a big difference. Here are some examples:

  • Clutter 
    Too many personal items, overflowing closets, and junk lying around can all be off-putting to a buyer. Clutter can ruin a buyer's perception in two ways: it can make your home appear small, stuffy, and cramped, which can give off the impression that the home is too small. When a buyer is surrounded by someone else's clutter can also make it difficult for them to picture themselves living in the home. Decluttering is one of the most important things you can do before listing your home.

  • A Shaky Railing
    You don't want to surprise your buyers with a shaky banister when they grab hold of your railing on their way up
    the stairs. This not only may be a surprise, but it also could be dangerous. Make sure your railing or banister is sturdy and all screws are secure before opening up the home for tours.

  • Bold Paint Colors
    Loud, bright colors may be your style, but it can be a turn-off to many buyers who don't share your same taste in color. If your paint colors consist of bold tones, you may want to consider painting over them with some nice neutral shade. Give your buyers a blank slate to work with.

  • Odd Odors
    Many sellers become nose blind to certain smells and weird odors over time, but buyers will be quick to pick up on the scent of pets, mold, clothes. Even if your home has a bit of a musty smell, you can bet the buyers will notice. Make an effort to eliminate any source of foul odors before listing your home. If you're going to use any candles or scents, be sure they're not too strong.

  • Poor Patching And Touch-Ups
    If patching holes and paint touch-ups are not your specialties, it might be best to leave these to a professional. A poor attempt at filling holes in the wall or touching-up paint can create quite an eyesore. Instead, call a professional painter or carpenter to come in and freshen up the space.

  • Bad Flooring
    Cracked tiles or loose and squeaky floorboards can give buyers the impression that your home is in disrepair. It's also one of the very first things buyers will notice when touring the home. Spend a bit of time fixing-up flooring before listing your home on the market.

  • Dead Light Bulbs
    Don't leave your buyers in the dark. Flipping a non-functioning light switch when touring a home can leave a bad impression. Make sure all bulbs are working and your light switches are functioning, so buyers can truly get a sense of each room.

Major upgrades and renovations may not be necessary before listing your home. Instead, focus on the small, inexpensive repairs that can have a major impact on the outcome of your home sale.

January
24

Smart Home Technology Game-Changers

Smart home devices not only boost your home's IQ, but they also make life easier and more efficient. Curious but unsure where to start? Today we are sharing a handful of the latest (and greatest) devices to check out!

  1. Nest Protect. This smart smoke and carbon monoxide detector lets you know where the danger is and can switch on the lights to help you get to safety.
  2. Amazon Echo Dot: The modern-looking $60 speaker boasts a cloth-covered exterior, built-in LED system, and seamlessly connects you to all of Alexa's skills. Put simply: It's a bedroom alarm clock, but better. 
  3. August Wifi Smart-Lock: Unassuming from the outside, the lock has its own built-in Wifi, and pairs easily with other smart home devices. Always juggling kids and groceries? Not a struggle anymore with this smart lock. 
  4. Shark Ion R85: The Shark Ion R85 has been voted one of the best robot vacuums by consumers because of how well it picks up pet hair, dirt, and other random debris.
  5. PetChatz: Described as a luxury Greet & Treat two-way videophone, PetChatz provides interaction & entertainment for your home-alone pet. Your four-legged friend can even call you.

The great thing about smart home devices is there's no need to try them all at once. Choose one that seems like a good fit for your lifestyle and family and give it a go. 

What's a smart home device that you love?

January
21

Landscaping Changes You Should Make Before Selling

When you're ready to sell your house, you know it's important to make repairs and spruce up your home's interior so that you can come closer to getting your asking price. But it's not just the interior that counts. You should also take a good hard look at the landscape and make a list of things that could be improved. A neat, well-maintained landscape that shows loving care will make an impression. There's just nothing like a well-tended expanse of green lawn, along with some eye-catching color in flower beds to lure the drive-bys into stopping and taking a closer look.

So what makes sense to repair, upgrade, or renovate in your landscaping?

  1. The lawn
    A well-maintained lawn is one of the best ways to boost your property's curb appeal. A rich expanse of cool green will communicate that your property has been well and lovingly cared for. It takes more than one season to create a nice lawn, so start in the spring, using pre-emergent to get rid of weeds. Follow up by planting sparse areas with sod or grass seed. Be sure to monitor for weeds, using spot herbicides as needed. Likewise, look for pest damage from grubs, chinch bugs, and other common pests. Make sure your lawn is well watered (about an inch of water a week); pay particular attention to watering new sod. Installing an irrigation system to keep the grass watered will be an attractive upgrade.

  2. Flower beds
    Creating flower beds, whether perennials or annuals, can help sell your home. Flower beds can go along the front of the house, around trees, or in front of shrub plantings, or as a berm in the middle of the yard, with a border of pavers or flashing to delineate the bed. Flower beds are a way to add color all during the growing season. Planting annuals, which you can change as the season progresses, are a quick way to get some color in your landscape. After planting, add mulch, both to retain moisture and suppress weeds, as well as to give the flower beds a finished look. Keep flower beds weed-free during the time you're trying to sell your home.

  3. Trees and shrubs 
    Tidy up your trees and shrubs. You don't have to be a topiary artist, but do aim for trimming hedges into even, neat shapes. If trees are looking shaggy and limbs are sagging, hire a pro to trim them neatly. Make sure limbs are cut away from the roofline.

  4. Special features
    Ponds, waterfalls, and fancy planters can be beautiful but may not be that attractive to a prospective buyer. These features sometimes require considerable maintenance to keep in good repair, so prospective buyers may not find them appealing. Consider taking out any of these features that might detract from the overall picture of your home as a desirable place to live.

  5. Decks and patios
    While some outdoor features are not that appealing, a patio or deck can be very attractive to potential buyers. But make sure these features are in good shape. Start by cleaning them, and in the case of the deck, repainting if need be. The deck should also be of sound construction so that it feels steady. If it wobbles and obviously needs some repairs, bite the bullet and have it repaired. Clean patio slabs. There is a patio cleaning product specifically for this purpose.

Above all, make sure the exterior of your property is clean, weed free, and that plants, including the lawn, are neatly trimmed.

January
19

Selling Your Home? How to Decide Which Is the Best Offer

Selling your home is quite an undertaking. While the ideal scenario is to find a buyer that is willing to meet your terms and accept your price, many sellers receive multiple offers that are each appealing in their own ways. Fielding too many offers is certainly more preferable than receiving none at all, but how does a seller decide which is best? Believe it or not, when it comes to selling your home, the "best" offer might be a little harder to recognize than it may seem. Here are five tips to help you decide on the best offer when selling your home.

  1. Detail Your Goals Before Listing
    Before you officially begin selling your home, it's wise to discuss potential offers with your REALTOR®. Offers come in varying shapes and sizes, making it difficult to determine which is "better." You can prepare for these tough decisions by discussing your ultimate goals. Are you looking for a quick close, or are you willing to wait? Would you prefer an all-cash offer, or will you accept any buyer as long as they have proof of pre-approval? As you discuss your goals, your REALTOR® will help you identify which offers will help you achieve them.
  2. Understand Your Role
    When you receive multiple offers, it can quickly feel like you've hit the jackpot. However, you must act professionally and responsibly as you work with these buyers. Remember, they might be looking at other houses, too. Bidding wars, counteroffers, and other negotiation tactics can turn buyers away quickly, ultimately leaving you with fewer offers. 
  3. Don't Be Blinded by the Highest Bidder 
    No matter how many offers you receive, the highest bid will always be tempting. Unfortunately, the highest bid isn't always the best bid on the playing field. Buyers without the financial strength needed to secure a mortgage loan or prove that they have the cash-on-hand for an all-cash offer are not ideal buyers. These types of sales can fall apart quickly and leave you back at square one.
  4. Consider the Details of All Offers Equally
    Not that you should not ignore the offer price when selling your home, but you should consider it one of many factors in the overall offer. Look into each offer in detail, highlighting elements such as the buyer's concessions and flexibility. Consider creating a list or spreadsheet that compares all aspects of each offer against the others. You may discover that the "lower" offer enables you to gain more in the long-run after completing the transaction.
  5. Go With Your Gut 
    Selling your home is not a decision you should make lightly, but it is a decision that should involve your instinct. If a particular buyer doesn't seem legitimate, or if elements of their offer make you uncomfortable, don't be afraid to deny it. Your agent's goal involves selling your home in a way that benefits you the most. A worrisome sale that could have negative financial impacts on your life should be avoided at all costs. Talk to your REALTOR® throughout the process and use your intuition to guide you to the right offer.

Selling your home is an exciting feeling, especially when you receive multiple offers. Take these offers in stride, consult with your REALTOR® frequently, and be sure to consider all details when selling your home to ensure you choose the offer that helps you reach our real estate goals.

January
18

Don't Let Clutter Ruin A Sale: Here's How You Can Clean Up Fast

Living in a home while it's on the market can be inconvenient, to say the least. Clutter around the house can not only make your listing appear smaller and less attractive, but it can also make it more difficult for buyers to envision themselves living in the home. Consequently, decluttering is an essential part of any home staging process.

Sellers living in the home that's on the market must be prepared for shoppers to drop by at a moment's notice. Keeping your home clutter-free 24/7 may seem like an impossible feat, especially if you have children. However, with some planning and practice, anyone can learn to declutter quickly and efficiently. Here are some tips to help:

  • Sort Items Into Categories
    It's always helpful to categorize your items into piles or groups when decluttering. Start by creating a pile for things you'll keep or relocate, a pile for items you will donate, and a pile for items you will pitch. This will make it easier to declutter as you move from room to room.

  • Up Your Storage Game
    Managing clutter is just as important as getting rid of it, so you may need to take your storage game to another level. If your closets are at maximum capacity, then it's time to get creative. Do you have space under the bed or under the stairs? How about in the corner of the basement?

    Vertical storage in the closets, bedrooms, basement, and garage can help too. Use stackable drawers and shelves where you can. In the kitchen, you can really maximize cupboard or pantry space by storing food items in baskets. Also, get in the habit of keeping your toiletries in a caddy that can be easily stashed away in the closet or under the sink prior to a showing.

  • Part With Old Clothes and Shoes
    Storage space is an important selling point, and you can actually make your closets look larger by keeping them at a little less than half capacity. When getting rid of clutter, make sure clothes and shoes are on the top of your list. Perhaps you have clothes or shoes that are old, no longer fit, or no longer in style. Now is the time to throw them away or pack them up and take them to your local thrift store.

  • Get The Whole Family Involved
    Cleaning up before a showing is a lot easier when the whole family contributes, which allows you to declutter in a fraction of the time. Create a plan ahead of time and distribute tasks or rooms to various family members. Get the kids involved, and use it as an opportunity to help them build good habits around chores.

  • Consider A Storage Unit
    Temporarily renting a storage unit while listing your home can make the decluttering process significantly easier. A storage unit gives you a second space to relocate. This is particularly useful if you're having a hard time parting with items or if you have furniture you'd prefer not to have on display when staging your home.

It's not fun living in a staged home, but by keeping things as clean and presentable as possible, you'll find a buyer in no time. Then, you'll be well on your way to a brand new home of your own.

January
12

Sellers: Discount or Fix Up?

Whether you're buying or selling a home, the sales price is always at the top of the agenda. For sellers, the final sales price affects bottom-line profit and future plans. For buyers, it impacts future expenses for bills, home repairs, and renovations. Before selling your home, it's essential to consider repairs and upgrades that impact your profit and decide whether making them is your best option.

Many homeowners are faced with the dilemma of selling their home in "as is condition" or sinking money into needed repairs and upgrades. To answer that question, you need to evaluate necessary repairs, examine your financial situation, and research local real estate markets to determine the return on your investment.

Evaluate Necessary Repairs

All homes need repairs, but some are more urgent than others. If you live in an old home that hasn't had a lot of upgrades, you may have more costly repairs. Start by walking through the house and making a list of repairs and upgrades that may impact your sale. Any repairs to the foundation, roof, plumbing, and HVAC systems (heating and air conditioning) should be at the top of your list because they bring the highest return on your investment.

Other repairs and upgrades that add value include:

  • A fresh coat of paint
  • New flooring (carpets, wood, tile)
  • New sinks and bathtubs
  • New appliances
  • Updated light fixtures
  • New gutters
  • Installing sprinkler systems
  • Installing alarm systems

Examine Your Finances

Selling your home means moving to a new location. Whether you're buying your dream home across town, relocating out-of-state, or downsizing in retirement, you must consider moving expenses, as well as other move-in costs such as monthly bills, home repairs and upgrades, property improvements, property taxes, and mortgage payments, unless you pay cash. If you discount the sale of your home to allow the buyer to make necessary repairs, how does that impact your future finances?

Some buyers look for fixer-uppers, but generally that means minor repairs like new carpeting, new paint, and new light fixtures. Major repairs like a new roof, new windows, new plumbing, and a new electrical system are too costly. When major repairs are necessary, a buyer will usually offer a significantly lower price, ask the seller to pay for repairs, or walk away from the sale. Most buyers want a home that's in move-in condition, but you have to make sure necessary repairs won't impact your financial situation.

Research the Local Real Estate Market

Researching homes for sale in your area can help with decisions on making repairs. In most cases, fixer-uppers reflect a lower sales price than homes with numerous upgrades and renovations. You can view homes online or talk to your real estate agent about important repairs and upgrades that boost sales and provide the best return on investment.

Smart sellers weigh the cost of making improvements against the home's market value after improvements are completed. If you notice that most higher-priced homes for sale have upgraded kitchens, that's probably because the return on investment is high. This doesn't mean you have to tear out the cabinets and install top-of-the-line designer appliances. In some cases, painting old cabinets, installing new hardware, and hanging new light fixtures are enough to give your kitchen an updated look.

When you're selling a home "as is," this means you will not make any repairs or offer the buyer any discount to cover the cost of repairs. Based on your real estate needs and your timeline to move, your real estate agent can help you decide whether an "as is" sale or a discounted price is your best option.

January
11

Tax Deductions You Can Take From Selling Your Home

Tax season is upon us, and if you sold your house in 2021 (or are planning to sell it in the future), you're in luck! Thanks to the 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, there are some tax deductions you can take that may result in serious savings! Here are a few of the most important.

  1. Capital Improvements
    If you've made certain upgrades to your home before selling, the IRS allows you to add the costs of these "capital improvements" to your home's cost basis. This can reduce the amount of capital gains tax you may owe after you sell your home.


    It's important to note that not all repairs and upgrades meet the government's definition of a capital improvement. Some of the things that meet the guidelines include upgrading your HVAC system, adding a lawn sprinkler system, adding an additional bedroom, bathroom, deck, garage, porch, or patio, updating your water heater, adding built-in appliances, and more. If you make any improvements or upgrades to your home, be sure to hold onto all your receipts. When it's time for you and your tax preparer to complete your return, they can review your expenses and determine what may qualify.
  1. Selling Costs
    Costs tied directly to the sale of your home are deductible as long as the home is your primary residence and you lived there at least two of the five years prior to the sale. As long as you meet these requirements, you can write off expenses, including real estate commissions, legal fees, escrow fees, advertising costs, and even home staging fees.


    Note that this isn't a direct deduction. Instead, it's subtracted from the sales price of your home, which positively impacts the amount of capital gains tax you might owe.
  1. Mortgage Interest
    Current tax rules allow you to deduct the interest you pay on your home mortgage debt of up to $750,000. Just remember that mortgage interest and property taxes are itemized deductions, and it only makes sense to itemize if the total is higher than your standard deduction.
  1. Property Taxes
    The new 2018 rules capped the amount of property taxes you can write off, but they still allow you to take a deduction of up to $10,000. Make sure you include the amount of any property taxes you paid on your tax return.
  1. Discount Points
    When you pay points in cash to buy down the interest rate on your mortgage or refinance, the IRS allows you to deduct a portion of the points each year until your mortgage is paid in full. When you sell your house and pay off your mortgage loan, you're able to deduct the remaining amount all at once. This is one of the most forgotten-about home selling tax deductions, but it can be significant in some cases.
  1. Moving Expenses
    Unfortunately, not everyone can deduct their moving expenses. However, if you're active-duty military personnel, you'll want to take advantage of this deduction.
  1. BONUS: Capital Gains Taxes
    The capital gains tax rule isn't really a deduction, it's an exclusion. However, it's so important that we decided to add it to this list. Capital gains are the profit you make from selling your home. It's the cash left over after you've paid off your mortgage and other expenses. As long as you have lived in the home at least two of the last five years, single filers can exclude up to $250,000 of capital gains, and married filers can exclude up to $500,000.

While the information above is an excellent starting point, remember that each person's finances are different. It's always a good idea to speak to a tax professional before filing your taxes, particularly in years when you have a major life change, like a home sale.

January
7

If you're thinking about listing your home in 2022, there's no reason to wait until the spring, as low housing inventory and high demand continue in many parts of the country. Winter typically has been a slow time for real estate sales in most parts of the country, but as we kick off the new year, serious buyers likely will pick up where they left off in 2021, facing stiff competition for properties that are selling quickly and for high prices.

Despite the hot market, it's still important to make sure your property appeals to buyers before listing. Here are a few easy steps you can take to make sure your home stands out.

Sort through holiday decorations. Make the dreaded annual ritual of taking down decorations more productive by using it to begin clearing out unwanted items as well. Before stuffing all your trimmings into plastic bins, take stock of everything you have – lights, ornaments, wreaths, figurines – then toss or donate those you no longer want.

Declutter and depersonalize. Decluttering is the key to making your house appear more spacious. Go through each room and decide which pieces of furniture and other things to keep, donate or put in storage, and remove family photos and personal knickknacks.

Boost curb appeal. You get only one chance to make a positive first impression. To make the exterior enticing, paint the front door, pressure-wash the driveway and patios, clean out gutters, trim shrubs and trees, and add greenery and fresh flowers to your entryway and front porch.

Deep clean. A spotless house will show buyers your property is well taken care of. Clean from top to bottom, including windows, window treatments, ceiling fans, baseboards, countertops, cabinets, flooring and appliances.

Repaint in neutral colors. A fresh coat of paint can make the interior feel new. To appeal to a broader audience, choose warm neutral colors, such as beige, tan, gold or gray.

These easy steps will make your property stand out, appeal to more buyers and sell quickly.

 

January
5

Wish you could wave a magic wand and change up your décor? Well, the wand trick may not work, but reimagining things you already own in fresh and exciting ways can breathe new life back into lackluster interior designs. Sometimes, it's just a matter of switching things up. Chances are you already have what it takes to refresh your décor. So stop taking your once-coveted finds for granted and have them speak to you again. Start by reconsidering where decorative items and furniture can relocate within your home – big change begins by making simple yet strategic moves.

Picture This. How many times have you passed by that painting on the wall without taking a second look? Then it's time to let it live somewhere else. Imagine your art, framed pictures and mirrors in different rooms of your home. Try them out in areas of the house with corresponding color palettes. Soon you'll have a newfound appreciation for those familiar – now repurposed – favorite pieces that will once again engage your attention.

Presto Chango.  A little to the left … now to the right. Play this game of musical chairs and sofa for a fresh new take on your furniture placement. By simply moving key objects around most any room, you'll discover a brand new outlook on your interior design. A fresh perspective is sometimes all it takes to shake things up.

Pillow Talk. That cushy little bundle of comfort may not get much attention, but if you swap out your throw pillows for ones in a fresh pop of color or pattern, you'll be amazed at the impact they can create. It's an inexpensive way to introduce a renewed sense of aesthetics into a room and enliven all-too-familiar furniture. Accent pillows and throws can be the common thread that runs throughout an interior design to tie the color scheme together.

When it comes to design, not everything should stay the same forever. So be open to the possibility of change and start moving a few things around – you'll be pleasantly surprised at how things take on a fresh new look when you switch them up.

January
4

Does your home still fit your needs or is it time to think about the benefits of buying a new one as you enter the next phase of your life? Whether you're an empty nester with rooms that are no longer used or need more space to raise your growing family, rightsizing – finding a home that's the ideal size for your current lifestyle – may be the best option.

Assess Your Living Space. Before deciding whether to rightsize, take stock of your everyday life and ask yourself a few questions, including:

  • Are some areas of the house, like formal living and dining rooms, rarely used?
  • Is a dedicated office a must?
  • Do you want a hobby area or kids' playroom?
  • Is your kitchen too big or too small?
  • Is the garage the right size?
  • Do you prefer a large yard or a cozier outdoor living space?

Look to the Future. If you decide it's time to make a move, consider your current lifestyle as well as potential changes in circumstances that could occur in the next few years to determine what size home is best. Maybe you're planning to have more children, retire in a few years or anticipate an aging parent moving in with you. While you might not need extra space right away, you could in the near future.

Great Layout vs. Square Footage. Getting hung up on a property's square footage could mean missing out on your dream home, especially in today's highly competitive market. If a house or condo has the number of bedrooms, baths, kitchen and amenities you want, but its square footage is somewhat less than you envisioned, it still may be worth considering if it has a well-designed layout that uses space efficiently.

Review Your Finances.

Whether you're looking to downsize or up-size, how much you can afford extends beyond monthly mortgage, tax and insurance payments. Relocating from a sizable residence to a condo or townhome – perhaps in a maintenance-free community with amenities – could mean significantly higher HOA fees and require you to buy new furniture that fits smaller spaces, while a bigger house will have higher utility costs and need additional furnishings to fill extra rooms.

Regardless of your reason for wanting to move, a Coldwell Banker Gosslee agent has the tools and resources to help you sell your current home and find a new one that's right for you.

January
3

Selling In 2022: What You Can Expect

2021 was a great year for home sellers. Record low inventory combined with low interest rates sparked the hottest seller's market in several decades. It wasn't uncommon to see homes fly off the market in less than a day, while bidding wars often drove sales 10-15% over asking price.

While typical real estate seasonality has cooled things off just a bit over the last couple of months, many sellers are wondering what to expect in 2022. If you weren't ready to list your home this year, you might be wondering if you missed the boat.

While there are most certainly changes ahead in 2022, it's still likely to be a great time to list your home. Here is what to expect:

  • Mortgage Rates Will Rise
    In order to combat record inflation, the Fed is expected to make raise interest rates multiple times throughout 2022. Last year's record low interest rates were a major factor in the heightened level of buyer demand, so it's realistic to expect interest rate changes to slow the market down just a bit, especially in the back half of the year.

  • Price Increases Will Slow Down A Bit
    Homes prices rarely fall, and there is no expectation that they will in 2022; however, it's safe to assume price gains will cool off a bit. The national median home price jumped 16% in 2021, and it's unrealistic to expect we'll see the same type of increase next year. It's probably safe to assume price appreciation will be in the ballpark of 4% to 6%.

  • Strong Demand From First-Time Buyers
    Many first-time homebuyers were priced out of the market in 2021, so it's no surprise that many are looking to try again in 2022. This means competition will be fierce for starter homes at entry-level price points. First-time buyers still likely have some uphill challenges as rates climb and prices remain at all-time highs; however, we expect to see many first-time buyers return to the market in early spring.

  • Inventory Will Start To Increase
    Sellers may face more competition in 2022, as a lot of this year's inventory challenges are likely to abate. The pandemic made some owners more reluctant to sell in 2020-2021, but a lot of those fears have started to dissipate. Additionally, worker shortages and supply chain issues caused major disruptions to the home building market in 2021. As these issues begin to normalize, we'll see an increase in inventory in the coming years.

  • Buyers Will Still Prefer The Suburbs
    As more and more companies adopt a remote work model, employees are no longer tied to a physical location. Consequently, more and more young consumers are migrating to suburbs, rural areas, and even popular vacation destinations. Since remote work is here to stay, we should expect to see this migration continue well into the new year.

How Sellers Can Prepare for 2022
The hot seller's market of 2021 is likely to cool off in 2022. Despite increases in inventory and higher interest rates, we're still likely to see a seller's market this year. As home prices continue to appreciate, it's likely still a great time to list your home.

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