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April 2017 Hoursing Report: 4 Things to Know

by Eric Stein

March set a post-recession record for increasing home sales and prices, according to this month's RE/MAX National Housing Report. Here's what the research revealed:

1. Home sales increased year-over-year

March home sales were 6.6 percent higher than the report's previous March record, set last year. Thirty-eight of the 53 metro areas in the report showed year-over-year increases. Sixteen of these areas charted double-digit growth.

2. Inventory continues to drop

In March, the Months Supply of Inventory dropped below three months (2.7) for the first time since RE/MAX began tracking inventory nine years ago (a six-months supply of inventory is considered balanced). It's a seller's market in many metro areas, especially in Seattle, WA (.9 months supply), San Francisco, CA (1 month) and Denver, CO (1 month).

3. Sales prices set a record

With active inventory dropping 17 percent year-over-year, median sales prices increased. The Median Sales Price of $225,000, a March record, was up 11 percent year-over-year. And what a year it's been for sellers—March marked the 12th consecutive month of year-over-year price increases. At $225,000, the March median sales price was up 11 percent from March 2016. Manchester, NH, Orlando, FL, Charlotte, NC, Trenton, NJ and Nashville, TN also experienced double-digit boosts in Median Sales Price.

4. Homes continue to move fast

Houses spent an average of 64 days on the market in March, compared to 68 in February 2017 and 71 in March 2016.

"We expect a seasonal uptick in sales this time of year and March certainly met and somewhat exceeded that expectation," said Dave Liniger, RE/MAX CEO, Chairman of the Board and Co-Founder."We don't anticipate the tightening inventory to ease up in most markets until new home construction can catch up to its pre-recession pace. Until then, sellers will enjoy a fast-paced market and buyers will need to work with their agents to get in the right home."

6 Pros and Cons of Solar Panels

by Eric Stein

The cost of installing solar panels on a home has dropped dramatically over the past decade. Is it time for your home to run on sunshine? Here are some pros and cons to consider.

1. Pro: Demolish your electric bills

Obviously by capturing free energy from the sun, you'll pay less in your utility bill. In some states, you can even earn money back by selling the unused energy your panels generate to the utility company in the form of Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs).

2. Con: Upfront cost

While installation and materials are more affordable than ever, it might take up to seven years for the system to pay for itself through the money you save. Fortunately, there are considerable tax breaks, rebates and solar-specific loans available to help homeowners get started. The federal investment tax credit allows you to deduct 30 percent of the cost of your system from your taxes. You can search for state programs on the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency®.

3. Pro: Save the planet

Generating energy from fossil fuels emits harmful carbon dioxide and methane that contributes to global warming – using solar panels for power does not. And unlike other energy sources, solar power doesn't require water to process.

4. Con: Doesn't work for every roof

Some roofing materials used in older homes, like slate or cedar tiles, make it difficult for installing panels.

5. Pro: May increase your home's value

Solar panels can increase the value of your home, according to research from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, part of the Department of Energy.

6. Con: Maintenance costs

Insurance, cleaning, repairs. As with anything, solar panels come with their own additional costs. Wondering how much energy solar panels might be able to generate in your part of the country? Check out this address-based calculator from the Department of Energy.

IS RENTING A BETTER OPTION THAN SELLING?

by

Sometimes, you decide exactly when you'd like to move. Other times, life swoops in and decides for you. Your company might transfer you, a family emergency might require relocation, or you might finally find the love of your life—three states over. Should you sell your house or hang on to it as a rental property? Here are 5 important considerations.

1. Are you gone for good?

Or do you need an exit strategy? If there's a good chance you'll return to your current home in a year or two, the money and time you spend selling your home and then buying a new one might make renting it out a smarter option.

2. How's the rental market?

Look at online rental sites to see what properties in your neighborhood and in similar condition to yours are renting for. Are there a lot of listings? Think about what you might charge and what you might have to do to bring your property up to the market standard. You can then get an idea whether your potential rental income will cover your expenses.

3. Where's the neighborhood heading?

A lot of factors feed into property values, from national trends to long-term construction plans. An agent can help you understand your property's potential for appreciation and whether or not it might pay to hang onto it.

4. How much is the hassle of being a landlord worth?

Unless you pay for a property management company (about 10 percent of the rental income), dealing with issues, emergencies and uncooperative renters (sometimes all at once, often in the middle of the night) can be trying. Ask yourself if it's worth the stress.

5. What are the tax implications?

Each situation is unique, so before you decide to rent out your home consider talking with a tax professional. They can help you figure out how much you can expect to pay in taxes on the rental income.

4 Financial Tips for Buyers

by Eric Stein

4 Financial Tips for Buyers

Getting ready to buy a house? Before you head out on your first home tour with your agent, arm yourself with the following advice.

1. Double check your credit

If you're thinking about buying, you should already be "keeping score." Know your credit score, and make sure to rectify any credit reporting errors before lenders take a look. 

2. Understand the added cost of certain features

As you make your list of "must-have" home features, be sure you consider the added expenses that may come with them. Your math should include things like the cost of landscaping maintenance for extra acreage and energy costs that come with added square footage.

3. Discover where your dollars go

Get up close and personal with your monthly budget and track every single thing you purchase over 30 days. Review your credit card and bank statements to categorize where you spent each dollar (e.g., entertainment, food, clothing). Several online sites and software programs can help you track and categorize spending. This will help you identify where you can cut back to put more money toward a monthly mortgage payment. 

4. Research mortgage options

You don't always need to invest a 20 percent down payment. Explore your options, like a Conventional 97 from Fannie Mae. Just 3 percent down is enough to help you qualify for this program, as long as it's for a fixed-rate mortgage on a single-family home for under $417,000. 

January 2017 Housing Report: 4 Things to Know

by Eric Stein

Home sales finished strong in December, helping make 2016 the best year for U.S. home sales since the recession, according to the January 2017 RE/MAX National Housing Report, an analysis of MLS data from 53 metro areas. In fact, home sales in 2016 were the highest in the housing report's eight-year history. Here are key points from January's report:

1. Homes are still selling fast

In December, homes spent an average of 62 days on the market. That's the shortest time of any December in the report's history.

2. Prices are rising

The median sales price of a home sold in December was $216,000. That was nearly 5 percent higher than the median sales price in December 2015.

3. Inventory continues to shrink

The inventory of homes for sale dropped nearly 18 percent between last December and December 2015, continuing a year-long streak of double-digit declines. Given the current pace of home sales, the inventory equals 4.2 months of sales. To put that in context, a supply of six months is considered a balanced market between buyers and sellers. In December, 47 of the 53 metro areas surveyed reported a supply of less than 6.0 months. That's usually considered a seller's market.

4. Slightly fewer transactions occurred

The overall average number of home sales fell 1.8 percent compared to December 2015. However, almost half of the 53 metro areas showed an increase in sales year-over-year. Growth in markets across the country was in the double digits. Home sales in the Wilmington/Dover, Delaware market shot up by about 21 percent. Sales in Honolulu, Hawaii grew by 19.7 percent and sales in Augusta, Maine, rose by about 16 percent.

What's the upshot of all this research? "Much like 2015, we saw a mostly healthy housing market in 2016 that posted steady growth in sales and prices," said Dave Liniger, RE/MAX CEO, chairman of the board and co-founder. "We're back to pre-recession levels in many markets, with 2017 forecast to be another solid year. We'll have to wait and see what impact rising interest rates will have." In December, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for only the second time since 2006.

4 Things Agents Consider When Setting a Listing Price

by Eric Stein

There’s no online calculator for setting the perfect listing price for your home. It takes experience, market savvy, and even a bit of psychology. A strong listing agent can help you set the right, most competitive price for your home. Here are a few things they might look at:

1. The competition
Your agent will look at the prices of similar homes in your area that either are currently listed or sold during the past few months. They’ll take into account how many days the properties were on the market, and how the listing prices for those homes differed from the final sale prices.

2. Market trends
What’s affecting the market in your neighborhood, and your region? Your agent will consider national factors that shape the real estate market, such as possible rising interest rates, as well as local factors, like whether the average home price in your neighborhood has been rising or falling. They’ll also think about things such as new companies moving to the area in the near future, or plans for improving local amenities, like parks and shopping districts. All can increase the value of your home to a buyer.

3. Your neighbors
Although a home the same size and age recently sold for a high price, your own place might not fetch the exact same fortune if, say, junky cars continue to proliferate in your neighbor’s driveway. On the flipside, if the grass is in fact greener on the other side of the fence, your home’s value may be higher due to your neighbors’ curb appeal.

4. The Goldilocks price
Listing your home at a price that’s “just right” from the start is critical to selling it quickly, for the best price. Overpricing your home, and then dropping the price a few times while it sits on the market, could lead to a lower final sales price than if the home was priced appropriately from the beginning. And, of course, setting a price that’s too low leaves money on the table.

Understanding the Star Exemption

by Eric Stein

Confusions about Star Exemption:

When you see a listing in the Multiple Listing Service, what you should be seeing under estimated taxes is the Gross Tax. That means the taxes you pay without any exemption. There is usually some confusion about the star exemption. The star exemption is a tax exemption that homeowners have to apply for. The good news is they only have to apply for it once. The main requirement for getting the Star exemption is that you have to be the owner occupant of the home. Below are the other requirements:

Two types of STAR exemptions:

Basic STAR

  • available for owner-occupied, primary residences where the resident owners' and their spouses income is less than $500,000
  • exempts the first $30,000 of the full value of a home from school taxes

Enhanced STAR

  • provides an increased benefit for the primary residences of senior citizens (age 65 and older) with qualifying incomes
  • exempts the first $63,300 of the full value of a home from school taxes as of 2013-14 school tax bills (up from $62,200 in 2012-13)

STAR exemptions apply only to school district taxes. They don't apply to property taxes for other purposes, such as county, town or city (except in cities where city property taxes fund schools - Buffalo, New York City, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers).

If you buy a home without the star exemption in place, make sure you apply for it as soon as possible. There is a lag time between when you apply and the time it goes into effect. If you buy a home with star exemption in place, the good news is it can transfer to the new owners without any lag time but you still have to apply so that it can transfer into your name.

Happy Earth Day Monday April 21st.

by Eric Stein

Here is something to do to help celebrate. Help eliminate 

E-Waste

Electronic waste, or “e-waste,” is a term used to describe any electronic device that is outdated, obsolete, broken, donated, discarded, or at the end of its useful life. This includes cell phones, computers, laptops, PDAs, monitors, televisions, printers, scanners, and any other electrical device .

With the rapid expansion of technology, combined with the relatively short shelf life of many present day electronic devices, more and more e-waste is generated each year. Often, these discarded devices end up in landfills or are incinerated, which can cause major environmental problems in our communities.

Many of the materials found in electronic devices are extremely hazardous. These include lead, mercury, and cadmium. When these electronics end up in landfills, many of these chemicals leach into the soil during rainfall or are released into the atmosphere when burned. These chemicals can have dangerous impacts on the health of plants and animals and when inhaled can lead to serious respiratory problems. Fortunately, the simple solution to limiting the dangerous effects of careless e-waste disposal is safe and responsible recycling.

Each year, the United States alone produces up to 50 million tons of e-waste. Of this, only 20-25% is recycled safely and responsibly. The other 75% ends up in landfills. As a direct consequence, hazardous materials found in this waste routinely contaminate our air and water supplies. By safely and responsibly recycling your e-waste, you can help protect your community and the ecosystem from these dangerous chemicals.

We encourage you to collect all of your old electronic materials and take them to an e-waste recycling facility to make sure they are properly handled. Earth Day Network is proud to partner with recycling services provider E-Stewards to make this easy for you. Log on to their website and put in your zip-code to find the closest E-Waste recycling facility.

Negotiating After the Home Inspection:

by Eric Stein

 

Many of my clients ask me this question: What is reasonable to negotiate on after a home inspection?

My Answer: Hidden defects. If the inspection turns up things that you could not have detected as an average consumer. Some examples are termites, structural issues, plumbing and electrical issues. 

When I price a house for a seller, I take account the cosmetic updates the seller has made along with the system updates. When I show a house to a buyer, I try to point out the same things. Newer window, updated electrical panels, condition of the roof, heating and central AC units that are either newer or older. Based on these observations, I try to give my buyers an estimate on what would be a fair price to offer on the home. One advantage in factoring in the upgrades that are needed is so that the negotiations post inspections won't be for items that we can visually see and taken into account. 

 

Re/max Housing Report for March 2013

by Eric Stein

In February, both home sales and prices rose higher than a year ago. After a decisive housing turnaround in 2012, this year looks to improve on recovering market trends. With data representing 52 metropolitan areas, the February RE/MAX National Housing Report shows home sales 2.3% greater than February 2012 and a median price 7.0% higher. Still a concern is the number of available homes for sale, which continues to shrink, turning the market more favorable to sellers. Home inventory fell 29.2% from last year, resulting in a 4.8-month supply. In only the second month of the year, real estate agents are already seeing renewed consumer interest and are expecting increased traffic in the next few months. As home prices recover in 2013, more homeowners will achieve positive equity and the number of foreclosures should be reduced. The current recovery has not yet brought housing back to pre-crisis levels, but appears on its way to a more stable and sustainable environment.
 

The Median Price in February was $160,500, which was 3.5% above the price in January, and 7.0% higher than the median price in February 2012. For 13 months in a row, the median price has been higher than in the same month of the previous year. Prices are clearly benefiting from the reduced number of homes listed for sale. Only four metro areas recorded a drop in sales price: Los Angeles, CA -8.7%, Hartford, CT -7.2%, Trenton, NJ -3.0% and Anchorage, AK -2.1%. However, a total of 48 metros saw year-over-year price increases, with 21 reporting double-digit increases, including: Atlanta, GA +50.0%, Detroit, MI +40.2%, San Francisco, CA +35.9%, Las Vegas, NV +32.4%, Phoenix, AZ +30.1%, and Miami, FL +23.1%.

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Contact Information

Photo of Eric Stein Team Real Estate
Eric Stein Team
RE/MAX Distinguished Homes & Properties
52 Pondfield Road West
Bronxville NY 10708
Direct: 914-469-8125
Fax: 914-346-8261