5 rules of engagement for requesting repairs from sellers

When buyers and sellers start going head-to-head, no one comes out a winner 

Key Takeaway:
It’s reasonable to ask for roof and termite clearances and that the home’s primary systems work. It’s not reasonable to ask for upgrades, abatement or cosmetic changes. 

Real estate sales and continually increasing prices have been on a six-year romp. With sellers firmly planted in the driver’s seat, a significant percent of homes have been sold “as-is” with little or no regard for repairs. When we begin seeing shifts in the market, requests for repairs will begin to reappear like spring flowers after a long winter freeze.  

Lets look at what is reasonable and unreasonable with regard to repair requests: 

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Renters Become Majority in More than 20 Major US cities – The Millennials are Not Coming to Save the Market.

The notion that somehow an affluent set of Millennials is going to shift the housing market is not happening.  What is happening is rather clear; historically low housing inventory is causing prices to inflate in the face of what has been very low new home building.  If you want to buy, your options are usually an outdated crap shack that is already at an inflated price or in some new areas, glorified condos where builders are trying to max out every square inch of development where you can smell what your neighbor is cooking.  The fact remains the same, over the past decade there has been a dramatic shift of renter household formation (not homeownership).  For Millennials, tastes are dramatically different.  Sure, you have Taco Tuesday baby boomers glued to Fox, MSBC, or CNN (typical age of viewers is 60+) so many are simply out of touch with the wants of younger Americans.  Builders however understand this dynamic and multi-family unit construction has been running briskly for the last few years.  Many large cities have now converted into renting majority locations.

Majority Renter Cities Expand

More than 20 large cities are now renting majority cities.  This is a big shift and of course goes against the trend that things are back to “normal” in the sense that if you want to own in certain locations you will need to overpay for a crap shack.  Low inventory and house humping logic are powerful draws.  Many over spend dramatically when they buy.  You see this with DINKs – they buy with two incomes but then pop out a kid and suddenly realize that in many overpriced hoods that daycare is expensive if you want to maintain a dual income household.  We’re talking $1,200 to $1,800 a month.  Forget about feeding an extra mouth or two.  Yet they assume today will be like tomorrow.  Nothing in their formula accounts for unexpected costs.

Read the rest HERE

10 Castles for Sale That Are Fit for Royalty

American fans of the British monarchy will be double-checking their alarms to ensure they don’t miss a moment of the upcoming royal wedding of Britain’s Prince Harry to American actress Meghan Markle.

Inspired by their impending nuptials, we’re highlighting 10 castles fit for a king and queen, or at least a duke and duchess. As Lorde helpfully pointed out, most of us will never be royals. But that doesn’t mean we can’t live like royalty, right here in America.

There are gorgeous properties in varying styles, sizes, and ages. One of them is a stunner in Milwaukee, modeled after a French chateau.

“My sellers have put the house on Airbnb, and they were booked solid because of the castle feel,” says listing agent Melanie Gilmore-Gaar.

Because who wouldn’t want to be queen for a day—or a least a weekend?

But a weekend stay is far different from owning your own castle, which means maintenance, more maintenance, and lots of mowing the lawn.

“The backyard is the size of a football field,” Gilmore-Gaar says of her listing. The upside is a spacious place for entertaining and perhaps even hosting events such as (nonroyal) weddings.

Practice your bow and curtsy, put on your fascinator, and check out these 10 glorious castles on the market.

See the Castles HERE

Mortgage Rates Maintain Steady Climb

Mortgage rates moved up over the past week to 4.66 percent, their highest level since May 5, 2011 (4.71 percent).

Mortgage rates so far in 2018 have had the most sustained increase to start the year in over 40 years. Through May, rates have risen in 15 out of the first 21 weeks (71 percent), which is the highest share since Freddie Mac began tracking this data for a full year in 1972.

At a time when housing inventory remains extremely low, it’s worth watching whether these higher borrowing costs lead some would-be sellers to stay put in their current home. Inventory shortages would likely worsen if more homeowners decide not to sell out of reluctance of having a new mortgage with a higher rate.


How Much Space Can $200K Get You?

At $1,585, the median price per square foot in Manhattan is miles away from Cleveland’s ($53/square foot). We calculated that, for $200,000, you could buy a tiny 126-square-foot room in the borough, but it would be difficult to actually live in such a place. Plus, it’s highly unlikely you’d even find a listing of that size and price in Manhattan.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, in Cleveland, for $200,000, you could buy more than enough space to enjoy, and then some. You could own a house so big that you’d be hosting fancy Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings, with spare rooms for your extended family.

San Francisco, Boston and San Jose are in the same boat as Manhattan, where prices are sky-high, and the market is on fire, while El Paso, San Antonio and Memphis boast an affordability similar to Cleveland’s. San Antonio stand outs from the latter group with its thriving business activity, and the health and education sectors driving the economy in the area. The development pipeline is also robust, so San Antonio is definitely worth looking into, because with $200,000, you could buy a sizable 3,249-square-foot home there.

For the same amount, you could purchase a home ranging from 400 to 600 square feet in Los Angeles and San Diego or one as large as 2,000 square feet in Nashville or Orlando. Some might describe moving to LA as the American Dream, but you’d need a lot more than $200,000 to buy your dream house there. Orlando can be seen as an alternative to LA, with its pleasant climate, its nightlife and job opportunities—the one major difference being that the cost of living is considerably lower.

Although major cities, the following are slightly more affordable than San Diego or LA. For $200,000, you’d end up with decent living conditions in Miami (835 square feet), Portland (773 square feet) and Chicago (1,102 square feet), but probably not in the neighborhoods you’d want.


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Costs to Sell Your Home

To make an informed decision about the arrangements and conditions for selling your property, you need to know the costs you will incur on a sale. Selling costs consume some of the price you will receive and thus reduce the amount of net sales proceeds on closing.

Selling costs you will likely incur in the preparation and sale of your property include:

  • Home inspection report (HIR): The fee a home inspection company charges to conduct an inspection of the property and provide an HIR you use to properly prepare your transfer disclosure statement (TDS) your agent hands to prospective buyers.
  • Structural pest control report and clearance: The fee a pest control operator charges to inspect and submit a report on their findings and the costs of repairs necessary to eliminate any infestation and repair any existing damage or condition allowing for infestation.
  • Compliance with local ordinances: The costs associated with retrofitting, curative permits and any repairs necessary to meet local ordinance standards as a requisite to a change in ownership.
  • Natural Hazard Disclosure (NHD) report: The fee charged by a third party for a review of the county records and the preparation and submission of an NHD report on the natural hazards affecting the property due to its location.
  • Smoke detector/water heater safety compliance: The costs incurred to install smoke detectors and water heater bracing to comply with local ordinances.
  • Home warranty insurance: The premium charged by a home warranty insurance company to issue a policy to the buyer.
  • Escrow fee: The amount charged for escrow services to process the closing of the sale.
  • Recording fees/documentary transfer tax: The combined recording fees and transfer taxes collected by the county recorder to convey title.
  • Title insurance premium: The premium the title insurance company charges to issue a policy of title insurance on your conveyance of the property.
  • Reconveyance fees: The reconveyance fees and recording fees charged when your mortgage is paid off to release the mortgage liens from the record title to the property sold.
  • Broker fees: The fees earned by the transaction brokers and paid on the close of escrow for the sale of your property.

Your agent estimates the expenses you are likely to incur on a sale of your property by preparing a seller’s net sales proceeds sheet and reviewing it with you when listing your property for sale and reviewing the merits of each offer received to buy your property.

Should you install Artificial Turf?

With the drought and mandated water use reduction, Californians are looking for alternatives to their water guzzling lawns. Here are the pros and cons of installing an artificial lawn.


It saves water. You can reduce 50%-70% of total residential water usage and significantly reduce your water bill for years. Plus, you may qualify for local rebates from your water company for removing your lawn and installing artificial turf. 

It reduces maintenance time and cost. No more mowing, watering, weeding, seeding, thatching or fertilizing. 

It reduces pollution. No more fertilizer draining into the ocean, no more pollution from mowers and no more hazardous chemical weed-killers needed. 

It looks green all year. No need to worry about dried, fading or unkempt-looking grass. 

It has a long life expectancy. An artificial lawn lasts 15 years or more. 


It’s costly. Materials, installment operation fees for loading, hauling, dumping and delivery and labor are just a few costs to consider when installing artificial turf. Costs can range into the thousands. 

It retains heat. Artificial grass retains much more heat than a natural lawn, making it too hot to play on. The temperature of the turf could rise to more than 120 degrees on a 98-degree day.  

It’s not biodegradable. Manufacturing artificial turf is energy intensive and requires use of rubber and plastics, which will eventually end up in landfills.  

It needs cleaning. You will have to clean up, not just rinse off, any messes that could be a health hazard, like blood or pet excrement.

Before you commit, do your research and look at the factors that apply to you, your home and your environment.  

If you’re looking for someone to help you look for a new home, I can always help. Please give me a call!

Why the American Dream of owning a big home is way overrated, in one chart

From 1978 through 2015, the median size of the single-family home increased every year until it peaked at 2,467 square feet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Then, in 2016, that number began to shrink, albeit ever so slightly.

So, are we finally coming to our senses about McMansions?

Of course, owning a big house has long been a key component of the American Dream — you know you’ve arrived when you have columns, an indoor pool and a theater room — but, in reality, it’s all usually a huge waste of space, according to a study cited by Steve Adcock on the Get Rich Slowly blog.

A research team affiliated with UCLA studied American families and where they spend most of their time while inside their homes. The results were fascinating, but really not all that surprising. Here’s one representative example:

As you can see, most square footage is wasted as people tend to gather around the kitchen and the television, while avoiding the dining room and porch.

“The findings were not pretty. In fact, they helped prove how little we use our big homes for things other than clutter,” Adcock said. “Most families don’t use large areas of their homes — which means they’ve essentially wasted money on space they don’t need.”

Read the rest HERE