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Judy Reed

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Mother-In-Law Apartments Provide Benefits With Relative Ease.

by Judy Reed

​Whether you're housing an elderly relative, a recent grad, or out-of-town visitors, an accessory dwelling unit can be a real asset.

The term “mother-in-law apartment” seems straight out of the Don Draper era — a sardonic reference to strained relations between married couples and parents. These days, many homeowners are turning to these separate-but-joined living quarters as a way to reduce friction in their daily lives, not increase it.

“Mother-in-law apartment” is one of the many nicknames for something known in government circles as an accessory dwelling unit, or ADU. They’re also called granny flats, garden suites, carriage houses and sidekicks. Whatever you call it, an ADU expands a home’s living space through renovation or by adding a separate structure.

The purposes and desired rewards of ADUs vary. You could use the extra space to house an aging family member, an arrangement that offers convenience, peace of mind and an alternative to pricey senior housing.

Got a Boomerang Kid who’s back at home after finishing college? An individual living space can supply some adult-level privacy as he or she figures out a career strategy.

For homeowners without familial obligations, renting out their ADU is a way to earn extra income.

The potential benefits of a mother-in-law apartment are clear. But before you start thinking about floor plans and furnishings, make sure you also have a clear understanding of the work involved

Get ready to spend

ADUs typically fall into two categories: attached (a converted garage or basement, for instance) or detached (such as building a free-standing cottage beside your home). Whichever route you take, be prepared to spend some money and navigate your way through some red tape.

The costs of planning, designing and constructing an ADU can vary a great deal, mainly depending on whether you want to add to an existing home or build from the ground up.

Converting a garage into a separate living space could cost as little as $40,000. Building a detached structure tends to be more expensive, with costs that could approach $100,000 or more. Advocates say prefabricated cottages offer an affordable option, but any ADU is a serious investment.

Think about how you plan to use the unit — as living space for a family member or as a source of income — and spend your money in the way that makes the most economic sense.

What about regulations?

Like any other living space, your ADU will have to comply with local and/or state housing regulations. Fortunately, many urban planners like the ADU concept because it can provide affordable housing options without the negative effects of large-scale residential developments.

In California, some state and local officials have even taken steps to ease restrictions on ADUs. For example, Placer County regulators voted earlier this year to decrease the minimum lot size for accessory units from 10,000 square feet to 5,000 square feet. And State Sen. Bob Wieckowski recently sponsored legislation that includes the elimination of certain fees.

Just like the cost of an ADU, the regulatory landscape can vary by location. Contact your city’s zoning department, or its equivalent, to learn about the requirements in your community.

Protecting your investment

The prep work doesn’t end with blueprints and building permits. You should also make a plan to insure your ADU so that the property and people have adequate protection.

Coverage options may vary by provider and policy, which makes it important to consult with your home insurance agent about questions, such as:

  • Will this unit need its own insurance or will your existing homeowners policy cover it?
  • What are the liability implications of adding an ADU to your home?
  • If you’re renting out the unit, will you need to get landlord insurance?
  • Should you require tenants to have renters insurance to help protect their belongings?

Consider the answers carefully, because they could directly influence your decision.

Don’t forget the due diligence

“Mother-in-law apartment” may have some snarky undertones, but a well-planned and well-executed ADU could seriously improve quality of life for you and your family.

Just make sure that you do your homework — exploring the costs, regulations and insurance requirements — before you start working on your home.

10 Benefits of Selling Your Home During The Holidays!

by Judy Reed

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… to sell a house? There’s always that question whether or not you should keep your house on the market for the holidays. You figure that potential home buyers will be preoccupied with buying gifts, planning parties, cooking meals, and visiting relatives; the last thing on their mind is searching for and purchasing a new home, right? For this reason, many home sellers choose to temporarily remove their home from listing, then wait until the new year to relist.

Before you hold off on listing your home until the new year, consider the benefits of listing your home for sale during the holidays, such as:

  • Many home sellers either hold off from selling or take a break from selling during the holidays. Inevitably, the amount of listings on the market drop down, which means less competition for your home. With less competition, you could potentially sell your home faster, for more money. Once the market comes back up in the spring time, a lot of sellers will list their homes all at once for lower prices, which may drive the whole market down.
     
  • Home buyers are generally the most motivated during the holiday season, greatly aiding sellers. Although there will be less buyers looking at homes this time of year, the buyers who do look are more serious about closing. “While the traffic is down, the buyers who are out there — when it’s soggy and dark at 4:45 p.m. — they’re not just poking around for the fun of it,” said Billy Grippo, a broker for Windermere Cronin and Caplan Realty Group. “They’re wanting to buy a house.”
     
  • Looking back on statistics, interest rates tend to drop the most at the end of the year. “If we look historically at interest rates, cyclically we’ve seen drops every December through January,” says Rich Hayden, senior loan officer for Home First Mortgage Corp. “While rates are now at all-time lows, we could dip even lower,” he says. Tyler agrees, “Interest rates have to come up sometime but it won’t be during the holidays.”
     
  • Many people purposely choose to purchase a home before the new year to receive a tax write off. Home buyers who close before the end of the year could be eligible for tax credits, such as deductions for home mortgage interest, real estate taxes, and PMI premiums.
     
  • Large companies normally transfer employees in January. Those relocating usually need to buy a house right away and simply cannot wait.
     
  • In the winter months, homes typically show better. The decorations, smell of cookies baking, and a roaring fireplace all give your home a “warm and cozy” feeling. Just make sure you don’t cover up your homes best features with too much holiday decor. Stick to tasteful and simple decorations and learn proper staging techniques for the holidays.
     
  • A lot of companies give their employees time off work for the holiday season, which means potential buyers have more time for showings.
     
  • While all the malls and retail stores may be packed, Lenders and title companies aren’t as busy and can process loans faster. “November and December are historically slower months in the mortgage business, so things get done faster,” says Brad Walbrun, a mortgage consultant for A and N Mortgage Services.
     
  • Most become so consumed in buying gifts for their friends and family, that they completely overlook all the holiday sales and specials on home appliances and hardware. Remodeling, decorating, appliance installation and other home services become more available and at less of a premium.
     
  • Late spring and summer are usually thought of as the best times to put a home on the market because buyer demand builds steadily through spring. If you sell your home in the winter,  you’ll have your pick of tons of houses for sale in the spring time.
     

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean the whole housing market comes to a freeze during the holidays! Buyers.. start a new year in a new home!

'Tis the Season: Holiday Home Buying & Selling Tips

by Judy Reed

This time of year, if a seller has not sold their home, they will typically withdraw it from the market. Activity is often slower than normal between now and the first week of January. Many sellers also want a break from showings, the pressure of keeping their home clean, and feeling like they are always on.

But for the serious seller or buyer, deals still happen between now and early January. If you’re a seller who means business, know that buyers are out there through the holidays. If you’re a buyer on a mission, pound the pavement to find the most motivated sellers, and try to make a holiday miracle happen.

Tips for sellers

  • Get your price in line with the market. If your home has been on the market for months without any offers, chances are your price is off. Once December rolls around, the competition (that is, other homes for sale) goes off the market, leaving you with potentially the only game in town. Now is the time to get serious. If you drop your home to the right price now, you have a captive audience, and you might even get more than one buyer. If you’re ready to move your home, this could be your chance to negotiate the best deal.
  • Make your motivations known. If you want to take advantage of the holiday selling season, let agents and buyers know. In addition to dropping your price, you might want to offer an incentive to buyers, like a credit for closing costs or some furniture included, if they sign a contract before the end of the year. Or offer buyers’ agents a bonus if they make a deal happen. The point is, a motivated seller should take advantage of the timeframe, and that means making sure everyone knows you’re ready to bargain. Additionally, your agent should communicate to other agents, and the marketing remarks on your listing should demonstrate your motivations.

Best practices for buyers

  • Don’t assume the market comes to a dead stop. Understand that some sellers have conversations with their agents about trying to make a deal during the holiday. These sellers are looking for you. Their list price might seem high, but they are probably willing to negotiate. Some sellers don’t want to advertise that they will take less, but once they get a buyer, they are ready to wheel and deal. Imagine yourself in the shoes of a seller who needs to unload their home. They may be willing to close even at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve. Deals happen if you put yourself out there. If you’re a serious buyer, leverage these last few weeks of the year to find a home.
  • Do a once-over of all listings in and around your price point. Been ignoring a home or two because they seemed overpriced, or not as thoroughly renovated as you would like? Did you make an offer earlier in the year that wasn’t as great as it could have been? Circle back to every listing in and around your price point and target area that is currently on the market. Scour these listings, because they indicate motivated sellers. Go have a second look, and keep an open mind. An overlooked home can easily become your dream home at the right price.

Though conventional wisdom may state otherwise, market-ready buyers and sellers have consummated successful deals through the holidays. But don’t be a conventional buyer or seller. We live in an era of access anywhere and anytime. Information flows 24/7 and buyers, especially, use smartphones and tablets to stay connected to real estate listings at all times. Motivated buyers and sellers should open themselves to the possibilities this time of year.

Debating Between a Condo or a House...Which is right for you?

by Judy Reed
 

 

Buying a home is one of the biggest and most important decisions you’ll ever make. Whether you are a first-time buyer, or a veteran homeowner looking to trade up or make a new start, you will inevitably be faced with a number of questions. Your answers will lead you to the home that’s right for you.

One of the most fundamental questions all homeowners face is whether to buy a condo or single family house. There are advantages and disadvantages of each and only you can know what’s right for you.
For Boston newlyweds Michelle and Kevin Millsom, 31 and 36, it was an easy decision. With high-powered financial careers and no children, they were drawn to the excitement of the city and wanted their fingers on the pulse. They bought a penthouse apartment with a breathtaking view of Boston’s famous esplanade and Charles River.
“We enjoy everything the city has to offer—the restaurants, theatre, outdoor concerts. We walk everywhere and find the easy access to the airport to be a plus since we travel frequently for work,” said Kevin. “When we have children, we may think about a house in the suburbs, but for now this is where we want to be.”
Like all things, living in the heart of the city comes with tradeoffs. For the price of their two-bedroom/two-bath condo, they could buy a home three times the size, just a short 20-minute commute away. They share decision-making for their building with fourteen other tenants and pay pricey condo fees to cover the costs of insurance and upkeep. Their car sits idle most of the time in a $300 per month rented parking spot only to leave for short jaunts to the grocery store or visits to see family. But for Kevin and Michelle who want to spend their spare time out and about, the location and convenience can’t be beat.
On the other hand, Adriana Forte, 62, lives in a condo in the Boston suburb of Arlington and misses all that a single-family home has to offer. Six years ago, after her divorce, she bought a “condex,” (a two-family home with a shared wall) with the belief that managing a home would be too much for her alone. But it turned out to be the wrong decision for her. Now, she is desperately seeking a single-family house to call her own.
“It’s difficult to live with neighbors so close,” Forte said. “First there was the noise. My neighbors are night people, and every night they are just getting geared up when I’m trying to sleep. Then I found myself handling 100 percent of the finances and maintenance of the duplex—without compensation. I may as well be living in my own house!” Forte also misses the fresh air and private outdoor space. For her, maintaining a home and garden is pure enjoyment. The privacy is what she misses most.
What is most important to you? Give consideration to the following:
  • Location – Where do you want to be? Are there options for both condos and single-family houses in this area?
  • Privacy – Is it important to you to have complete privacy or do you find close neighbors to be a comfort?
  • Responsibility – Do you need total control over decisions affecting your home or are you attracted to the idea of sharing decision-making with your neighbors?
  • Maintenance – Are you a homebody who enjoys getting dirty in the yard or are you delighted with the idea of never having to cut a blade of grass again?
  • Budget – How much do you have to spend? Depending on where you want to live, a condo may be the only option that meets your budget.
These considerations and others will help you determine the best choice for you now. And just remember, if your interests and priorities change in the years ahead, you can always sell your home and make a move, this time with experience as your guide.

Thank You!

by Judy Reed

Fall Back This Sunday!

by Judy Reed

Trying To Sell Your Home Driving You Batty?

by Judy Reed

Haunted By Your House?

by Judy Reed

First-Time Home Buyer's Guide to Choosing a Neighborhood

by Judy Reed


When you’re ready to buy your first home, you’ll probably remember those three important words we always hear about real estate: location, location, location.

While the geographic location is important, it’s also the amenities around the location that make a house a home. Every buyer is different in what they desire, so you need to find a neighborhood with the location and amenities that fit your desires — and, just as importantly, your budget.

Affordability

Location is one factor that will heavily influence the price of a property. You don’t want to shop in locations you can’t afford — even though it might be fun.

The first task in your home purchase process is getting pre-approved by a bank or mortgage lender so you understand the ballpark within which you will be playing ball. Inform your real estate agent about your price range so they can identify the locations where you can afford to purchase.

Neighborhood type

You also need to figure out what works for you when it comes to the type of location you like: urban, suburban, or rural. Many people live in and love high-density areas where retail, restaurants, gyms, and grocery stores are all within a few blocks’ walk. It’s nice to be able to walk to everything — but with that comes lots of cars, people and sometimes noisy neighbors.

Other home buyers prefer quieter suburban developments that are probably going to require driving for one’s commercial and entertainment needs.

Then there are rural folks who want full quiet and no nearby neighbors. Make sure before you shop that you are shopping in the right type of area for you.

School district

Schools also make a big difference for many buyers, and a buyer will certainly pay for the best school district. School quality is one of the top items on a parent’s mind when looking for property. You can search the Internet for school ratings and check with the city or county for more information.

Of course, if you don’t have children, it’s not as big a deal.

What’s next door — or could be

You should also always consider what is next door to the property you buy. Will you be living among lots of single-family houses, or big apartment buildings?

It’s also important to know if there are currently or once were gas stations or chemical plants nearby. Drive around and look, plus check Natural Hazard Reports to see what is or was in the area.

Additionally, be cautious about empty developable lots or empty retail/warehouse properties nearby, as you never know what might end up being built there.

It’s also smart to understand the zoning on your property, as it might let the single family home next door be torn down and developed into a 4-plex rental property. That might or might not be okay with you, but you should be aware if it’s a possibility.

Holdability

One more important item to consider regarding location is your chances of owning the property a long time. If you are not sure you’ll  be happy staying a while, you’re better off passing on buying for the time being.

Considering all these issues — as opposed to making a quick purchase decision based on what your heart is telling you — should help you buy a home that is a good fit, will serve you well, and will be a good investment for your future.

Has The Real Estate Market Left You A Little Spooked?

by Judy Reed

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 43

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