Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to decorating tips and community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Dec. 11, 2017

4 Small Changes That Can Add Major Value To Your Home

When it comes to selling your home, obviously you want to do everything you can on your end to add value to your home and secure the highest offer. But while you might automatically assume that major added value comes from major renovations, sometimes it's the small things that add up ending the most value to your home. Here are four small, inexpensive changes that can add major value to your home (and get you higher offers in process):

1. Spruce Up Your Exterior

While many homeowners focus their renovations and changes on the interior of their home, the exterior of your property is the first thing potential buyers will see. And if you want to get off on the right foot and make a positive first impression, it's important that the exterior of your home is inviting and well-designed. You don't have to completely landscape your property in order to make a good first impression. A few minor changes to the exterior can really spruce things up and make the space feel more inviting for potential buyers. Put a fresh coat of paint on your front door. Line the walkway leading up to your entrance with inexpensive potted plants. If you have room, add a small chair or table to create a sitting area on the front porch. And always make sure your lawn is watered and mowed. Having a clean, inviting, and well-decorated exterior will have buyers falling in love with your property before they ever even walk through the front door.

2. Add A Fresh Coat Of Paint

One of the most inexpensive ways to add serious value to your home is by adding a fresh coat of paint, particularly if it's been awhile since your walls have been redone. Old, peeling, or out-of-date paint can make your home look like it's in rougher shape than it actually is. A fresh coat of paint will breathe new life into your rooms and frame them in the best light to potential buyers. When choosing paint colors, go for neutral colors like gray or beige; using bright or unique colors can be off-putting to some potential buyers. Neutral tones makes it easier for buyers to see themselves in the space. Just be sure to avoid white - the color can feel overly harsh and can make your home feel cold and impersonal (not exactly the feel you're going for when selling a home).

3. Update The Bathroom

If you have an older home, making a few minor updates to the bathroom - even if they're only cosmetic - can go a long way in adding value to your home. Things like outdated wallpaper, tile, or light fixtures can make your bathroom feel dated, a feeling which may carry over into the rest of your home and turn off potential buyers. Take stock of your bathroom and see what changes might help it feel more modern and up to date. Currently have wallpaper that looks like it belongs in the 80s? Ditch the wallpaper for a more modern print or a fresh coat of paint. Does your vanity feel ancient? Try replacing the hardware for a more sleek look. Renovating a bathroom can be pricey, but cosmetic changes are not - and can have a huge impact on the value of your home.

4. Hire A House Cleaning Service

When you're selling your home, it needs to be spotless. Dust bunnies under the couch, stains on the sink, or fingerprints on the wall can keep you from getting offers on your home - even though all of those situations are temporary and completely reversible. And while you might be great at cleaning under normal circumstances, when you're selling your home, you should definitely consider hiring a professional cleaning service. Professionals are trained to cover every nook and cranny and ensure that your house is sparkling by the end of the service. And having a house that's expert-level clean can be a huge selling point to potential buyers. Look for a local cleaning service that has experience preparing homes to sell and book their services before your next open house. This minor investment can pay off big time when potential buyers are drafting up their offers. Before you sell your home, you want to do everything in your power to drive up the value and walk away with the highest offer possible. And these four changes are so small, inexpensive, and easy, there's no reason not to use them to your advantage!

Nov. 29, 2017

Maryland Events: December 2017

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Maryland Events: December 2017

Presented by Talia Fletcher and Heather Huling: The Lodestar Team

 
 

Get in the Holiday Spirit

  • Open House and Holiday Sale in Old Ellicott City on December 7th from 5:30-8:30. Get in the holiday spirit at their annual open house - designed to help support area artists and delight holiday shoppers. Enjoy light refreshments and holiday music as you browse.
  • Family Holiday Concert with the Columbia Orchestra on December 16th at 10:30am. Patrons of all ages are sure to enjoy these holiday classics! Enjoy the marvelous sounds of the holiday season: Christmas carols, Hannukah songs, highlights from The Nutcracker with our friends from Dance Connections, and other family-friendly favorites.
  • A Christmas Carol at Olney Theatre running until Christmas Eve. Experience the unforgettable characters and vivid imagery as Charles Dickens originally intended – in his own words – and rediscover this timeless classic presented in a masterful solo performance.
  • Santa's Wonderland at Bass Pro Shop in Arundal Mills Mall from now until Christmas Eve. Enjoy this magical Christmas village offering free photos with Santa and free family holiday activities including fun crafts and games.
 

Indoor Fun for the Whole Family

  1.  Howard County Table Tennis Center: Put down the video game controller. Try the real version of “Wii Sports Resort” or “PS4 Sports Champions.” Although this warehouse space attracts serious players who are members, lessons are offered for students, and the facility is open to the public for walk-in play. $8 to $10 for up to three hours of table tennis.
  2. Autobahn Indoor Speedway: Once your kids have outgrown the bounce houses and trampoline park, it’s time to race. Go-karts get up to 50 mph on the Grand-Prix-style indoor racetrack in Jessup. Hard to say who will have more fun— you or the kids.
  3. The United States Botanical Garden in Washington DC is great place to explore on a rainy day if you are tired of being stuck inside.  Wander through the trails in the conservatory and take advantage of their Junior Botanist or Plant Explorers programs for kids.
 

Three Farm-to-table Restaurants to Try this Month

The Elkridge Furnace Inn - Historic mansion ca.1744 hosting an a la carte restaurant with seasonally changing menus, private functions including intimate parties to large receptions, monthly special events from Afternoon Teas to Wine Tastings, and off-site catering to the entire state of Maryland.

Ananda, in Howard County's Maple Lawn neighborhood, the elegant serves superb 'farm-to-tandoori" Indian cuisine using many fresh ingredients sourced from their own nearby gardens.

Volt, in Frederick: Getting a table at this award-wining restaurant is challenging, but well worth the effort—celebrity chef Bryan Voltaggio offers a delicious take on the farm-to-table concept. The philosophy behind the menu is based on traditional flavor combinations, creating sophisticated dishes that emphasize purity and seasonal flavors.
 

 

Questions? Call us anytime!

                   

            Talia Fletcher GRI                                                        Heather Huling
                REALTOR®                                                                 REALTOR®
                Real Estate Consultant                                                Real Estate Professional
                The Lodestar Team of                                                 The Lodestar team of
                Keller Williams Integrity                                               Keller Williams Integrity
                Cell: 443-584-3693                                                     Cell: 301-852-6693
                Office: 443-574-1600                                                  Office: 443-574-1600
                talia.fletcher@kw.com                                                 heather.huling@kw.com 

 

https://www.thelodestarteam.com/

 






 
Posted in Community Events
Nov. 27, 2017

3 Reasons Your Real Estate Agent WANTS You To Bother Them

 

Real estate agents hear this all the time... “I wish I had called you before. But I just didn’t want to bother you. I know you’re busy…” ...after it is too late. There are times when you might feel like you shouldn’t “bother” the real estate agent you know. (Could be your friend, a neighbor, your brother-in-law, cousin, your sister...) Maybe you’re truly trying to be considerate. But, maybe it’s because you’re not even aware that you should. Or, you just don’t want to feel obligated or pushed into doing something. (Despite what many people think, most agents are not pushy. Most are the exact opposite.) So, let’s go over a few times that you should “bother” your real estate agent. Because it really isn’t a bother. In fact, we’ll get into why it will bother them if you don’t reach out to them for any of these things.

1. You just want to check out a house.

You see a house online. Or a For Sale sign. Maybe even just stumble across and open house. You’re not all that serious about buying a house. Maybe you’re only just starting to think about it. Or, maybe you have no desire at all to move, and you’re just curious and want to take a peek. So, you don’t want to “bother” the agent you know to show you the house. Instead, you call the listing agent. Or some random agent you don’t even know. Or just walk right into the open house. Next thing you know, you love the house. You’re making an offer. The offer is accepted. And then you regret it. Or problems come up. Or the process is miserable. Or you don’t feel like the agent you’re dealing with is giving you the best advice. And that’s when you call the agent you know. Too late. At that point, the agent you know can’t help. (Or at least shouldn’t…) Because now you are represented by another agent. The agent you know can get in a lot of trouble for even giving you friendly advice. As innocent as it seems, when you just want to go see a house… you are inadvertently making a bigger decision than you think — you are deciding who will represent your interests, advise you, and help you through the process. Even if you just go see a house with another agent, and before you even make an offer you decide to have the agent you know write up the offer and represent you… the agent who simply showed you the house could claim you as their client. It’s called “procuring cause”. I won’t get into the details here, but it can become messy. You’re better off calling the agent you know to show you the house in the first place. You won’t be considered a bother. What will bother him is to have to bite his tongue and not give you the help you want further into the process.

2. You want to know how much your home is worth.

Maybe you’re just curious about how much your home is worth. Or, maybe you’re actually thinking of selling. It might be because you want to get a feel for your net worth. Nowadays, you can hop online and check out any number of sites that will give you the value of your home. So, why “bother” the agent you know about this? Because most of what you will find online is highly inaccurate to begin with. They are “automated” valuations. They are based upon data and algorithms. They have never even seen the inside of your home. They do not take into account your local market conditions. And if you base your hopes, dreams, and decisions off of an inaccurate value, that can hurt you quite a bit. Again, asking the agent you know to do an analysis and give you a true market value... not a bother. But, it would be bothersome to hear that you’ve based important life decisions off of an inaccurate value once it’s too late.

3. You are considering a home improvement project.

The real estate agent you know probably isn’t an architect. Or a builder, a plumber, an electrician, a painter, etc. So, they probably can’t advise you about the ins and outs of a specific project or costs. But once you have a sense of the proposed cost of a project, before you just pull the trigger and move forward, you really should “bother” your agent for their input. Putting on an addition? That will surely increase the value. A kitchen or bathroom remodel? Yep, your house will be worth more. But will the value increase more than the amount you spent? Will that matter in your situation? Will the choices you make in decor, layout, or fixtures appeal to a buyer down the road? Does that even matter, given your future plans? All questions and thoughts your agent can get into with you. Before you spend the money and go through the headaches of a huge project. On the other hand, if you go forward with a home improvement project and spend, let’s say $60,000, and then call your agent… You could seriously regret how much you spent, or even doing the project at all. Your agent doesn’t want to break the news to you that your home is only worth $38,000 more after you spent $60,000. There is no joy in that. There is nothing that can be done at that point. That’s just three examples. There are certainly more. But you get the point… So, reach out to your agent before you do anything real estate related… and just trust that it isn’t a “bother”.

Posted in Real Estate Advice
Nov. 22, 2017

Know This Before You Do Any Home Improvements

When you do any home improvement, you probably figure it's also going to improve the value of your home. And it probably will improve the value… but, probably not as much as it cost you. In other words, if you spend $1,000 (for example), it probably won't improve the value by $1,000 or more. Statistically speaking, it will probably only improve the value by a fraction of that amount. So, the question becomes… Is it even worth doing any home improvements!? Not to sound wishy-washy, but the answer is… Yes and no. It depends on a lot of factors. We'll touch on that more at the end of the article. But for now, let's just take a look at the top 7 home improvements, according to the 2017 cost versus value report to start making some sense of it all.

1. Insulation

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According to the 2017 Cost vs. Value Report, adding fiberglass insulation to the attic costs on average $1,343, but you'll recoup $1,446. Doesn't sound all that exciting. When you think home improvements, you probably think of remodeled kitchens and baths being the biggest and best improvements to make (and they might be for you). But nope, according to the report, your best bet is to add insulation. Pretty interesting, considering no buyer has ever walked into a house, gasped, and said, "Honey, look at this! They added insulation!" Yet, according to the report, it's what'll be the best money you could spend to add actual value to your home, and your bank account.

2. New entry door

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Replacing your entryway door with one made of steel may set you back an average of $1,413, but you'll get back $1,282, according to the 2017 Cost vs. Value Report. So, at face value, it looks like you actually lose a few bucks… So, why would you do it? If your new door is more energy efficient, it'll probably also save you some money on heating and cooling. It's just tough to say how much exactly. But the big X factor is how much your improved "curb appeal" will add to the sales price, when you sell your home. Again, that depends on a lot of other factors.

3. Manufactured stone veneer

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On average, adding manufactured stone veneer will cost $7,851, but you can expect to recoup $7,019, or 89.4 percent, of that. Obviously, this is another one that loses you money, at face value. So, why would you do this home improvement? How about, because you simply like the way it looks. Obviously, if you don't like the way it looks, don't do it. But, if you do, you'll enjoy the home improvement. It isn't all about making money on the money you spent. Sometimes it is about getting back a nice chunk of what you spent, on something that you wanted and enjoyed during the years before you sell your house.

4. Minor kitchen remodel

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If you have a functional but outdated kitchen, you may harbor fantasies about beginning a total renovation. However, you don't need to break the bank to make some valuable upgrades that'll pay off in the long run. Consider swapping out old appliances for energy efficient ones. You can leave cabinet boxes in tact but replace doors or hardware. The average minor remodel costs $20,830. As much as you'll love the look and convenience of modern amenities, you'll also enjoy knowing you can regain an average of $16,699. This surprises a lot of people outside the real estate industry (and even some in the industry!). Almost everyone thinks kitchens are the best thing to renovate, and will increase the value of a home. Again, it will add value, but just not as much as it costs. So, this is another one where there's plenty of reason to do it, simply because you will enjoy the benefits of the improvement during your ownership. Just don't tack on every penny you spent on the remodel onto your asking price when you sell. That's not how this works. That's not how any of this works.

5. New garage door

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On average, a new garage door costs $1,749, but homeowners recoup $1,345, representing an almost 77 percent return on investment. Chalk this one up to the X factor of added curb appeal as well, when it comes to justifying spending the money. But it also just boils down to your sanity. When you have a garage door that doesn't open or close right, or when you want it to, it can drive you nuts. That's gotta be worth the 33% you don't get back when you sell.

6. Siding installation

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The elements wreak havoc on your home's exterior. If your place is looking a little worse for wear, it could be time to consider siding, which provides a fabulous facelift. But, more than simply a cosmetic upgrade, siding can protect your home from heavy rains and damaging snowstorms, making it an investment with a multi-pronged pay-off. The average cost of installing siding is $14,518 of which you should get back $11,093 at resale, according to the 2017 Cost vs. Value Report. Starting to see the trend? There are benefits to doing any home improvement, but you just can't expect to get every dime you spend back.

7. Adding a wooden deck

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Decks are ideal for outdoor entertaining. Depending on the size, you may feel as if you've just added significantly to your living space — especially if you live in a climate where you can use it for much of the year. The average wooden deck will set you back $10,707, but you'll get back $7,652, or 71.5%, when you sell.

OK, with all of that said…

These reports are based upon National and regional statistics. The thing is, real estate is extremely local. Like, down to the very street you live on local… And there are so many factors that will affect how much return you'll get on any given project, in any given area, on any given house. It may make sense for you to do a particular home improvement. It may not. It depends on your local market. It depends on the local supply and demand of homes. And it depends a lot upon what your personal situation is, and what your short and long term plans are. So, the best thing to do when you're considering any home improvement, is to reach out to your local real estate agent, and ask him or her for input. Considering they probably won't charge you a dime for their time and insight, that's going to be the best cost versus value you will find when it comes to home improvements.

Posted in Home Renovation
Nov. 20, 2017

Why Winter Is The Perfect Time To Buy A Home

Winter is the perfect time of year for plenty of things: making snow angels, going ice skating, and drinking hot cocoa by the fire are all things that come to mind. But do you know what else winter is the perfect time of year for? Buying a home. There's no better time to find your dream home than the winter months. Here are five reasons why winter is the perfect time to find a home:

1. There's less competition

One of the best reasons to purchase a home during the winter is that there's typically less competition. Winter isn't the most popular time of the year to move; kids are still in school and potential buyers with children tend to wait until spring or summer to start looking to avoid having to pull their children out of school. And because there's less buyers on the market, you'll face less competition on the homes you're interested in. You're also less likely to face multiple offer situations when the market is less competitive — which means that when you find a home you love and put in an offer, you're not going to be up against anyone else, which greatly increases the chance of your offer being accepted.

2. Prices are more competitive

Another major benefit of buying a home in the winter is that the pricing is more competitive. This means that in the winter, you're far more likely to get a deal on your home than spring or summer. In fact, recent research shows that while buyers paid $1500 more than the sale price of the average US home during the peak spring season. But in the winter? They paid $3100 less.

3. You'll deal with more motivated sellers

Another plus of buying in the winter? Because there aren't as many buyers on the market, sellers are much more motivated to sell — which means they'll be much more willing to negotiate with you. That can mean anything from coming down on the price, covering some (or all) of your closing costs, working with you on the closing date, or even throwing in extra appliances to sweeten the deal. If you buy during the peak season, sellers don't have as much incentive to negotiate since there's a lot of competition, so do yourself a favor and buy in the winter when sellers are much more motivated to get their home sold.

4. You get to see how your new home holds up in the cold

If you live in an area with harsh winters, another benefit of buying a home in the winter is that you get to see how your potential new home will hold up in the cold — while it's actually cold outside. If you buy during the warmer months, your new home may look great. But when winter rolls around you might find that the chill in the air travels from outside to inside, or that your home is properly insulated to keep ice from building up on the exterior. Bottom line: When you buy in the winter, you get to see your potential new home's winter performance before you buy. You can make sure that your house has proper heating and insulation instead of buying in summer and hoping for the best — which can be an expensive mistake.

5. You get to take advantage of your real estate agent's slow season

Because the winter months are typically slower in the real estate industry, your agent likely doesn't have as many clients as they would in the peak season — which logically means you'll probably get more of their attention. A great real estate agent will always take care of you — no matter how busy they are. But there are only so many hours in the day, and during the peak season, he/she will likely have multiple clients they need to split their attention between. But less real estate activity in the winter means less clients for your real estate agent, which means they have more time and energy to devote to you and your home search. They'll be more available to research potential homes, show you new properties, and answer your questions — which will make your home search easier, faster, and more enjoyable. As you can see, winter just might be the perfect time to buy a home. So bundle up, call your agent, and get out there and find your new home!

Posted in Market Conditions
July 31, 2017

Curious About Local Real Estate?

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Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

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You can sign up here to receive your own market report, delivered as often as you like! It contains current information on pending, active and just sold properties so you can see actual homes in your neighborhood. You can review your area on a larger scale, as well, by refining your search to include properties across the city or county. As you notice price and size trends, please contact us for clarification or to have any questions answered.

We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

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