Open Floor Plan Still Popular

Open floor plans continue to reign. Eighty-four percent of builders say that in the typical single-family home they build, the kitchen and family room arrangement is at least partially open. Fifty-four percent say it’s completely open, according to responses from a September 2016 National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index.

“Completely open” essentially means the two areas are combined into the same room. Partially open signifies areas separated by a partial wall, arch, counter, or something less than a full wall.

Seventy percent of recent and prospective home buyers say they prefer a home with either a completely or partially open kitchen-family room arrangement; 32 percent say they prefer the arrangement completely open, according to an NAHB survey.

Only 16 percent of buyers say they want the kitchen and family rooms in separate areas of the house.

As demand continues to increase for open floor plans, homeowners of existing-homes are also looking to open up their kitchen and family room areas. Professional remodelers report that 40 percent of their projects involved making the floor plan more open by removing interior walls, pillars, arches, etc., according to first quarter of 2016 data in the Remodeling Market Index.

Source: “Builders Satisfy Demand for Open Floor Plans,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog (Jan. 11, 2017)

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Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

info@JonMahoney.com

www.JonMahoney.com

5 Reasons to Sell This Fall

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School is back in session, the holidays are right around the corner, you might not think that now is the best time to sell your house. But with inventory below historic numbers and demand still strong, you could be missing out on a great opportunity for your family.

Here are five reasons why you should consider selling your house this fall: 

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Realtors’ Confidence Index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains very strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase… and are in the market right now!

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

According to NAR’s latest Existing Home Sales Report, the supply of homes for sale is still under the 6-month supply that is needed for a normal housing market at 4.7-months.

This means, in most areas, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in that market. This is good news for home prices. However, additional inventory is about to come to market.

There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move, as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. Homeowners are now seeing a return to positive equity as real estate values have increased over the last two years. Many of these homes will be coming to the market this fall.

Also, as builders regain confidence in the market, new construction of single-family homes is projected to continue to increase over the next two years, reaching historic levels by 2017. Last month’s new home sales numbers show that many buyers who have not been able to find their dream home within the existing inventory have turned to new construction to fulfill their needs.

The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until all this other inventory of homes comes to market before you sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Fannie Mae announced that they anticipate an acceleration in home sales that will surpass 2007’s pace. As the market heats up, banks will be inundated with loan inquiries causing closing-time lines to lengthen. Selling now will make the process quicker & simpler. 

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by 5.3% over the next year, according to CoreLogic. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait.

According to Freddie Mac’s latest report, you can also lock-in your 30-year housing expense with an interest rate around 3.46% right now. Interest rates are projected to increase moderately over the next 12 months. Even a small increase in rate will have a big impact on your housing cost.

5. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire. 

That is what is truly important.

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Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

info@JonMahoney.com

www.JonMahoney.com

Best Summer Home Renovation Projects

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Summer brings pool parties, ice cream and popsicles, playing in the yard…and renovations. Many homeowners find that some home upgrades are best completed during the warm summer months. The weather is much nicer, contractors have longer daylight hours in which to work, schedules tend to slow down, and labor costs might actually be lower.

Which renovations work best during the summer? Here are some of the most popular ones, ranked from simplest to toughest (or longest).

Small DIY projects

Remember all those little projects on the back burner? Now is the time to tackle them. Everything from staining the deck to installing a new porch railing is fair game. You can do some work in the house too, renovating closets to create more space or creating a study area for the kids. Speaking of the kids, now that they are home for the summer, you can enlist their help in smaller home upgrades that give them a sense of accomplishment.

Painting the house

Whether you are painting inside or outside, summer is the best time to get the job done. When painting outside, summer means you don’t have to deal with spring or winter storms. When you are doing the work inside, you have the advantage of keeping all the windows wide open for the best ventilation and drying. Small jobs can be a do-it-yourself venture, while large projects call for a contractor.

Paving the driveway

Working with asphalt is much easier during the summer months, which is why you so often see contractors working on driveways in the intense heat of the season. The asphalt hardens more slowly, which means a flatter, smoother surface. A good contractor can get the job done in a day; after a few days of curing time, your driveway is ready to use.

Landscaping

If you want to know what your landscaping will really look like, now is the time to set it up. Plants and shrubs need the warm months to become acclimated to their new home. You have the freedom to move flowers around a bit before giving them a final new residence in the yard. Since the ground is easier to dig into during the hotter months, you might also find it easier to install irrigation systems or garden lighting, as well as garden ponds.

In-ground pool installation

This serious home improvement project requires digging through a large part of your yard. Since the job is easier in the summer, you can find a contractor more willing to tackle it. Since it’s faster work, you get your job done sooner, and perhaps you can even enjoy that new pool by the time the hottest dog days roll around.

Kitchen upgrades

During a kitchen renovation, the contractor will kick you out of the space in order to complete the job. So what will you do about eating meals? During the summer months, that is a problem solved by a small refrigerator in another room of the house, a tiny prep area, a few disposable dishes, and a nice grill. Enjoy the great outdoors and have dinner al fresco every night while the kitchen is out of commission.

Adding a home addition

A major home addition requires serious commitment from you and your family. Most home additions take several weeks to several months to complete. During that time, part of your home will be at least somewhat exposed to the elements. No, you (hopefully) won’t deal with rain or wind, but your home will be affected by the outdoor temperatures. You will understandably want this upgrade over as soon as possible, which is another reason why summer is a great time: The days are much longer, meaning that your contractor has more daylight to work on the project.

And that’s not all…

Remember that these projects are just a sampling of home improvements you can do during the summer. Caulking windows, trimming trees, repairing fences or cleaning out gutters are just a few of the other options you have during the long, lazy days of summer. Start your planning early for those long weekends, and enjoy your new renovations before the autumn leaves fly.

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Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

info@JonMahoney.com

www.JonMahoney.com

6 Essential Steps to Buying the Right New Home

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Is it time to buy a new home? Maybe your growing family doesn’t quite fit in your current place – the kids are getting bigger, or there are more of them and they need more room to run around. Maybe you’re in the opposite situation — an empty nester, ready to downsize. Or maybe you’re moving because of your work, or you’re ready for the bit of adventure that can come with heading to a new town.

Whatever the reason, there are a few steps that will make the process easier and help you land the right place for your needs.

1. Check your credit rating

Unless you happen to have a giant pile of money lying around, you’re going to need a mortgage. And one of the first things any lender is going to do is check your credit rating. Lending standards have risen since the go-go days of the early 2000s, so a good score is more important than ever. Higher scores generally mean you are a lower credit risk and should help you qualify for a lower interest rate, meaning less of your money goes to the bank and more to your house.

The highest score is 800. While you don’t need to be perfect — which is extremely rare — a higher score will make getting a mortgage much easier. In a 2013 study, the FDIC found that almost no mortgages were issued to people with a score below 620, so consider that an absolute minimum.

Under federal law, everyone is entitled to a free credit report once per year. This report provides a detailed record of how you’ve managed your credit over time. Click here to start the process for getting yours. If your credit rating is poor, start burnishing it immediately — before you go house hunting.

2. Find a lender and get approved

So, your credit score is in order, now it’s time to head to the bank, or at least a lender. The market is hot now in many parts of the country, and many sellers won’t even talk to a potential buyer who isn’t pre-approved.

Sometimes it can make sense to apply for your loan with the same bank where you have your day-to-day accounts, but an independent mortgage broker can also help you find a good deal by comparing the rates and terms of many lenders. While the interest rate is the biggest single item you’ll be looking at, there are likely to be a host of other fees to watch out for. Once you get that pre-approval, you’ll know how much you can spend.

3. Figure out what you need

Note, you are not ready to start scrolling through the thousands of listing on the Internet, but you soon will be. First, though, get your priorities in order. Make a list of what you really need and what you just really want. Here are some key items to help you get started:

  • Is it important that the public schools are good, or will you send your children to private school or home school them? Keep in mind that even if you won’t be sending kids to the local schools, being near good ones will help when you eventually sell the place.
  • How close do you need to be to a doctor or pharmacy?
  • What does the commute look like from the property? (Don’t forget that commuting costs are a part of living costs. If you buy a cheaper house because it’s farther away, you may end up losing that savings in the extra driving costs.
  • Do you want to be able to walk places? What amenities are within walking distance?
  • What are your personal needs and wants? Don’t be afraid to get into real nitty-gritty details.  If you entertain, maybe a spacious dining room or open-plan kitchen are important. Or maybe you want a southern exposure for your garden.
  • Once you have your list, put it in order of priority. Get used to the idea that some of the things on the bottom of the list may need to be sacrificed. No matter how much you have to spend, you’ll always want a little bit more house than you can afford.

4. Start house shopping, boots on the ground

Flipping through house listings on the Internet is an obvious place to start, but don’t let that be all you do. Especially if you’re new to a town, there’s no substitute for actually being in a place and getting a feeling for it. Breathing the air and walking the streets in different neighborhoods can help you understand why two houses a few blocks away have radically different prices.

Find a good real estate agent and listen to the suggestions they offer based on your wish list. Go to open houses. Lots of them. It can be fun to visit houses outside your price range to give you some perspective (and to see how the other half lives), but spend most of your time looking at houses that are within your range.

After some looking, you may find you need to revisit the priorities you developed in step three. That’s OK. It will be tempting to stretch a little further and buy something just a tiny bit more expensive. Resist this. Don’t buy more than you can afford. And sometimes the things you’re missing may just call for some delayed gratification. If you can’t afford a house with a hot tub, you can always put the spa on your list for later improvements.

5. Make an offer

This part can be tricky. If you’ve looked at enough houses, you’ve probably got a good picture of your particular market and whether a house is correctly priced. Your agent should be able to offer you advice about this and about what sort of offer to make. They’ll also have information about how long the house has been on the market and may have a feeling for how motivated the seller is.

It’s important to listen to your agent, but remember, you’re the one who’s going to have to live there and make payments for the next few decades. It’s your call in the end. Some markets are very tight, and you might get into a bidding war. Don’t let the thrill of winning the war push you over your budget. And whatever you do, make the offer contingent on an inspection. Read on.

6. Get an inspection

Unless you’re a contractor, you probably aren’t trained to look at the house in the same way an inspector is. That odd bulge in the floor could be nothing, or it could mean problems that will end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars to fix. The inspector (your agent will know at least one) will go over the house and hopefully spot all the little defects you missed.

At this point, you may be emotionally invested in the place, but keep your logical side engaged. Be willing to back out if there are too many red flags. It’s tough to pull back when you’re this close to the end, but it’s important to be open to it. And, if you have to make that call, at least you won’t have to start over from step one.

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Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

info@JonMahoney.com

www.JonMahoney.com

Best Home Improvements That Can Increase The Value of Your Home

Best Home Improvements

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Looking to buy or sell a luxury estate, home, condominium or investment property?

Let me help you find everything you need to know about buying or selling a home. Call or email me today!

—————————————————-

Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

info@JonMahoney.com

www.JonMahoney.com

 

5 Safety Tips When Decorating the Exterior for the Holidays

Santa-Barbara-Cool-Beast-and-Biggest-Outdoor-Christmas-Lights-at-House-Decorating It’s that time of year where home owners are busy decorating their exteriors with holiday lights and making them for festival for the holidays. Many landscape and lawn care companies support their clients year-round by providing holiday lighting in the winter. There are many safety concerns that home owners should take into consideration when putting up their own holiday lights, such as:

1. Inspect the lights and wires.

Inspect all lights, decorations and extension cords before using. Wires can become brittle.Throw lights away if there is exposed copper or broken sockets.

2. Don’t overload circuits and watch for electrical concerns.

Avoid connecting five or more strands end to end, otherwise the circuit can be overloaded. However, for many LEDs you can add more than five strands. Also, do not pull the strands too tight so they can reach an outlet. Other electrical concerns to watch for:

  • Tears in the wiring surface could result in electrocution.
  • When creating a lighting configuration on a lawn, make sure to keep connections out of depressions that could collect ground water.
  • Be sure to tape down extension cords if they cross walkways.

3. Read the labels carefully for outdoor use.

LED lights re more energy efficient and require less wattage than incandescent bulbs. But make sure the lights and extension cords are rated for indoor and outdoor use or specifically for outdoor use. Outdoor lights should be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs.). Also, don’t replace light bulbs without unplugging the light strand or decoration.

4. Take caution on rooftops or elevated areas.

Ladders should be inspected – look for lose or missing screws, hinges, bolts and nuts before using and be sure they are stable and in good condition. Be sure to ground the ladder on a solid, even surface with no risk of sliding.

Don’t overreach when on ladders. When stringing lights, climb down and move the ladder often. Also, keep ladders as far as possible from electrical lines. 
Finally, if the roof is too steep or too high, don’t risk scaling it and endangering yourself. Hire a trained landscape professional that has the training to offer unique installation methods and premium quality products with the latest trends in decoration and technology.

5. Remove lights at the end of the holiday season.
Over a period of time, lights exposed to the weather can have damage to the wires, lights, and sockets. Watch for any weather damage before you tow the lights away for next year.

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Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

info@JonMahoney.com

www.JonMahoney.com

Another Happy Seller!

Annelie Russell

Without a doubt, Jon & Natalya are the best Realtors in town! We interviewed a number of other Realtors and they stood out amongst their peers. Jon & Natalya worked their magic and sold our home in 10 days! Their exceptionally knowledgeable, due diligence and hard work ethic comforted us throughout the entire process. They even interviewed a Realtor in the State we planned to move to and helped us find the home of our dreams. Thanks for all of your help. We couldn’t have done it without you.

 

Best Regards

James and Annelie Russell

Reminder: Time To Fall Back This Weekend!

santa barbara real estate fall back

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Looking to buy or sell a luxury estate, home, condominium or investment property?

Let me help you find everything you need to know about buying or selling a home. Call or email me today!

—————————————————-

Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

info@JonMahoney.com

www.JonMahoney.com

Best of Santa Barbara® Readers’ Poll ’14 WINNER!

Award 520x THANKS
to All of my Clients and Friends for your Support and Voting me as having the Best Twitter Feed in Santa Barbara! With over 90% of Buyer’s & Seller’s starting their Real Estate search online, this is indeed an honor.

Column 520x Once again, thanks for all of your support, and if I can help or assist you with any of your real estate needs, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division
Keller Williams, Santa Barbara
1435 Anacapa Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

(805) 689-0532
BRE# 01269717
info@JonMahoney.com
www.JonMahoney.com