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Five Tips For The Best Granite Countertops

The interior design industry has been trying for years to break homeowners’ addiction to granite counters. They’ve introduced stainless, concrete, glass, quartz, wood, marble and other ideas to wean people away, but the alternative surfaces just don’t have the luxury look that granite does.

If you’re getting granite counter tops for the first time, here are five things you need to know:

Choose the right stone. Granite is a general term that describes a type of granular igneous rock formed by cooled magma and indigenous minerals. Depending on where the granite is quarried, it can be stunning with streaks of gray, pink, red, green, blue or gold. The rarity of the vein of granite can drive up the price considerably, as well as the thickness and the type of fabrication you choose.

When you shop for granite, don’t choose from a sample. You’re basically buying the whole slab so that’s how you should shop. Look only at whole slabs, as the fabricators will use as much as possible to match sections and to minimize waste. Sometimes it’s possible to buy two or more slabs from the same lot. They are sliced just like pieces of toast so they can accommodate large kitchens. If they’re put back to back, they form butterfly or mirror images of each other.

The beauty of granite is the movement of color and the pattern of streaks and dapples, so choose wisely. A strong graphic pattern will be highly energizing, while a softer color and pattern will be calming.

Hold the Dumb End of the Tape. Granite is sold by the square foot. You can get an idea of the number of square feet you need by multiplying length by width for each section of the kitchen, such as counter tops, back splash, and an island. Then add the square feet of each section together.

But that’s not all there is to measuring. There’s an edge allowance, seam allowance, sinks and other things to consider. You can tell your salesperson how many square feet you think you’ll need, and he or she can direct you to slabs and lots that are large enough to fulfill your order. Once you choose, the salesperson will “hold” the slab with a deposit, until the fabricator can come out to measure exactly.

Meanwhile, your cabinets should be installed before the fabricator comes out. Most appliances fit under the countertops, but if you’re installing a new sink or cooktop, the fabricator will need those measurements, too. Let the fabricator take the measurements. That way the fit is guaranteed.

Be aware of slab thickness. Not all granite slabs are sliced the same, so expect to pay more for a three-inch thickness than a one-inch thickness. If you choose a thick granite, make sure your cabinets can support that much weight.

Next, you’ll choose an edge that is bullnose, ogee or beveled, or raw-edged. The finish can also change the look of the granite. Polished granite is glossy and reflective. Honed granite is a smooth matte finish. Leather is a textured finish.

Ask for as few seams as possible. If you’re doing a large area like a kitchen, you want to use as few seams as possible so that the flow of the granite pattern and color is less interrupted. A seamless slab in a kitchen looks beautiful and holds more value than seamed pieces because it’s like a work of art. Ask the fabricator if any parts of the job can be done without a seam. Sometimes it’s very possible, depending on the design of your kitchen.

To save money, you can choose granite tiles, which is like a tile, so there will be no seams, but they add little value to your home. You can also order from scraps the dealer may have leftover from other jobs, but they’re only be suitable for small jobs where you don’t have to match another granite, such as a powder bath or laundry.

Granite requires care. Granite is fairly heat-resistant and easy to clean, but you should keep in mind that it’s also porous. It can crack, chip, stain and show scratches.

Don’t put hot pans directly on the surface; use a trivet or hot pad. Use only granite-safe cleansers. Don’t use bleach, ammonia products, scouring pads, or anything acidic such as lemon or vinegar to clean. Don’t use dish soap to clean as it can leave a dulling film on the surface. Spills of wine, juice and tomato sauce should be cleaned up quickly.

Some finishes such as polish act as more of a seal, but you can also purchase granite sealers at your local market. Just wipe it on once a year or so to keep your countertops looking their best.

If you’re wondering whether your countertop needs sealing, spill some clean water or the surface and cover it with a paper towel. If it leaves a stain, it will go away eventually, but you’ll know it’s time for sealant.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

6 Surefire Ways To Get Your House Sold

We’re coming to the end of summer, and that means that families seeking to buy a new home before school starts have likely already done their thing. But that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck if you’re looking to sell. Whether you’re just getting ready to list your home or haven’t had any bites on your existing home for sale, these tips will get it – and you – moving.

Price it right

This is the most obvious, but also the most contentious, tip when it comes to selling a home. Everyone wants top dollar. But rule No. 1 about a house that isn’t selling is to lower the price. (Likewise, listing a house now at an unreasonable price likely won’t get you the sale you’re looking for, especially when kids go back to school and sales naturally slow down.) ABC News has a good piece on how to tell if your home is overpriced, but…if it’s not selling, and your showings are limited, and your real estate agent has already talked to you about this (maybe more than once, including when you first discussed the list price), you probably already know why it’s not selling.

Here’s how to get past the disappointment of having to list your home at a lower price than you want or lower it when it’s sitting on the market: Your ultimate goal is to get the home sold and get on with your life, right? Maybe that means buying a larger home. Perhaps you’re looking to downsize or even move out of state. Whatever your plans, you’re delaying them by letting your home stay on the market.

Every month it doesn’t sell is another month you’re in a holding pattern. And, it means you’re spending more money on carrying costs if you’ve already moved to a new home before your old one has sold. Ultimately, you have to ask yourself what your happiness or peace of mind is worth. Chances are it’s more than the money you’ll miss out on if you sell for less. Once you’ve come to that realization, it should be easier to make a price adjustment.

Choose the right REALTOR®

Another “Duh” statement here. But the reality is that the right agent can make or break your sale. You may be inclined to list your home with a friend who’s just getting into the business or a cousin twice removed due to family pressure, but consider this move carefully. When you’re dealing with hundreds of thousands of dollars, you want to make sure you have someone in your corner who has the knowledge and experience to navigate professionally and successfully through every step of what can be a very complicated process. While your pal or relative may be eager, they might not have the depth of understanding of sales trends to strategize the best listing price, or the negotiation skills to get the deal done. The relationships a seasoned agent has with other industry professionals is also key to a quick and profitable sale.

Paint your front door

We all know the value of curb appeal, so getting your front yard in order is a must-do when listing your home. (If it’s not selling, perhaps a little more sprucing up out front is in order.) But don’t skip your front door while you’re trimming bushes and laying down new mulch. A refreshed (or new, if needed) front door regularly tops the list of improvements providing a good return on investment on the annual Cost vs. Value Report. It’s an easy DIY update, too.

But, before you run off to buy paint, carefully consider the color. Choose wrong and you could turn off buyers. Choose right and you could actually get more for your home.

“When it comes to paint color, homeowners may have reason to go back to black. Houses with front doors in shades of black – from charcoal to jet – fetched $6,271 more than expected when sold, said MarketWatch. “Pops of color are especially important for front doors. It often forms the first impression in a prospective home buyer’s mind and can determine how they will view the rest of the property when touring a home. A door paint in a popular color can help make buyers feel that the property is well cared for.”

Take half the stuff out of your closets

Yes, your overstuffed closet can kill a sale. If a potential buyer feels like they won’t have enough space for their stuff, they won’t be a potential buyer for long.

Put your personal stuff – and your personal taste – away

“Pack up those personal photographs and family heirlooms. You’ll have to do it eventually anyway when you move, and buyers tend to have a hard time seeing past personal effects. You don’t want your potential buyers to be distracted. You want them to be able to imagine their own photos on the walls, and they can’t do that if yours are there,” said The Balance. “This goes for furniture items, too, painful as that might be. Not everyone will share your taste, so if you have your bright red sofa screams, “I’m unique!” you might want to remove it for the time being. Try to stick with your more understated pieces.”

Keep your emotions out of it

Selling your home can be an emotional experience, especially if it was your first home or it’s otherwise filled with memories. But emotions can get in the way of a home sale, and waylay your objective, which is to move up or move on.

“Once you decide to sell your home, it can be helpful to start thinking of yourself as a businessperson and a home seller, rather than as the home’s owner,” said Investopedia. “By looking at the transaction from a purely financial perspective, you’ll distance yourself from the emotional aspects of selling the property that you’ve undoubtedly created many memories in. Also, try to remember how you felt when you were shopping for that home. Most buyers will also be in an emotional state. If you can remember that you are selling not just a piece of property but also an image, a dream and a lifestyle, you’ll be more likely to put in the extra effort of staging and perhaps some minor remodeling to get top dollar for your home. These changes in appearance will not only help the sales price, but they’ll also help you create that emotional distance because the home will look less familiar.”

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

How Pros Choose A Fix-And-Flip Property

How To Flip homes For Profit

  • Shoot for 70 percent of the after-repair value (ARV) minus cost of repairs.
  • Look for homes with good bones (i.e., a solid structure)
  • Choose newer homes for faster, less thorough flips
  • Get all proper permits for repairs or additions
  • When starting out, get a mentor to teach you the ropes

If you’re looking to invest in real estate, one way is with a rehab project, also known as a fix and flip. The process entails buying a fixer-upper, remodeling and/or renovating it and then selling it at a profit. With home prices rising across the country, however, flipping homes can be tricky. It’s important to know what you’re doing when taking on a fix-and-flip project. If you make a mistake, your profitable investment could turn into a costly money pit.

How do you separate the winning properties from the losers? Fix-and-flip investors look at a number of factors to help determine whether a property is a good investment.

After-repair value
One of the most important things that investors searching for properties to flip must consider is the property’s after-repair value, or ARV, according to Nancy Wallace-Laabs, of KBN Homes, LLC.

“Typically, if you’re investing, you want to buy a house that’s 70 percent of the ARV minus the cost of the repairs,” she said.

For example, if you determine a house’s value after you make repairs will be $200,000, and you estimate the repair costs to be $20,000, you shouldn’t pay more than 70 percent of $180,000 (the ARV minus cost of repairs), or $126,000 for the property.

Wallace-Laabs said she evaluates each property she comes across and asks herself whether it’s better suited as a rehab project or a buy-and-hold (that is, a rental property). “On flipping, you really need to analyze and know your formula to know how much money are you going to make on that property?” she said.

Lucas Machado, president of house-flipping company House Heroes LLC in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, near Miami, agrees that the flipping game is all about the numbers.

“What do you think the thing is going to be worth once you’re done fixing it up?” he asked. “What are you paying for it right now? What are you paying to buy it, and how much is it going to cost to get it to being worth that? It’s really about nailing those numbers.”

It’s important to analyze comparable sales in the area to get a good idea how much the property could sell for, he said. You need to make sure you’re comparing “apples to apples,” he added: If a property in the area sold for $300,000, but it had a pool and your property doesn’t, for example, the two properties aren’t comparable and you can’t expect to sell yours for that much money.

“Good bones”

Doug DeShields, president of the National Real Estate Investors Association, and an active rehabber himself, said he typically looks for homes that were built between 1950 and 1975.

“They have good bones, good structure,” he said. “They’re typically brick and we can tend to do well in those houses.”

Part of knowing whether a house has “good bones” or not is having some familiarity with what it takes to make necessary repairs, according to DeShields.

“You do not have to be the world’s best carpenter,” he said. “You don’t have to swing the hammer one time. But what you need to do is have a good feel for the various aspects. You need to know a little bit about construction, whether you can physically do it or not. You need to know what makes a good property.”

Thorough inspections
On the other hand, if you’re looking to do a less extensive flip, you should look beyond a property’s “good bones,” according to Travis Moore, owner of Fargo Home Solutions.

Moore said he sometimes prefers less extensive flips — the carpet-and-paint-fix-ups, as he called them — that require less expensive remodeling. According to Moore, for that style of flip, the age of the house can make a huge difference.

“If I’m doing a project like that, I really like to stick to homes that are built in 2000 and after, because you’re not going to find as many surprises,” he said. “When you get into older homes, you may think it looks OK — it’s got good bones, it’s got good structure — so this is probably a good candidate for just kind of cleaning it up. (But) on older homes, expect to have a few surprises.”

To get it right on older homes, according to Moore, it’s important to do a thorough inspection.

“Before you purchase it, really do a deep dive inspection on it … really beyond just looking at what’s visible,” he said. “Any home that old that I’m considering a lighter renovation, I really dig deep into its condition for everything, (such as) plumbing and electrical.”

Proper permits
When you buy a property, know that not every addition or feature may be permitted — and if that’s the case, it could cost you. Flippers should be cognizant of the permitting requirements for their specific location, according to Wallace-Laabs.

“If you end up doing work on a property and then (are) trying to sell it on the retail market … you have to provide proof that you pulled permits on that work,” she said.

This is not a requirement that investors should try to skirt, because it could end up costing a lot of money, she said. Wallace-Laabs mentioned that she knows an investor who bought a house and didn’t do proper due diligence before finalizing the purchase. It turned out that a previous addition to the property had never been properly permitted.

“So now my investor friends have to tear out all the sheetrock so the city can inspect the plumbing, behind the walls, the electrical, and even (check) that they put in the right size of window to call it a bedroom,” she said. “So instead of them thinking it was going to cost them $30,000 to fix this house, now it’s going to cost them $60,000.”

Get a mentor
Then, there are the big things you should look for when evaluating a fix-and-flip property — avoid foundation issues or termites for example, but there’s only so much a newbie can know. That’s why every fix-and-flip expert we spoke to recommended turning to an experienced mentor for help.

The investment advisers at Position Realty can help you with finding the perfect investment property (we have a list of wholesale properties), help you analysis the property to make sure it’s a profitable investment and help you inspect the property for issue you may over look. Give us a call today!

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Phoenix Real Estate Market Report ~ July 2018

The number of new listing in the month July 2018 is 9,088 listings (down 1,149 from last month) where we saw a similar drop off in July 2017 which is the month just before kids go back to school. The overall number of active listings as compared to the total number in July 2017 of 19,874 listing is similar to the total number of listings this year at 19,834 listings which is only a difference of -40 listings. In the past months this difference has been a lot wider where the number of new listings coming on the market is helping with the lack of active listings on the market. As for the number of sold transactions, we had fewer transactions in July 2017 of 8,024 transactions than in July 2018 at 8,547 transactions which is only a difference of 523 transactions. This is good news which shows the market is continuing to follow its normal cyclical ups and downs.

The Phoenix Housing Market ended 2017 with an overall annual appreciation rate of approximately +9.0%. If inventory remain low throughout 2018 and a strong demand for housing continues we can expect the market to continue to appreciation above the national average. Historically, real estate prices don’t start to increase until March as the buying season begins ands starts to slow down in August once kids go back to school which we are starting to see signs in July. In July 2018 there was a slight drop in the average sold price from $333,396 in June 2018 to $320,710 in July 2018 which is a decrease of -3.8%. We experienced a similar drop in the average sold price from June 2017 to July 2017 of -2.6% which indicates this is normal for the market unless we continue to experience price decreases in the following months. Since August 2017 (12 months ago), the average days on market has decreased approximately -10.4% (down from last month) and the number of sold transaction has increased approximately +3.4% (down from last month).

Since January 2018 we have seen four sharp trends: The average days on market have decreased -20.0%, the number of sold transactions has increased +37.6%, months of inventory have decreased -46.9% and number of new listing has decreased -14.2%. Should this trend continue throughout 2018 we can expect another year of appreciation above the national average in the Phoenix real estate market. Historically, 19,834 homes for sale represent the lowest number of homes this market has seen for over a decade. This low number of homes for sale indicates we are in a seller’s market (low supply and increased demand). Property owners are not putting their homes on the market because they are holding off to accumulate additional equity from the market. Hopefully, this roller coaster will come to a slow end instead of everyone wanting to put their homes on the market at the same time.

Real estate prices will continue to increase and interest rates are planned to increase in 2018 so if you are thinking about buying a home this year will be the time to buy before you get priced out of the market. Give us a call to discuss your best buying or selling strategy, TODAY!!

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