My Blog Blog posts for My Blog http://wnjhomes.com/site/227619 Tue, 18 Dec 2018 15:42:40 +0100 FeedCreator 1.7.2 Effects of New Tax Law http://wnjhomes.com/site/227619?post_id=6347988 <p>Posted by William Norton Johnson on Jan 19, 2018</p><p>Well we have a new year and a new tax law. From what I here there will be pluses and minuses for Californai real estate.</p> <p>As I high tax state and the new limit of mortgage interest deduction capped at $750,000 some experts are predicting home appreaciation to be held somewhere between one and two percent.</p> <p>Commercial Real Estate, on the other hand, will reportedly reap the benefits of REITs being considered as "pass through" business taxed at a lower rate.</p> <p>I keep hearing that there will be morre to come as the IRS firms up the regulations.</p> <p>A reminder, I am not giving tax advise. Please consult a licensed professional in the field.</p><p></p> William Norton Johnson http://wnjhomes.com/site/227619?post_id=6347988 Marin Mid Year Market http://wnjhomes.com/site/227619?post_id=6309848 <p>Posted by William Norton Johnson on Aug 5, 2017</p><p>As we drift into the dog days of summer the Marin Real Estate Market remains hampered by the lack of inventory. As of August one the number of available listings is on par with last year which was the worst in 10 years while average home prices continue to rise. The market should be relatively quiet until after Labor Day as people wind up their summer vacations and get ready for the new school year. Historically the market gets more active after Labor Day through the end of October.I advise my clients who are thinking of selling in August to wait until after Labor Day if possible when there will be more active buyers in the market.</p><p></p> William Norton Johnson http://wnjhomes.com/site/227619?post_id=6309848 Top Ten List to Sell Your Home http://wnjhomes.com/site/227619?post_id=6207149 <p>Posted by William Norton Johnson on Jan 19, 2017</p><p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://blog.blueroof360.com/images/decorating-small-living-rooms2.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Spring in Marin County is just around the corner and the real estate market, along with the temperature outside, is going to be heating up. If you are planning on selling your home this spring, we&rsquo;re going to outline some steps you can take to be successful.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Here are top ten tips to lure more buyers in and sell your home at the highest price possible:</p> <ol start="1"> <li><strong>Hire a Real Estate professional.</strong>&nbsp;If you need to sell your home fast, you need a professional that knows exactly how to do that. A Real Estate agent can help you assess what your home and your listing needs to stand out on the market.</li> <li><strong>Price it right from the start.&nbsp;</strong>Sellers often think that they should start the asking price high and then lower it later if the house fails to sell. But that can result in a slower sale and sometimes even at a lower price. Hiring an full-time real estate professional will help you price your home accordingly and get you the most money for your house.</li> <li><strong>Enhance your home&rsquo;s curb appeal.</strong>&nbsp;This could mean planting some flowers, adding new sod, or painting the front door. You only get one chance at a first impression so make sure that when a potential buyer pulls up to your home, the first impression is a lasting one.&nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Update the interior and exterior.</strong>&nbsp;There are a couple easy and cheap ways you can tidy up the exterior and interior of your home. Replacing fixtures and a coat of fresh paint will do the trick.</li> <li><strong>Clean and declutter your home.</strong>&nbsp;The fewer things there are in the home will make it appear larger. Remove excess furniture and family knickknacks. Religious or political posters or items should also be removed. You want the buyer to be able to envision their furniture and decorations in the home and taking these small steps will help them do that.</li> <li><strong>Stage your home.</strong>&nbsp;Homes that are professionally staged sell faster and for more money than homes that are not. Arrange furniture in a way that promotes a good flow when showing the home. A professional stager can be a great resource to help sell your home quickly.</li> <li><strong>Make the property easy to show.</strong>&nbsp;The more flexible you are about visits and showing the home, the more people will be able to see your home. Be ready for potential buyers early in the morning, at night, or on weekends.</li> <li><strong>Remove your pets.</strong>&nbsp;Also remove any pet-related items like dog dishes and cat litter boxes. A potential buyer shouldn&rsquo;t know that a pets lives in the home.</li> <li><strong>Make sure your home will be listed on all major online portals.</strong>&nbsp;Make sure your home is going to show up on Zillow, Trulia,&nbsp;realtor.com, Facebook, and your agent's website. This is a part of our service to you as your real estate professional.</li> <li><strong>Make sure the listing has good, professional photos.</strong>&nbsp;Most home buyers start their search online and decide which homes they want to go see based on the photos of the homes. This is your chance to showcase your home with good quality photos</li> </ol><p>Originally authored by Ashley Smith on Jan 18, 2017</p> William Norton Johnson http://wnjhomes.com/site/227619?post_id=6207149 Foreclosure - What You Need to Know http://wnjhomes.com/site/227619?post_id=6170147 <p>Posted by William Norton Johnson on Nov 15, 2016</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img src="https://blog.blueroof360.com/images/a-foreclosure-direction-sign.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The current state of the economy rebounded from the recession in most parts of the country, but there are still plenty of foreclosure homes that come on the market. Many home buyers are taking advantage of the extremely low cost of a foreclosed home. A foreclosure occurs when a property owner fails to make the payments on his or her loan which leads to the property being seized and sold. There are generally two options when buying a foreclosed home. You can either purchase the home from the lender/bank, or you can purchase the home from a foreclosure auction or sale. Because the process is very different for each, this article will specifically focus on bank foreclosures.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Listings of foreclosures can be obtained from most banks but we suggest that you contact us to get the most updated list and I can keep you in the loop on foreclosures as they come on the market. Some agents and brokers who specialize in foreclosures may also assist you in finding foreclosed property for sale. Consider the following tips when looking at a foreclosed home:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>Inspect the house very carefully. Many foreclosed homes have previous homeowners who did not maintain upkeep on the home or the landscape. In many cases, foreclosed home can come from investment properties that have had renters in the property who have not taken care of the house. Sometimes the repairs are minor, but take into account any unexpected repairs when budgeting. You may want to contract a private inspection to give you a better indication of the cost of repairs.</li> <li>Evaluate the neighborhood. Knock on your potential neighbors' doors to ask them how they like the neighborhood. Research the crime rate in the area as well.</li> <li>Have an agent find the prices of comparable homes in the area to ensure you are actually getting a good deal.</li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Once you have found a foreclosed property you are considering buying, go to the County Recorder's Office. The County Recorder's Office can provide you with the&nbsp;<strong>Trust Deed</strong>, the&nbsp;<strong>Notice of Foreclosure Sale</strong>, and the&nbsp;<strong>Notice of Default</strong>&nbsp;on the property. These documents are public record and reflect how much was originally loaned to the homeowner, when the loan was issued, how much was owed at the time the&nbsp;<strong>Notice of Default</strong>&nbsp;was filed, and how much the bank paid for the property. Since there are usually no concrete rules banks follow that determine their bottom-line price, these documents will help you explore the lowest possible price the bank is willing to sell the home for.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Foreclosed homes are often offered at a significant discount at upwards of 30% or more, so if you are in the market for a bargain, a bank foreclosure may be a great option for you but do you due diligence before making the purchase and let us help you find the right one foreclosure for you.</p><p>Originally authored by Ashley Smith on Nov 2, 2016</p> William Norton Johnson http://wnjhomes.com/site/227619?post_id=6170147 Your House Siding Guide http://wnjhomes.com/site/227619?post_id=6085812 <p>Posted by William Norton Johnson on Aug 11, 2016</p><p>The exterior siding of your home protects it from the sun, wind, rain, and snow. It needs to be durable and strong, but it is also important for the exterior of your home to look good and contribute to your home&rsquo;s overall appearance and value. There are a number of house siding options to consider when buying or building a home that fit all kinds of budgets. Here is a guide to the most popular siding options and their advantages and disadvantages:</p> <p><br /><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Horizontal Lap Siding</strong></span></p> <p><br />Horizontal lap siding can be made from wood, aluminum, vinyl, or fiber cement and can be finished in essentially any color you choose; however, vinyl is usually the most popular and cost-efficient. Horizontal lap siding fits well with colonial-style, traditional-style, and symmetrical homes. Because the standard panels are 12 feet long, sometimes the ends need to be overlapped, which creates noticeable seams. The cost for this siding can vary. Vinyl will generally be your cheapest option at around $3 to $5 per square foot. Fiber cement, which has recently become popular, can cost around $7 per square foot. The color of the finish will also likely influence the cost.</p> <p><br /><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Board and Batten</strong></span></p> <p><br />Board and batten is available in wood and fiber cement. Inspired by and originally used on barns and farm buildings. Board and batten is installed vertically, making your home seem taller. The cost of board and batten is similar to horizontal lap siding in the same material.</p> <p><br /><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Wood Siding</strong></span></p> <p><br />Wood siding can be installed as flat, horizontal siding in a tongue-and-groove configuration, as shingles, or as horizontal lap siding. Wood has a natural charm. However, wood takes dedicated maintenance. The cost varies depending on the type of wood used and how well it is maintained. A complete refinishing job is approximately $2,000 to $5,000.</p> <p><br /><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Stucco</strong></span></p> <p><br />Stucco is available in natural or synthetic form and is generally used on exteriors with large surfaces and simple lines. It is extremely durable. Stucco is used with various types of homes, but it is closely associated with the Southwestern Spanish colonial style. Natural stucco allows air and moisture to pass through it, but synthetic stucco does not. Therefore, if you use synthetic stucco, you need to have a good vapor barrier or drainage plane installed to avoid moisture build-up inside the wall. The cost of stucco is approximately $9 per square foot.</p> <p><br /><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Brick</strong></span></p> <p><br />Brick is one of the most durable and low-maintenance siding options. It&rsquo;s available in many sizes, textures, and colors. It can be stacked in a variety of patterns. Because of brick&rsquo;s durability and low maintenance, it costs around $17 to $20 per square foot.</p> <p><br /><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Stone</strong></span></p> <p><br />Stone is also durable and low maintenance. It&rsquo;s adaptable to almost any aesthetic, adding texture and visual interest to the exterior of your home. The cost of stone is about $35 to $50 per square foot.</p> <p><br /><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Metal</strong></span></p> <p><br />While many people don&rsquo;t consider using metal as siding, if your home has a contemporary or modern aesthetic, metal, such as corrugated steel or copper, can be an excellent choice. You will want to research what is available in your area for this option because it takes a skilled craftsman to install metal siding.</p><p>Originally authored by Ashley Smith on Aug 10, 2016</p> William Norton Johnson http://wnjhomes.com/site/227619?post_id=6085812 Perks of a Homeowners Association http://wnjhomes.com/site/227619?post_id=6028938 <p>Posted by William Norton Johnson on Jun 30, 2016</p><p>Some potential homebuyers turn away from neighborhoods with homeowners associations, but HOAs can offer homeowners a lot of benefits. The number of HOA communities in Marin and Sonoma has increased over the past decade because more homeowners and neighborhoods are realizing there are perks to having a homeowners association. Here are five reasons you should consider living in a community with an HOA:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Maintenance of Property Values</span></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Anyone who has ever lived next to a neighbor who neglected their yard or painted their home an unappealing color knows the feeling of being concerned that a neighbor&rsquo;s actions can affect their own property value. With an HOA, limitations are built into homeowner agreements that benefit the community&rsquo;s overall appearance and property values. Residents are held accountable for their contribution to the community&rsquo;s overall property values.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Amenities and Services</span></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Some HOA communities have community parks, pools, community centers, exercise facilities, walking trails, tennis courts, or other amenities that are included with the HOA membership. Some homeowners associations cover gutter care, lawn care, waste removal, road and sidewalk maintenance, snow removal, or other services that help you maintain your yard. Some HOAs even have pet restrictions depending on your preference.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Sense of Community</span></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>HOAs promote a high level of civic involvement. In general, HOA boards are determined by nominations and elections. Many HOAs hold annual community gatherings. Community activities can bring neighbors closer together and help them develop a sense of community pride.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Safety</span></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Some HOAs facilitate neighborhood watch programs, place gates around the community, hire security personnel to monitor the neighborhood, and offer a general sense of heightened security to its members.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Mediation for Neighborhood Disputes</span></strong></p> <p>Part of an HOAs purpose is to mediate disputes among neighbors. If your neighbor&rsquo;s dog won&rsquo;t stop barking, if your neighbor leaves his trash can in front of your driveway all week, if you have a neighbor who likes loud parties, etc., the HOA will address the problem saving you the awkward conversation. However, because of the rules put in place by an HOA, you likely won&rsquo;t have many problems in the first place.&nbsp;</p><p>Originally authored by Ashley Smith on Jun 29, 2016</p> William Norton Johnson http://wnjhomes.com/site/227619?post_id=6028938 Hardwood vs. Laminate http://wnjhomes.com/site/227619?post_id=5954761 <p>Posted by William Norton Johnson on May 6, 2016</p><p>Hardwood flooring is at the top of many homebuyers&rsquo; lists. However, laminate flooring is increasing in popularity in Marin County as a hardwood alternative. Hardwood flooring is made from wood planks, which can be purchase unfinished or prefinished. Laminate flooring is a multi-layer synthetic flooring designed to imitate the appearance of real wood. The core layer is usually manufactured from melamine resin and fiber board material. The top layer has an imprinted image to imitate real wood texture. Generally, patterns on laminate flooring are repeated every five boards, on average.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While there are advantages and disadvantages to both, it is important to know how each option fits your personal preferences.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p align="center"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Appearance</span></strong></p> <p align="center">&nbsp;</p> <p>Hardwood flooring has a more natural wood appearance than laminate flooring. However, high-quality laminate may also have the appearance of real wood, but lower quality laminate may have an artificial-looking wood grain texture.</p> <p align="center">&nbsp;</p> <p align="center"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Cost</span></strong></p> <p align="center">&nbsp;</p> <p>Hardwood flooring costs more to buy and install than laminate flooring. Laminate materials are cheaper, and the cost of installation is, on average, fifty percent less than the installation of hardwood.</p> <p align="center">&nbsp;</p> <p align="center"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Durability</span></strong></p> <p align="center">&nbsp;</p> <p>The durability of hardwood flooring may vary depending on the finish and manufacturing process. Natural wood may dent more easily. Solid or engineered hardwood flooring can be refinished or repaired easily. Overall, hardwood is more susceptible to scratching than laminate flooring. In addition, hardwood can be damaged from moisture.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Because laminate is made from pressed wood, it is more durable and resists scratches, moisture, and wear better than hardwood. Laminate can also be installed anywhere in the home, including bathrooms since it is resistant to moisture and humidity. However, laminate flooring cannot be spot-repaired. One scratched or chipped, laminate flooring will show the damage.</p> <p><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">&nbsp;</span></strong></p> <p align="center"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Maintenance, Repair, and Refinishing</span></strong></p> <p align="center">&nbsp;</p> <p>Laminate flooring is easier to clean than hardwood flooring. Hardwood floors should be cleaned using hardwood flooring cleaners to preserve the finish.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hardwood flooring can be repaired by sanding and refinishing, but laminate cannot be spot-repaired. Laminate flooring is not easy to repair. While you may be able to replace individual planks, it may be difficult to find individual boards that match properly.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On average, laminate flooring should be repaired approximately every twenty years while hardwood flooring can last between forty and eighty years if well-maintained.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p align="center"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Environmental Friendliness</span></strong></p> <p align="center">&nbsp;</p> <p>Solid and engineered hardwood can be disposed of or recycled without damage to the environment. Solid hardwood flooring is 100% organic. Engineered hardwood is mostly organic. Laminate flooring, on the other hand, is not always environmentally friendly. During manufacturing of laminate, large volumes of glue are used to bond together composite material. Contents of these glues are sometimes questionable and may contain harmful materials. There are, however, high quality non-toxic laminate floors on the market. Carefully research the manufacturer to ensure you are buying high-quality eco-friendly product.</p><p>Originally authored by Ashley Smith on May 5, 2016</p> William Norton Johnson http://wnjhomes.com/site/227619?post_id=5954761 Most Frequently Asked Home Buyer Questions http://wnjhomes.com/site/227619?post_id=5886770 <p>Posted by William Norton Johnson on Mar 24, 2016</p><div><strong>1. Why do I need to talk to a bank before starting to look for homes?</strong></div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Talking to a bank will help you determine how much you can afford. If you are a first-time homebuyer, there may be programs your bank knows about that are applicable to your personal situation. Also, there are additional costs associated with purchasing a home that your bank can help bring to light to ensure that you are fully aware of the financial decision you are making. Also, a mortgage professional will help you find the best interest rate that you can get based on your financial history and credit score.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>2. Why do I need a Real Estate agent to help me buy a home? Can&rsquo;t I just work directly with the seller or seller agent?</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Getting a Real Estate agent will be one of the best financial decisions you might make when buying a home, yet most of the time, you don&rsquo;t even have to personally pay the agent. Your agent&rsquo;s fee will likely come from the seller and/or the listing agent. Your agent will help you through every aspect of the buying process. An agent will find out your preferences and requirements and find homes that you might not otherwise have access to and give you advice based on the current market and local area. Agents help with the negotiation process. An agent advocates for your best interests. They help with the vast amount of paperwork and make sure you understand every step of the transaction. A Real Estate agent likely knows the industry better than you do and will be someone you can trust to help you with one of the biggest decisions of your life.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>3. What kind of credit score do I need to purchase a home?</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In most cases, you will need at least a 620 credit score or higher to get the best interest rate. The higher your credit score, the better your lending terms will be. There are some lenders who will approve home buyers with a score of 600 or less, but most likely, the interest rate would be higher than it would with a higher credit score.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>4. How much money do I need for a down payment?</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For an FHA loan, you usually need between three and five percent. For other conventional loans, ten to twenty percent is recommended or required.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>5. What are the costs outside the loan and the down payment?</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Many home buyers miscalculate the costs of purchasing a new home. In addition to the down payment, there are generally closing costs associated with a home purchase. You also need to consider the costs of taxes, homeowners association fees, home inspection costs, utilities, homeowners insurance, and any repair or maintenance fees. Always be prepared to make some repairs to the home, whether it&rsquo;s new or old. Have approximately three months of living expenses saved up in addition to the down payment and closing costs for an emergency repair fund. Always know beforehand the costs of utilities and taxes, so there are no surprises.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><p>Originally authored by Ashley Smith on Mar 23, 2016</p> William Norton Johnson http://wnjhomes.com/site/227619?post_id=5886770 Real Estate Agent Red Flags http://wnjhomes.com/site/227619?post_id=5817314 <p>Posted by William Norton Johnson on Feb 9, 2016</p><p>When buying or selling a house, choosing the right Real Estate agent is essential. And choosing the <em>wrong</em> Real Estate agent can be a disaster. Here are five red flags to watch out for when choosing your Real Estate agent:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <ol> <li><strong>The agent is hard to reach, shows up late for appointments, or doesn&rsquo;t show up at all.</strong> The first sign that your Real Estate agent is likely unreliable and doesn&rsquo;t have your best interest in mind is that he doesn&rsquo;t return calls or emails, shows up late of showings, misses appointments, and doesn&rsquo;t make you a priority. While Real Estate agents are indeed busy, failing to keep commitments and being unreliable is a big red flag.</li> <li><strong>The agent is your relative.</strong> This is a touchy subject. However, many home transactions have turned good familial relationships very sour. If you have a relative that is a full-time agent who specializes in your area, it could work out. But if anything does not go as initially planned, resentment can build, or even worse, your transaction can completely fail. Hire a Real Estate agent who is an expert in your area and maintain the peace during the holidays.</li> <li><strong>The agent is not familiar with your local market.</strong> Whether you are buying or selling a home, having an agent who is an expert in the local market is important. Real Estate is a local business, and you need an agent who is familiar with your area.</li> <li><strong>The agent is not detail-oriented.</strong> If you&rsquo;re a buyer, you need an agent who will be able to keep track of all your information, your preferences, the homes you want to see or the ones you&rsquo;ve already seen. The agent needs to make sure there are no liens on the home and a good agent knows that things to look for that might cause you grief down the road. If you&rsquo;re a seller, you want an agent who is going to know all the details about your home and what you want in a buyer, and a good agent will do what she can to make sure the sale goes through. A detail-oriented agent is familiar with all the paperwork and the contracts involved in a transaction and will ensure all bases are covered.</li> <li><strong>The agent&rsquo;s current online listings have poor quality photos.</strong> The best agents know that most home searches start online and that many first impressions are made with photos on online listings. If the photos are bad quality, are hard to see, or if the home looks messy in the photos, find another agent. If the agent does not take the photos herself, she will at least make sure the ones she posts are good quality and show her listings in the best light possible.</li> </ol><p>Originally authored by Ashley Smith on Feb 8, 2016</p> William Norton Johnson http://wnjhomes.com/site/227619?post_id=5817314 Tips to Save on a New Construction Home http://wnjhomes.com/site/227619?post_id=5797284 <p>Posted by William Norton Johnson on Jan 30, 2016</p><p>When thinking of building a new construction home, follow these five tips to ensure you get the most out of your money.</p> <p align="center">&nbsp;</p> <ol> <li><strong>Get a Real Estate Agent.</strong> A lot of people overlook this helpful tip and try to represent themselves in the building process. However, builder contracts and the building process can be more complicated than buyers generally anticipate. Also, some buyers believe that if they don&rsquo;t use an agent, the buyer will reduce the price of the home by the amount of the commission. However, in most cases, this isn&rsquo;t true. An agent who specializes in new construction and the area in which you want to build can be invaluable. In addition, builders&rsquo; model homes and offices represent the builders&rsquo; interests because they are staffed by the builder. Buyers need also need someone to represent their interests that is not affiliated with the builder.</li> <li><strong>Buy during the winter holidays.</strong> Very few people buy homes during this time of year, so there is less competition. While inventory may not be high, it may be a great time to get a bargain.</li> <li><strong>Remember that a model home is the very best version of the home.</strong> The model home may not be a good representation of what you will get. The builder generally hopes you will like the upgrades in a model home and pay extra for them yourself. When touring the model home, ask what options are standard and what additional options cost.</li> <li><strong>Do your research.</strong> Always research your builder and their reputation. Search for online reviews and testimonials. Talk to other homeowners and visit other communities the builder has built in. Ask your agent if they know anything about the builder&rsquo;s reputation.</li> <li><strong>Get an inspection.</strong> A home inspection isn&rsquo;t only necessary for previously built homes. Get the inspection before the drywall has been installed. This will allow you to see any mistakes that have been made during construction, uneven walls, electrical or cable outlets in the wrong location, etc.</li> </ol> <p>&nbsp;</p><p>Originally authored by Ashley Smith on Jan 29, 2016</p> William Norton Johnson http://wnjhomes.com/site/227619?post_id=5797284