Selling Your Mason Home: Strategic Planning Helps

Selling your Mason home is never something you do on a whim. There can be rare situations when the decision to sell is a sudden one that’s forced by unexpected life circumstances (favorable or not)—but selling your Mason home is not likely to be the result of some sudden impulse.

Since that’s the case, it follows that most of us will have been aware for some time that we will be selling sooner or later. That gives us some leeway for improving the ultimate results we can expect when an eventual sale takes place. Thinking about that, and acting upon it, constitutes a strategic advantage.

The tactics for selling your Mason home will vary when the day comes, depending on market conditions, what comparable properties are the most sought-after at the time, etc. Such factors are somewhat unpredictable. But tactics and strategy are different. Strategy can start anytime. It can start right now!

Here’s an example I came across in an old blog post. Instead of discussing selling your Mason home, it dealt with the kind of decision investors make when they are rehabilitating investment properties they intend to rent out. Landlords know there are good tenants and bad tenants, so their best strategy is to develop a property that will retain maximum value in either case. An example is a decision they sometimes have to make when they’ve acquired a home that calls for some rehabbing: should they install carpeting or hardwood flooring?

Most experienced investors tend to go with the hardwood. Not only does it stand up better when it comes to regular wear and tear—it also signals quality to most people. That is also true for carpeting when it’s newly installed, but over time, the effect is lost. A scratched hardwood floor can be refinished, but worn carpeting is a start-over situation. It’s a strategic choice.

When the day arrives when selling your Mason home becomes reality, if you have been making similar long-term strategic decisions all along, the results will be rewarding. Preparing for sale will not only require much less effort and expense—it has every likelihood of returning the results every seller hopes for.

Whether selling your own Mason home is an immediate or distant prospect, you are always invited to give me a call to discuss any of your own ideas and questions when it comes to any and all Mason real estate matters. I’ll be standing by!

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Top 3 Ways Homes in Portland Can Save on Insurance

For most area homeowners, the 110-decibel wail of nearby fire engines may not be a sought-after feature when selecting the ideal neighborhood. Nonetheless, according to The Wall Street Journal, living close to firehouse has its advantages. Safety is one. A reduction in your homeowner’s insurance bill, another.

Not all homes in Portland can have the advantage of being next door to a firehouse, but just about everybody knows that having the proper insurance is important to protect not only the structure itself but also the valuables within. Here are three possible actions you could take this month, any or all of which might reduce the cost of your homeowner’s insurance premium:

Shop Around – We are much more likely to spend our time “liking” dancing cat photos on social media annually than in planning advanced insurance plan strategies. Nonetheless, a visit to the website of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners can help identify important nuances when selecting a vendor. Example: review complaints.

Reduce Coverages – Most people insure their homes for the full amount they paid at the time of purchase. If you bought your home in Portland for $450k, you automatically insured it for that amount. But in the event of a loss event like a fire, you don’t necessarily need the full purchase price to rebuild the property—remember, that purchase price included the cost of the land. This idea should be weighed realistically against today’s costs. Take care not to go light on the replacement cost of your belongings (many folks do). A new inventory can help in that department.

Just Ask! – While discounts vary with each insurer, the following details might qualify your home in Portland for a discount if you just go ahead and inquire:

  • Multi-policies with the same company.
  • Length of time with the same company.
  • A smoke detector or sprinkler system.
  • An alarm system, deadbolt locks, or other security measures.
  • You have not made a claim in recent history.
  • Your household doesn’t include smokers.
  • You qualify for a senior discount.
  • Your credit score has improved.

While not all of us are willing to move next door to a firehouse to save on our home insurance, there are multiple ways to whittle down policy premiums. I’m here as a resource for your Portland property-related questions anytime: just give me a call!

Triggers that Send Buyers after Homes for Sale in Okemos

What are the most common changes in circumstances that send buyers out looking for homes for sale? What are the events that trigger typical prospects to comb through the Okemos listings, contact Okemos Realtors®, set out on house tours—and ultimately make the offer that results in the move to a new home?

The answer to that question may be different for everyone, but some in-depth research has come up with interesting similarities among groups of active homebuyers. It matches a conclusion that also conforms with common sense: namely, that the motivating events (or “triggers”) sometimes vary by age group. In other words, when we humans reach similar milestones in life, we often make the same housing decisions—even though the reasons for a couple of them may be mysterious.

I came across the details buried in a report put out this past spring by economist Lawrence Guo in Realtor magazine. The top line of the piece—the part that got the most attention—dealt with the homeownership goals of active home shoppers. “Privacy” was the leading goal; “physical comfort” was second; “stability,” third. Of the styles of homes for sale, “ranch homes” were the most sought-after; the kitchen was considered the most important room, etc. None of these findings were at all mysterious or unexpected.

But when it came to revealing the impetus for a move in the first place—the life event or changed condition that set people checking out the current crop of homes for sale—a few could definitely be tied to the age group of the prospects. Since more than 20 triggering events were identified—each broken down into five different age groups—the resulting graphic was so complicated that most readers’ eyes probably glazed over before many conclusions could be drawn. Most of the findings were unremarkable—as when youngsters weren’t as likely as oldsters to cite “considering retirement” as a triggering event, or when some events were equally named by all age groups. But some were less predictable:

  • Relocating to a new city: most common among 35-44 year-olds; least among those 55-64.
  • Favorable home prices: most cited by 25-34 year-olds; least (fewer than half of that group) among 35-44 year-olds.
  • Favorable interest rates: most pointed to by 45-54 year-olds; least among the 35-44 year-olds … and equally cited (about 1 in 10) by all the other age groups.
  • Desire to live closer to family/friends: as expected, ‘way more prominently named by the 65+ group.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to ferret out why home prices are most important to the youngest group, but the greater importance of interest rates to the 45-54 group but not the 35-44s? That one will take some thought. Not a surprise is the across-the-board Number One triggering factor among every age group: “tired of current home”!

If you fit in with that extremely common group, right now there are extraordinary values to be had among today’s homes for sale in Okemos. Give me a call to lay out an itinerary for visits to the ones that match up with your own specific wish list requirements!   

Renting or Selling Your Holt Home: Caterpillar or Butterfly?

From our earliest days, everybody in Holt is inundated with tale of transformations. It started with those grade school day trips to science places with exhibits showing the improbable progression of fish (well, pollywogs) into frogs. There were nature TV shows with sped-up motion films demonstrating the unlikely truth that icky caterpillars DO turn into graceful butterflies. In fact, Lansing cable TV is littered with the Discovery Channel and the Science Channel and PBS and the NatGeo Channel—all of which seem to be dedicated into making sure we won’t forget that Nature is full of every day metamorphoses and how ugly ducklings will one day become swans.

We’ve been brainwashed into accepting that transformations are unstoppable.

So it’s only natural that when some Holt homeowners have found themselves a new home, they don’t hesitate to assume it would be no big deal if they decide to change themselves from homeowner into landlord. Since Holt rental rates are projected to keep rising, renting the current house out rather than just selling it surely makes sense. If Nature is any guide, the transformation from homeowner to landlord doesn’t seem like there’s much to think about. Their Holt home has been a good investment, so why not try renting it? It’s a natural progression, isn’t it?

The answer is yes and no. Renting your Holt home can be a terrific move if you are ready to add the landlord’s role to all the other activities that currently fill your day. It starts with making a stream of decisions: Will you allow pets? Chihuahuas? Rottweilers? What will your deposit agreement look like? When will you be available to take repair calls? What happens in emergencies?

Decisions are one thing, but once the rules are set, not everyone is comfortable being the person who has to enforce tough business realities—even if they are perfectly fair. How comfortable will you be about having to insist on inspections now that your house is another family’s home? How often? And if back-to-school time expenses cause your tenant to have trouble scraping up September’s rent, how will you feel when you have to hold them to their obligation?

Pollywogs don’t consider their temperamental disposition before they turn into frogs, but renting—the homeowner-to-landlord transition—is more complicated. Even if the financial equation will allow hiring a professional management company to handle the day-to-day supervisory details, the renting decision—transforming the family homestead into an investment vehicle—can have overtones that aren’t immediately obvious.

I’m here to help you in all your Holt real estate matters—starting with arriving at decisions that let you feel comfortable. I hope you’ll give me a call!

6 Vacation Safety Tips to Keep Lansing Homes Unburgled

An overstuffed curbside mailbox, blazing porch light at noon, or a pile of newspapers out there by your front door all indicate a couple of things Lansing homeowners would do well to avoid. For burglars and housebreakers of all stripes, these are like lighted billboards announcing:

  • This Lansing homeowner is off somewhere enjoying a nice summer vacation; and
  • This afternoon and/or evening, there’s nobody home!

Every Lansing homeowner deserves an extended break now and then—and the July/August weather makes now the ideal time for many—but it’s also high season for break-and-enter artists (or just ‘enter’ artists, since 34% of burglars walk in through the front door). As long as we’re discussing the percentages, the common assumption that break-ins are midnight outings doesn’t hold water. Sixty-five percent of burglaries happen in broad daylight; most between 10am-3pm.

For vacation-bound locals, a few precautionary steps will do much to avoid a miserable discovery on your return home. If your home is currently listed, I think it’s a good idea to notify your agent to add a “Do Not Disturb Occupants” rider under the “For Sale” sign (whether it’s occupied or not!). In general, here are another six good vacation safety tips:

1. Recruit some trusted neighborly help to keep an eye on the place and gather any mail and newspaper overflow. Most Lansingites are delighted to help—and you should offer to reciprocate.

2. DON’T POST VACATION PIX on Facebook, Instagram, or any other social media haunt until you get back. High among leading vacation safety no-no’s are tweets like, “Off to Maui!”

3. Think like a thief (that is, take a few minutes to case the joint). You’ll find yourself securing little-used doors and windows that are usually unlocked.

4. Either unplug automatic garage doors that can be triggered by remote control frequency scanner or install a deadbolt lock.

5. Do a better job of hiding the spare key. Thieves know all the common places. A spare key can be a vacation safety backstop if you need to phone someone to help get into the house in an emergency, but a spare key under the flowerpot is asking for trouble. Best hiding place: inside an envelope you entrust to your neighbor.

6. Cancel deliveries. An Amazon Prime carton beside the front gate is a commonplace—but when one or more remain uncollected for more than 24 hours, it’s a virtual invitation to the unscrupulous.

Even for Lansing neighborhoods that are safer than most, vacation time burglaries can happen anywhere and anytime that basic vacation safety precautions aren’t observed. A few minutes of prevention should yield added peace of mind while you’re on the road as well as a pleasant return to a safely secured home. I’ll be standing by to help when you start planning the more extended kind of outing: to your next Lansing home!       

Pricing Your East Lansing House isn’t Exactly Science

The thing about science that makes it reliable is that its findings can be confirmed experimentally. If Galileo drops a feather and a lead weight from the Tower of Pisa to prove something about gravity, anyone else can trot right up there and repeat the experiment. If the results are always the same, we’re in the realm of science.

Pricing East Lansing houses may not be pure art, but it’s a cinch it’s not science, either. You can’t repeat a pricing experiment because no two East Lansing houses are exactly alike (even the same models in a development are situated differently). And even if you sold the same house two times, the pool of possible buyers is changing all the time; the competitive landscape as represented in the moment’s East Lansing listings, likewise; even the news of the day can affect the sales climate.

Further muddying the waters is the emotional component most of us feel for the places we call home. Even after the most dispassionate East Lansing homeowner has shed any such baggage, there remain two distinct ways to value a home. There is the value it can be sold for, and there is what it is worth to your own family. Hopefully, they aren’t terribly different; but in any case, it’s the former that’s important when it comes to selling.

Once we accept that no pricing strategy can be confirmed experimentally, the best procedure is to follow some general guidelines that have wide acceptance. I advise my clients to approach the pricing of their East Lansing house in several ways—

  • Canvass the market the same way your future buyers will. See what comparable properties have sold for recently and the asking prices currently listed. Determine where yours belongs. This is one place where my research will be a major help.
  • Once you’re satisfied that you know the range where your property fits, look for “holes” in that range. Many times there will be a noticeable gap in asking prices within your range—and one good strategy is to become the lone listing that fills it.
  • Once you’ve arrived at a price that seems right, another strategy is to lower it to the next “99” number. If pricing your house led you to a $405,000 asking price, consider notching it down to $399,999. Everybody knows what you’re doing, but it’s such common practice that people don’t regard it as a ruse. It is worth doing because human beings can’t help but react to that second price as if it’s significantly lower!

Pricing your East Lansing house properly is just one of the many steps that go into a successful sales campaign. Give me a call to chat about your own situation and goals: there’s never a charge nor any obligation for sharing the latest market information!

  

Dewitt Father’s Day Plays Catch-up with Mother’s Day Behind

As has become traditional on the third Sunday in June, Dewitt fathers can look forward to being honored and fussed over. For most families, Father’s Day in Dewitt is considered to be every bit as important a celebration as Mother’s Day. At least that’s what most families pretend. But there are two basic reasons why it’s usually an uphill battle.

First, there’s the checkered history. Then, there’s the reality.

HISTORY: Mother’s Day got the jump on Father’s Day because, starting in 1905, its zealous originator (Anna Jarvis) wouldn’t give up on the idea. Because the holiday was dreamed up right at the start of the 20th century, men were exclusively in charge of the calendar and holidays. Since they were men and because telephones were only starting to be installed, most of them had neglected to call their mothers often enough. So when Jarvis pointed out that they had better recognize “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world,” the men mumbled that they agreed—and Mother’s Day became a national holiday. Then Hallmark got wind of the idea. The rest is history.

Father’s Day, on the other hand, got its start five years later (in 1910). But it was promoted by Sonora Dodd, who was less zealous than Jarvis. In fact, when Dodd went off to college, she forgot about the idea for a while. It was only in the 30s that she resumed her promotion of a Father’s Day holiday. Then Hallmark got wind of the idea. The rest is history.

REALITY: Regardless of whether or not it’s fair, Mother’s Day has always been taken a notch or two more seriously than Father’s Day—possibly because it’s impossible to resist the idea that mothers deserve to get a day off. (Try arguing against that and you’ll be sent to your room). Everybody knows that from the start, mothers have a harder time than fathers. If you don’t agree, please recall what took place on the day you were born. Fathers’ level of participation during that occasion was optional; not so mothers.

Additionally, the traditional stereotype for fathers is that they are less sentimental—so the Hallmark cards have fewer flowers on them. If so, when you forget to shop for a Father’s Day gift until the last minute, fathers are not supposed to care much. This is a purely sexist argument, but many fathers have learned to pretend it’s true. Even Wikipedia says that all you have to get for Father’s Day is a necktie or “something mechanical.”

Here in Dewitt, Father’s Day celebrations may involve letting Dad watch sports on TV, go golfing, or generally just goof off. The best part will be if the family can gather ‘round to let the Old Man be proud of them. But if he can’t be there, it’s a day to doubly recall why Father’s Day really is a day that deserves to be celebrated!      

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