Real Estate And Rising Interest Rates

The average interest rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage has remained near historic lows since 2013, but these rates have started to rise. It is important for real estate consumers to understand rising mortgage rates and how these rates will impact your ability to buy or sell a home. To ease Buyers and Sellers anxiety, here is what rising mortgage rates will mean to you. 

*  Higher interest rates, translate into higher mortgage loan costs.

*  Rising rates makes homes more expensive for Buyers, which lowers the demand for home purchases.

*  Less demand impacts Sellers as the price of their home decreases in order to attract Buyers.

*  Rising mortgage rates will not have much of an effect on property value or housing prices, as long as salaries and wages grow accordingly.

In Real Estate, conventional wisdom says that rising interest rates make buying or selling a home more difficult, and decreasing interest rates make buying and selling easier.

For example, if a Home Buyer wants a 4% rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage of $500,000, the monthly mortgage payment would be $2,377. But if the same Buyer only qualifies for a 5% rate on the same 30-year fixed mortgage, the monthly payment would rise to $2,668. A 1% increase in interest raises the Buyer's payment by $291, or roughly 11%. So, what does this mean for homebuyers? As mortgage rates increase, affordability decreases. 

Your credit score will greatly impact the interest rate that you receive on your mortgage. Try and improve your credit score before applying for a mortgage.

Rising mortgage rates also affect Sellers. For example, if the Seller wants to sell the house for $500,000, rising interest rates may decrease the number of potential buyers who can afford the home.

Rising interest rates do have a noticeable effect on the Real Estate Market. Property value and housing prices directly correlate to mortgage rates. Yet, if the economy grows fast enough, rising mortgage rates will not have as great an effect on property value and housing prices. If the economy is strong it allows employers to increase salaries to help compensate for the rising interest rate.

If you are thinking of buying investment property rising rates can be positive. The market for rental properties often increases because fewer people can qualify for mortgages. Rising interest rates reduce property prices, so it can be better to buy during this time. Often, fewer real estate transactions take place as lending standards tighten. Thus, more people will need rental properties until they can afford a mortgage. 

You don’t need to fear increasing mortgage rates, if you are thinking about Buying a home or Investing in real estate. Historically, todays rates are still very low. The annual average for 30-year fixed mortgage rates has not reached 5% since 2009. In 2006, the average mortgage rate was 6.41%; in 1996, 7.81%; and in 1986, 10.19%.

Need Real Estate advice? Don’t hesitate to contact me. I will give you the knowledge, confidence and security, so you can make the right decision on buying and selling real estate.


Styling Tips To Help Sell Your Home

If you want to make a swift sale of your home — and at the right price — it pays to show it off to its maximum potential. The goal is not only to prompt an offer, but also to ensure that house hunters don’t have any reason to haggle on the list price. Here are some tips for styling a property to make a great first impression.

Take a Step Back

A good place to start when beginning the process of selling your home is to imagine how potential buyers will see it.

When you’re selling, you need to step back, take a deep breath and start looking at it with fresh eyes — potential-buyers’ eyes.

Grab a pen and notepad and walk around each space, making a note of all the potential snagging points and areas that could be improved.

To help you see your home in a new light, take photos. Grab a camera and take a wide-angled landscape shot from each corner of every room. Look at the photos carefully and see what stands out. Do you need to replace pillows, buy new bed linens, add a few plants or declutter surfaces? Looking at your property through a picture will help you refine your spaces.

Repair and Retouch

Before you put your home on the market, it’s a good idea to do any maintenance or repairs that could put buyers off or prompt them to offer a lower price.

Remember, most new homeowners will want to move in right away, so the idea of having to replace, repair or redecorate can be off-putting.

Potential buyers can also accidentally make massively inflated valuations based on what they believe certain repair and replenishment works will cost. By getting these jobs done in advance, you’ll make the property more saleable and give buyers less wiggle room when it comes to making an offer.

Badly done work can also have a negative impact. Use reliable tradespeople and professionals as much as possible. 

Neutralize the Decor

To encourage buyers to imagine the potential of your home, avoid decor that can be distracting. Try to keep the wall colors neutral.

Instead of buying new furniture, make it work with the rest of the room. Bring in some modern pieces to help pull the scheme together in an eclectic style. It will have a great effect without a major price tag.


Allow potential buyers to see the space available in your property by keeping the rooms as decluttered as possible. Potential buyers will find it hard to look beyond the clutter. They’ll want to see the space available and how their furniture will work in your house. A messy and chaotic home detracts from the property itself and causes some buyers to walk away, as they can’t see what’s behind the clutter.

A good way to declutter is to classify items as either ‘practical,’ ‘beautiful’ or ‘sentimental’ and assign to each a value from 1 to 10 to decide whether to keep it. Anything under 5 can be donated or recycled.

Don’t hang on to things you don’t need. Starting this process early will also give you an advantage when you move into your new home. Organization is also key for buyers. 

Make It Look Lived-In

While a light, neutral scheme allows viewers to see the bones of your home, an empty property won’t have quite the same effect.

If you’re planning to sell a vacant property, staging makes a huge difference. It allows buyers to visualize the space and, if done well, can transform an empty shell into a home.

Eliminate Odors

It’s not just the appearance of your home that will influence viewers — the scent is also important. An unpleasant smell will immediately put off potential buyers. So address any smells, such as dog, dampness or cigarette smoke.

Remove any evidence of pets, such as a smelly bed, and clean the carpet and upholstery to refresh the space.

If necessary, call in an expert to find out where water is seeping into the house and fix the problem of mildew and mold. It could be broken gutters or poor drainage outside the house. These should not be excessively costly to fix, but will certainly be harder to deal with as the problem gets worse.

Brighten It Up

Both natural and artificial light can be used to show your property at its best. Your house needs to be bright and well lit for viewings to demonstrate the true size of the space. Therefore, consider how your lighting looks in each room.

Pull back curtains and open blinds to make the most of the natural light, but also think about creating an ambiance by positioning additional lamps on side tables around the room. 


Tips For Increasing Your Home's Value

These suggestions for decorating, remodeling and adding storage will help your home stand out in the market.

Unless you are designing your forever home, you are probably concerned with resale value when discussing renovations big or small. A home is often a person’s largest asset, so design upgrades are not only an aesthetic decision but a financial one as well. Here are some design tips that have been the most beneficial in helping houses stand out from the pack.

Make the Room Feel Bigger

Selecting and placing furniture that fits the scale of the room can go a long way in making the space feel larger than it actually is. While the actual square footage of a house will, of course, directly affect the price, perception is a powerful thing. If you can make a room feel more spacious, buyers will likely see more potential in the house.

Not Everything Has to Be New

Don’t be afraid to keep a home’s traditional elements. It’s impossible to please every potential buyer by selecting one particular style or trend; staying honest to the home’s roots can pay dividends.

Add Custom Closets

A large, functional walk-in closet will add value to any home. It’s a luxury that really excites potential buyers. Prices for installing a custom closet vary widely, but finding an affordable solution that still has a high-end look is not too difficult if you do your research.

The Kitchen Is King

If you’re going to spend money on your home, you’ll get no better bang for your buck than in the kitchen. Whether you’re an avid cook or more likely to order takeout on your way back from work, you use the kitchen for eating, drinking and storage. Even minor upgrades, such as updating light fixtures and hardware, will add value to your home.

Storage: The More The Better

There is no such thing as too much storage. It’s important to provide ample storage for multiple purposes. Under the stairs is an ideal area for pullout storage for tall items like ladders that won’t fit in standard-height closets.

A Fresh Coat of Paint Can Do Wonders

Painting is the most cost-effective way to freshen up a space. Freshly painted rooms feel updated, clean and crisp, without leaving a major dent in your wallet. When selecting paint colors, try to avoid anything too bold, as neutrals tend to be a safer choice in homes for sale.

Try to Be Energy-Efficient

Buying a home comes with many other costs beyond the sale price: closing costs, moving fees and energy bills are just a few examples. Try to offer potential buyers energy-efficient options. They can be as small as CFL or LED lightbulbs or as big as installing solar panels on your roof.

Bathroom Updates Provide a Big Return

Bathroom upgrades are second only to kitchen updates in providing a great return on investment. Since bathrooms are usually the smallest spaces in the home, a little bit can go a long way. Consider replacing outdated vanities, changing light fixtures and updating hardware.

Hire a Professional Organizer

It’s amazing what a little help can do. A professional organizer can help you create a clutter-free home. The money spent on hiring a pro for just one day will pay off when potential buyers see an organized home that feels larger and more manageable. Buying a house can be stressful, especially for first-time buyers. It might be subconscious, but a well-organized space may help to lessen that stress.

Add Curb Appeal

First impressions count. Keep the front yard tidy, water the plants and do the updates that need to be done. Peeling paint and cracked exterior walls do not make a good first impression. If you’re adding new plants, try to select ones that are low-maintenance.


To Fix or Not To Fix: Prepping For A Sale

When you make the decision to sell your home, it can be tricky to know which changes will make your home sell more quickly or boost the sale price — and which would be a waste of time and resources. Each property is different; here are some key questions to ask yourself before making any changes to prep your home for sale.

General Questions

These questions will help you take the temperature of the real estate market in your area and assess the competition.

How Hot or Cold Is Your Market?

Are homes being snapped up after the first showings, or are they languishing on the market for months? Are homes being sold at or near the asking price, or for much lower? Are showings bustling with people, or are few looking? Get a feel for the market in your area by calling me and checking local listings. If it’s a seller’s market, you may be able to get away with doing fewer repairs and modifications before selling, and still have good results — in a buyer’s market, expect to do more work to make a positive impression on buyers.

How Fast Are You Looking To Sell? 

If you need to sell your home immediately — say, because you have already committed to buying another home or need to move because of work — it is in your best interest to do everything in your power to ensure a quick sale at the highest price possible. If you have more flexibility, and you feel uncomfortable making too many pricey changes to your home before selling, it may make more sense to focus on cleaning, decluttering and making small cosmetic changes, like painting — particularly if the market is hot and favors the seller. If you aren’t getting the offers you would like, you can always decide to spring for a few bigger changes later and relist your home.

What Is The Condition of Comparable Homes? 

It can be quite helpful to know a little about the homes that buyers in your area are looking at. Examine photos of homes for sale in your area or even attend a few showings, and make a mental note of how the other homes compare to yours. Are the kitchens updated? Are the floors in good shape? If all of the other homes you see have a certain feature, for instance, an updated kitchen, that yours lacks, consider making that a priority. You don’t need to make your home exactly like all the other homes on the market; just make sure there isn’t a single factor that could give your home a disadvantage.

To Fix or Not to Fix: Which Repairs Are Worth It

The next questions will help you assess whether or not to make a specific repair or change before selling your home.

Does The Item Give The Impression The Property Has Not Been Well Cared For?

Leaky faucets, cracked tiles, an overgrown lawn, broken appliances or anything else that doesn’t work as it should can immediately turn off buyers. At a first showing, people often zip through quite quickly, and if they notice one or two things that send up red flags, they may not give your home another chance.

Can You Find a Less Expensive Fix? 

Let’s say you scoped out the comparable homes on the market in your neighborhood, and they all have updated kitchens but yours hasn’t been touched for some time. Rather than spend big on a full kitchen remodel, why not give your kitchen a less costly refresh? For instance, you could paint the cabinets, swap out cabinet hardware, change the light fixtures and upgrade the appliances to something current and functional but not top-of-the-line. You will put some money into it but not nearly as much as with a full remodel — well worth it if it gets your home in the running in a competitive market.

How Much Will You Realistically Need to Lower The Price If You Don’t Fix It? 

If you have a lot of costly repairs to tackle to get your home ready to sell, you may be considering selling it as is. But keep in mind that buyers looking for a fixer-upper will also be looking to discount the selling price for the repairs plus the hassle. In other words, you won’t be able to simply estimate how much the repairs will cost and deduct that from the selling price; you’ll need to deduct even more to make it worth the buyer’s time and effort. Discuss this with me and look into other fixer-uppers for sale in your area to come up with an appropriate selling price.

Is It One of The First Things Potential Buyers Will See? 

First impressions are key, and that is never more true than in the real estate business. If you have a repair you are unsure about tackling, use this as a litmus test: Is it something the buyer will see as he or she approaches your house and walks through the front door? If so, fix it.

Could It Be a Deal Breaker? 

Some home repairs, like a new roof, are just so major that they will scare off all but the most determined buyers. If the market in your area is hot and you have ample time, there’s no harm in trying to sell without making the big repair, as long as you are willing to price it accordingly. If it’s a buyer’s market but you don’t have time to make the repair before listing, you could offer to pay for it as part of the sales agreement — otherwise it’s probably best to make the change first and then put your home on the market.


How To Revamp A Dated Fireplace

You fell in love with your new home because of its commanding focal point: a cozy fireplace where you envisioned spending fall and winter evenings warming up by the fire. But what if you love the flames but hate the crumbling brick, the dated brass hardware or the dirty stone? Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to glam up a tired fireplace to suit your design style. Here are some tips–ranging from super-affordable to worth-the-splurge–to give your fireplace a much-need facelift.

Give It A Fresh Coat Of Paint

As long as your fireplace is in good shape structurally and is safe to use, the easiest and most budget-friendly option to transform both the tile and mantel lies in a can of paint. Painting a fireplace white can be transformative. White works best for a fireplace because it usually can be an extension of your trim colour.

Whether you go the all-white or all-black route, or you choose contrasting colours to make it pop, don’t forget to refinish your mantel, too.

If your mantel is made of solid wood, sand it down until any finishes are removed on the surface; this will help the paint adhere and last a lot longer. With your tile surround, be sure to use a primer before applying your latex paint in your desired colour.

To freshen up stone fireplaces, leave the latex paint behind. Chalk paint does miraculous things; you can create this multi-dimensional look that’s whitish-grayish instead of just a solid painted stone. 

Cover A Faded Fireplace With Another Material

For a mid-range budgetary option, consider refacing your fireplace. You’ll get a completely new look without the huge mess and expense of a total tear-down. Try cladding the fireplace in reclaimed wood or millwork to add a warm texture, or incorporate concrete to bring an industrial, contemporary vibe to the space. You can also purchase masonry veneers which look like brick or stone but are much thinner and lighter.  

When it comes to stone or millwork for your fireplace, call in the pros or someone handy. Stone and tile require a wet saw to cut, which can be tricky.

To cut down on costs, put up 12×12 tiles or an even border of stone around the fireplace.

A great DIY alternative, try using shiplap for the upper portion of the wall above your mantel. It’s relatively straightforward to install, and can easily transform a dated fireplace into something more modern and refined. Be sure to paint the shiplap and fireplace surround the same colour so that it flows as one cohesive unit.

If you go the wood route, consult your local municipality–most building codes advise against installing combustible material within six inches of a working fireplace.

Other inexpensive refacing options include drywall, ceramic or porcelain tiles, stucco, concrete, or veneered stones–all can be affixed directly to your existing fireplace for a simple solution.

Start From Scratch

If your fireplace is traditional and your overall design scheme is ultra-modern, a can of paint probably won’t cut it. Sometimes a sledgehammer is the only choice. 

Depending on your personal style, a full demo is the only way to go to create the fireplace of your dreams. Whether that be a sleek marble surround or farmhouse shiplap incorporated with a live edge mantel.

Other splurge-worthy materials include quartz, granite or exotic wood, as well as extending the entire fireplace up to the ceiling. You can also apply any of these tips to your outdoor fireplace, if you’re lucky enough to have one.

Give Your Fireplace Mantel Some Love

An updated fireplace won’t sing until you’ve also styled your mantel. 

Start with an anchor or large piece to ground the space and layer with asymmetrical vases and artwork. Elevate the rest of the mantel with stacked books to create visual interest and finish off with some fresh greenery to complete the look. Arranging a few picture frames along it, too.

Don’t be afraid to get a bunch of accessories; you don’t know what’s going to look good until you bring it home and you can always return the items.

You can also dress up your fireplace with a spiffy new screen, or paint a dated brass screen or hardware using high heat black paint. 

No matter what your budget or style is, there’s a fireplace revamp that matches, so have some fun with this important design element.

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