Winterize Your Home: Upgrades Warm Up Buyers

Learn how a few, simple winterization projects can appeal to home buyers who are shopping for houses during the winter season. Know what upgrades can save future home owners energy and money while providing you with a great return on investment.

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The Suburban to Urban Shift in the Washington, D.C., Metro Market

For the better part of a century there has been an order to our area's housing markets, where suburban colonials and quarter-acre lots stood in contrast to loft-style condos sprinkled between old Victorian rowhouses on busy streets.

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Latest Home Listing Report Ranks Most Expensive and Affordable Cities to Buy a Home

Real estate has always been about location, but it can be hard to put a price tag on what that really means. Now, a new report analyzes what similar homes cost in nearly 2,000 real estate markets across the United States, providing a more apples-to-apples comparison of prices across the country.

For more than 30 years, Coldwell Banker has delivered an annual report that helps show just how important location really is. By studying nearly 2,000 towns and cities across the United States, the 2014 Coldwell Banker Real Estate Home Listing Report shows that location can be worth as much as $1.9 million. That’s the difference between the most expensive and affordable markets. The report analyzes the average listing price of 51,000 four-bedroom, two-bathroom homes in all 50 states.

For the second time in three years, Los Altos, Calif. ranks as the most expensive real estate market in the country, where that size home averages $1,963,100. That’s six times the national average! With the tech boom getting hotter each year, it’s no surprise that Los Altos continues to be one of the most coveted places to live. In fact, California’s Silicon Valley is home to seven of the 10 most expensive cities in this year’s report.

“Los Altos is such a special place because you get a small town feeling while being right next door to some of the most successful technology companies in the world,” said Joe Brown, managing broker of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Los Altos, Calif. “Plus, the weather can’t be beat. People who live here can’t imagining living anywhere else.”

On the other end of the spectrum, Cleveland, Ohio ranks as the most affordable city in the country at $64,993. The Midwestern town, which is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is experiencing its own resurgence of growth.

“I’ve always known that Cleveland is great, but now other people are starting to realize it as well,” said Ed Dolinsky, president of Coldwell Banker Hunter Realty in Cleveland. “There is clearly a positive vibe in the city and its suburbs. So much is happening here, the downtown resurgence and of course the buzz of Johnny Manziel and LeBron. Being affordable is fantastic, and when you add in our Midwestern charm, we have a special, special place to call home.”

Here are the top five most expensive and most affordable markets in the Home Listing Report this year:

Most Expensive Markets to Buy a Home
1) Los Altos, Calif. – average listing price: $1,963,100
2) Newport Beach, Calif. – average listing price: $1,904,083
3) Saratoga, Calif. – average listing price: $1,867,980
4) Redwood City / Woodside, Calif. – average listing price: $1,430,329
5) Los Gatos, Calif. – average listing price: $1,307,408

Most Affordable Markets to Buy a Home
1) Cleveland, Ohio – average listing price: $64,993
2) Riverdale, Ga. – average listing price: $68,207
3) Park Forest, Ill. – average listing price: $75,647
4) Lake Wales, Fla. – average listing price: $82,330
5) Lithonia, Ga. – average listing price: $94,076

Check out the full Home Listing Report to see how your town ranks compared to the most expensive and affordable markets in the country.

“It’s amazing to see how much location can make a difference in the price of a home,” said Budge Huskey, president and chief executive officer of Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. “But no matter where your hometown ranks, we all have that same sense of pride.”

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How is the Real Estate Market?

I like to joke that I started my career in real estate as a 12-year-old when my dad hired me to do odd jobs at his Huskey Realty in Orlando. While mowing the lawn and taking out the trash clearly isn’t “real” real estate, I got a chance to learn about the business from my dad and his agents at a very early age. The lessons learned in those formative years about customer relationships and the role of the Realtor as a trusted advisor remain with me to this day.

And no matter what role I’ve held during my 30 year career, there is a question that I’m asked (as is everyone else in real estate) …. “How is the market?” A fair question, but the answer can be much more complex. We were taught by the trainers of the past to utter descriptions like “fantastic” or “super,” though such simplistic sound bites hardly instill credibility in the wake of a volatile housing cycle.

In reality, there is no single answer to the question of when a person should take action. For example, are you a buyer or seller? If the latter, how much equity do you have in your home and is there a lifestyle reason to move? Are you hoping to buy a fixer-upper, entry level or luxury home? What neighborhood are you most interested in? Is this a principal residence or an investment property. If both, are you moving up or down. I could go on and on.

But I thought it appropriate to put some perspective on the rebounding housing market, a least with a national overview.

The National Association of Realtors reports the number of homes sold has increased by 10.2% over last year with median prices rising by 11.6%. Those are large percentage gains, but it’s the consistency of the market rebound that is most important. There have been price gains each of the last 12 months while the days-on-market (the average time it takes to sell a home) has been reduced by 24% over last year to just 74 days. Amazingly, a third of all homes sell within their first month on the market.

Home sellers are clearly recouping some of the financial losses, whether real or on paper, they incurred in their homes during the recession, while buyers are returning in strong fashion after years of not having confidence in the economy and/or their own personal job status.

Essentially, so many of us “put our lives on hold” as we waited out the recession and its implications. Today, as confidence grows, more and more are willing and able to re-enter the housing market. Yet many of these potential buyers are witnessing a shortage of available homes. The number of homes on the market has declined by 19.2% over last year and is now just 4.7 months (1.94 million), which has caused a major uptick in multiple bids and lack of buyer choices.

In my view, this is occurring because of a “lag effect”. It takes a while for buyers and sellers to jointly recognize changes in market conditions. I remember when the recession began and I looked at the numbers in Florida where I worked at the time. While the number of homes sold began to slide in 2005, it wasn’t until 2007 that prices trimmed and began to dip. Now that we’re on the opposite side of the housing cycle, the reverse is occurring. It will take a while for sellers to truly recognize the positive shift in the market and realize their home is likely worth significantly more than they might have thought. Once they do, we will likely see more homes come on the market and price gains to more sustainable single-digit increases.

For this to occur, sellers need to understand local market conditions and realize that some of their equity in their home has returned (or they are no longer “under water” in their mortgage). In February alone, the amount of listed homes nationally grew by 200,000. It appears the Spring buying season has started early this year.

And with increased focus on housing, it is no wonder the “how is the market” question is being heard more and more by Coldwell Banker agents around the U.S. I urge you to take some time and talk to these agents and gain a sense of your neighborhood and town conditions. You might be surprised at what you learn, and just how quickly the dynamics have changed.

Real Estate Headlines for the Start of May

Just sold: Holly Golightly's pad from "Breakfast at Tiffany's"

April just flew by faster than teen trying to get home before curfew. Seriously, where did that month go? May is ready to break through and bring warmer weather, playoff hockey & basketball and a greater interest in the real estate market. Here are some headlines to quench your real estate thirst:

  • This is a pretty cool looking cabin/backyard office/guest house/envirosponsible shelter called, The Crib.


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