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Outdoor Renovation Projects with the Best Return on Investment

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

Outdoor Renovation Projects with the Best Return on InvestmentAre you going to be selling your Wilmington area home in the near future? Outdoor living spaces can be a big selling point in North Carolina, where people come to enjoy the moderate climate. If you’re looking for a way to give your home an advantage over others in the neighborhood, consider updating the exterior areas, but beware that not all renovation projects are created equal. Some have a higher return on investment (ROI) than others. Here’s 6 that will give you the most bang for your buck!

  1. Manufactured Stone Veneer. Adding stone on an accent wall or along a crawlspace has a national average cost of $7,150 and a national ROI of 93.2%, but in our neck of the woods it’s closer to 111.9%.
  2. Re-sodded Front Lawn. If your front lawn is ugly, has bare patches, and is in need of care, consider re-sodding it. This costs a national average of $300 to $1,000, but has a ROI of 100%-200%.
  3. Outdoor Kitchen. The cost of outdoor kitchens can vary widely with the grill being one of the most expensive parts. The cost only goes up as you add in a fridge, sink, etc. So, while an outdoor kitchen can cost as little as $2,000, the national average is closer to $10,000. However, the ROI is 100%-200%.
  4. Fire Pit. A fire pit is a great investment that can be enjoyed year-round and has a high ROI if it’s permanent or not. The national average cost of a permanent fire pit is $591 (lower locally) and has a ROI of 150% or more.
  5. Siding Upgrade. Changing your homes siding from wood to Fiber-Cement or Vinyl can have worthwhile returns. The national average cost for fiber-cement is $14,014 and has a national ROI of 84.3% (91.3% locally). The national average cost for vinyl is $12,000-$15,000 with a national ROI of 77.6%-80.7% (70.7%-94.6% locally).
  6. Wood Deck. Home buyers love decks, but the ROI for a vinyl deck, surprisingly, is not as high as a wood deck. So, save your money and stick to the traditional wood. The national average cost for a wood deck is $10,048 with a national ROI of 80.5% (73.8% locally).

Many of these statistics come from the 2015 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report. Others are linked in the text. Statistics on additional outdoor renovation projects can be found on RIS Media’s House Call. For tips on staging existing outdoor living spaces to get you the biggest ROI, visit Style at Home.

Of course, we believe there are contributing factors for choosing an outdoor renovation project. Those include the community and standard features found in homes there, as well as the amount of time you plan on spending in the home and your budget. If an outdoor kitchen is going to price your home well above others in the community, because it’s an uncommon feature, you may want to choose another project. However, if this is something you really want and plan on enjoying during your time in the home, it may be justified. Just don’t install an outdoor kitchen if you mean for it to be a primary selling point when the community doesn’t match the upgrade.

If you have any questions about the best upgrades for your Wilmington home in relation to the community, give us a call or send us a message through our Contact page. We’d be happy to provide you some statistics of features in your community.

Why It's Important to Sign the Working with Real Estate Agents Form

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

Why It's Important to Sign the Working with Real Estate Agents Form“I’ve literally just met this Realtor. Why are they asking me to sign something?”

The first document that all North Carolina Realtors should be asking you to sign is a Working with Real Estate Agents brochure/form. This isn’t a contract or an obligation. This brochure explains to you as the buyer or seller what to expect if you choose to work with a real estate agent. It’s a way for the agent to say in writing, “You know what I do, what your rights are, and what information will be shared.” That includes:

  • The agent’s duties to the buyer and seller,
  • Additional contracts that may be required,
  • Possible services provided by the agent, and
  • How the agent will be compensated.

The Working with Real Estate Agents form/brochure also explains what may or may not happen if the agent ends up representing both the buyer and seller (called “Dual Agency”). Not all Realtors feel comfortable representing both sides of a transaction, but are required to educate you that the situation does exist. If they prefer not to be on both sides, they’ll likely arrange for you to work with another agent.

If you are a buyer and unwilling to work with the particular agent asking you to sign the Working with Real Estate Agents brochure/form, there is an additional section dedicated to Seller Subagency. When this section is checked, you are acknowledging that the agent is working for the seller and any information shared with them could be shared with the seller.

Sample Working with Real Estate Agents

Again, this isn’t a contract. When you sign it, you aren’t signing away any rights. This is an acknowledgement that you know what the role of a real estate agent is and what information may be shared. “Real estate agent” is a widely misunderstood job and this form/brochure is supposed to help improve that understanding. Basically, it’s the first step in protecting both parties involved in the business relationship.

Of course, you aren’t required to sign it. However, the Realtor will make note that you refused. If any problems should arise later on, your refusal will be taken into consideration by governing bodies, but you will be doing yourself a disservice by not reading and understanding it.

Finally, if you’ve already signed a Working with Real Estate Agents form with another Realtor than the one asking, you shouldn’t be sharing any details with another agent, because no one but your Realtor is really obligated to protect your best interests. If you go to an open house without your Realtor and tell the listing agent details about your motivation and opinion of the home, it could affect negotiations. So, tour, admire, and say, “Thank you for your help. We’re working with____,” but don’t share any other info. As a Realtor, that agent should know better than to solicit the business of another agent’s clients.

If you have any questions about working with a Wilmington area real estate agent to buy or sell your home, give us a call or send us a message through our Contact page. We’d be happy to clear up any confusion you may have.

Monday Market Update - On Pace to a Seller's Market

by Melanie Cameron, The Cameron Team

The Cameron Team's Monday Market UpdateHappy Monday and for those of you on our traditional school schedule... Happy last few days of school!  For students, summer officially begins Thursday afternoon.  I know I have 2 VERY excited soon to be 5th graders in my house!  We LOVE Summer!

The market continues to be very strong in this area and pending sales continue to outpace new listings.  If that trend continues, I think we will continue to see the market trend more towards a sellers market.  Especially in homes under $250,000 where in many cases we are already seeing multiple offers and shorter days on the market.

If you're a seller, don't let all this good news make you lazy about getting your home ready!  It's still important to properly prepare your home for sale and price it right.  I've said many times, how you "live" in your home and how you "sell" your home are two completely different things.  Not only do you need to depersonalize your home but you really need to "stage it" to sell!  I know many sellers are in a rush to get their home on the market but it's better to take a few extra days or a week to properly prepare it.   It typically will pay off in the long run!  The Cameron Team offers a FREE 3 hour home staging consultation with Carolina Sold by Design, a team of professional interior decorators/stagers.  We also provide a detailed market analysis in an effort to price your home correctly and get the highest price in the shortest amount of time.

Want to discuss your options of buying or selling?  Give us a call, you'll be glad you did. 

Have a great week and thanks in advance for your business, friendships and referrals.

Coming Soon Listings Vs. Sneak Peeks

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

Coming Soon Listings Vs. Sneak PeeksThe newest trend hitting the real estate market is “Coming Soon” listings. Probably the most well-known source for these is Zillow. The real estate website launched a portal specifically for them in 2014. Now, smaller companies are starting to provide their own versions of the “Coming Soon” listings site. But what exactly is a “Coming Soon” listing?

Is it a sneak peek? No, not really. A sneak peek is a few pictures and/or a list of features for a listing coming on the market in the next week. You may see us post these on our Facebook page. “Coming Soon” listings are a little more long-term.

The exact definition for what makes a “Coming Soon” listing depends on the source. The property may not yet be part of an official listing agreement with a brokerage or it may be technically listed, but have a modified marketing agreement, so that the home can be advertised prior to being put in the Multiple Listing Service. Sellers may do this while they’re making repairs, moving out tenants, or just to build buzz about the property.

What’s in common between “Coming Soon” listings is that they won’t be entered into the MLS for an extended period of time, but will be pre-marketed to a segment of buyers. While some people like the allure of exclusivity, it also means that most real estate agents will be unaware that the home is currently for sale. 

Some sellers and agents feel this type of pre-marketing is a good way to gain the attention of buyers, and most hope to get an offer prior to it being officially listed. Not only does this mean results for the seller, but also looks good for the agent’s stats. However, nothing is guaranteed. After all, a home selling still depends on price, condition, and location, and pre-marketing won’t change those facts. But it may help the agent pick up some potential buyers, as anyone interested will be directed straight to the listing agent.

What determines the segment of buyers seeing the property? They may be people searching Zillow or another website for homes for sale, or they may be a database of buyers who have signed up for “Coming Soon” notifications. Either way, the fact that a segment exists is what makes some Realtors question the ethical validity of “Coming Soon” listings. It is the job of a Realtor to act in their client’s best interests. As a listing agent, it is in the client’s best interests to get the home sold for as much money as possible. If the listing agent pre-marketed to only a segment of buyers, instead of the whole MLS, and received an offer, what are the chances that another higher offer would have been received if it was advertised to everyone? It’s something to think about.

Again, there are a lot of “what ifs”, but as Realtors, we’re required to inform clients of the benefits and risks of “Coming Soon” listings. If you are planning on hiring a real estate agent to list your home as “Coming Soon”, make sure you discuss with them how they plan on handling the marketing and any offers received during the pre-marketing timeframe. It may or may not be in your best interests to pre-market, especially if the only thing keeping your home off the market is the desire to build buzz.

Have questions about listing your Wilmington area home for sale? Give us a call or send us a message through our Contact page.

 

Monday Market Update - Online Home Values

by Melanie Cameron, The Cameron Team

The Cameron Team's Monday Market UpdateHappy Monday!  Hope you had a fantastic weekend and enjoyed the great weather!

Many homeowners rely on Zillow as their primary source for information in regards to their home's value.   Yes, Zillow and their "Zestimate" are the #1 consumer tool used to figure out property values.  The "Zestimate," is an easy tool to use, but the truth is that the accuracy of this Zillow report may be wildly inaccurate.  The problem is that many homeowners believe the "zestimate" is an honest and fair assessment of their homes value.  The truth is that in most cases this is just not reality.  I find that occasionally Zillow's home values have some accuracy, but here in the Wilmington market area, the majority of the time, the "zestimate" is way off base.  Many times, the Zillow values can be as much as 20% off the true value of the home.  This presents a problem, because many homeowners are basing decisions on selling, refinancing, etc. based on a value that may be extremely inaccurate.

Here is my advice?  Don't rely on Zillow for anything other than just a general ball park idea of your homes value.   There are many factors that go in to getting an accurate value report on your home.  Your homes location, condition, floor plan, amenities, etc. are all factors that a "Zestimate" cannnot take into consideration.  These are all factors that can only be established by a professional real estate agent visiting your home and doing a market analysis.  If you are needing an accurate look at your homes value, this is really the only way that you are going to get it.

If you are just wanting to keep on top of your homes value and you are not needing extreme accuracy, there is a local online service that is set up just for the Wilmington area market home values.  Like "Zestimate," this is online and automated, but the overall accuracy is heads above Zillow.  Just go to www.WilmingtonHomeValuesOnline.com and enter your home information.  A complete online value report will give you a look at your homes current market value.  The cool thing about this site is that it automatically issues a new and updated report and emails it to you every month.

If you are wanting or needing an accurate look at your homes value, please contact me.  With a 20-30 minute visit to your home, I can provide you with a very accurate assessment of value.  As a part of my client services, this is FREE of charge and there is absolutely no obligation.

Have an awesome week and as always, thanks for your continued support and business!  The market is booming and we have our wonderful clients to thank for making it our best year ever so far!

Are You Prepared to Put A Sign in the Yard Today?

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

Are You Prepared to Put A Sign in the Yard TodayI was reading through some insider blogs today when I saw one with the above title by an excellent agent in Franklin, TN. Now, this was a members-only blog post, but in summary, she spoke about an agent that would bring a sign to every listing appointment. When the owners opened the door, she’d be standing there leaning on it, just to show that she was ready to list their home if they were ready to put a sign in the yard that day.

You may be thinking, “Wow! That’s forward!” or you may be thinking, “Now, that’s the kind of enthusiastic personality I want!” Either way, there’s one simple fact that we often face with listings – rarely are they ready to be listed the day of the listing appointment. Even homes that have been beautifully well kept are in need of some changes, if it’s a small repair like chipped paint or a new furniture arrangement to help highlight the home’s space. No home is perfect, and we won’t force you to put a sign in the yard today.

The role of a real estate agent is as an advisor and representative in negotiations. After all the facts are presented, it’s up to the seller to decide what repairs to make prior to listing, how much to list the home for, and what terms to agree to if an offer is presented. That’s why we try to leave sellers as educated as possible about their current situation. If we need to bring in a third-party, like an attorney or stager, we will. Matter-of-fact, we offer a complimentary 3-hour staging consultation with every new listing so the seller has an idea of how to make the most of their home’s layout when presenting it for sale.

So, if you aren’t sure if your home is ready to be listed, don’t worry about it. We’re happy to take a walk through the home and give you an idea of what might need to be done and what may be better to leave as-is. If it’s something that you feel is out of your abilities, we have some great handymen that we’ve been working with for years. We can get you connected with someone who has the knowledge and expertise. Sometimes it takes a few weeks for a home to be prepared for listing. Of course, if you can’t make selling right now work, it’s better to know what you’re facing down the road so you’re prepared.

Are you interested in learning more about listing your Wilmington area home for sale? Give us a call or send us a message through our Contact page. We also have a number of free reports with tips on preparing your home for sale, including how to Avoid the Top 10 Selling Mistakes and The Seller’s List of 25 Easy Fix-ups. If you have any questions, let us know!

Is My Mounted Television a Fixture?

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

Television on Mount - Back SideWhen selling a home in North Carolina, all fixtures transfer to the new home owner upon sale unless otherwise noted in the offer to purchase. Fixtures are anything secured to the ground, floor, walls, and ceiling that need a tool to be removed. So, art and family pictures hanging from a hook on the wall are NOT fixtures, but wired wall sconces and built-in microwaves are both examples of fixtures.

One fixture that sellers often get confused about is a mounted television. It’s a personal appliances, so does it convey? Yes, because it’s on a mount secured to the wall that is only removable with the help of a screwdriver.

But don’t worry! Just because you’re listing your home for sale doesn’t mean the buyer is going to get a free T.V. thrown in. Unless you want to entice some buyers with this added incentive, you can easily communicate with buyers that the television is not included in the sale of the home. There is a place for fixtures exceptions on the listing and offer paperwork, as well as a place to note that in the Multiple Listing Service for other agents to see.

If there’s something in your home that you aren’t 100% sure is a fixture or not, communicate it to your Realtor. It’s better to state that something isn’t remaining than it is to take something with you that the buyer is expecting to stay. That can get you in hot water and delay closing or lead to legal issues after the fact.

Interested in listing your Wilmington area home for sale? Give us a call or send us a message through our contact page.

The Listing Agent's Expenses

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

The Listing Agent's ExpensesWhen you decide to sell your Wilmington area home, you have an important decision to make upfront – do you want to sell it yourself or hire an agent? Some homeowners scoff at the idea of paying a commission to a real estate agent. They aren’t sure that agents deserve that large a portion of the sale price. There's a misconception that the money we make is mostly take-home pay, but it's not. Real estate agents work under 1099s. That means we're independent contractors and absorb all costs of running our businesses. What are those costs? Here’s a basic breakdown:

  1. The Real Estate Firm. Every firm – Coldwell Banker, Re\Max, Keller Williams, Network, etc. – have their own commission plans. Most agents start out at 50/50 split. So, if a listing agent sells a $150,000 house listed at the market’s typical 6% commission, which is then split in half with the buyer’s agent, the agent will make about $2,250. Volume and agent experience usually increases this amount.
  2. Photographs. Other agents may take their own photographs, but we have all of ours professionally done, because we believe your online ad is your home’s first showing.
  3. Measuring. We have a professional measurer come in and record your home’s dimensions in order to prevent discrepancies.
  4. Marketing Materials. Signs, flyers, postcards, booklets, etc, You, the homeowner, don’t pay for these items. We do. It’s part of our efforts to get the home sold.
  5. Marketing Tools. Virtual tours, text-for-info, etc. We want to stay on top of interested buyers, so we use a variety of tools to help us reach them. These cost us money on a monthly and per-property basis.
  6. Online Enhancements. Your home listing, thanks to an agreement through our real estate firm, will be syndicated to the top real estate websites, but this is a basic listing. We often pay for the enhanced versions of these websites, in order to gain as much control over the information shared as possible and to have our listings featured.
  7. Online Advertising. In multiple different formats, we pay to advertise your listing on social media and other websites. 90% of home searches start online, and it’s not always on the typical real estate websites.
  8. Time and Gas. Our job requires a lot of time and travelling for tasks, including: meeting the photographer/measurer, putting up the sign and lockbox, delivering marketing materials, speaking about your home at sales meetings, turning on lights for showings, and meeting handymen/inspectors/etc. during contract stages. If we have a conflict at any point, we have to pay a qualified person to do it for us. We also spend a considerable amount of time negotiating, filling out paperwork, arranging open houses, and making sure everything gets signed.
  9. Association Fees, License Fees, Required Continuing Education, E&O Insurance, etc. – You’d be surprised at how costly it can be to pay everything we need to access the Multiple Listing Service and be considered legal. A portion of every closing helps to pay for this.
  10. General Upkeep of Our Business. Website fees, hardware, e-mail, signs, advertising, business cards, vehicle maintenance, networking events, document systems, etc. Maintaining a presence in the local community and online are just as important for our clients as it is for us. Real estate is a business that relies a lot on networking and word-of-mouth for exposure, and, increasingly, technology.

As you can see, we put a lot into presenting and advertising our listings. Many of our payments happen upfront, because they’re for listing and marketing services. We don’t get paid until the listing sells, so if the listing doesn’t sell, we’re out that money. That’s why we are always perfecting our marketing plan. We only want to use what works. All finances aside, we remain Realtors, because we love the satisfaction we feel when our clients are happy.

Have a question about anything above or want to learn more about our seller services? Give us a call at (910) 202-2546!

When Staging is Overdone

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

When Staging is OverdoneWe’ve said it a lot – home staging is important! Studies have shown that it affects a buyer’s decision to make an offer, as well as the amount of the offer price. Good home staging will make a buyer imagine themselves living in the home and that can make a huge difference when trying to decide between properties. However, as good as staging is at highlighting the positive characteristics of a home, it is possible to over-stage a home and create the opposite effect.

To understand this, you need to know the fundamental parts of staging:

  • Decluttering
  • Depersonalizing
  • Painting (as needed)
  • Arranging furniture for the best flow
  • Placing accessories to accent the home’s best features
  • Choosing the best lamps, bulbs, and fixtures to light each room

Depending on the home, there may also be a need to make more complex updates, but that’s rarely the case.

Each area of staging opens up the possibility for mistakes. I’ll share what those may be, but remember that a professional stager can make a world of a difference. They know how to quickly identify problem areas and the best tricks for an effective solution. So, don’t under estimate their value.

Decluttering

While the purpose of decluttering is to make rooms look larger, some home owners think the best approach is to remove everything, but the bare essentials. This can lead to a pretty barren looking house and does little good in showing how the home can be lived in. Remove surplus furniture, collections, piles of books, extra countertop appliances, etc. but don’t leave empty shelves and large blank spaces. Moderation is key.

Depersonalizing

Removing your personality from the home is a key component of home staging; however, it can have the same effect as too much decluttering. The aim of depersonalizing is to tone it down to the point that the buyer can overlook it, but removing bold furniture, wall art, and Ugly White Wallsaccessories while leaving large blank spaces or worse, holes and fade lines, in their place can leave an ugly impression. When you remove items, make sure there’s no evidence there was something there. If there is, correct it or replace it.

Painting

Most people have heard that it’s a good idea to paint your home with neutral colors when you’re getting ready to list, but some home owners think the easy way to do this is to paint every room white. This ends up making the house feel more like a hospital than a home. Instead, try to stick with warm, light, earthy tones when possible. They will make the rooms look larger and inviting.

Arranging Furniture

If a home owner is going to get something wrong when it comes to staging, it’s going to be furniture arrangement. From too large pieces to incorrect orientation, there’s just too much that can go wrong. The growing trend of open floor plans make this especially difficult. It’s not always clear how a room should be setup and an incorrect approach can give Too Much Furniture for Roomthe impression that a room is lacking usable space. This is when getting a professional’s opinion can prove invaluable.

Placing Accessories

Well-utilized accessories (wall art, vases, plants, etc.) will make your ceilings look higher and rooms appear larger, as well as show buyers how the home can be lived in. Poorly utilized accessories can create clutter, break the flow of the home, and hide good characteristics. Like furniture, they need to be well thought-out. Not sure if your accessories are creating the effect you want, ask a friend to walk through the home and share their immediate impressions, like what their eyes are drawn to upon entry.

Lighting

Lighting is considered so permanent that it’s often overlooked, but you want the house to appear light and airy, and it’s not as hard to achieve as you may think. You don’t need an electrician to improve your lighting. A simple change in wattage can have a positive impact on a room and, if your light fixtures have shades, changing out the shades for newer ones is an easy update that can increase the spread of light in the room. If needed, bring in floor lamps and tabletop lamps to increase lighting, but don’t overdo it. If you feel like you’ve just walked into a stadium when you step into a room, you need to scale it back a little.

If you aren’t sure you’re overdoing your home staging, we suggest trying out a professional. Many stagers have different levels of services that they offer from consultations to handling all aspects of the job themselves, including furniture rental. If you’re looking for a stager in the Wilmington area, we recommend the professional interior decorators and home stagers at Carolina Sold by Design. If you list your home with us, we provide a complimentary 3-hour staging consultation with them. Call us for the details – (910) 202-2546!

 

How Long Should It Take My Home to Sell?

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

How Long Should It Take My Home to Sell?If you’re getting ready to put your Wilmington home on the market, you’re probably wondering how long it’s going to take your home to sell. Between preparations, an unpredictable showing schedule, and financial factors, selling a home can be a stressful process. It’s not unreasonable to want it over as quickly as possible. So, what is the answer? Will it be days, weeks, or months?

The answer is different for every property. Location, condition, and price are the main determinants. The more popular the location, the better the condition, and the more competitive the price, the quicker a home will sell. However, there are certain stats that can help give a ballpark number of days.

Our local multiple listing service (and many others) allow the local real estate board to track how quickly homes are selling and at which price. Each county, city, and community have average days on the market (ADOM). The more specific the area, the more accurate the estimate.

For example, the ADOM for the greater Wilmington area (New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender Counties) in February was 127 days. However, for the community of Meadowbrook in Wilmington, it was 57 days. But keep in mind, there’s a wide range here, because the minimum was 6 days and the maximum was 101 days. So, this is where price and condition comes into play.

Your Realtor will be able to share the ADOM for the area your home is located. They should also advise you on what needs to be done to compete with other similar homes on the market, but you have the final say on what your home is priced at and what improvements (repairs, updates, and staging) you make before listing. Your real estate agent is there to help you make an informed decision.

If you are considering selling your Wilmington area home, we’d love to sit down and talk about your options and our marketing plan. We’ll do a comparative market analysis to show you how other similar homes are selling, including the ADOM. Give us a call at (910) 202-2546 or send us a message through our Contact page. If you’d like a ballpark estimate of your home’s current market value, you can also try our automated system at WilmingtonHomeValuesOnline.com.

Meghan Riley

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The Cameron Team
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage
1001 Military Cutoff Suite 101
Wilmington NC 28405
Office: 910.202.2546
Toll Free: 800.522.9624
Fax: 910.795.4723