Select Page
You’ve heard it before: List your home early in the year. That way, you’ll be ready to close the deal when home sales peak in June. But what exactly does “early in the year” mean?

Based on an analysis of supply, demand and sellers’ outcomes in “Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate,” co-authors Spencer Rascoff and Stan Humphries have revealed the magic window to list your home: mid-March to mid-April. (For those who like sports analogies, think March Madness to The Masters.)

We also went one step further to determine the exact weeks you should list in different parts of the country. Turns out, the best time to list follows weather patterns. In markets with warm climates like Miami, the magic window starts now. But in places with harsh winters like Boston, waiting until mid- to late April is your best bet.

What’s so magical about the magic window? It’s when you’ll sell your home faster and for more money. The data shows homes sold from mid-March to mid-April sell around 15 percent faster and for 2 percent more than the average listing. That’s a national premium worth more than $4,000. And in hot markets like San Francisco, that could mean an extra $22,000 in your pocket!

Here’s why:

Out with the old, in with the new

Because the majority of home shoppers now start their search on Zillow or another site refreshed multiple times a day, listings can become old news fast.

As a home seller, your biggest competition is a surge in new homes for sale, pushing yours lower in search results. The largest surge nationally occurs in the last weeks of February and into early March, so if you list your home before then you may quickly become outranked.

Listing your home in late March or early April, however, means you’ll likely bypass this surge.

You want a marriage, not a fling

When you’re looking to sell, you don’t want to attract people who are just looking. You want someone who’s serious about buying.

How do you know if a buyer is serious? One way is to see if they’ve contacted a real estate agent or mortgage broker, signaling they’re ready to take the next step in the home buying process.

Data shows agent and lender contacts build in early April, so this is a good time to put your home on the market if you want to attract serious buyers.

Time is money

In addition to attracting a serious buyer, you likely care about two things: how quickly and how much you sell your home for. Turns out, the two go hand-in-hand.

After Jan. 1, the first significant drop in the time listings typically spend on the market is in late March. This is also when the difference between final sale prices and list prices is highest.


Catherine Sherman, a real estate writer for Zillow Porchlight, covers real estate news, industry trends and home design.

Qué Necesita Usted Saber Acerca de la Inspección de su Casa

Qué Necesita Usted Saber Acerca de la Inspección de su Casa

Antes de que compre una casa es importante efectuar una inspección completa llevada a cabo por un inspector de casas calificado. Usted pensará que ha encontrado la casa que busca con base en la información proporcionada por el vendedor, la vista de la casa y su ubicación. Puede pensar que está pagando un precio justo por esta pieza de bien raíz. Sin embargo, si la inspección de la casa revela un problema costoso que requerirá mucho trabajo para solucionarlo, ¿todavía sentiría lo mismo acerca de esa casa?

Casi cada inspección de una casa se lleva a cabo en la misma forma que una casa nueva, reportando algunos problemas que necesitan arreglarse o sugerencias para mejorar la propiedad. Dicho lo anterior, no todo lo que se reporta en la inspección de una casa es de gran importancia. Algunas cosas, tales como por ejemplo una cerradura descompuesta, pueden ser arregladas con unos pocos dólares y sin mucho esfuerzo.

Dado que casi todo reporte de una inspección sobre propiedades que han tenido dueño contiene algún problema, la cláusula de contingencia en la mayoría de las ofertas de compra de bienes raíces solamente permite al comprador cancelar el contrato si existe un problema sustancial o de significación que haya revelado la inspección.

Qué constituye un problema sustancial o de significación, variará dependiendo de la propiedad. Los compradores y los vendedores deben considerar el costo de la reparación en relación con el precio de compra de la casa. En muchos casos las siguientes clases de problemas pueden ser sustanciales o de significación:

  • Elementos Estructurales de la Casa: si el techo necesita reparación, los cimientos están defectuosos o la estructura no es buena, entonces probablemente serán un problema cuyo arreglo será costoso. Esto puede incluir problemas de agua, como agua en el sótano que se acumula cuando llueve.
  • Sistema de Plomería: Si existe un problema complicado del sistema de plomería, ello puede ser costoso y difícil de reparación. Sin embargo, si el problema se limita a una área pequeña, tal como un fregadero, entonces no será un problema de significación.
  • Sistema Eléctrico: como en el caso de la plomería, si hay un problema sistémico en la electricidad, entonces será de significación. Si, por ejemplo, el sistema de cableado no está codificado, entonces será un problema de seguridad que puede ser costoso de arreglar.
  • Sistema de Calefacción y de Hornos: un problema con el sistema de calefacción o con el horno, también es un asunto de seguridad que puede ser difícil de arreglar.
  • Asbesto: esta no constituye una parte típica de la inspección de la casa, pero el asbesto puede estar presente en la casa, entonces el comprador en potencia debe contratar a un inspector en asbesto para determinar la presencia de esta sustancia. Puede ser peligroso aspirar asbesto pues puede dar como resultado graves problemas de salud como  mesothelioma. Su eliminación puede ser costosa.
  • Pintura de Plomo: la pintura de plomo, como el asbesto, típicamente no forma parte de la inspección de una casa, pero puede estar presente en casas construidas antes de 1978. Es importante que su casa sea probada por lo que toca a la pintura de plomo y que toda la que exista sea removida del edificio, especialmente si van a vivir en ella niños pequeños o embarazadas.

Otros aspectos como los problemas con los artefactos individuales y cosméticos, tales como tapetes manchados o empapelado de las paredes rotos, usualmente son insignificantes y no causan el rechazo de una oferta de compra de un bien raíz.

Antes de cancelar una oferta de compra debido a un problema descubierto durante la inspección de una casa, típicamente el comprador en potencia debe compartir el informe de la inspección con el vendedor  para darle oportunidad de arreglar el problema o negociar una solución con el comprador. Una vez que el vendedor conozca el problema, entonces éste usualmente está obligado a divulgar el problema a otros posibles compradores. En consecuencia, muchas veces es para los mejores intereses del vendedor cubrir el costo de las reparaciones o negociar con el comprador, en lugar de dejar que éste se retire del acuerdo de comprar la casa.

How Homeowners Insurance Works?

How Homeowners Insurance Works?

By Marcy Tolkoff | December 20, 2007

Do your eyes glaze over just reading the word? It may not be the most thrilling subject, but it’s essential for new homebuyers to understand the nuts and bolts of their homeowners insurance. Virtually all mortgage lenders require insurance coverage to protect their investment. If the house you live in is destroyed, the real owners – and in most cases, that’s the bank – would suffer a huge monetary loss.

Tutorial: Introduction To Insurance

You don’t even have to “own” your home to need homeowners insurance; many landlords require their tenants to have coverage. But whether it’s required or not, it’s smart to have this kind of protection anyway. We’ll take it step by step as we walk you through the basics of this type of policy.

What a Homeowners’ Policy Provides
The elements of a standard homeowners’ insurance policy provide that the insurer will cover costs related to:

  • Damage to the interior or exterior of your house In the event of damage due to fire, hurricanes, lightning, vandalism or other covered disasters, your insurer will compensate you so that your house can be repaired or even completely rebuilt. Damage that is the result of floods, earthquakes and poor home maintenance is generally not covered and you may require separate riders if want that type of protection.
  • Loss or damage to your personal belongings Clothing, furniture, appliances and most of the other contents of your home are covered if they’re destroyed in an insured disaster. You can even get “off-premises” coverage, so you could file a claim for lost jewelry, for example – no matter where in the world you lost it. There may be a limit on the amount your insurer will reimburse you. Even if your Rolex or mink coat is damaged at home, there will be a limit on the coverage for that, too – unless you purchase a separate “floater” policy that insures the item for its full appraised value.According to the Insurance Information Institute, most insurance companies will provide coverage for 50-70% of the amount of insurance you have on the structure of your home. If your house is insured for $200,000, there would be up to about $140,000 worth of coverage for your possessions – would this be enough for you? In order to answer this question, you would need to have a list of all your possessions and their value, also called a “home inventory”.
  • Personal liability for damage or injuries caused by you or your familyThis clause even includes your pets! So, if frisky Fido bites your neighbor Doris, no matter where the bite happens to occur, your insurer will pay her medical bills. Or, if Junior breaks her Oriental vase, you can file a claim to reimburse her. And if Doris slips on the broken vase pieces and successfully sues for pain and suffering or lost wages? You’ll be covered for that, too, just as if someone had been injured on the premises of your home or property. While policies start in the range of $100,000 coverage, experts recommend having at least $300,000 worth of coverage according to the Insurance Information Institute. For extra protection, a few hundred dollars more in premium may buy you an extra $1 million or more through “umbrella coverage”.
  • Hotel or house rental while your home is being rebuilt or repaired It’s unlikely you’ll ever need this protection, but if you do find yourself in this situation, it will undoubtedly be the best coverage you ever purchased. If your house has been completely destroyed or is so damaged that it’s uninhabitable, you may need to rent another house or live in a hotel until it’s repaired or rebuilt. This portion of homeowners’ coverage would reimburse you for the cost of rent, hotel, restaurant meals and other incidental costs because you were unable to live in your house. Before you book a suite at the Ritz-Carlton and order caviar from room service, however, keep in mind that policies impose strict daily and total limits – but, of course, you can expand those daily limits if you’re willing to pay more in coverage.

Different Types of Coverage
All insurance is definitely not created equal. The least costly homeowners insurance will likely give you the least amount of coverage, and vice versa.

There are essentially three levels of coverage:

  • Actual cash value This value covers the house plus the value of your belongings after deducting depreciation (i.e., how much the items are currently worth, not how much you paid for them).
  • Replacement cost This is the actual cash value without the deduction for depreciation, so you would be able to repair or rebuild your home up to the original value.
  • Guaranteed (or extended) replacement cost The most comprehensive, this inflation-buffer pays for whatever it costs to repair or build your home – even if it’s more than your policy limit! Certain insurers offer extended replacement, meaning it offers more coverage than you purchased, but there is a ceiling; typically, it is 20-25% higher than the limit.

How Much Does It Cost?
The average yearly premium cost for U.S. homeowners insurance in 2008 (as of 2010, the latest year for which data is available) was $791, according the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, but premiums vary widely and depend on multiple factors. First, of course, price will be determined by how much coverage you buy, a decision you can only make after evaluating the market value of your house, completing a household inventory, and deciding how much liability protection you want.

Other variables that need to be considered include your zip code. If you live in a high-crime area, for example, insurance premiums will be higher. Companies also take into account the size of your house, how close it is to a fire hydrant, the condition of your plumbing, heating and electrical systems, how many claims were filed against the home you’re seeking to insure, and even details like your credit score that reflect on how responsible a consumer – and, therefore, a homeowner – you are.

No matter what initial price you’re quoted, you’ll want to do a little comparison shopping. And don’t forget there are many other ways to slash costs, such as raising deductible levels, buying multiple policies from the same insurer, getting all available discounts (for security devices, such as burglar alarms, for example), checking for group coverage options through credit or trade unions, employers, or association memberships, and boosting your credit score.

Selecting an Insurance Company
Price is important, but it is not the only or even the most important factor. When it comes to insurance, you want to make sure you are going with a provider that is legitimate and creditworthy. Before you sign on the dotted line, first contact your state’s insurance department to make sure the company is licensed, as all insurers are required to be. Second, check its financial strength by going to websites of the top credit agencies (ex. A.M.Best, Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s) and searching their financials. Finally, consider asking relatives, friends and coworkers for referrals. It always makes sense to benefit from the experiences of others, so ask someone you know who has filed a claim about an insurer’s customer service representatives, the speed with which a claim was appraised, processed and paid, in addition to your friend’s general level of satisfaction with the insurer.

As with all insurance policies, they are under-appreciated until they are needed, and then they quickly become a godsend. Getting yourself set up with a comprehensive homeowners policy can go a long way toward making your home truly a place of comfort and security.


How to Pet-Proof Your Home

How to Pet-Proof Your Home

A pet makes a wonderful addition to any household. Cats and dogs mean furry snuggles and tons of comic relief; they can also teach us all a few things about unconditional love. Unfortunately, they also bring with them some less desirable traits: sloppy table manners, a propensity to break things, and truckloads of animal hair.

It’s true, pets can be messy. In fact, your beloved animals can actually ding the value of your property if you’re trying to sell by adding scratches to your doors and floors, funky, semipermanent smells, and other flaws that prospective buyers might just catch. However, there are precautions you can take to pet-proof your home so that their negative impact is greatly reduced.


Follow these tips to do dog-and-cat damage control.

Create a separate eating area for them

When Judy Morgan, a veterinarian in Woolwich, NJ, remodeled her kitchen, she took the opportunity to turn a room in her basement into a kitchen that caters specifically to her nine dogs and four cats. The vet took her old cabinets, a small refrigerator, a microwave, and even a Keurig machine downstairs to create an eating space just for the animals.

“They eat down there so they won’t scratch the new kitchen cabinets when they are excited and jumping up to see their food being prepared,” says Morgan. “We keep their food in the downstairs refrigerator and warm it in their own microwave. The Keurig is for making hot water to rehydrate or warm meals.”


Get smart about flooring

Not everyone has room to create a second kitchen for their cats and dogs, so Morgan also recommends bamboo flooring in common areas.

“Bamboo is much harder than most woods so it doesn’t scratch easily,” she says. “It also has no grooves between boards like other hardwood floors. Grooves are a real pain when there is a urine or poo accident.”

Tile is another good option, says Morgan, who used that material in her sunroom because it’s easy to clean. She also recommends recycled tire rubber flooring as a great basement floor covering for people with kids and pets.

“Phenomenal product, comes in large rolls, used in a lot of gyms,” Morgan says of rubber flooring. “Comes in an amazing array of colors and thicknesses.”

As you might have guessed, carpet is not a terrific choice. “We have no carpet, other than on the stairs,” notes Morgan. “Carpet holds hair and odors and is an allergy disaster for people with allergies.”

Decorate your windows wisely

Pet owners should also pay special attention to windows in their home.

“Curtains, for their own sake, should not drag the ground”, says Michelle Newfield, a veterinarian in Slidell, LA. “Exploring kittens love to climb them.”

Newfield suggests thick blinds for window coverings (think wood or even faux wood, material meant to stand the test of claws). “And be sure to secure the cords out of reach,” Newfield says.


Set up some barriers

If you have a beloved vase or rug that you fear could be ruined by your pet, the answer may be as simple as setting up a barrier to keep curious creatures out.

“Most animals explore their environment with their noses and mouths,” explains Patrick Mahaney, a vet based out of Los Angeles. “It’s common for indoor and outdoor items to be sniffed, licked, or chewed upon, so it’s crucial to use physical barriers. Baby gates, doors, screens, and other barriers can do the trick.”

Or, if it’s all but impossible to keep your pets off your gorgeous new couch, try a different type of barrier by covering it in a large throw blanket. That way, they can lounge and shed with abandon; then, when company comes, you can lift it off and see a clean couch!


Keep pet paraphernalia out of sight

There’s nothing like a gnawed-on ham bone in the center of your living room floor to ruin the ambiance. So get a cute basket in which you can stash pet toys and set it off to the side and out of sight. You can also give pets a place to call their own that doesn’t detract from your design. Place a cozy crate or dog bed in a kitchen nook, under a table, or in a corner. We’re not saying pets should neither be seen nor heard, but, well, sometimes that would be nice, wouldn’t it?

By, Brittney Gilbert

Luxury Bathroom Trends

Luxury Bathroom Trends

At оnе timе, heated tоwеl rасkѕ wеrе the hеight оf luxury. However, today’s high-еnd bathroom manufacturers оffеr a widе rаngе оf fаr mоrе luxuriоuѕ еquiрmеnt. If уоu’rе doing a luxury bаthrооm rеmоdеling project, соnѕidеr some оf thеѕе features:

1) Lооk beyond thе рlаin оld ceramic or асrуliс sink. High-end ѕinkѕ аrе mаdе of copper, brоnzе, stone, саrvеd mаrblе, glass, cloisonné, Vеnеtiаn glаѕѕ mоѕаiс оr hаnd-раintеd porcelain or pottery.

2) Sinkѕ оn tор. While undеrmоuntеd ѕinkѕ аrе ѕtill popular, thе luxurу ѕink оf сhоiсе is uѕuаllу a vеѕѕеl ѕink ѕitting оn tор of thе vanity.

3) Adjuѕtаblе Fаuсеtѕ. Higher-end faucets are jоintеd in two or thrее places ѕо that you can dirесt the water jеt whеrе уоu want it. You саn аlѕо adjust thе wаtеr ѕtrеаm fоr a gеntlеr or mоrе fоrсеful spray.

4) Cоnѕidеr multiрlе ѕhоwеrhеаdѕ. Tоdау’ѕ luxury ѕhоwеrѕ соmе with multiрlе jеtѕ lining thе wаllѕ and еvеn the ceiling. Imаginе a ѕhоwеr with up to 55 individuаl water jets – еасh оf which саn bе positioned specifically where уоu wаnt it tо ѕрrау оn your bоdу.

5) Add ѕоund аnd light tо уоur bath. Sоmе nеw bаthtubѕ соmе with panels thаt bаthе уоur body in ѕоund wаvеѕ еmittеd through thе wаtеr fоr a completely relaxing еxреriеnсе. Thе baths рlау original muѕiсаl compositions, or a digital intеrfасе allows уоu tо аdd your оwn muѕiс. They еvеn соmе with light раnеlѕ thаt change соlоr, sometimes in concert with thе abovementioned ѕоund panels.

6) Add light to уоur ѕhоwеr. Yоu can program ceiling panels to glоw in уоur favorite colors, оr use рrе-inѕtаllеd ѕеtѕ of light раttеrnѕ that саn simulate bright ѕunѕhinе, rain, оr a сlоudу day, dереnding on whether you wаnt to bе invigоrаtеd оr саlmеd.

7) Enjоу digital showering with сuѕtоmizаblе shower stalls. Not оnlу саn уоu сhооѕе showerheads аnd ѕоund/light features, but a built-in computer саn rеmеmbеr ѕеttingѕ fоr еасh fаmilу mеmbеr. Imagine ѕtеррing into thе ѕhоwеr аnd hаving thе wаtеr tеmреrаturе, shower height, and wаtеr раttеrn juѕt аѕ уоu like it!

8) Tаkе a steam “bath.” Nеw luxurу ѕhоwеrѕ come with a ѕtеаm ѕеtting, оr уоu саn hаvе a соmрlеtеlу separate ѕtеаm room inѕtаllеd.

9) Soak for a while. What’s оld iѕ nеw again in high-еnd bаthrооmѕ, with large soaking tubѕ, сlаw feet, and vintаgе-lооk fаuсеtѕ.

10) Uрgrаdе уоur tilе. Bаthrооm tile no lоngеr hаѕ tо be whitе, black, оr bаbу bluе. Luxurу handmade tilе comes in аn infinitе rаngе оf соlоrѕ аnd саn run hundrеdѕ of dollars реr рiесе. The often hаndmаdе tilеwоrk аnd рrесiоuѕ mеtаl accents сrеаtе a оnе-оf-а-kind lооk.

By, Brittany Vansant