Real Estate Information

Olivia Prince's Blog

Olivia Prince

Blog

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 48

Dear Olivia,

I’ve begun casually searching for a new home online, and I’m wondering, what features should I look for that will help resale value down the road?
 

Sincerely,
Preparing for the Future
 

The great thing about real estate is that over time, it’s likely that the value of the home you buy will appreciate in value. That’s why real estate is such a great investment!
 

But some homes appreciate more than others, and there are different reasons for that. Here’s a few of my top things to look for when thinking about resale value in the future.

Location, Location, Location

You can change a lot of things about a house - the color of the siding, the flooring, even the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. But what you can’t change is the location.
 

When searching for a new home, make the location your number one priority. If you find yourself drawn to neighborhoods because of their location, there’s a good chance that buyers in the future will do the same.
 

Buyers consider things like whether the house is on a busy street, how far it is to work or school, and what the other homes in the area look like. For example, many buyers are drawn to the country club area because it’s got quiet streets, it’s not far from town, and homes are well cared-for and have manicured lawns.


That’s not to say that living in the country club area is for everyone, but when looking for a home, just think about how the location might impact resale in the future.

Look for Three or More Bedrooms

While not everyone needs or wants three or more bedrooms, the majority of buyers do. Young couples might want a guest room and a home office in addition to their own master suite. Young families need room for kids. Even older couples like having a couple of guest rooms for when their kids and grandkids come to visit.
 

The reality is that a two-bedroom home cannot command the same asking price as a three-bedroom home, all else being equal, so if you consider that as you look for a home now, your three-bedroom investment will likely give you a better return later on.

 

The same thing goes for bathrooms, too. Look for a home with two or more bathrooms and enjoy better value in the future.

Updates Help

Most people prefer to purchase a home that doesn’t require a ton of work. In your case, as you look for homes today, consider not just what has been done to the home but what you might be able to do with it in the coming years.

 

Expensive updates like a new roof, new windows, and new siding are always a big deal for potential buyers. What’s more, having an updated kitchen and baths increases the value of the home - often significantly.

 

But even simpler updates like fresh paint and new flooring can make a world of difference in terms of how potential buyers perceive your home. Making smart updates like these when needed will help you capture as much value out of your home when you list it for sale.

 

Just remember - there are no guarantees in real estate. The home you love on the edge of town may one day be next to a commercial development. But more often than not, paying attention to things like location, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and making smart updates will help you maximize your investment.
 

~Olivia

Ask O: Is It Too Late to List My Home for Sale?

by Olivia Prince

Dear Olivia,

I’m considering listing my home for sale, but a good friend told me that it’s too late in the year - that I should have listed in the spring. Is that true?

Sincerely,

Confused by the Calendar
 

What a great question!
 

Luckily for you, no, it’s not too late to list your home for sale. Summer in Wyoming is actually a great time to list your home for sale because the warm weather and longer days mean that more people are in the mood to shop for (and buy) homes. The more buyers there are to consider your home, the more likely it will be that you’ll find a buyer.
 

Speaking of buyers, another common misconception is that most sellers find their buyer at an open house. And while open houses are a critical part of marketing for some homes and in some markets, more often than not, buyers find “the one” home because they saw the listing online or were told about the property by their Realtor, a friend, or a family member.


What is crucial, though, is that you be open to private showings at a moment’s notice. Unlike an open house where people may or may not even be looking to buy a home, when a private showing of your home occurs, you know that there are potential buyers on the line. That means not only maintaining your home and keeping it show-ready, but that also means being flexible when your Realtor calls and asks if its okay for another Realtor to show your home.
 

A final misconception about selling your home is that you should reject any and all lowball offers. If you get to the point of getting an offer, but it isn’t what you expected, try not to react in an emotional way. We all love our homes and become attached to them, and it’s understandable to be offended when someone offers much less than what you think your home is worth.
 

However, selling real estate is a process of negotiations, and though a potential buyer might start out with a lowball offer, if you work with your Realtor to present a counteroffer, you might well find that the lowball offer becomes a decent offer through the process of negotiation.
 

Like I said earlier, summer is a great time to sell homes in Wyoming. But no matter the season, it’s important to keep an open mind and a clean house, that way you maximize your opportunities to sell your home!
 

~Olivia

Ask O: How Long Does It Take to Buy a Home?

by Olivia Prince

Dear Olivia,
 

I’m interested in buying a home. I’m wondering, how long does the process take?
 

Sincerely,

Impatient Buyer

 

It’s no secret that buying a home is a big deal.

 

Not only is it a process that involves a lot of money (and a lot of stress!) but it’s also a process that takes a good deal of time to complete.

 

I’ve had buyers find the right home right out of the gate, and put an offer in on the very first house they saw. I’ve also had buyers that have looked for months and months and just haven’t found a home that feels right.

 

So, the short answer is this - the length of the home buying process really depends on your unique situation. But a good rule of thumb is that it will be at least several months before you get into a new home.

 

Here are a couple of other rules of thumb to bear in mind as you look for a new place to live.

Get Financing Before You Start Looking

A great way to cut down on the length of the process is to get pre-approved for a mortgage before you start looking for a home.

 

This serves a couple of important purposes. First, by seeking pre-approval, you know how much house you can afford. That will help you and your Realtor narrow down your home search and focus your attention on homes that you can actually afford.

 

Second, pre-approval can speed up the financing process, sometimes by a couple of weeks or more. When you’re looking at several months invested in the process of buying a home, it can be a Godsend to save a couple of weeks!

 

Lastly, getting pre-approved signals to the seller that you’re qualified to make the purchase and that you mean business. And if the home you want is in a multiple offer situation, being pre-approved will make you a more attractive buyer that makes you stand out from the crowd.

Avoid a Lowball Offer

Though everyone likes a deal, few people like the hassle of going back and forth with offers and counteroffers with the seller.

 

By lowballing the seller, you not only run the risk of extending the time it takes to complete the process of buying the home, but you also run the risk of offending the seller.

 

Think about it this way - if you own a home that you love and someone offers you a price that’s ridiculously low, how would you feel? Probably not like negotiating with that buyer…

 

Now, this doesn’t mean that you should offer full asking price. What it does mean, though, is that you’ll need to rely on your Realtor’s expertise to come up with a solid offer that’s not offensive to the seller, but that also ensures that you get as good a deal as possible.

 

After all, Realtors exist to make the process of buying a home as smooth as possible and as timely as possible too. When in doubt, talk to your Realtor about what you can to do expedite the process of buying a home.

 

~Olivia

Ask O: Which Rooms are Most Important for Selling My Home?

by Olivia Prince

Dear Olivia,
 

I’ve heard that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes. My kitchen and baths aren’t spectacular, but they aren’t terrible either. I’m just wondering, if I put money into updating those spaces, will it pay off? Or should I put my attention elsewhere?
 

This is such a great question because it impacts virtually all sellers in some shape or form.
 

To answer the first part of the question, yes, kitchens and bathrooms do sell homes because they are often the most expensive rooms to update. If your home has a kitchen or a bath (or both) that need a lot of work, sometimes it’s hard for buyers to get past it and see other benefits your home might offer, like good square footage or a great location.

 

If you don’t have a lot of money for renovations, making some smaller updates can go a long way without breaking the bank. For example, painting cabinets and replacing hardware is a much less expensive update than getting all-new cabinets. An even easier option is to give the walls in your kitchen or bath a fresh coat of paint.
 

Another factor that has a major impact on whether your home sells or not is how clean your kitchen and bathrooms are. First impressions are everything, and if a potential buyer walks into your kitchen and finds dirty dishes in the sink, gunk on the counters, and stains on the floor, they’ll be immediately turned off. A dirty bathroom is even worse!

 

Again, these are simple fixes. Before your house goes on the market, give the kitchen and baths a deep clean. Wipe down walls, give your cabinets a once-over with a damp cloth to remove chunks of food, dust, and so forth. Clean the top of the fridge, clean the oven, and mop the floors, too.

 

In the bathroom, every surface should be as sparkling as possible. There should be no soap scum, hard water stains, mold, or anything else that tells a buyer that the bathroom is in disrepair!

 

If you make these inexpensive updates and do a little cleaning, you might have some money to spare to attend to other areas of your home. I like to tell my clients to go through their closets and declutter and organize them. Investing in a closet organizer for each bedroom will help maximize the storage space, and even if the closets aren’t that big, they will look bigger.

 

The last thing buyers want is a gross kitchen, a dirty bathroom, and a house without much storage. If you want your home to sell more quickly, I’d recommend giving these areas of your home some love! Check out my free Staging to Sell eBook for more details about what you can do to prepare your home for market!

 

~Olivia

Ask O: What Can I Do to Prep My Home to Sell?

by Olivia Prince


Dear Olivia,
 

I will be listing my home for sale in the next few months. I realize there are some things about my home that won’t exactly excite buyers, but I’m not sure where my money will be best spent. What can I do to best prepare my home to sell without spending thousands of dollars?
 

Yours truly,

Ready to Sell

Believe me when I say that if you’re confused about how to prepare your home for market, you aren’t alone!
 

With the popularity of home improvement shows, many people have grand plans for turning their homes into masterpieces before they sell. But what many home improvement shows don’t explain is that making massive home improvements take a lot of time and money, and sometimes, you don’t even make that money back when you sell.
 

Though it’s true that kitchens and baths sell homes, not all sellers have the time or money needed to make those spaces completely updated and modern.
 

With that in mind, a great budget-friendly idea is to paint your kitchen cabinets. By removing the doors, you can easily paint them with a sprayer to get a nice, even finish. Opt for white paint and new hardware for a bright, clean look that has a classic feel. Try to avoid highly personalized colors or fad colors that might be in now, but might not be so desirable in a few months when your home is for sale.

 


 

Completely remodeling a bathroom can cost tens of thousands of dollars. But for on a tighter budget, you can get a lot of bang for your buck by focusing on improving one or two areas of the bathroom.
 

If your cast iron bathtub looks a little worn, have it reglazed to make it look brand new. If the vanity is outdated, pick up a new one for a couple of hundred bucks to give the bathroom a fresh look. Updating the paint, installing new lighting, and updating the towel hardware are quick and easy fixes that will freshen up the space as well.
 

If your home has popcorn ceilings, consider scraping them (or hiring someone) to create a nice, flat ceiling. Popcorn ceilings scream of the 1980s, so removing them and painting them white will not only update your home the white paint will reflect light and make the rooms seem brighter and larger.
 

Lastly, paint always goes a long way to freshen up your home both inside and out. New flooring is also a prime investment that increases the value of your home while modernizing it at the same time. Just remember that whatever updates you make, you’re making them to appeal to as many buyers as possible. That means opting for neutral colors and popular finishes like nickel or bronze, even if those aren’t your favorites.
 

If you make smart updates like these, your Realtor will be in a much better position to get your home sold!
 

~Olivia

Ask O: Why Do I Need a Realtor?

by Olivia Prince


Dear Olivia,

I’ve been advised by a number of friends to hire a Realtor to help me buy a new home. I’m wondering, what does a Realtor bring to the table that I can’t just do on my own?

Though buying and selling real estate is made to look like a total breeze online and on TV, it can actually be a very complicated process that requires an expert to help guide you through.

For starters, Realtors understand the different rules and regulations that govern real estate transactions in their state (each state is a little different). That gives you peace of mind that they know what’s required to complete the process of buying a home in an efficient and legal manner.

In other words, all those stacks and stacks of paperwork that are needed to complete the purchase of a home are the responsibility of your Realtor, not you. That alone makes a Realtor worth their weight in gold!

Another way that a Realtor can help you make your real estate dreams a reality is through their negotiation skills. Negotiations typically aren’t as dramatic as they seem on real estate shows on TV. However, having a professional that has negotiated deal after deal will only work in your favor once you find the home of your dreams.

What’s more, there’s tons of coordination that has to be done with multiple entities. When buying a home, it’s not just you and the seller involved. There’s also the seller’s agent, the appraiser, the lender, the title company, the home inspector...you get the point. Having a Realtor on your side means that they handle all the coordination and communication between all the stakeholders so you don’t have to.

Lastly, Realtors have an intimate knowledge of the current market conditions and financing requirements and can use that knowledge to help you find a home that you love and get it for the best possible price. In other words, without the input of a Realtor, it would be hard for you to even know how much to offer a seller for their home without offending them with a really low offer, or worse, offering them way too much for their property.

The bottom line is that buying a home is one of the most significant financial investments you’ll make in your entire life, so why go into it unprepared? With a Realtor representing you, you can focus on finding the home of your dreams while your Realtor handles all the behind-the-scenes work. Plus, buyers don’t usually pay their Realtor - they are paid through the seller’s closing costs!

If you’re ready to buy a new home and have questions about the process, don’t hesitate to call Your Hometown Realtors at 307-856-3999 or drop by our office at 309 N Broadway in Riverton.

 

Ask O: Modular vs. Manufactured Homes - What’s the Difference?

by Olivia Prince


 

Dear Olivia,

I hear the terms “modular home” and “manufactured home” thrown around all the time, but I have no idea what the difference is between the two? Can you help?

I get this question on nearly a daily basis, and I see a ton of misinformation being thrown around about this topic, so it’s no wonder you’re confused!

 

First of all, many people use the words “modular” and “manufactured” interchangeably, which is the starting point for all the confusion. They are not the same. To the untrained eye, it is an easy mistake to think that a modular home and a manufactured home are the same, but for home lenders, there are major differences.

 

I suppose if you wanted to get technical, you could say they all modular and manufactured homes are “manufactured,” as they are built in a facility or factory and then transported to the homesite.
 

However, modular and manufactured homes aren’t all created equally, just like so many other similar items in the marketplace. The difference is most important when it comes to financing, which also affects the value of the home.

 

A manufactured home is constructed completely offsite and transported to the location. These homes come in many different sizes and with different floor plans. They also have a metal construction under the home which makes it possible to sit the home on tie downs and skirting without putting in a full foundation. A single-wide trailer house is a type of manufactured home.
 

When a manufactured home isn’t put on what we call an engineer-certified foundation, financing becomes the most challenging. It is then treated like personal property, and typically requires much more stringent financing considerations, as more often than not the value will decline, somewhat like a car.

 

However, the same home can be put on an engineer-certified foundation, and if that’s the case, the title is relinquished and it becomes real property. At that point, many loan programs find a manufactured home to be completely acceptable.
 

But, not all lenders will finance a manufactured home, even with the certified foundation. These are things you want to look into when purchasing a home.
 

A typical manufactured home with a steel undercarriage.

 

One of the things I find most interesting is that quality can go many ways, much like a vehicle. You can purchase a lower quality and less expensive manufactured home, or you can get upgrades that make it feel more upscale and nice.

 

A modular home is also built in a factory and is often called a prefab home. They too come in different floor plans and different quality levels. They do not have the metal carriage underneath, though, and cannot be set down with tie downs as they require a foundation or basement before you make them your home.
 

Some of the modular homes being made these days are fancier than many of the site-built homes in our area, and some people will even say that the fact that they aren’t built in the harsh Wyoming weather is a benefit.

 

For appraisal and lending purposes, a modular home is treated as though it is an onsite, stick-built home. You might have heard of Style Homes, which were built right here in Riverton and are located all around the country. They are an example of a modular home.

 

Much like a manufactured home, modular homes have quality differences. I have seen some manufactured homes that were higher quality than some modulars, so while it is important to know the differences that the banks require and have designated, you also need to be aware that just because the home is “labeled” one or the other doesn’t mean there might not be more quality found in the other choice.

 

This is not considered to be an all-inclusive differentiation between modular and manufactured homes, but with this information, you can ask better questions of your Realtor or lender when you’re shopping for a new home.
 

~Olivia

 

Ask O: How Do I Know If a House is Right For Me?

by Olivia Prince

 

Dear Olivia,
 

I’ve come close to buying a home a couple of times, but just can’t seem to get over the hump. I never seem to be able to tell if it’s a home that I’ll love forever or that I might hate in a couple of months. HELP!
 

Afraid to Buy
 

Hopefully you take some solace knowing that you certainly aren’t the only one that’s ever wondered if the house you think you love so much is really worth loving.

 

Granted, it’s a huge decision to buy a home, and there are tons of factors at play that will determine if it’s a good fit for you or not. However, I’ve come up with a few critical questions to ask yourself to help you decide if the house is “the one.”

It’s All About Location

Location, location, location is a real estate cliche, but it’s so true!

 

You can change virtually anything about a house. Heck, you can even tear it down and build something new! But what you can’t change is the location.

 

Even if there’s things about the home that you don’t like, if you love the location, that’s a big bonus now and down the road.

 

When deciding if the location is right for you, don’t just look at the home and property itself. Instead, tour the neighborhood, talk to the neighbors, and get a feel for what life would be like in that location.

 

If it seems like a great place to live, the location is certainly worth sacrificing a few other desired features. You’ll love a home in an ideal neighborhood with a one-car garage more than the home in a less-than-desirable neighborhood with the two-car garage any day of the week!

Have Renovations Been Made?

 

Some people love to come into a home, rip it apart, and make it their own. But most of us want to move right in without having to tackle huge projects.

 

If you find a home that’s been recently renovated, consider how much time and money you’ll save. The owners have done the dirty work; now you can enjoy the fruits of their labor and move right in!

 

When it comes to renovations, the big ones are obviously the kitchen and bathrooms. These can be pricey to upgrade, so the more work that’s been done in these areas, the better for you.

 

Even updates to things like paint and flooring can make a big difference, too. Be sure to ask your Realtor about what upgrades have been made to the house. If it’s turnkey, great! But if it needs work, it might be something you want to skip unless you enjoy doing that kind of stuff.

What is the Home’s Sales History?

The more you know about your potential home, the better.

 

That includes finding out how often it’s been sold, when it sold last, and for how much. Armed with that information, you can make a better determination as to the offer your Realtor writes for the property.

 

For example, if you know that the home last sold just three years ago for $200,000, and that the sales price this go-round has already dropped from $235,000 to $225,000, you can use that information to write a competitive offer - but one that also keeps your bottom line in mind.

 

Also be aware that your Realtor should have information like how much property taxes are, if there’s any special assessments, how much utilities are each month, and so forth. Having those details will help you determine the actual cost each month to live in the home, which is obviously important as you determine if you want to live there, and if you can afford the home as well.

 

There’s plenty of other considerations to make when trying to determine if a home is right for you - too many to list, in fact! These questions will get you going in the right direction, though. For more help, don’t hesitate to call me at 307-856-3999 or drop by my office at 309 N. Broadway in Riverton.

Ask O: Is It a Big Deal to Price My Home High, Then Reduce Later?

by Olivia Prince


 

Dear Olivia,

I’m thinking about listing my home for sale, and I have a specific number in mind. My husband disagrees, saying that if we price the home too high, no one will be interested in it. My argument is that we can just lower the price later if need be. What do you think?

Price Fighter
 

One of the biggest decisions you can make when selling your home is settling on a price. It sounds like you’ve at least started that conversation, so that’s good!

 

To answer your question, yes, you can always lower the price of your home later.
 

BUT...there’s a problem.
 

When you overprice your home to begin with, it will linger on the market longer. The longer your home is for sale, the less likely you are to get your original price. In fact, the longer a home is on the market, the more people will wonder if there’s something wrong with the house that’s caused it not to sell. That’s not a good situation for you!
 

The key is to price your home appropriately right from the get-go. That means speaking with Realtor and getting information about current market conditions. Your Realtor can examine similar homes that have sold recently in or near your neighborhood, and use those comparables to determine a good starting price for your home.
 

If you start out with a good price, the chances are greater that your home will generate more interest when it comes on the market. Obviously, the more buyers that are interested, the better chances you have of making a sale.
 

Now, just because you price your home right doesn’t mean that it’ll sell immediately or attract multiple offers. The market is a little slow right now for sellers, so be prepared for a conversation with your Realtor a few weeks or months down the road to adjust the price accordingly if your home doesn’t sell.
 

Having said that, just because the market is slow doesn’t mean that listing your home for sale right now is a bad idea. In fact, since fewer homes go on the market this time of year because of the upcoming holidays (and the cold!), your home might have less competition. And the less competition, the greater the likelihood that buyers will consider your home.
 

Pricing your home for sale is an art, and something that you should consult with your Realtor about before putting your house on the market. Though it can be tempting thinking about a big payday from an astronomical price for your home, it’s a better idea to start out with a more prudent sales price right from the start.
 

~Olivia

Ask O: Is Renting Really Cheaper Than Buying?

by Olivia Prince


Dear Olivia,

I’m a renter and pay a reasonable rent each month. My landlord pays for all my utilities as well. I find it hard to believe that buying a home could be cheaper. Am I missing something?

Renter For Life

On the surface, renting a home might seem cheaper than owning. Like you said, your landlord pays all the utilities which is a huge savings for you. Additionally, if a pipe bursts or the air conditioning goes out, your landlord has to fix it, not you.

But if you dig a little deeper, you begin to understand why renting isn’t as cheap as it first looks.

For starters, there’s no guarantees that next month your rent won’t go up. And if you rent for long enough, you might find that what you pay a couple of years down the road is significantly more than what you pay now.

When you own a home, though, you can get a fixed monthly payment so you know exactly what your housing expenses are from month to month, year to year. That definitely helps in budgeting and planning for your future!

Speaking of your future, if you rent, you’re not building any equity in the property whatsoever. This is actually the biggest hidden cost of renting because it’s more of what you miss out on rather than what you actually pay.

For example, if you rent a home for five years, the home will most likely be worth more at the end of that five-year period than it was at the start. That’s great for your landlord, but what do you have to show for it? Conversely, if you buy a home, after that same five-year period, you’re the one with the equity in your property. You can then use that equity for all sorts of purposes - getting rid of private mortgage insurance sooner, using it to make home improvements, use it to consolidate other debt, or just creating a higher level of financial security.

Yet another way that buying a home can be cheaper is that there are many financing programs available that require little or no money down. That means you can get into your own home without having to shell out a bunch of money like first and last month’s rent and a security deposit when you’re renting a property.

Furthermore, there are plenty of homes on the market today that are highly affordable - our #PerfectStorm properties being a perfect example. Most of these homes are priced well under $150,000, and with an abundance of financing options, you might just find that a monthly mortgage payment is even less than what you pay in rent.

I know that making the leap from renting to owning is a big one - I certainly found it nerve-wracking when I bought my first home. But the financial benefits to be had in the long run certainly make it a wise move!

If you have any other questions about renting or buying, don’t hesitate to stop by my office at 309 N Broadway in Riverton or call 307-856-3999!

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 48