Category: Real Estate

Selling Your Maui Home? Here’s How To Make It Look Its Best Before Showings

Maui real estate
While there are many things you can do to make your Maui property look it’s best before showing to a potential buyer, here are four of the most important aspects to highlight:

Appeal

Appeal reigns supreme when it comes to attracting prospective buyers. They’re looking for an attractive residence that’ll present a welcoming façade and inspire pride in ownership. Inspect the interior and exterior of your Maui home from a buyer’s perspective. Every room and space inside, as well as the lawn, walkways and outbuildings, should be aesthetically appealing with coordinated colors and designs. Mismatches in structure or decor are usually a turnoff to those seriously interested in purchasing a home.

Cleanliness

Everything should be orderly. Get rid of trash, debris and weeds that can make the property appear uncared for. Unused items that are stored in closets, cupboards, the attic or the garage should be removed to make those areas appear more spacious and useful. All surface areas, including counters, floors, walls and ceilings should be free of dust or stains. Bathrooms should appear especially tidy and free of moldy tiles or rusty fixtures.

Freshness

Even a mansion can appear old and uninviting. Freshen the paint indoors, replace missing tiles and hardware and upgrade bathroom fixtures. Hardwood floors can be polished, or new carpet may be installed. Windows should be clean without spots or stains. Everything about the property should look well cared for and updated. Up the ante even further by cutting the grass and weeding any flower beds on the property.

Functionality

Make sure everything about the property is in good working order. Check electric switches and replace burned out bulbs. Check to see that cabinet drawers close completely and evenly. Inspect appliances and equipment for any problems or flaws that should be fixed before the property goes on the market. Creaking doors can be lubricated. Broken window latches should be repaired or replaced. Ensure the toilet flushes completely and that no faucets are leaking. Additionally, do a walk-through of the property and visualize how prospective Maui buyers might see the space.

Article by: Lizzie Weakley

Build A New Home Or Buy An Old One?

Maui new home
Generally speaking, it makes sense to search for older things rather than their newer counterparts when you want to save money. This doesn’t, however, always hold true when it comes to buying a home. Here are several factors that may lead to older homes costing more than new construction:

Energy Efficiency

One of the great things about buying a new home is that everything inside is new. This generally means that most of the appliances and systems were built in the last few years, which in turn means that they tend to be more energy-efficient. On top of better appliances, newer homes feature the latest in design for insulation, from the framework to the material used in building. This means that, over time, the cost of owning new construction can actually be substantially less than the cost of owning an older home.

Perks Specific to Older Homes

Sometimes buying an older home can also cost more simply because it has perks that aren’t available in new homes. Classic architecture, antique fireplaces or period-specific additions can command a great deal of money, and they’re simply not features that you get in a newer home. Buyers who want these features are willing to pay a premium, which drives up the price of homes that have those touches. As such, new construction may be much cheaper in comparison.

Maintenance Costs

Older homes cost more to take care of than newer homes, if only because time tends to be unkind to any building. In the short term, at least, it’s also more likely that a homeowner would have to replace big-ticket items in an older home than in a newer home. New construction homes may cost more upfront, but the actual cost of living in an older home will generally be quite a bit more.

Property Value

In many cases, the true cost of a home comes down not to the style of the house or what perks it offers, but rather the value of the property on which it sits. New construction can often be less expensive simply because the area in which it was built hasn’t had time to gain the same sort of social cache as older construction. An older home in a well-established neighborhood is almost always going to cost more than new construction in a less desirable area.

Old homes aren’t always cheaper than their newer counterparts. Even when new construction costs more to buy, it can still cost less than living in an older home. As such, it’s always a good idea to look at both types of homes in Maui when you’re trying to find something that will fit your budget!

Article from Meghan Belnap

Tips for Starting a Home Search

Maui real estate
In today’s market, low inventory dominates the conversation in many areas of the country. It can often be frustrating to be a first-time homebuyer if you aren’t prepared. Here are some tips to help you get started with your Maui home search.

Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

One way to show you’re serious about buying your dream home in Maui is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage. Even if you’re in a market that is not as competitive, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing whether or not your dream home is within your reach. This will help you avoid the disappointment of falling in love with a home well outside your price range.

‘Must-Haves’ vs. ‘Would-Like-To-Haves’

Do you really need that farmhouse sink in the kitchen to be happy with your home choice? Would a two-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Before you start your search, list all the features of a home you would like. Qualify them as ‘must-haves’, ‘should-haves’, or ‘absolute-wish list’ items. This will help you stay focused on what’s most important.

Research and Choose a Neighborhood

Every neighborhood has unique charm. Before you commit to a home based solely on the house itself, take a test-drive of the area. Make sure it meets your needs for “amenities, commute, school district, etc. and then spend a weekend exploring before you commit.”

Pick a House Style and Stick to It

Evaluate your family’s needs and settle on a style of home that will best serve those needs. Just because you’ve narrowed your search to a zip code doesn’t mean you need to tour every listing in that vicinity. An example from the article says, “if you have several younger kids and don’t want your bedroom on a different level, steer clear of Cape Cod–style homes, which typically feature two or more bedrooms on the upper level and the master on the main.”

Document Your Home Visits

Once you start touring homes in Maui, the features of each individual home will start to blur together. The article suggests keeping your camera handy and making notes on the listing sheet to document what you love and don’t love about each property you visit.

In a high-paced, competitive environment, any advantage you can give yourself will help you on your path to buying your Maui dream home.

From realtor.com’s article, “How to Find Your Dream Home—Without Losing Your Mind.”

How Local Schools Can Impact Your Home’s Value

Maui real estate
Schools are, of course, an influence on surrounding home prices. A good school district can increase buyer demand within its boundaries, which in turn increases home values. Homes located in high-scoring school districts attract more buyers, including parents who want their children to go to good schools and others who understand that a good school district helps protect a home’s resale value.

On the flip side, a struggling school district can experience less buyer demand, which restrains home values. In addition, a low-scoring public school can decrease the availability of amenities in the area and increase the proportion of renters to homeowners.

Home prices are generally not as impacted by nearby private schools, since attendance to private schools is not dependent on home location. That same theory can sometimes apply to public schools: Even if two elementary schools feed into the same high school, the more desirable elementary school could easily command higher home prices within its attendance boundary.

Prospective homebuyers should explore school districts’ websites and visit schools personally to meet with administrators when house-hunting with education in mind. They should also be aware of educational options offered by the district that are not dependent on property location, such as magnet programs and charter schools. For example, many lower-performing high schools and elementary schools receive additional financing and special support; the homes surrounding these schools may be priced lower than those in better districts nearby, yet still offer good educational opportunities.

Buyers can benefit by engaging a local REALTOR® for assistance. In addition to offering traditional services (facilitating showings, negotiating contracts, recommending lenders, following inspections, etc.), REALTORS® can serve as the expert “source of the source” when it comes to educating buyers about districts and schools. District and individual school websites are valuable resources, as are state departments of education. Even private publications and online entities uncovered by a simple Google search gather data and post reviews, and many offer rankings.

Source: Jeffrey Fagan, President for the Orlando Regional Realtor Association

Things To Do Before the Movers Arrive

Maui real estate
Working with professional movers is a great option for people making big moves, moving with kids, or moving large or fragile items that would be otherwise impossible to transport. But while many moving companies do a great job of providing end-to-end service, there are some things that only you can do to make the whole process run smoothly. Here’s our list of six surprising things you’ll need to do before the movers arrive in order to avoid disaster.

1. Make a clear path

Whether you live in an urban apartment or a two-story house in the country, there are bound to be obstacles for your movers. By anticipating these issues before they happen, you can make everyone’s job easier, and possibly even save some money by taking up less of the movers’ time.

First, you should consider the parking situation outside your home. Where will the movers be able to leave their truck when packing up your stuff? If you do have that house in the country, this might not be an issue. But if you’re living in an apartment or urban area, chances are good that a huge double-parked truck won’t be taken very kindly by the neighbors.

“If you live in an apartment building or if there is limited parking in your area, ask the movers if they will handle the logistics or if you need to do so,” says Ali Wenzke, author of “The Art of Happy Moving.”

Some moving companies might be familiar with your neighborhood and know how to park in a way that doesn’t raise any red flags with the neighbors. But if they tell you they’d like your help with the logistics, then this will be on you to handle before they arrive.

“You may need to contact your building manager,” Wenzke says, “or the local city government to get the appropriate signage and allowances.”

There are other things to consider, too—like the state of your driveway.

Pat Byrne, operations manager of Long Island–based moving company Moving Ahead Moving & Storage, always asks clients to remove ice and snow to avoid any accidents during the move. You should also make sure the driveway and front access points are clear of debris—like kids’ or pet toys that might pose a slip hazard.

2. Make necessary reservations and get your paperwork together

Some apartment buildings might have service elevators available for use. This would be another time-saving question to ask your building manager in advance.

“See if service elevators can be reserved and whether the building needs any paperwork from movers—like a certificate of insurance,” says Byrne.

3. Protect your house, including your floors

To prevent damage to your house during the move, you should be aware of what furniture is going out the door, and anything fragile in its path that might be at risk of breaking.

“Lightbulbs, fixtures, pictures, mirrors, wall hangings should be removed from the main areas where furniture will be moved,” Byrne says.

And don’t forget about the hardwood floors. Nothing will put off a buyer more than seeing skid marks illustrating the path your sofa took out of the place.

“If you have hardwood floors or tile in any rooms, let your movers know ahead of time so they can prepare the right materials—and make sure your contract includes hardwood floor protection,” advises Miranda Benson, marketing coordinator at San Francisco–based moving company Dolly.

4. Measure!

On a related note, you’ll want to measure your furniture and make sure any large items will fit through the front door in the first place.

“Nothing is more heartbreaking than finding out the gorgeous sectional you spent hours assembling is not going to make it through your front door unless you spend more hours disassembling it,” Benson says.

5. Pack up the kids (and pets)

Not literally, of course. But you should take the time to consider where your family will be when the movers are at work. If paying for a space in the nearby pet hotel isn’t an option, at least consider keeping your pets in a safe space within your home.

“Pets should be kept in a room with everything they need that movers won’t need to access,” Byrne advises. “You’d want to do this even if your pet is friendly, to avoid [their] accidentally getting out of the house or injured.”

Similarly, young kids should also be kept out of the way on moving day. This is important for their safety as well as the safety of your moving team.

“The last thing you or your movers want to worry about is whether your 2-year-old’s scream is going to shock them at the wrong time,” Benson says.

6. Make yourself available

Once the family is out of the house, it’s time (drumroll, please) to sit down and relax—sort of. Find a central point in your home (that’s out of the movers’ way) and simply plan on making yourself available to them as they move your stuff.

Do we mean supervising their every move and reminding them the box is marked “fragile”? Probably not. But you should be around to help answer any questions, or alert movers to anything special they should know about your place.

“There are little things about your house that you only learn from living there: The hallway closet door never stays closed, the third step down has a slight bend, a pack of hornets tends to congregate around the back door, so use the front—these are all valuable things that make your movers’ lives easier,” Benson explains.

“On top of that, being available to answer questions, whether that’s in person or via phone, can make your move much smoother,” she adds.

This post appeared first on realtor.com®.

Reasons to Buy a Home Now

Maui real estate
Whether you are a first-time buyer or looking to move up to the home of your dreams, now is a great time to purchase a home in Maui. Here are three major reasons to buy today.

1. Affordability

Many people focus solely on price when talking about home affordability. Since home prices have appreciated throughout the past year, they assume homes are less affordable. However, affordability is determined by three components:

  • Price
  • Wages
  • Mortgage Interest Rate

Prices are up, but so are wages – and interest rates have recently dropped dramatically (see #2 below). As a result, the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) latest Affordability Index report revealed that homes are MORE affordable throughout the country today than they were a year ago. “All four regions saw an increase in affordability from a year ago. The South had the biggest gain in affordability of 6.9%, followed by the West with a gain of 6.0%. The Midwest had an increase of 5.8%, followed by the Northeast with the smallest gain of 1.8%.”

2. Mortgage Interest Rates

Mortgage rates have dropped almost a full point after heading toward 5% last fall and early winter. Currently, they are below 4%. Additionally, Fannie Mae recently predicted the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage will be 3.7% in the second half of 2019. That compares to a 4.4% average rate in the first quarter and 4% in the second quarter.

With mortgage rates remaining near historic lows, Fannie Mae and others have increased their forecasts for housing appreciation for the rest of the year. If home price gains are about to re-accelerate, buying now rather than later makes financial sense.

3. Increase Family Wealth

Homeownership has always been recognized as a sensational way to build long-term family wealth. A new report by ATTOM Data Solutions reveals: “U.S. homeowners who sold in the second quarter of 2019 realized an average home price gain since purchase of $67,500, up from an average gain of $57,706 in Q1 2019 and up from an average gain of $60,100 in Q2 2018. The average home seller gain of $67,500 in Q2 2019 represented an average 33.9 percent return as a percentage of original purchase price.”

The longer you delay purchasing a home, the longer you are waiting to put the power of home equity to work for you.

With affordability increasing, mortgage rates decreasing, and home values about to re-accelerate, it may be time to talk with a real estate professional in Maui to determine if buying now makes sense for your family.

Americans Feel Great About Real Estate

Maui real estate
Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index surged to a new high as consumers became more upbeat about buying and selling, mortgage rates, and their jobs. Five of the six components measured by the index rose month over month.

“Consumer job confidence and favorable mortgage rate expectations lifted the HPSI to a new survey high in July, despite ongoing housing supply and affordability challenges,” says Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s senior vice president and chief economist. “Consumers appear to have shaken off a winter slump in sentiment amid strong income gains. Therefore, sentiment is positioned to take advantage of any supply that comes to market, particularly in the affordable category. However, recent financial market events following when the survey data were collected could weigh on consumer views looking ahead.”

Overall, the HPSI, based on a survey of 1,000 Americans, rose 7.2 points compared to a year ago to a record-high reading of 93.7 in July. Here are some highlights from the index’s latest readings:

  • Buying: The net share of Americans who said now is a good time to buy a home rose 3 percentage points from June to 26%, up 2 percentage points from a year ago.
  • Selling: The net share of consumers who say it’s a good time to sell rose 1 percentage point to 44%, up 3 percentage points from a year ago.
  • Home prices: The share of Americans who say home prices will go up over the next 12 months fell 1 percentage point to 37%, down 2 percentage points from a year ago.
  • Mortgage rates: The share of consumers who believe mortgage rates will drop over the next year rose 1 percentage point and is up 24 percentage points from a year ago.
  • Job stability: Americans are more confident about their job situation, with the share who say they’re not concerned about losing their job over the next year rising 8 percentage points to 81%. This is up 16 percentage points from a year ago.
  • Household incomes: The share of Americans who say their household income is significantly higher than 12 months ago rose by 1 percentage point to 21%, essentially unchanged from a year ago.

Source: “Home Purchase Sentiment Index,” Fannie Mae (Aug. 7, 2019)

Reasons You Should Not FSBO

Maui mortgage loan
Rising home prices coupled with a lack of inventory in today’s market may cause some homeowners to consider selling their home on their own (known in the industry as a For Sale By Owner). However, a FSBO might not be a good idea for the vast majority of sellers.

Online Strategy

Recent studies have shown that 95% of buyers search online for a home. In comparison, only 13% use print newspaper ads. Most real estate agents have an Internet strategy to promote the sale of your home. Do you?

Internet Results

Where did buyers find the home they actually purchased?

  • 50% on the Internet
  • 28% from a Real Estate Agent
  • 7% from a yard sign
  • 1% from newspapers

The days of selling your house by putting up a sign and listing it in the paper are long gone. Having a strong Internet strategy is crucial.

Too Many People to Negotiate With

Here is a list of some of the people with whom you must be prepared to negotiate if you decide to For Sale By Owner:

  • The buyer who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent, who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)
  • The home inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house
  • The appraiser, if there is a question of value

FSBOing Has Become Difficult

The paperwork involved in the process has increased dramatically as industry disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. This is one of the reasons that the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 7% over the last 20+ years.

You Net More Money

Many homeowners believe that they will save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real estate agent’s commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save the commission.

A study by Collateral Analytics revealed that FSBOs don’t actually save anything by forgoing the help of an agent. In some cases, they may actually cost themselves more. One of the main reasons for the price difference at the time of sale is:

“Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population. And those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool.”

The more buyers that view a home, the greater the chance of a bidding war for the property. The study found the difference in price between comparable homes of size and location is currently at an average of 6%.

Listing on your own leaves you to manage the entire transaction yourself. Why do that when you can hire an agent without additional cost?

Before you decide to take on the challenge of selling your house on your own, sit down with a real estate professional in your marketplace to discuss your needs.

Escrow 101 for Maui Home Buyers

Maui escrow
When you buy a house in Maui, you basically have to learn a whole new language. Between figuring things out with your mortgage lender and navigating the results of the home inspection, you’re probably googling words left and right. It’s important to protect yourself during this major transaction. And that’s why one of the words you might have to look up — escrow — is key.

What is escrow? You’ve probably heard of people getting stuck in escrow, so you might feel less than excited about the topic. But fear not! Escrow is actually super easy to understand and great for both the buyer and the seller.

What is escrow?

Let’s say Johnny wants to buy an apple from Susie. But Johnny and Susie don’t really know each other and want to make sure they both get what they expect from the deal. So they pick an impartial person off the playground. Let’s call him Timmy.

Now, to make sure everything goes down the way it should, Susie hands her apple to Timmy. Johnny gives Timmy his money. And then, and only then, Timmy gives Susie the money and Johnny the apple. In this case, Timmy is escrow. Escrow is an arrangement where you use an impartial third party to protect yourself during a transaction.

Now let’s apply it to real estate. The stakes are a little bit higher than apples, so it makes sense to take some precautions. In a real estate transaction, escrow is where the money the buyer plans to pay the seller is held until all the specifications of the deal can be worked out and the deed can be transferred.

There are escrow companies who are experts at keeping money safe and disbursing it at the exact right moment. There are even escrow officers who will help with the entire process. So escrow, while it might get a bad rap because people get tied up in it, is actually a very helpful part of the real estate process.

Escrow and earnest money

If you’re a home buyer in Maui, you’re probably taking the process seriously. This is where you’re going to live the next season of your life, after all! You’ve spent the time to vet the new house and you’re pretty serious about buying it. Some might even say you’re earnest. So you offer the seller a little bit of money called earnest money to show them you’re serious about buying their home.

But here’s the thing. You don’t really know this seller. Sure, they might seem nice. And, yes, you like their home. But they could be shady. It’s not a judgment. You simply don’t have a way to get to know them well enough to feel good writing them a check for thousands of dollars when they’re not giving you anything in return — yet.

So you don’t make your earnest money out to the seller directly. Instead, you put it into escrow. And it lives safely there until it’s either applied to the purchase price of the home at closing or returned to you if the deal falls through for a number of reasons.

Escrow and closing

You’ve worked out all the kinks in your transaction. Everyone’s happy with the inspection. Everyone’s agreed on a move out date. You’re ready to get this thing finished so you can either move into your new home or get a check from your buyers. And this is where escrow really shines.

We’re talking about a lot of money here. Houses aren’t cheap! Using escrow protects everyone involved while this large sum of money changes hands. Before closing, the buyer will put the purchase price amount into escrow. It will sit safely there while the final paperwork is completed and the deed is recorded. Then, and only then, will the escrow company pay that amount to the seller.

You hear about people getting tied up in escrow because closing isn’t always smooth sailing. Last minute issues arise and these can be frustrating for all parties involved. But, even then, you’ll be glad you’ve arranged escrow. Why? Escrow protects the buyer because it ensures the seller doesn’t run off with their money, house deed still in hand. At the same time, it protects the seller from handing over their deed in exchange for a check that won’t clear.

Tips For Knowing When to Upsize or Downsize

Maui real estate
Are you considering moving to a new Maui home? Perhaps you think a change will make everyone happier, and help you keep up with the cost and upkeep of homeownership.

Right-sizing is a common term used to describe the process of choosing a home to fit your current needs. Here are four ways to tell that it’s time to make the switch and look into purchasing a home that’s better suited to your current situation.

Too Much to Clean

No one wants to spend a ton of free time scrubbing, sweeping, mopping and caring for a home. Consider how and where you’re comfortable at home. Many people spend most of their time in a few key spaces like the bedroom and kitchen. If you’re spending more time cleaning than living, you either don’t have enough people cleaning—or you have too much space for the amount of living you do.

Too Much or Not Enough lawn

The yard is one part of a property that many people don’t have time to care for consistently. Other people love spending an hour or so in the garden each day or sipping a cup of coffee while the sun is coming up. Finding the right space to let you entertain, relax after a hard day, or give the kids room to safely burn off some energy is important. Considering low-maintenance options and how often the family uses the outdoor space can help you decide if now is the time to buy a different Maui home.

Not Enough Room

When you have several young children, space is always an issue. When the kids grow up, things change—including the size of the home needed. Sellers can help prospective buyers find a property that’s perfect for their current needs. Whether you’re adding members, or the family dynamic is shifting so there are fewer people in the home, the size of the house is a big deal.

Kitchen Space

No one likes crowding into a tight space for dinners or special occasions like birthday parties and graduation celebrations. It’s also tough to sit in a huge kitchen by yourself thinking about how much cleaning is necessary or the additional cost to remodel a huge space when there are only two or three people in the home. Right-sizing can help you discover the best property for your household after big changes like an elderly parent moving in, the kids going off to college, or several grandchildren coming along.

Thinking about recent life changes can help homeowners decide when it’s time to make a move. Keeping your finances, life plans and schedule on track isn’t always easy when you’re living in a home that’s too small or big for your present needs. As families evolve, mortgage fees, maintenance costs and time to care for the property become even more important.