Advice for Livermore Valley Home Sellers & Home Buyers!

home purchase offerHave you wanted to sell your Livermore Valley home but have been waiting for home prices to rise and equity to return? Have you wanted to buy a Livermore Valley home but have been busy saving up a down payment and paying down debt? No matter what has made you wait to accomplish your real estate goals in the Livermore Valley real estate market, now is the time to act!

As your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I want to update you on the latest market news for Livermore Valley home sellers and Livermore Valley homebuyers. Whether you’re one, or both, here are some tips from MSN Real Estate that I’ve summarized for you.

Livermore Valley Home Sellers:

  • Jump-start the process now! The sooner you sell, the better, before competition from other sellers and new homes starts increasing. Sellers usually don’t realize how long the process takes, so begin to clean, declutter, organize and stage your home now. Also, consider getting an inspection done before listing your home, so you know what needs upgrading or repairing. You could also visit a couple open houses to get ideas for staging your own home.
  • Work the market in your favor. With prices up and inventory low, the Livermore Valley real estate market is in your favor right now! You still have to work it intelligently, though. Work with a Livermore Valley real estate agent that is familiar with the market and what homes are selling for. Don’t just go with the agent that promises you the best price. He might be bluffing. If you’re getting the price you wanted, and then some, offer the buyer something in good faith, such as a fast move-in date.

Livermore Valley Home Buyers:

  • Be credit-ready! As soon as you’re ready to buy, you want to get preapproved for a mortgage. Many sellers will turn you away if you’re not, seeing you as an unserious or complicated buyer. Also, this will help pinpoint what you can afford, so you’re not wasting time going after homes out of your price range. Check your credit report, and if your credit score is below 620, work on paying off debt and raising that score.
  • Adjust your negotiating expectations. With inventory low and home prices high, lowball offers just aren’t going to cut it in this competitive market. There are a lot of eager buyers out there, trying to beat rising mortgage rates and prices, so if you really love a house, start with a great offer and respond to counteroffers quickly. You want to avoid a bidding war. Try to have a few houses in mind, in case you lose one to another buyer.

For more tips, either as a Livermore Valley home seller or a Livermore Valley homebuyer, check out the full list from MSN Real Estate.

When you’re ready to buy or sell, or you have questions, contact me! As your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I’m here when you need me!

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

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Fast Cleaning Tricks for Livermore Valley Home Sellers!

cleaning2When selling your Livermore Valley home, it’s important that you declutter, organize and clean as much as possible. This doesn’t mean throwing everything in a closet and shutting the door, because Livermore Valley homebuyers will look there. It means deep, serious cleaning.

However, once you deep clean your Livermore Valley home, it’s hard to keep it in pristine condition every moment of everyday. After all, you still live there! But as a Livermore Valley home seller, sometimes potential homebuyers will show up on your doorstep, or showings will be scheduled before you have time to clean again.

As your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I’d like to share some quick cleaning tricks from Real Simple that will spruce up each room of your home in no time. Again, these are for after you’ve already deep cleaned and organized, and right before potential homebuyers, or house guests, stop by.

In the living room:

  • Get rid of pet hair on the sofa fast by wetting the fingertips of rubber gloves and sliding your hand over the couch. The wet rubber will pick up the hairs.
  • Keep a decorative basket next to a couch or table for you to stack books, magazines or TV remote controllers in.
  • Turn the couch cushions over before homebuyers or guests arrive. The side less used often looks better.

In the kitchen:

  • If the dishwasher and sink have washed-but-not-clean dishes in them, store dishes in a large stockpot until after homebuyers leave. (Don’t forget about them!)
  • Hide aromas from your last meal by boiling nutmeg, cloves or cinnamon and orange peel in a saucepan on the stove. Or, diffuse an essential oil, such as orange or lemon.
  • Replace the hand towel with a fresh one, and fold it neatly over the oven handle.

In the bathroom:

  • Light a candle. The light is flattering, it smells good, and it makes the bathroom seem like a peaceful place to relax.
  • Hang fresh guest towels and throw your dirty/damp towels in a closed laundry basket.
  • Keep a decorative basket or box handy under the sink for products and gadgets from the sink. Make sure it looks nice, homebuyers might look in your cabinets!

Check out the Real Simple article for more tips for these rooms, as well as for a home office, a kids’ room and a laundry room.

As a Livermore Valley home seller, you always want your home looking clean, organized and pristine to Livermore Valley homebuyers. You also want your home to appear neutral, without any personal photos or artwork around. Therefore, preparing your home for the selling process should start before you’re ready to list your home.

Have questions? Need suggestions for cleaning or staging your home? Contact me! As a Livermore Valley real estate agent, I’ve helped tons of local homeowners stage their homes, list their homes, show their homes and sell their homes. Now is the time!

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
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2014 Design Trends for Your Livermore Valley Home!

Sunlight RoomI hope you had fun ringing in 2014 this week in Livermore Valley! As your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I want to fill you in on what’s ahead for real estate and home trends in the new year.

First off, if you’d like to buy a Livermore Valley home this year, now is the time to do it! Mortgage rates are expected to rise, so the sooner you buy, the more money you save. Plus, if you buy soon, you’ll beat the rush of homebuyers that will appear on the market in a month or two.

If you’d like to sell your Livermore Valley home, 2014 is your year! According to Housing Wire, the west coast states lead in rising home values. Home prices and home equity continue to rise here in California, making it the ideal time to sell! If you wait, you’ll have more competition from other home sellers and from new construction. Sooner is better.

Whether you’re buying, selling or staying put in your Livermore Valley home, everyone enjoys learning about the latest home design trends. Here’s a rundown from Realtor Magazine of what is expected to be trending in homes this year:

  • Wider reclaimed wood and porcelain floors. For whatever reason, wooden floorboards are getting wider and are cut from a variety of tree species, giving them stained or patterned looks. Porcelain flooring is becoming popular too because of its durability and unlimited styles.
  • Simpler cabinets, bigger drawers. I don’t think any homeowner would mind having larger drawers! Warm gray tones are replacing oranges and browns, with less visible hardware and more modern doors.
  • Paint palettes. Warm grays are popping up everywhere for 2014, including the walls. Light, fresh corals, sea greens, lavenders and misty blues are also expected to gain popularity, according to Kelly-Moore Paints. Deep, romantic hues look great offset by neutral beiges and off-whites.
  • Indoor-outdoor living. Blending indoor space and outdoor space is an ongoing trend, with homes adding more large windows and French doors that lead to the outside. Solariums and screened or covered porches that connect to a patio or pool are also popular home features here in California.
  • Wireless technology. Homeowners are upping their technology systems. From programmable thermostats or lighting systems, to security systems and entertainment systems, more and more digital technology is being added to homes to make them fast and easy.

For more home trends for this year, check out the rest of Realtor Magazine’s predictions here.

When you’re ready to buy a Livermore Valley home or sell your Livermore Valley home, contact me! If you have questions about the Livermore Valley real estate market, contact me. As your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I’m here to help you in any way that you need me!

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
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How to Holiday Decorate as a Livermore Valley Home Seller

Christmas_treeIf you’re selling your Livermore Valley home this winter, congratulations! As your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I shared in last week’s blog post why now is a great time for you to sell. Contact me with questions or to begin the home-selling process.

You might be wondering if you should decorate for the holidays when selling your Livermore Valley home. I say go for it! Most people appreciate a festive home this time of year. You don’t want your house to be the only dark, drab house on the street.

However, there are some tactics that you should use as a Livermore Valley home seller so as to not make your home look tacky or overdone. Here are tips that I’ve collected:

  • Keep it classy. Don’t go overboard and decorate every inch of your house in garland, glitter and little knickknacks. When staging your home to sell, you want to take away the clutter and show off the ample space. Same is true with holiday decorations. You don’t want them to make the house look cluttered. Choose a few sophisticated, classy accessories for each room and stick to just those.
  • Keep it neutral. As a Livermore Valley home seller, you should always try to keep your home décor neutral so that it attracts all types of buyers and allows them to imagine living there. In other words, you don’t want your personality to shine through. Same is true with holiday decorations. Stick with seasonal items over religious items or homemade kids’ crafts. Excellent options include an arrangement of pine cones covered with white glitter, poinsettias on the fireplace mantel, or hanging snowflakes.
  • Keep it tidy. While you don’t want the décor to be too personal or too cluttered, you also don’t want it to be messy, or worse, dangerous. If you have a tree or other lights hanging inside or outside, be sure to hide all the wires and keep them out of walkways. Avoid lighting candles in busy areas of the home where they could get knocked down. Try to decorate with a theme in mind, such as the rustic outdoors, or perhaps in all white.
  • Keep it seasonal. Your home might still be on the Livermore Valley real estate market after the holidays, so if you haven’t had your listing photos taken yet, take down your decorations for the photos. You don’t want holiday listing photos being displayed mid-January! After the photos are taken, you can show off your décor again for showings and open houses.

While you should get to enjoy holiday decorating just like everyone else this time of year, the key is to keep it classy, clean and sophisticated for Livermore Valley homebuyers. If you have any questions about this, contact me! As your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I’m always here to answer questions and help you through the home-selling process.

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

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Why to Buy and Sell Real Estate in Livermore Valley This Winter

christmas fireplaceAs your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I hope that you enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner yesterday with your family and friends! Today is a notorious day for consumers to purchase deals, and for merchants to sell deals. Did you know that this concept also rings true with buying and selling homes in the Livermore Valley real estate market?

While many people tend to think that the holiday season is a terrible time for buying a Livermore Valley home or for selling your Livermore Valley home, I’m here to tell you otherwise. First off, here are some reasons that KCM Crew gave for wanting to sell your home now:

  • Only serious Livermore Valley homebuyers are out. You will not be bothered with browsers and lookers. If a potential buyer is taking time out of their holiday season to look for a home, it’s because they are serious about buying. This will help the process run faster and smoother for you!
  • There is less competition. As a Livermore Valley home seller, this is great news for you. You have more negotiating power when inventory is low and buyers have less options.
  • The process will be quicker. Banks won’t be as busy, only serious buyers are out, and they don’t have as many listing options. This all means that the process will move faster from listing to closing.
  • It’s the best time to move up. Mortgage rates and home prices are predicted to continue rising, which means higher monthly mortgage payments for homeowners. If you plan on buying a bigger, more expensive house, you definitely don’t want to wait!

Now that you know why now is a great time to sell your Livermore Valley home, you might be wondering why now is a great time to buy a Livermore Valley home. Here are some reasons that MSN Real Estate shared:

  • Home price decreases. On average, home prices dip $7,000 after Labor Day and usually hit bottom in December. With predictions saying that prices will continue to rise in 2014, Livermore Valley homebuyers should take advantage of possible deals right now.
  • Only serious Livermore Valley home sellers are out. Just as only serious buyers are out, only serious sellers are selling this time of year, too. You might have more negotiating power from a seller who desperately wants or needs to move right now.
  • You will get more attention from professionals. Since there is less going on this time of year for Livermore Valley real estate agents and mortgage professionals, now is your best chance to get the time you deserve and to run through the process quickly. Mortgage lenders might loosen their requirements, too!

If you would like to buy or sell real estate in the Livermore Valley real estate market right now, contact me! As a Livermore Valley real estate agent, I would love to give you the attention and support you deserve. Give me a call and we’ll get you going.

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

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How to Pass Your Home Inspection as a Livermore Valley Home Seller

home inspectionWhen selling your Livermore Valley home, it’s very exciting when you get an interested buyer. You’ve negotiated a price and you’re ready to close, but first, you must pass the home inspection.

A home inspection can make or break a home sale. If major repairs need to be made, the homebuyer might back out of the deal or request that the price be lowered. Some Livermore Valley home sellers even choose to do an inspection before listing their home, so they know what needs attention ahead of time.

Either way, as your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I would recommend checking out these nine tips that MSN Real Estate said will help you pass a home inspection, straight from the mouths of inspectors.

  • Remove clutter. Make sure there is a clear path to electric panels, heating and cooling systems, and anything with mechanical equipment. Cleaning underneath your bathroom and kitchen sinks is a good idea, too.
  • Empty appliances. Inspectors will check the efficiency of your appliances, so make sure to take all of your laundry out of your machines ahead of time, take dishes out of the dishwasher, and clear the stove and oven. Cleaning these machines isn’t a bad idea, either.
  • Create access to the attic. If you have an attic, home inspectors would most appreciate you setting up a ladder for them. At the least, make sure that they have the space necessary to safely enter and exit the attic, such as moving cars or boxes out of the way beneath the entry.
  • Leave. In the eyes of home inspectors, the best Livermore Valley home sellers are the ones that leave during the inspection. Take the kids and the pets with you, and enjoy a day out. The inspector and buyer can talk more comfortably without you around.
  • Unlock doors. Your Livermore Valley real estate agent will grant access to the home inspector, or you will, but once inside, make sure other doors are unlocked too, before you leave. This includes doors to the garage, shed or crawl space. Disarm security systems, too.
  • Disclose flaws. If you know of any issues that will come up in the inspection, disclose ahead of time. Livermore Valley homebuyers will react more negatively from something you kept secret, which surprised them, rather than something you’re upfront about.
  • Provide documents. If you’ve had repairs or maintenance done on the house, organize the receipts in folders or binders for the inspector and buyers to see. Pointing out what is new and good with the house is always a bonus.
  • Change light bulbs. A home inspector doesn’t know if a burnt bulb indicates a wiring problem or just a burnt bulb, but either way, they have to report it. Save the hassle and make sure they all work!

Hopefully these tips will help you pass your home inspection with flying colors. If you’re looking for a Livermore Valley real estate agent to help you through the entire home-selling process, contact me! I’d love to help!

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
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Why to Buy a Livermore Valley Home vs. Rent

new home checklistAs a Livermore Valley real estate agent, I often talk with people who aren’t sure whether homeownership is a smart idea. Some of them think that renting is the easier, more financially sound choice. I’m here today to explain why homeownership is the better option!

First off, the Federal Reserve recently released a study that found that 61.4 percent of a family’s net worth is in home equity. This means that a homeowner’s net worth is over thirty times greater than that of a renter. Specifically, an average homeowner has a net worth of $174,500 while an average renter has a net worth of $5,100.

That’s huge! As a renter, your money is spent on rent, and then it’s gone. You’ll never see it again. As a homeowner, your mortgage payments build equity, which allows you to access credit and invest in your  future. When you sell your Livermore Valley home, you’ll get the money back, if not more! In the past year, home equity has risen 30 percent, according to the Federal Reserve.

Here are more reasons to own a Livermore Valley home rather than rent:

  • Financial savings. Not only are you gaining equity when owning a Livermore Valley home, but you’re also saving money! The latest Trulia report is that owning a home is still 35 percent cheaper than renting a home over a long period of time. Mortgage rates would have to reach about 10.5 percent before renting became the better option. Right now, they are around 4.13 percent.
  • Tax benefits. Renters don’t get any tax benefits, but homeowners do! You can deduct mortgage interest and property taxes. If you work from home, you can write off many of your home expenses.
  • Freedom. There are non-financial benefits to homeownership as well, such as the freedom to decorate and maintain your home as you please. You can paint the walls what you want. You can hang décor wherever you want, even if it means puncturing the wall with a hole. You can choose when to repair a roof, or change a furnace, and you can choose the style and brand.
  • Community value. A House Logic infographic points out that homeownership affects community value and involvement. Homeowners are 16 percent more likely to join parent-teacher organizations, 1.3 times more likely to read a local newspaper, 28 percent more likely to vote and so on. Owning allows the Livermore Valley community to feel more permanent, more like home.

As you can see, there are many benefits to homeownership vs. renting! So, when you’re ready to buy a Livermore Valley home, contact me. As a Livermore Valley real estate agent, I can help you through the transition as smoothly as possible.

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

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How to Properly Paint Rooms in Your Livermore Valley Home

paint cansWhether you just bought a house, you’re a happy homeowner or you’re gearing up to sell your Livermore Valley home, painting is a great way to spruce up your space! It’s the number one do-it-yourself project, and it’s one of the most affordable ways to add home value.

Though many people do it, there is an art to painting. If you’re staging your home to sell, it’s especially important that your paint looks as professional as possible. Luckily, the Paint Quality Institute shared some tips with Realtor Magazine in a recent article. As your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I’ve summed them up here for you:

  • Repair surface imperfections. If you’ve got cracks or holes in the wall, paint isn’t enough to hide them. Use a spackling compound to fill in these gaps, so the surface is as smooth as possible. If you have areas with stains or discoloration, use a stain-blocking primer.
  • Clean the walls. Wash the walls and woodwork with a detergent-water solution, and then rinse the surface clean of it. Let the walls and woodwork dry completely before beginning to paint.
  • Choose your paint. The Paint Quality Institute most recommends 100 percent acrylic latex paints that are top quality and resist stains, hide the color underneath and conceal brush marks. Also, when choosing a gloss level, high-gloss paint is easier to clean, so this is good in high-traffic areas. Flat paints make walls look very smooth and hide imperfections, which is good for ceilings and low-traffic areas.
  • Choose your brushes and rollers. The best brushes have tightly packed bristles, which hold more paint. When using latex, water-based paints, the Institute recommends synthetic bristles, which will keep their shape no matter how much water gets on them.
  • Get straight edges. Use painters tape to tape around woodwork, ceilings and windows, to ensure that you get a straight line and that no paint gets onto these areas. Take your time applying the tape, to ensure that it is straight and secure, so no paint can seep underneath it. Remove tape as soon as paint is dry.

For more tips, check out the Realtor Magazine article in its entirety.

When selling your Livermore Valley home, you want to stick with neutral colors that all potential homebuyers can imagine living with. If you’re not selling, have fun with it. Paint one wall a bright, bold color, or paint the ceiling to be really unique. If you’re artsy, create a design on the wall! Have fun with it.

When you are ready to sell, or buy, in the Livermore Valley real estate market, contact me! I’m your Livermore Valley real estate agent, here and ready to help as soon as you are ready!

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

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Simple, Cheap Ways to Keep Your Livermore Valley Home Safe

keys in lockWith homeownership comes the responsibility of keeping you, your family and your home safe. Luckily, there are some very simple and affordable methods to doing so!

As your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I recommend making your home as safe and secure as possible. This is especially true when selling your Livermore Valley home. You never know if a potential homebuyer is actually a future burglar in disguise. (This is why it’s smart to only consider pre-qualified buyers! You know they’re serious about buying.)

To help you keep your home secure, here are some simple methods to use:

  • Install surveillance cameras outside of your house, by your front door. You don’t have to install a pricey security system that’ll cost you thousands. You can even turn webcams into security cameras! Or, find some old cameras from a thrift shop. Even if they don’t work, they might work to deter burglars.
  • Remove papers from your front yard. If you receive newspapers, or fliers, check your yard and doorstep often for these, and remove them. A burglar will sometimes plant a flier at your door, just to see how long it’ll stay there. If you’re on vacation, have a neighbor collect these for you.
  • Keep bushes and trees trimmed. This will prevent burglars from having anywhere to lurk and hide out in your yard. Try to keep large bushes and shrubs away from your windows. While this helps with home safety, it also helps with curb appeal when selling your Livermore Valley home!
  • Purchase timers for your lights. These are cheap contraptions that can let you know when there is movement outside of your house, and they can help keep energy costs down by not having your lights on all the time. Inside timer lights are great for keeping your home safe while sleeping.
  • Don’t update your social media status to say you’re away. You don’t want to broadcast to the world that your house is empty. Have a neighbor collect your mail and possibly mow the lawn, and keep your home looking lived in. Post your photos from a trip on social media once you come home.
  • Buy a fake alarm system decal. Like I said, security alarm systems for the home are a great investment, but they do get pricey. If you can’t afford one right now, purchase a decal for your window so that people think you have one. eBay has plenty!

For more ideas, check out this list from Buzzfeed of 21 ways to cheaply and effectively deter burglars.

Fortunately, the Tri-Valley area is consistently listed near the bottom of the list when it comes to crime rates in the country. So don’t get nervous! It’s just always smart to be safe as a homeowner. For more tips, or for help selling or buying a Livermore Valley home, contact me! I’m ready to help!

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
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Why to Hire a Livermore Valley Real Estate Agent Instead Of FSBO

soldIf you’re gearing up to sell your Livermore Valley home, you might be considering selling it on your own. This means advertising the home as for sale by owner, or FSBO, and not using the help of a Livermore Valley real estate agent. After all, with prices and sales up, it’s more of a seller’s market than a buyer’s market right now.

Obviously as a Livermore Valley real estate agent, I suggest that you use an agent! But don’t just take my word for it. Inman News shared eight reasons why you should sell with an agent rather than FSBO. To help you decide, I’ve summed up these eight reasons for you here:

  • Decline of print advertising. In the old days, you could submit an ad in the local paper all on your own and generate buyer interest. Now, hardly anyone looks at those. Why would they when online listings include numerous color photos, video, virtual tours, community information and lifestyle data?
  • Capturing contact information. The great thing about modern-day real estate agent websites is that they capture the contact information of Livermore Valley homebuyers searching their listings. That’s good news, since browsers typically only stay on a page for 15 to 30 seconds. This way, the agent can follow up with them if they looked at your listing.
  • Buyers want the savings. It seems like you would save money by not working with an agent. But typically, homebuyers will deduct 6 percent from the sales price of a FSBO so they get the savings rather than the seller. So, when homeowners sell FSBO, they usually end up receiving an offer that is 20 percent less than those who sell with an agent. That’s huge!
  • The needle-in-they-haystack effect. It’s very difficult to get a FSBO listing seen in the first place. When you’re up against millions of websites, many with search engine optimization tools, it’ll be hard to compete. Even if you post the listing on big sites, the buyer will typically only see the listing if they are specifically searching for a FSBO.

Other factors that the Inman News article mentions is that buyers are often reluctant to share contact information to a stranger for safety reasons. At the same time, the seller has to be careful when showing the home. You don’t know who is a legit buyer. How about the fact that the founder of ForSaleByOwner.com listed his own home with an agent?

There’s the proof, folks. When you’re ready to sell your Livermore Valley home, do it the smart way. Contact me, your Livermore Valley real estate agent!

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
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