Relocating with Kids?

18 Apr

178770991The spring and summer months are peak times for moving to a new home. For relocating families, that means the added challenges of moving with kids.

One of the big questions that must to be answered when moving with kids is “When?”

Do you move during the school year – or during the summer when the kids are out of school? Two factors to consider are the ages of the kids and the timeline that will work best for the family.

Moving during the summer allows kids to finish out the school year at their existing school. In some cases, this might not matter, as the children may be moving up to middle or high school or to a new school next year anyway because of redistricting.

A challenge of waiting to move is the family might be separated for several months, with one parent remaining behind with the kids to finish the school year. Another consideration is enrollment in summer sports or camps. The registration for these activities is often well in advance of the summer, so kids may miss the opportunity to take part. Summer is also a popular vacation time, so neighborhood kids may be gone when your family arrives at your new home.

Moving during the school year allows kids to establish relationships and meet other kids immediately. They can jump into their new routine, joining clubs and sports teams.  School can help provide activities – so parents don’t have to entertain while they are busy with unpacking and getting settled.

Knowing when to move may be based on the children’s ages. Kids under 10 typically are more involved with and find support within the family unit. Teenagers, on the other hand, have begun to build relationships outside the family structure and friends are more involved in their lives. If a child is outgoing, they may not have difficulty becoming a part of new groups, while shy kids may find an easier fit through established school groups.

Whatever time of the year you move, it’s important to get kids involved in activities as soon as possible so they do not get bored or lonely and begin to regret the move. And thanks to technology, kids can continue stay connected with their friends while transitioning to a new home and making new friends – in real life.

DJ Stephan Blog 
DJ Stephan
President, Allen Tate Relocation

Which flooring is for you?

16 Apr

Flooring samples 4.16.14Want to upgrade your floors, but can’t decide which way to go? Laminate, hardwood or engineered hardwood? And what about resale value or your home’s marketability?

To help you decide, let’s look at these three flooring options:

1) Laminate is a durable, less expensive option and comes in a variety of colors and textures. The core is typically made of High Density Fiber (HDF) as opposed to actual slabs of wood. The top layer is a photographic layer designed to look like woods, etc. It’s the most durable and easiest to clean.

2) Hardwood floors are made from solid, natural wood. They are easier to damage and harder to clean and maintain and the most expensive option, but look lovely and feel solid.

3) Engineered hardwood flooring usually has a core of plywood or high-density fiberboard. The top layer is composed of a of hardwood veneer glued on top of the core. It has the natural characteristics of the selected wood species and greater moisture and heat resistance than solid hardwoods.

So when it comes to resale, can you describe your “wood-look” laminate floors as hardwood? Well, it could be that if you market laminate as wood, buyers might be turned off when they discover your “hardwoods” are not.

However, if you have used laminate in some areas due to their resistance to warping, or for over in-floor heating, be sure to point out this advantage. You could also describe your laminate floors as “wood-grain, low maintenance floors” to set buyer expectation.

Since engineered wood IS real wood, emphasize that engineered wood is a great product and fully as durable and sturdy as hardwood flooring, with more resistance to heat and moisture.

It’s up to you – choose your option based on need, preference, marketability and budget. Then let any potential buyers know what they are getting and why, so they can make an informed decision, too.

Tom Gongaware
General Sales Manager, Triangle Region

New Flood Insurance Law Might Mean Refund for Homeowners

14 Apr

73271468If you’re a homeowner who carries flood insurance, you might be eligible for a refund, as the result of some recently passed legislation.

On March 21, President Obama signed the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 into law, which repeals and modifies certain provisions of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. The Biggert-Waters Act extends the National Flood Insurance Program through 2017 and is designed to protect homeowners who are at risk from flooding.

In a nutshell, the new Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act takes a closer look at some of the unintended consequences of Biggert-Waters, including program funding shortfalls, claims handling, flood hazard mapping and management of floodplains.

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) are working to analyze the changes this new law brings and determine how it will be implemented.

What could this mean for homeowners with flood policies?

  • Some policy holders could receive refunds for overpaid premiums.
  • Some policy holders could pay a slightly higher premium.
  • Annual policy rate increases, set by FEMA, will be kept to a maximum of 15-18 percent (instead of 25 percent).
  • All policy holders will see a surcharge ($25 for a primary residence policy) to help the program remain financially sustainable.

Policy holders are not expected to see refunds or increases for approximately 12-18 months until FEMA and NFIP can review and implement changes. FEMA also advises homeowners not to cancel flood insurance policies, leaving them unprotected and subject to losing possible discounts on their rate.

Questions about flood insurance? Your Allen Tate Insurance agent is your best source of information and will make sure you are adequately protected.

Robin Price
Vice President of Sales, Allen Tate Insurance

Looking for a Starter Home?

11 Apr

454306035Now that we are well into the recovery from “The Great Recession,” the new homes business is vibrant! However, if you are in the market as a first-time buyer, it’s “slim pickings” for new entry-level or “starter” homes.

So where are they? They’re out there – but there are fewer of them; they are smaller than before; and they’re a bit more expensive.

So with a pent-up demand from buyers and builders eager to build, why aren’t there more choices for this price range?

  • First, there are fewer lots available to build lower-priced homes. The ones that existed before the recession have been snatched up by investors and builders, who have already built on them.
  • Second, builders are licking their wounds and trying to become profitable again. There is more profit in move-up homes than in entry-level, so that’s what they are building.
  • Third, it has become more difficult for entry-level buyers to qualify for a loan. Buyers are challenged by higher interest rates and loan scores, fewer loan products and fewer builders willing to enter that market.

But it’s not all doom-and-gloom for first-time buyers. There are still builders with great products, financing programs and incentives who want to help entry-level buyers purchase their first new home.

Prior to the recession, there were many more attached products available, such as condos and town homes, priced lower than single family homes. We are starting to see a resurgence of these products, which are attractive to first-time buyers because of their affordable price, convenient location, and services and amenities familiar to apartment dwellers. Builders understand that if they want to pry you out of that luxury apartment complex with all the trappings (and a killer location), they must offer you those same things in your new home.

Where do you begin? This weekend, grab your favorite real estate agent and let them show you these hidden gem communities. It’s a great time for buyers – even first-timers – to find your piece of the American dream.

Mike LaRuffa
President, Builder Services Inc.

Is It Time to Sell?

9 Apr

NARstatsChart for PB blog on 4.9.14How long have you lived in your current home? If you’re like many homeowners, it’s longer than you expected to be.

Prior to 2007, the average homeowner sold their home and moved every 5 to 7 years. In 2012, that duration increased to 9 years or more.

According to the National Association of Realtors® 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers (based on surveys of clients from the previous year), homeowners stayed put longer in 2012. But a large majority (87 percent) did not delay their decision to move because of home values. Only 13 percent had to delay selling their home because they were underwater on their mortgage.

The typical home seller in 2012 was 53 years old, with a median household income of $97,500. Most sellers were married couples (77 percent), with single females representing 14 percent of sellers and single males only 5 percent. Sellers were frequently empty-nesters, as 61 percent reported no children in their home.

A whopping 97 percent of buyers sold their home for the asking price – but 47 percent surveyed said that they reduced their asking price at least once. Homes sold were largely detached single-family homes (81 percent).

Homes sold much faster in 2012 than 2011 – 5 weeks on the market versus 11 weeks.

In 2012, nearly half of all home sellers traded up and purchased a larger size and higher priced home, and 59 percent purchased a new home. A majority of sellers (71 percent) purchased another home in the same state.

Most sellers (88 percent) agreed that using a real estate agent was the way to go. Only 9 percent of sellers listed their home as “for sale by owner,” and a majority of those homes were sold to someone the seller knew personally.

The NAR survey offers an interesting snapshot of buyer and seller activity for the previous year. While these statistics represent 2012, it is fair to say that 2013 saw even stronger buyer and seller activity – and it continues in 2014.

Sales activity varies by market and neighborhood. Your Allen Tate Realtor® can provide you with specific details and trends about what to expect if you plan to sell in the near future.

Phyllis Brookshire
President, Allen Tate Realtors®

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