The Secret to Selling to Millennials

They’re crawling out of their parents’ basements, they’re forming households and they’re looking to buy.  The return of first-time buyers is dispelling fears that millennials could shun home ownership permanently and the market is already heating up. There is a new buyer in town; make sure your real estate agent is ready to leverage an infusion of demand.

1. Technology is where it’s at. Millennials are the first “digital natives;” they have grown up as the most tech savvy generation in history. Marketing to millennials with interactive technology is no longer optional. It’s mandatory. When interviewing agents, ask about twilight photography, drone shots, video tours, video marketing and digital billboards. And yes, we have that.
2.Charity begins when we sell your home. Charitable giving and profitable business aren’t mutually exclusive.  Millennials show more generosity when it comes to charitable causes than previous generations did during the same period in their timeline.  Ask your real estate agent if a portion of commissions paid routinely goes to charity. We donate to Sweet Paws Rescue and to the Children’s Miracle Network every time we sell a home.
3.Honesty is the only policy.  Honest marketing campaigns are much more likely to resonate with Millennials than campaigns (and the agents who place those ads) who aim solely at self-gratification. Make sure you select an agent that has the REALTOR® credential; you will be choosing a professional who holds himself or herself to high ethical standards.

15 Reasons You Might Be Decorating-Obsessed

A significant driving force behind my propensity for moving around a lot is my obsession with decorating. And by that, I mean I am OBSESSED with decorating. I used to teach interior design at a local college which helped feed the beast a bit. But I have always maintained my gold status with Joss & Main; and I am proud of it. I put together a brief (yup, I have more) list of the warning signs of the décor obsessed.

Are you part of the club?
1.You pull paint swatches at the hardware store when you have no painting projects on the horizon.
2.You buy pillow covers for every season, holiday and whimsey.
3.You obsess over whether the dog bed fits fully into your home décor.
4.You change out the dining room hutch dishware to fit the season.
5.And you do the same for linens and towels.
6.You would rather sit on the floor than buy a chair simply because it’s comfortable.
7.The kids’ bedrooms have matching sheets and duvets even though their rooms clearly look like a bomb went off 99% of the time.
8.You re-cover your dining room chairs to match the paint colors that you also re-select on a regular basis.
9.If the rug is dirty, it’s probably time to buy a new one anyway.
10.You consider your tufted leather couch a savvy investment.
11.Sometimes you set the dining room table when you haven’t invited guests.
12.When asked what you want for your birthday, you always respond “chandelier”.
13.If someone says velvet is in, the new chair gets delivered on Friday.
14.HGTV on the TV is considered white noise.
15.There is nothing more satisfying than re-arranging the bookshelves, or the centerpiece, or the pictures or the coffee table…

Pizza Anyone?

I got my husband a Weber kettle for his birthday last month; he was especially excited to use the new pizza stone accessory. We bought ready-to-roll dough, canned sauce, pepperoni, bacon, peppers, olives, onions, sausage, ground beef and a pizza cutter. Considering the fact that there were only two of us, we probably overdid the grocery run. While unpacking the car, we called over to our next door neighbors asking them to help us eat. Our neighbor is a great cook and graciously offered to make homemade sauce. After Googling how to roll out pizza dough, we realized we needed flour, so we walked the neighborhood in search of a necessary ingredient. Of course, we also invited that neighbor to help us eat. A few more neighbors who spotted us walking with a tin of flour offered to join the fun and our quiet pizza night turned into a full-blown pizza party.  

We live in a pocket neighborhood. The idea is to design the site plan in a manner that will promote tight-knit communities where neighbors look out for one another and where it’s not a big deal to ask someone to walk your dog or lend a cup of flour. Chances are, you will be hearing more about pocket neighborhoods. An increasingly popular housing option, these neighborhoods provide high-end design in a more compact space with lots of options. We share a common pergola area, green space and a community garden. Central mailboxes give neighbors even more opportunities to interact. 

I love it! Maybe you would too.

A View from My Porch

My three boys finished college and (successfully) moved on to their own homes recently. If you were to ask me where I plan to spend my downsized years, I would jokingly reply “spending a third of my time living with each of my sons”. Actually, I have no intention of surrendering my self-sufficiency or sense of adventure unless and until it is absolutely necessary.

For me, downsizing means high-end amenities and low maintenance. On a practical level, I also want to have the ability to make new friends (of all ages) to minimize the possibility of isolation that used to scare me about this next phase of life. And, of course, because I want to stay in my own home, my home will need to have features that allow me to age in place. I am not alone; AARP says almost 90% of Americans looking ahead to retirement years plan to stay in their own homes. In recent studies on Baby Boomer preferences:

1. 84% ranked living near people of all the ages a priority.*
2. 80% intend to keep making new friends.*
3. 63% would like to buy a single-family detached home.**
4. 75% prefer a single-story home.**
5. 50% want a full or partial basement.**
6. 54% want 3 bedrooms.***
7. 83% want a full bath on the first floor.***
8. 82% want hardwood on the first floor.***

For more information on how new home builders are meeting the need in greater Newburyport, call or text me at 978-270-2705.

*Aging in Cities Study,
**NAHB Housing Preferences of the Boomer Generation
***NAHB Home Preferences of the Boomer Generation

What Women Want (in new construction)

As the second-largest segment of U.S. home buyers, single women are making their preferences known to home builders. Below are the top 10 must-haves for women: 
1. Mud rooms that eliminate the inevitable pile of shoes, boating equipment, backpacks and stuff in the front entrance. 
2. Flexible spaces that allow for multi-generational living, including bonus rooms.
3. Storage! Closets, pantries and garage space. The master closet should always be upgraded (even if it’s just for re-sale).
4. Home offices.
5. Gourmet kitchens with the best of everything.
6. Comfortable places for dining, but not a separate dining room.
7. Locations that are both safe and in proximity to amenities and future friends.
8. A bathtub somewhere in the home and a large walk-in shower in the master.
9. Spaces to entertain and socialize, including outdoor amenities like fireplaces and pergolas.
10. Floor plans that flow.

7 Financial Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Visit a Model Home

1. How much space do I need followed by what can I afford to upgrade?
It is easy to get swept up in the many upgrades available to you in new construction. Bear in mind that although you can always upgrade elements like fixtures, flooring and lighting, you cannot upgrade your square footage or location. 
2. Am I upgrading or over-improving?
If you do get swept up in the process of choosing upgrades, ask yourself whether you want to be the most expensive house on the block. If you are buying your forever home, maybe you do.  If resale might be in your future, consider whether every bell and whistle will bring you a return on your investment.
3. Do I understand which upgrades are worth the upgrade price?
If you haven’t moved in a while, you might not have a good handle on the cost of tile, appliances, carpet and other upgrades. Do your homework before sitting down with the builder representative to make your selections.
4. Is the house that matches my price also match my nees?
If possible, ask to tour a completed home with the same or similar floor plan so that you can get a real feel for size and flow. Most people find it difficult to imagine their home based on a two-dimensional plan. If you are going buy based on the plan (there are advantages in pre-construction pricing), measure rooms in your existing home and compare what you have on paper.
5. Do I love this home or am I dazzled by the flashy kitchen and bath?
Builders create a model to sell upgrades. If you can’t or won’t pay for the upgrades in the model, think about how your home will function without the upgrades. Some of the most commonly upgraded features include: showers and tubs, kitchen appliances and countertops, flooring, lighting, paint colors and carpentry and closets.

Sell your home in 11 days or less.

DID YOU KNOW that homes that are staged sell, on average, for 17% more than non-staged homes? And 95% of staged homes sell in 11 days or less.

Despite what we’ve all been taught, people do judge books by their covers. When you’re selling your house, your exterior is that cover. If people see any flaws or unsightliness, you could lose potential buyers before they even walk in the door. Conversely, if you can wow them with your curb appeal, they’ll enter your home in a positive frame of mind.

The best part is, you don’t have to spend a fortune or break your back to boost your home’s curb appeal. Use these easy and affordable tips to create an exterior that invites buyers into your home.

Apply a fresh coat of paint.
Exteriors can face some harsh conditions. Depending on your location, wind, rain, snow, intense sun, and extreme temperatures can take their toll. But a little paint is usually all it takes to have your house looking like new again.

Sometimes, you don’t even have to repaint the whole exterior. Adding a splash of color to the front door, shutters, or other areas can really make a house pop.

Swap out or revitalize front door fixtures.
The front door is a natural focal point of any house. And even seemingly small details can make a big difference. For example, a unique door knocker or gleaming, freshly polished hardware can be a simple way to make it stand out.

Hide unsightly features.
Even the most attractive homes have features that are better hidden. Lattice is a great way to keep trash cans and air conditioning units out of sight. Or, if you prefer not adding another structure, you could plant a row of shrubs or trees instead.

For electrical boxes, water meters, and other fixtures attached to the house, adjusting the color to match your walls can act as camouflage. It won’t be completely out of sight, but it won’t draw unnecessary attention, either. And you won’t obstruct access.

Pressure wash decks, patios, and walkways.
If you don’t own a pressure washer, you can usually rent one from your local home improvement store. In just a few minutes you can spray away years of muck and grime buildup from wood, stone, and brick surfaces. You may be surprised by just how much of a difference you’ll see.

Plant some flora and fauna.

This one is an obvious suggestion, but it’s still one of the most effective ways to add curb appeal. It’s also one of the most versatile. Plants and flowers can add color, create a focal point in the yard, direct the eyes to the front of the house, conceal unsightly features, and even make use of spaces that may otherwise be wasted.

These simple upgrades are among the best investments you can make when selling your home. For a few hundred dollars or less, boosting your curb appeal could result in more potential buyers and thousands of extra dollars on the final price.

7 In-demand bathroom trends.

Anyone who knows me well, also knows that I love my bathtub! From jetted, to claw-foot, to free standing, to slipper, to corner tub, I have built a lot of homes and I have owned them all. I bought my first jetted tub before I bought my first house, and I once went out to see a movie one evening and returned with a hot tub. There is nothing like a good soak! So, when I read that some remodelers are eliminating the master bath tub in favor of a large (or very large) shower, I had to know more. 

Of those surveyed by Houzz who were currently undertaking a bathroom remodel (Houzz Bathroom Trends Study) 81% were upgrading the master shower and only a distant 37% were upgrading the bathtub. And yes, some renovators are ripping out their jetted tub to make room for an XL shower. Large luxury showers are most definitely on-trend and in demand.

If you are thinking new construction or if you’re one of the 90% of renovators that will include your master bath in a reno project, here is what (else) is in:

1.The spa shower … let it reign! (HGTV)
2.Free standing tubs (Grand Designs Magazine)
3.Matte black fixtures and unfinished brass that changes its patina over time (House and Home)
4.Concrete! Tubs, counter tops, floors (
5.Three dimensional and mosaic tile (DIY network) bathtub
6.Statement mirrors (Apartment Therapy)
7.Rainfall shower heads (Houzz)