Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2015 Top New Year's Resolutions

A new year gives us all a chance to make a fresh start. If you were down on your luck with selling your home in 2014, take the 2015 New Year's resolutions approach...

Here's a great article c/o Zillow...

Source: Zillow Digs
Source: Zillow Digs

If you’re considering selling your home in 2015, you should know that a lot has probably changed in the real estate market since you last sold. Knowing what works today — and resolving to put the tips and advice of the past to rest — will help you sell your home quickly and for top dollar.

1) Appeal to mobile buyers

Today nearly all home searches begin on a smartphone or tablet — not on the Web, and not using the newspaper.
If you want to get the right kind of buyer activity on your home, you need to make sure that you optimize your listing and your photos for mobile devices. If you use the tips and tricks of a generation past, you may miss out on today’s generation of buyers.

2) Be ready to separate your “home” from your “investment”

Many sellers make the mistake of letting their emotions get the best of them. Selling a home is not like selling a used car — it holds memories and occupies a special place in your heart.
When it comes time to sell, however, it’s important to realize that your home is also an investment. Being able to change your homeowner hat to your investor hat is crucial.
If you are too sentimentally attached to your home, you may reject a good price or fail to negotiate with a serious buyer. Don’t let your emotions sabotage your sale.

3) Don’t list your home until you’re serious about selling

Many homeowners think they’re ready to sell, but they haven’t fully gone through the emotional process of the decision. Do you have a place to go if you sell? Have you fully cleaned and de-cluttered your home? Have you taken your agent’s advice on staging and pricing?
Many sellers list their home before they are truly ready to sell, only to shoot themselves in the foot by overpricing it or not presenting it to the market in its best possible light.

4) Don’t hire just any agent

The agent you used to purchase the home 15 years ago may seem like the logical choice for listing your home this time around. But are they really the best option?
With access to so much information online and so much at stake, sellers should talk to a few agents before committing. Get a referral from someone who recently sold, and use online resources to research agents’ sales activity and expertise.
The right agent makes all the difference and if you have any doubt about an agent’s abilities, hold off on establishing a relationship.

5) Make the best impression online

Nothing frustrates an active and aggressive buyer more than getting an email or mobile notification alert for a new property listing only to get to the listing and not see any photos.
Buyer first impressions today are on the Internet. If you list your home without complete information — including photos, description and accurate data — not only will you turn them off, but they may simply not come back later.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas from Compass Real Estate Group

We would like to take a moment to thank all of the wonderful people we've had the pleasure of working with this year, including our clients, attorneys, mortgage lenders, inspectors, appraisers, and especially our dedicated staff.
Wishing you and yours a magical holiday season!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Do you recognize these homes?

If part of your Christmas ritual is enjoying the movies that are centered around the holiday, then you're sure to recognize the residences of these Christmas classics.  Here are our top 3....

 1.  Holiday Inn

This home gets the top spot in my book.  Maybe it's because it's set in CT (Midville, which doesn't exist actually - but you get the point), or maybe it's because I appreciate the enormous front porch, or maybe it's simply because I'm a Bing Crosby fan.  Whatever the reason, this home, complete with an open floor plan, floor to ceiling windows and naturally, a dance floor, still maintains that cozy log cabin inspired feeling, sure to put anyone in the holiday mood.


2. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Who can forget the Griswold's beautiful home in the suburbs of Chicago?  Or how it looked after Ellen was able to figure out how to keep the lights on?  The home, which in reality was located on the Warner Bros lot in Burbank, California, showcased the style of the late 80s with its mauve, aqua and pale yellow color palette.  Wallpaper was still very much on trend, along with the use of plaid and an overabundance of decor.  In the 80s, people didn't stage their homes as they do now, so it was perfectly acceptable to have a home that appeared "lived in".

3. A Christmas Story

Filmed in Cleveland, Ohio, the Parker's home reflected that of 1940s Midwest living.  Everything from the appliances in the kitchen, to the separate faucets for hot and cold in the bathroom replicates that style and era.  And nothing says "good night's sleep" like twin beds in the parents' room!  This home comes with none of the features we're all used to today.  It has one bathroom, the boys shared a bedroom, and the only technology in the house was a radio, but it encompasses all that is family and the holidays.  In 2005, the home was bought by a California native and fan of the movie who completely restored it to its original filming condition and transformed it into "A Christmas Story House & Museum".  

We hope you've enjoyed our top picks for Christmas movie homes.  Have a safe and happy holiday!

Compass Real Estate Group, LLC
354 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890

(203) 255-7410

Article by Kim Fromentin

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Southport Office Space Available

Beautiful and recently remodeled loft style office space in the heart of downtown Southport.  Space provides kitchen, conference room, copier and internet access.

Five offices available, approximately 80-100 square feet each. 3 exterior (window) and 2 interior.  Exterior offices $550. Interior offices $450.  Furniture is available for offices (included in price).

Gated parking lot.  Space is partially occupied by a real estate firm, so industry related tenants are ideal.

Call (203) 255-7410 for more information.    

Friday, December 5, 2014

How Do I Know When It's Time For A Bigger House?

Here's a great article c/o HGTV if you're toying with the idea of increasing your square footage...

How to Know You're Ready For a Bigger House

When your family (or income) has outgrown your home, it's time to go bigger and better.
Television viewers of a certain age remember The Jeffersons and its theme song: “We’re movin’ on up, to the east side, to a deluxe apartment in the sky. Movin’ on up, to the east side, we finally got a piece of the pie ...”
No matter how you slice it, owning the home you’ve always wanted is the ultimate realization of the American dream. And bigger is traditionally better.
When you bought your first place, it was perfect for you. But then you got married, had two kids, adopted a dog and were recently promoted. Your starter home is starting to feel a bit cramped.

Lauren Chavis and her husband owned and lived in a 1,000-square-foot house in Richmond, Va., for four years. “It was a great home to start in,” she says, “but we basically outgrew it.”
They had one small bathroom, three bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen, and anytime they bought anything, they were struggling to find a spot to put it. But what really did them in was adding two boxer dogs to their household, which meant that they were “basically stumbling over one another.”
In search of more space, the couple found a 2,020-square-foot house planted on a quarter acre, part of which has become a lengthy dog run.
“It’s amazing how much the dogs have calmed down, with having more space,” says Chavis, whose house features two and a half baths, living room, dining room, kitchen, large walk-up attic and four bedrooms to make life easier when children eventually come into the picture. “Boxers are typically hyper to begin with, but we used to come home, and they would bark in our faces because they wanted to play. Now, they’re able to play all day with each other safely and relax with us when we come from work.”
Whether you have hyper dogs, expect children, have come into some money or got a job promotion, you know it’s time to trade up when your current quality of life is suffering. For you, a larger, nicer house or better neighborhood will not only mean more room to live, but a happier you.

Can I afford it?
A bigger house or better neighborhood usually means more money. (Though in this market, your money can buy you a lot more house than it used to.)
You may be comfortable with your current mortgage payment, but can you handle a larger one? Also, a bigger home means more floors, rooms and outside areas to clean and maintain. How will that affect your budget? Will you have to give up certain expenses or cut back on certain “luxuries” like vacations or going out?
Like you did with your previous home purchase, create a budget for the monthly mortgage payment and homeownership costs, such as general maintenance if you buy a single-family home or homeowners association fees if you buy a condo.
Are my finances in good shape?
Depending on when you last bought a home, getting a mortgage may be harder than you remember. Lenders will closely review your income, debts, assets and liabilities, to make sure you don’t exceed the maximum debt-to-income ratio.
Hopefully you didn’t do any damage to your credit since your last home purchase. The most competitive interest rates (the 5 percent you may have heard about) only go to buyers with credit scores above 700.
Can I sell my house?
If you own your current home outright (meaning you don’t have a mortgage or any liens) or you have enough cash to cover the purchase of a new home without depending on the profit from selling your current home, then good for you.
But if you’re like most people, you need to sell before you buy -- unless you're prepared to carry two mortgages. Hopefully you’ll make a sizable profit from the sale and can use it to cover the upfront expenses on your new home, including the closing costs, down payment and moving expenses.
How is my life going to be different?
Changing houses -- even if it’s for the better and absolutely the right thing to do -- can be unsettling, and it’s an intangible that any homeowner should consider. Brandon Green, a real estate broker/owner in Washington, D.C., has an interesting observation about moving into a bigger, better house, one that ties in with The Jeffersons theme song.
“It sort of changes your social status a little bit, you know, when you move into a bigger house,” he says. “You’re growing up. And that can have somewhat of a subtle impact on your friends and family and how they think of you, and maybe even what you end up doing, if you end up moving into a nicer neighborhood. It’s more than just a house. You’re making an upgrade.”
And that upgrade came in the form of less clutter for Wendy Bumgardner, 50, a hospital administrator and writer, and her husband, Richard, 62, a microbiologist.
The couple traded up from a 1,700-square-foot house in Portland, Ore., to a 2,778-square-foot place in Vancouver, Wash. During the two decades they lived in the smaller house, they had accumulated a lot of furniture and knickknacks and Bumgardner appreciates that the larger home accommodates all of that.
“It’s a great relief to have enough space so we can have tidy storage, plenty of space for our office, an exercise room and a guest room,” says Bumgardner. “Whereas before our house was always cluttered, now I can welcome unexpected visitors without any need to tidy up. It’s easy to keep everything in its place when there is a place for everything.”

Future and present homebuyers dream of a white picket fence or a tire swing in the background, but nobody really swoons over the idea of a bigger utility bill. But there’s no avoiding it.
A larger house means a larger utility bill. If you have a longer driveway or a bigger yard than before, you may need to purchase a snow blower or lawn mower, or pay more to have it maintained. You may feel like you have to buy additional furniture, now that there are voids of emptiness in rooms. And don’t forget about taxes.
“If you’ve been living in a smaller house, you could easily double your property tax obligations,” Green says. “You need to factor that in the monthly budget.”
Still, if you’re going to buy a bigger house, now is a wonderful time, says Becky Harper, a broker associate with RE/MAX United and a board member with the Raleigh Regional Association of Realtors. “The reality is that for most markets, houses are on sale right now. If you’re in the position to move up, you don’t have much competition, and this is the opportunity to make a move that might not be affordable for you at another time."
“Put another way,” she adds, “when you buy a home, you’re not just buying real estate, but you’re also buying money: a mortgage. And money is on sale right now. Mortgages are as cheap as they’ve ever been in my lifetime.”
The only caveat, says Harper, is that while you’ll be able to buy a larger house for a great deal, you probably won’t be able to sell your smaller house for as much as you might have once imagined. But you knew that.

Since space and status are what you crave, the house for you is really whatever feels right and you can afford. If a 6-bed, 4-bath Greek Revival by the lake makes you happy, then go for it. If a 3-bed, 2-bath Federal is more your style, then go with that.
For Carol Hoenig, 54, a writer and publishing consultant in Long Island, trading up meant buying back a house she had given up.
Several years ago, in the midst of a divorce, Hoenig and her ex-husband sold their Dutch Colonial, and she downsized to a smaller Cape Cod. A few years later, she heard that the new tenants were having trouble making payments and she bought it back.
Hoenig concedes that her costs are significant, being single and living in a larger house than she had, and says her ex thinks she’s crazy, but “it just feels like home to me,” she says.
“This may sound silly,” Hoenig adds, “but in my smaller Cape Cod, there was no formal dining room, and the eat-in-kitchen was too tight for any kind of entertainment. I managed to hang onto my dining room table, one that I really liked a lot, from the move after the divorce, and always hoped I’d be able to use it again.”

Depending on your situation, trading up can mean moving from a small condo to a 2,000-square-foot, single-family home or leaving the 3,000-square-foot, single-family home in the suburbs for a luxury penthouse loft in the downtown area.
Perhaps it means buying a luxury home in the most elite neighborhood in the city or custom building a home. Or it could mean owning waterfront property.
No matter what your budget, be careful that you don’t overpay for a place just because you can afford it. Look at the comparables and determine the home’s market value. Research the neighborhood and school districts.

Article c/o HGTV Front Door