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Home Sweet Home: A Real Estate Guide
4/1/2020 1:00:00 PM
Home Sweet Home

According to Homes.com, 40% of Americans say buying a home is the most stressful life event. Selling a home can be equally stressful. But there are ways to ease the anxiety. For example, hiring a real estate agent to help you through the process can provide peace of mind that you’re making the best decisions for you. Thrive magazine is here to help, too. In this year’s Real Estate Guide, you’ll find articles on the perks of hiring an agent, the importance of high-quality real estate photography, and the allure of downsizing and tiny homes.

Tiny Houses can Mean Major Happiness 

by Emily Alford

For as long as most of us can remember, living the typical American Dream has meant owning a house big enough for an entire family plus a spare bedroom. But many – from empty-nesters whose children have moved away to young people just starting out – are beginning to embrace the idea of "tiny houses,” or miniscule domiciles that save money and conserve energy. If you’ve heard of the trend and wonder what it’s like to drastically downsize, here are a few facts about tiny houses. 

They’re cheaper

According to LendingTree’s analysis of the 2016 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the average monthly mortgage payment in America is around $1029, and the average homeowner spends about 14.84 percent of their income on a mortgage. 

However, a leading source of information on the tiny house movement, thetinylife.com, reports that a tiny house costs just $23,000 to build on average, compared to the $272,000 national average for full-sized homes. That leaves a lot of money left over for travel, retirement savings, or sending kids to college. Bills for utilities, like electricity and water, are obviously much less expensive in a tiny home as well. 

But they are, well, tiny

If you’re accustomed to having a lot of space, tiny living might take some getting used to. According to The Tiny Life, these smaller living spaces are typically only around 100 to 400 square feet, as opposed to the average American home, which is about 2,600.

Tiny living requires thoughtful planning and clever storage ideas, such as using a staircase as a dresser or experimenting with murphy beds. A tiny home also requires a penchant for neatness and organization, as it will look messy a lot faster than a normal-sized living space with a few sweaters thrown around or a couple of dishes left in the sink. 

Having less stuff might mean more happiness

The recent Marie Kondo-led Konmari movement is all about minimizing clutter to maximize contentment. The theory is that many of us hang on to a bunch of junk that doesn’t "spark joy,” in Kondo’s words. Letting go of the possessions that ultimately possess us has led many to report feeling much happier and less stressed. 

Check out zoning laws before jumping in 

Unfortunately, many towns haven’t caught up to the tiny home craze. In fact, in many American towns and cities, domiciles must be a certain size, and that size is often much bigger than 200 square feet. If you’re considering making the switch to tiny living, make sure to check with your town zoning board.

DON’T DIY Real Estate

by Madelaine Brauner Landry

Would you consider a DIY appendectomy or triple bypass? Or trust placing a DIY crown or filling in your mouth? Some things are simply better left to the professionals. First-time home buyers and sellers, as well as experienced property owners know that working with real estate professionals is beneficial. You can DIY online research, talk to friends, and prioritize your personal desires and needs. But don’t let a false sense of confidence rob you of essential expertise and potential profit when it comes to real estate transactions. 

For many, home purchasing represents one of the biggest financial decisions a person makes. Practical information is vital. What are the neighborhood’s comparable sales, its history, its nearby conveniences, and facilities? REALTORS® can effectively assess your expectations and offer insight into properties that buyers and sellers may not consider. They have access to essential legal services. Without this, you could enter a binding contract that costs more than a commission. REALTORS® also screen clients to be sure they are pre-approved and able to purchase your home before bringing them to your property.

A REALTOR® is your representative when buying or selling homes and property. They set up viewing appointments, find valuable information on your interests, and are seasoned price negotiators. Sure, you possess the capability to do these things yourself, but consider that REALTORS® have ready access to reputable lenders, appraisers, and inspectors. They can recommend other valuable service providers. Furthermore, they are licensed professionals. 

Melissa Hamilton, Sales Manager and Associate Broker with Flavin Realty, notes that REALTORS® must not only attend classes, but pass both state and federal tests to become licensed. "To be a licensed REALTOR® in the state of Louisiana, you must complete 90 hours of real estate education in courses approved by the Louisiana Real Estate Commission before taking the national and state licensing exam. In addition to the pre-licensing course requirements, you must also complete 45 hours of post-licensing courses within 180 days of passing both national and state licensing exams. All candidates for licensing must pass a background check. And all REALTORS® are required by the National Association of REALTORS® to adhere to a Code of Ethics by taking a Code of Ethics class every two years. What does this mean to consumers?  It means that any REALTOR® whom you work with has voluntarily agreed to abide by a Code of Ethics, based on professionalism and protection of the public.”

Having a REALTOR® by your side means hiring someone for convenience and expertise. As price negotiators, they barter for you as a neutral party. Have concerns or questions about the property you are buying or selling? Your REALTOR® is there to represent YOUR best interests. A REALTOR® is trained to convey these appropriately to the purchaser or seller—the standards for professionalism are high in this competitive career. 

When hiring a REALTOR®, do your due diligence before signing a contract—what are your expectations, requirements, and real estate goals? State these clearly as you interview for their services. You can review listings and marketing materials for information you want on any property, but the real estate process requires human communication skills on all sides. The DIY skills of asking, listening, and learning still apply. 

For more information or to make an appointment, call Flavin Realty at 337-478-8530. 

REALTOR® Recap: Why you need a professional

An expert guide

Selling or buying a home usually requires dozens of forms, reports, disclosures, and other technical documents. A knowledgeable expert will help you prepare the best deal, and avoid delays or costly mistakes. 

Objective information and opinions

REALTORS® can provide local information on utilities, zoning, schools, and more. They also have objective information about each property. 

Property marketing power

Property doesn’t sell due to advertising alone. A large share of real estate sales comes as the result of a practitioner’s contacts with previous clients, friends, and family. When a property is marketed by a REALTOR®, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Your REALTOR® will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.

Negotiation knowledge

There are many factors up for discussion in a deal. A REALTOR® will look at every angle from your perspective, including crafting a purchase agreement that allows you the flexibility you need to take that next step.

Ethical treatment 

Every REALTOR® must adhere to a strict code of ethics, which is based on professionalism and protection of the public. As a REALTOR®’s client, you can expect honest and ethical treatment in all transaction-related matters.

Focus on Professional Real Estate Photography to Get the Most Out of Your Home Sale

by Angie Kay Dilmore

According to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), homebuyers who searched for a home on the internet found photos to be among the most useful features. Digital images can quickly and professionally showcase a listing, and today’s tech-savvy clients appreciate the convenience of a virtual tour for both long distance and local moves. 

But who will photograph your home for the quickest sale and the highest offer? The Center for REALTOR® Development reports that homes with high quality photography sell faster and bring in higher offers. Dustin and Derek Gaspard, co-owners of Parish Pix, a local professional real estate photography business, say that almost 99% of home buyers search online for a home before even contacting a REALTOR®. "So high quality real estate photography is crucial in today’s market,” says Dustin. In other words, cell phone photos just don’t cut it anymore.

REALTORS® are experiencing the value of hiring professional real estate photographers. Carly Brouillette, a REALTOR® with Keller Williams in Lake Charles, says it is important to showcase a property to its fullest potential. "Professional photographers have the equipment and skill set to enhance the beauty of a home and make it possible to see more of the home in one shot by using a wide-angle lens,” she says. "I quickly learned that owning a fancy camera does not make a person a professional photographer. Great pictures of a home get buyers in the door, which is half the battle. After a buyer arrives, the home will speak for itself.” 

There are several benefits of professional real estate photography to both REALTORS® and home sellers. REALTORS® who hire professional photographers can assure their sellers they are doing everything the can to sell the home; up to 50% faster and 39% closer to the list price, according to Gaspard. Redfin, a real estate brokerage based in Seattle, reports that homes listed with professional photography sell for an average of $11,000 over market value.

Professional photographers save REALTORS® time and effort that can instead be used to concentrate on growing their business. Start to finish, it requires from two to ten hours to create high quality listing photos.

Professional photography gives a listing that WOW factor that will make a home stand out in the crowd and draw in more buyers. Photographers can offer packages with a large number of photos. The Center for REALTOR® Development reports that a home with one photo spends an average 70 days on the market, but a home with 20 photos spends approximately 32 days on the market.

Professional photographers offer several unique services often not offered by the REALTORS® themselves. Professional photos can be edited to give a home a polished image. Some real estate photography businesses, including Parish Pix, also offer drone shots, giving the buyer a sense of what the yard and neighborhood look like. They can create twilight shots, turn gray skies to blue, change brown grass to an inviting green, edit out clutter from a room, even put a virtual fire in a fireplace! They can digitally add furniture and home décor to "stage” a vacant or sparsely furnished home. Brouillette says she has used this service with noticeably better results. "It is also highly affordable when compared to actual staging.”

Homes in the $200,000-$300,000 range can benefit from professional photography and are the easiest to attract more sellers when professional photography is used. It is expected that homes greater than $300,000 have high-end photography taken with other add-ons such as drone photography and video content. But even less expensive homes can benefit from great photography if they bring in more buyers and offers and sell more quickly.

When considering hiring a professional real estate photographer, you’re not only purchasing amazing photos; you’re buying photos that will grab people’s attention and attract eager buyers to your home. Brouillette says, "Professional real estate photography is truly an artform and I think it’s best to leave it to the professionals.”

For more information on professional real estate photography, go www.parishpix.com or call 337-210-5540.

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