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Kudos to the Journal’s editorial board for highlighting the importance of staving off the elimination of state and local tax deductions in the pending tax-reform debate. As the Nov. 2 editorial (“State and local deductions at risk”) pointed out, many residents in high-tax states like Rhode Island would likely see an increase in taxes, not savings. Beyond that, however, there are other compelling reasons to maintain these deductions for citizens in all states, particularly those deductions that relate to real estate.

Sustainable home ownership is and always has been a way to achieve the American dream. According to a Federal Reserve survey of consumer finances, a typical homeowner’s net worth in 2013 was $195,400 while a renter’s was $5,400. Furthermore, with every home sale, money flows back into the local economy with the purchase of home-related goods and services, creating and sustaining jobs in the process. Make no mistake, housing is a huge economic driver.

With homeownership at an all-time low, not due to choice but due to barriers to entry, is it wise to take away incentives to home ownership? Not in the least.

The latest reports on tax reform indicate that the deductions for mortgage interest and real estate taxes, which were headed for the chopping block, could be saved after all. We should all ensure that outcome by doing our part in making sure our congressional delegation understands that a blow to homeownership is a blow to our residents and our economy.

Joseph Luca

The writer is president of the Rhode Island Association of Realtors.

If you are thinking about buying an older house that needs “some work” or “TLC”, you need to have an honest conversation with yourself and any partners who may be involved. You do not want to get involved in a project that is beyond the scope of your abilities, your budget, or your tolerance for surprises…because all of these will probably be tested during the process of going from “old” to “new” and while the shows on cable seem to be fairly realistic to the average consumer, the average consumer does not have the purse strings of a TV network to catch any cost over-runs. In real life you cannot “edit out” all of the stressful scenes; you take that stress home to friends and family. This is a quick read and is worth the time. JoeLucaRealEstate.com Tel: 401-580-9797

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.

Copyright 2015 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

Five Crucial Home Selling Decisions if You Want to Sell in 2015

If you’re planning on selling your home in 2015 there are five crucial decisions that can help you maximize your sale price, get your home sold quickly and do it all without the mountain of stress that often comes with the sale of your home.

Decision #1 – Decide to prepare sooner than later. Home sellers who wait until spring to get their home “ready” are already behind the curve. The real estate year is in full swing by March 1st and homes that sell quickly and for top dollar during the “selling season” are the homes where the owner had a plan, got their home ready, staged, and listed early in the year.

Decision #2 – Decide to prepare yourself emotionally. Selling your home can be very emotional. When you receive an offer for less than you think your home is worth, it generates a whole host of negative emotions. You can feel angry, frustrated, and think everyone is trying to steal your home from you.

Well, they’re not. Buyers just want to know they’re getting the best price. We all feel similar when we make a big purchase. So be careful to manage your emotions. And if you get a “low-ball” offer rely on the help of a trusted professional. A good agent can often gently negotiate the price into a range where everyone wins. The key is to keep your emotional swings in check.

Decision #3 – Be realistic and price your home accordingly. One of the big keys to getting your home sold quickly, for the most money, is pricing it correctly. If you price your home too high, thinking you’ll “test the market,” it can be costly. Your home can sit on the market too long and get labeled as a “no-need-to-show” because you’re viewed as being unrealistic.

You see it all the time. Sellers think they are going to “hold out” and get a better price. Well, you need to consider how soon you want to sell? The reality is you can get just about any price you want if you’re willing to wait long enough. If you wait 5-7 years your home will very likely sell for a more than it will today. But if you want to sell in 90-120 days for top dollar, pricing is a crucial issue that you should discuss at length with a trusted real estate professional.

Decision #4 – Reconcile reality quickly. This is somewhat similar to decision #2, but it’s actually more practical and actionable. Emotions can be hard to define and control, like in point #2. But what is fairly easy to judge is your market’s numbers, and the realities of value.

Agents always hear things like, “But my home has this, this and this. Therefor it should be worth a lot more.” In theory that’s somewhat true. However, the reality you have to be prepared to reconcile is, if people won’t pay more for those things, it doesn’t make your home worth more.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to soften you up so you give your home away. The goal is to help you get the highest possible price, in the shortest time, with the fewest hassles. But something that’s very important to deal with is reality, not wishful thinking. Wishful thinking backs tens of thousands of home sellers into very difficult positions every year.

Having a clear objective view of reality, as well as a trusted professional to help guide you through the emotional ups and downs, can help you avoid a massive mountain of emotional stress, while your home just sits on the market.

My encouragement is, prepare yourself for the true realities, while maintaining high standards throughout the process. It’s a balancing act that with the help of a trusted professional can be far easier to navigate.

Decision #5 – Trust your gut. When interviewing agents there are few things more important than a deep level of trust between you and the agent you choose to represent you. And trust comes in two crucial parts. The first is professional competency.

To trust someone with what is likely the single biggest financial transaction of your life, you need to have confidence that the agent you choose has the skills, technology and ability to fight hard and win what’s in your best interests. That’s why choosing someone just because they’re a “friend of the family” isn’t always the best choice.

The second layer of trust is personal. When you work with someone on something as important as the sale of your home, you need to know you can trust that person personally.

You need to feel a deep sense of confidence that your agent puts your needs in front of their own. It’s not about flash and glitter, or how many homes that agent sold. What’s important is, “Can I trust this person with my financial future?”

That’s where “listen to your gut” comes in. most of us can sense authenticity and integrity. It comes out in many ways and generally when you’re in the presence of it you know in your gut. Sometimes the person might be a little quirky, other times they’re not, but again it’s not about flash and charisma.

The bottom line, choose someone you trust on both a professional and personal level and “go with your gut.”

I hope you found these suggestions helpful. Selling your home is a life altering series of decisions. The better prepared you are to make those decisions effectively, the better the end result.

And as always, if there is anything at all I can do to help you, please feel free to call me at 1-401-580-9797. The conversation is always free and you’re under no obligation of any kind. My entire objective in our conversation is always to help you in any way that I can.

Also, if you would like to know approximately what your home is worth before meeting with an agent, feel free to check out my offer below. It’s a free over-the-phone market evaluation. Just call anytime 24 hours a day and if I don’t pick up leave a message with your email address and I’ll get that evaluation out to you ASAP!

Generally speaking, the consensus seems is that the residential real estate market in most parts of the country is on the upswing in the aggregate.  As a licensed Realtor, I will run with that consensus as much as I can because so much of our economic health is psychological and relies on consumer perception.  Anecdotal evidence indicates that there is an impressive correlation between the tone of the national headlines about the economy and the psyche of the average consumer.  If the news anchors say the sky is falling everyone will soon be running for shelter, even if there is no empirical evidence to support the claim.  Similarly, if national headlines are droning on about the lousy economy, high unemployment, and soon-to-be-rising interest rates, home-buying will grind to a virtual stand-still.  What both of these occurrences have in common is that they frequently rely on inconclusive, or superficial, data that do not adequately represent the economic “status-quo”.  For example, below is a graphical representation of actual data from Core Logic, an aggregator of real estate data (among other things).

Equity-InfoGraphic

The old saying goes: “The only difference between a recession and a depression is that in a recession your neighbor is out of work, in a depression YOU are out of work”  So what does this mean?  Selfishly speaking, I don’t know and as long as houses are selling in RI and MA (which they are) I am not sure if I should be concerned.   However, when I read economic data that do not support the economic outlook; in the back of my mind I can hear the voice of one of my college economics professors emphatically stating that the real numbers do not lie…but those numbers can be manipulated by others for political gain. Case in point: http://tiny.cc/ifnutx an article in the NYT trumpeting the great employment outlook, and this sobering report by the CEO of Gallup http://tiny.cc/oknutx.   What do you think???

This past week I came across two separate indications about what may happen to the residential real estate market in southern New England, and elsewhere, in 2015.  The first was actual data that demonstrated that while sales were down in 2014 compared to 2013, the prices had risen close to 5%…and this is in Rhode Island, traditionally one of the “lagging indicators” of all states and historically one of the last to exit from economic downturns.  See the below:Median House Prices and Sales 2013-14

Rhode Island has been hit especially hard since the last downturn because the unemployment rate has been one  of the highest in the nation, and it has been ranked last by CNBC on several occasions for business attractiveness.  Next I read the predictions for interest rates from several different sources and they all indicated that rates are going up from .3% to 1.2% by the 2015 4Q.

Mortgage Rate Predictions 2015

So to extrapolate: In a “worst case scenario”, if the price of a house increases from $200,000 to $210,000 AND interest rates increase 1.2% (NAR) the monthly payment excluding taxes and insurance would increase from $948/mo today to $1,143/mo at the end of 2015.  That is an extra $2,340/year, $35,100 over 15 years, and a whopping, uncompounded,  $70,200 over 30 years.  Wouldn’t it be better to have that money in your retirement account, or use it for a vacation home?  Since we have been at historic lows for a few years, and prior to the downturn the “Fantastic Rates” were well over 5%, this is not that outlandish.  It is also not outlandish to think that we will not be returning to rates this low for generations since prior to 2010 we had never had rates in the 4% range (BankRate.com.)  So what do you think is now a good time to buy or sell a home???  If you have questions about buying or selling a home, email Joe@JoeLucaRealEstate.com or voice/text at 401-580-9797.

Are you getting ready to sell your home? Do you want to get it sold quickly, and for the price you want? Did you know that most buyers form their first impression of your home within minutes of first seeing it? Years ago sellers would list their homes for sale in “as is” condition. In today’s market, that no longer works. Today you need to make the best possible first impression to get the sale you want – and you only get one chance to make a great first impression. If you’re getting ready to put your home on the market, here are 5 great tips to help you sell it fast and get what you asked for–or maybe even more!

1. Deep Clean

Graciela Rutkowski - sell your home 6 Buyers want to see a fresh, clean home – a dirty home will turn buyers off.

  • Kitchens sell homes. Give special attention to countertops, grout lines, appliances, and cabinets, inside and out. Clean the refrigerator and pantry, and hide any trash cans.
  • Clean floors until they shine, and clear away pet areas. Dust all surfaces, including those above your line of sight. Don’t forget the ceiling fans!
  • Make bathrooms look good and smell fresh. Scrub toilets, and clean shower doors. Invest in fresh bedding, linens, and towels. Odors will turn off buyers. Refresh the space with room deodorizers, but don’t use heavy scents.
  • Clean corners, doorways, and window frames. Don’t forget the garage!
  • Clear out closets, and store what you’re not using. A half-filled closet looks much larger than one that is stuffed.

2. Add Curb Appeal

Graciela Rutkowski Interiors - curb appeal When buyers drive up to your home, you want them to be excited to come in!

  • Invest in professional landscaping. Make sure the lawn is mown, re-seed where the grass looks thin, and trim hedges, trees, and anything that blocks the view to your home. Add colorful flowers along pathways and by the front entry.
  • Power wash the outside of your home, including paths and driveways. Wash windows to make them sparkle and let in light, and clean gutters and walkways.
  • Give your front porch a makeover. Add a bench or chair and a decorative touch. Don’t forget the mailbox! Give it a touch of paint, and be sure it’s standing up straight.
  • Park cars in the garage–or even better, out of the way entirely.

3. Fix What’s Broken

Graciela Rutkowski Interiors - sell your home 3 You want buyers to focus on the best features of your home, and not on problems from deferred maintenance. This is the time to do those ‘fix-it’ projects that you’ve been putting off. It may cost a bit up front, but it will pay off in the long term.

  • Walk through your home with a fresh eye to see if there are obvious maintenance issues. Fix the things you can yourself, and hire a handyman for larger projects. A fresh coat of paint in a neutral color will go a long way!
  • Small details add up. Replace worn, dated hardware and knobs with new pieces that suit the style of the home. Replace worn switch plates and old heating and air conditioning registers with new ones that are clean and uncracked.
  • Lighting makes all the difference. Replace old bulbs with higher wattage, full spectrum light bulbs. Open curtains to let in natural light.
  • If the weather allows, open the windows for fresh air.

4. Stage It!

Graciela Rutkowski Interiors - sell your home Home staging is one of the best steps you can take when preparing to list your home. Statistically, a staged home will sell 80% faster, and for 10% more than an un-staged home! The cost of staging is one of the best returns on investment a seller can make over any other improvements. If you can afford to, hire a professional stager. You will be surprised at the difference they can make for a small investment. A stager will:

  • Showcase the best features in your home, placing furniture to define focal points and maximize the space.
  • De-clutter to help create a feeling of spaciousness.
  • De-personalize the home so that potential buyers can envision themselves in your home, rather than focusing on the things you own
  • Highlight the best features of your home–a beautiful kitchen, a stunning view, a great fireplace, or whatever it is about your home that makes it special.
  • Organize furniture placement so that it helps to create visual space and good flow, and define rooms, so that buyers can see how each room in your home can be used.

5. Invest in Professional Photos

Graciela Rutkowski Interiors - sell your home 2 Today’s buyers are more likely to see your home for the first time on the internet. Great professional photos will make your listing stand out over similar homes, and encourage potential buyers to come see your home. Once you get your home looking its best, be sure to keep it “show ready” for a quick sale. Put out some fresh flowers, and you’re ready to go! All photos courtesy of Graciela Rutkowski Interiors

This is a good explanation and demonstrates why it is a GREAT time to buy house. Why Have Interest Rates Dropped?.

I was at a FUTSAL clinic with my daughter this evening and, among other things, the coach was trying to get these aspiring soccer players to understand that when on defense, the should be playing a “tighter” formation and when on offense they should play in a “loose” formation with more space between them. Which almost seems counter-intuitive, especially as a little kid. They want to run to the ball, steal it from the opponent and then kick/dribble/run it down the field to score a goal. What they need to do is play intelligently, watch the ball, but also read the opposing player to determine what his options are and anticipate where the ball is going to be after his next kick or pass.

There is a lesson that many adults in the business world could take from this clinic. It is an experienced, knowledgeable, and confident individual who understands “the game” of business (or real estate in my case) and intuitively knows when to play in a “tight formation” and when to back off and play in a “loose formation”. Sometimes you cannot force a transaction to consummation. It may fall apart if all parties are not ready to consummate, or you may get your wish but the outcome is not what was expected (that usually means you lose money). Life, business and real estate are not always as simple as offense and defense in soccer. However, it is extremely important to know when to play in a “tight formation” aggressively pursuing the “deal”, and when to back off, gain some perspective, and “see where the ball is going to be when it leaves your opponent’s foot.” Maybe this isn’t the “play” for you, maybe there is another opportunity to “steal the ball” or make the deal that you cannot see when in the middle of the “scrum” – to borrow a term from rugby.

So whether you are looking for that next house to “flip”, a “buy and hold” investment, or another big move, maybe you should consider taking a step back, play a “loose formation” and see if it helps score that goal.

​Joseph Luca, CDPE
Associate Broker
Realtor
RE/MAX Preferred
The Mercurio Group
1417 Douglas Ave
North Providence, RI 02904

This past Autumn, I made the move from a local real estate brokerage company to Remax; an international organization with 90,000 agents that made over $290 BILLION in commissions last year. This past week I was given the opportunity to attend their 40th Anniversary Convention in Las Vegas and all I can say it – WOW. Great classes every day, dynamic speakers from within the industry as well as internationally recognized speakers like Condoleeza Rice. The caliber of agents was impressive and their level of success, regardless of where they are from, is admirable in these challenging economic times.

Going forward, I will be more diligent with my posts and hopefully will give readers a reason to want to come back and read more.

It has been said that the impact of Social Media Marketing on commercial enterprise is going to be similar to that of the Printing Press on the publishing industry. Going forward, Business Marketing Strategies MUST incorporate some aspect of Social Media Marketing in order to be relevant and effective.

While many use Twitter to inform their “Followers” of activities they engage in, and pompously expound their opinions, many entrepreneurs recognize its potential as a marketing tool. As part of a good Marketing Strategy, the savvy entrepreneur will have a Twitter account that includes a well cultivated, refined list of Followers which would allow the entrepreneur to Test the effectiveness of a promotion, drive consumers to a website/blog, or get the word out about an important announcement.

Facebook, Groupon, Yelp, Foursquare and other social media sites are an effective platform for sending out coupons, announcing special promotions, or daily food specials. REALTORS have increasingly been using all of these for marketing properties and soliciting new business. The Home Buyers have responded. In fact, real estate has now become the most searched for item on the Internet; even surpassing pornography. There are Social Media and promotional sites for many industries; food/beverage, entertainment, real estate, health/fitness, job/career related, and others continually pop up. Additionally, there is no financial barrier to entry. A small business owner can do it without hiring someone or having to buy advertising. The learning curve is minimal and the results can be almost immediate.

Those who dismiss Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare et al, as “something for kids”, are missing the boat – and do so to their detriment. This is the advent of a new day in marketing and advertising; the difference between success and failure could be Social Media Marketing.

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