Jan. 20, 2019

Good Upgrades for Home Sellers

Sometimes a home can sell with very few changes, and at other times, owners will need to put in some major work to get their place off the market. While investing in some upgrades is not a guarantee to sell your home, these fixes are what potential buyers will be looking for—and could even raise your asking price.


Landscaping for Improving your home curb appeal 

One of the most apparent home improvements you can make involves your curb appeal. The first thing a potential buyer will notice is the outside of your home, so why not make it stand out? Invest in some simple fixes, like fresh mulch and vibrant flowers or potted plants.

Clean Carpets  

Nothing turns off a buyer more than worn or dirty carpets. If you have quality hardwood underneath, consider ripping up the carpet. Otherwise, invest in a professional cleaning or think about swapping it out for a crisp, new pattern.

The Condition of your Kitchen & Bath are essential when selling your home  

You’ve probably heard it before, but the kitchen and bath are among the most significant deal breakers in the home-buying process. A fresh coat of paint, caulking around sinks and tubs, and replacing old handles and fixtures with more modern finishes can go a long way.

Energy-Efficiency a very important factor to home buyers 

Homes are now trending toward more technologically advanced and energy-efficient features, and if you can offer buyers ways to be environmentally conscious and save money on their bills, they’ll be all in.

Anything Broken?

You wouldn’t want to move into a new home with a leaky roof or drafty windows, and potential buyers won’t, either. Consider handling these inconveniences before listing your home—the ROI is worth it. Good Upgrades for Home Sellers

Posted in Real Estate 101
Jan. 17, 2019

Excited About Buying A Home This Year? Here’s What To Watch

Important Information For First Time Home Buyers

As we kick off the new year, many families have made resolutions to become a First Time Home Buyer in 2019.

Whether you are thinking of finally ditching your landlord and buying your first home or selling your starter house to move into your forever home, there are two pieces of the real estate puzzle you need to observe: interest rates & inventory.


Interest Rates to Buy a New Home

Mortgage interest rates had been on the rise for much of 2018, but they made a welcome reversal at the end of the year. According to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, rates climbed to 4.94% in November before falling to 4.62% for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage last week. Despite the recent drop, interest rates are projected to reach 5% in 2019.

The interest rate you secure when buying a home not only significantly impacts your monthly housing costs, but also affects your purchasing power.

Purchasing power, simply put, is the amount of home you can afford to buy for the budget you have available to spend. As rates increase, the price of the house you can afford to buy will decrease if you plan to stay within a specific monthly housing budget.

The chart below shows the impact that rising interest rates would have if you planned to purchase a $400,000 home while keeping your principal and interest payments between $2,020-$2,050 a month.

Excited About Buying A Home This Year? Here's What to Watch | Keeping Current Matters


With each quarter of a percent increase in interest rate, the value of the home you can afford decreases by 2.5% (in this example, $10,000).

Inventory in The House Market

A ‘normal’ real estate market requires there to be a 6-month supply of homes for sale for prices to increase only with inflation. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), listing inventory is currently at a 3.9-month supply (still well below the 6-months needed), which has put upward pressure on home prices. Home prices have increased year-over-year for the last 81 straight months.

The inventory of homes for sale in the real estate market had been on a steady decline and experienced year-over-year drops for 36 straight months (from July 2015 to May 2018), but we are starting to see a shift in inventory over the last six months.

The chart below shows the change in housing supply over the last 12 months compared to the previous 12 months. As you can see, since June, inventory levels have started to increase as compared to the same time last year.

Excited About Buying A Home This Year? Here's What to Watch | Keeping Current Matters

This graphic shows a trend to watch as we move further into the new year. If we continue to see an increase in homes for sale, we could start running further away from a seller’s market and close to a normal market.

Bottom Line

If you are planning to enter the housing market, either as a buyer or a seller, make sure that you have an experienced local agent who can help you navigate the changes in mortgage interest rates and inventory.

At Conti Realty Group we don't only specialize in helping first time home buyers, but we consider it an honor.

Call Us at 954.881.6498 or email us at patty@contirealty.com


Posted in News
Sept. 28, 2018

Projects to Increase Your Home Value in $1000 or Less

Projects to Increase Your Home Value in $1000 or Less Patty Conti Blog

Increasing your home value before listing it doesn’t have to break the bank. First, you should get a home inspection of your home so that you know which updates are more important. For instance, you might decide to do more basic home maintenance projects, such as painting your kitchen cabinets, instead of your entire home's interior.

Whether your budget is on the lower spectrum at $100 or as high as $1000, here are several ways that you can improve on your home, add curb appeal and more to increase its value. 

$100 or less

Making subtle changes to the exterior of your home is not only inexpensive, but they also strengthen your curb appeal. For $100 or less, you can upgrade your landscape. Begin by adding a flower bed and new plants or mulching your existing garden beds. Another way to add home value in a pinch is by switching out your outdoor accessories. These can include your mailbox, house numbers, and door hardware. If you’d rather spend your $100 inside your home, a simple update to your kitchen cabinets can make a big statement. Instead of purchasing a new set, sand down each cabinet and paint them with a fresh, neutral coat!

$500 or less

Before listing your home, you’ll, of course, want your home to be in tip-top shape, especially when buyers pull in the driveway. Begin by painting your home’s exterior, shutters and garage door. Then, hire a professional to pressure wash your home or rent the equipment from your local home improvement store. Renting a pressure washer for a single day can be as little as $65. Another project you could achieve with $500 or less is adding a fence in your backyard. This feature will especially appeal to those with pets and small children. 

$1000 or less

If you have more wiggle room in your budget for home renovations, then these projects are for you! To make a big impact on your home overall, repaint your home’s interior. This is a great time to revert back to a neutral palette for buyers if you have a green wall, for instance. Smart thermostats are another way you can increase your home value. Did you know that smart thermostats can save you about $200 annually on your energy costs? This feature not only modernizes your home, but it also saves your potential buyer some cash. Lastly, a new front porch does wonder in increasing your home value. It’s key to update your home’s exterior so that buyers are more enticed to step in and view your home. 

Posted in Real Estate 101
Nov. 21, 2017

Buying Your Home in 2018: 5 Simple Steps to Take Now

Buying Your Home in 2018: 5 Simple Steps to Take Now Conti Realty Group

If you’re gearing up to buy in a home in 2018, it’s never too early to start taking steps now. While the holidays are in full force, there are simple steps you can take before you begin the big hunt. From monitoring your finances to finding a mortgage lender and more, these preliminary steps will pay off in the New Year.

1. Clean up your credit score.

If you’re buying your first home in 2018, you’ll soon learn that a good credit score helps tremendously in earning lower interest rates on your mortgage, which could save you thousands of dollars annually. Credit scores range from 300–850, with 740 being the minimum goal for you to reach. Factors, such as not paying your bills on time, can negatively affect your credit score. Now’s the time to clean up your credit score! Paying your bills on time and making efforts to reduce your debt-to-income ratio are a couple ways you can clean up your credit. 

2. Beware of impulse purchases.

From Black Friday to all of the holiday sales that will flood retail stores over the next couple months, it can be tempting to purchase items because they’re a “good deal” or if there’s incentive to save 20 percent extra on your purchase. You’ll also be asked to apply for credit cards when shopping this season. However, falling into these traps can hurt your credit score. A good rule of thumb for spending on credit is to not be using more than 30 percent of your available credit. As a side note, opening additional credit cards can have a negative impact on your mortgage application.

3. Start building your emergency fund. 

While it would behoove you to already have an emergency fund in place already, it’s never too late to get a fund started. When you buy your home in 2018, there are much more financial responsibilities than your mortgage and down payment. As a new homeowner, there will be unexpected home repairs, moving costs and other monetary surprises. To build your emergency fund in addition to saving on your own, you can suggest financial gifts this holiday to put toward your home.

4. Choose your mortgage lender.

Sure, it’s tempting to begin your home search online, but it’s more wise to start the process by choosing your mortgage lender. Your mortgage lender will be able to get you preapproved for a loan amount so that you can better perform your home search by staying within your means. You can find a mortgage lender by consulting your bank or real estate agent.

5. Get your preapproval letter.

Preapproval letters can be obtained from your mortgage lender once they assess your financial documents and determine how much you can afford on a home. You then present this letter to sellers as confirmation that you can actually afford to purchase their home. Here are the items you will typically need for a preapproval letter: recent paystubs, tax returns and W-2 forms, rental or mortgage documents from your current home, a list of all debts and a list of all assets. 

Posted in Real Estate 101
Nov. 17, 2017

3 Practical Tips for Winterizing Your Home

3 Practical Tips for Winterizing Your Home Conti Realty Group

While you’ve probably done your research on how to decorate your table and spruce up your mantel for the holidays, you likely haven’t considered how to practically prepare your home for the cooler weather. Here are three practical tips for winterizing your home this season as well as some simple, budget-friendly tips and tricks.

1. Make sure your home is properly insulated.

Sure, you can just crank the heat up in your home to keep the chill away, but your power bill will certainly reflect this. Looking for a nifty trick for winterizing your home? During the day, uncover the windows that face south so that your home will heat up from the sun. Once the sun goes down, use insulated curtains to cover your windows and keep the heat in your home. You can also take curtains a step further by using magnetic tape to secure them closer to the wall. 

2. Locate any leaks in your home.

Have you been feeling chilly breezes from certain nooks and spaces within your home? It’s time to plug those spaces to ensure your home isn’t leaking heat outside or any other winter weather indoors. Start by checking your chimney, gaps between your doors and windows, pipe joints and even mounted fixtures. To seal the nooks causing the leaks, you can use a plastic sheet and caulk as well as weather stripping, all of which can easily be found at your local hardware store.

3. Adjust your thermostat to save on your bills.

To stay warm during the winter months, that doesn’t mean that your power bills need to skyrocket! A good rule of thumb is to keep your home at around 68 degrees when you’re home. This way, your home is still comfortably warm while being cost-effective. Then, when it’s evening or you are away from home, it’s best to keep the temperature at no higher than 58. To help you remember to adjust the temperature, there are many programmable thermostats on the market to help you monitor your temperature to save cash in the long run.

Posted in Real Estate 101
Nov. 10, 2017

4 Budget-Friendly Thanksgiving Decor Ideas

4 Budget-Friendly Thanksgiving Decor Ideas Conti Realty Group Blog

Are you hosting for Thanksgiving this year? Thanksgiving is just two weeks away, and when you’re hosting, it can seem overwhelming to think past how you’ll be able to get the mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and turkey done at the same time. 

Since you’re already providing the food for your loved ones, sticking to a budget for your Thanksgiving decor is important, but that doesn’t mean it has to be any less elegant.

Here are four budget-friendly Thanksgiving decor ideas to consider for Turkey Day:

Pumpkins as place cards

You likely have some mini pumpkins lying around from Halloween. Why not spruce them up to use as unlikely place card holders? For an elegant touch, purchase enough small white pumpkins to place at each seat. Then, use a metallic sharpie to write each guest’s name on the pumpkins acting as place cards instead of your average folded cardstock.

“I’m thankful for…”

Sticking to the topic of place card settings, why not give your guests a little thoughtful task before dinner? Include a printable on craft paper, for instance, atop each napkin at each place setting that says, “I’m thankful for…” along with a pencil for them to make their lists. You could even tie nice ribbon or a small bundle of herbs around the pencil to add a finishing touch. This keeps your guest occupied while waiting and acts as an easy way for getting into the mindset on this day of thankfulness.

Fancy pumpkin centerpieces 

While you’re at the store purchasing pumpkins for your place settings, buy a few more and spray paint each in a metallic shade for an extra chic touch to your table. In a time crunch with no time to paint? You can likely find inexpensive copper-colored, plastic pumpkins at your local dollar or craft store. To fill in gaps on your table, there are plenty of fresh and affordable greenery like eucalyptus branches or twigs that you can use to complete this effortless elegant look. 

Stick to candles

For a more simple, yet clean and classy Thanksgiving decor, purchase white candles in varying heights and corral them at the center of your table. To make the centerpiece pop, you can go for a neutral table cloth like burlap, linen or even brown craft paper. This is also a great opportunity to fill in with eucalyptus, pine cones, herbs and even small white pumpkins. 

Posted in Real Estate 101
Nov. 2, 2017

6 Tips for Choosing Your Dream Neighborhood

5 Tips for Choosing Your Dream Neighborhood Conti Realty Group

While the kitchen is gorgeous and the backyard is immaculate, how does the neighborhood measure up? Far too often, buyers find themselves caught in the conundrum of sacrificing a great neighborhood for a top-of-the-line kitchen. 

Don’t make the mistake of purchasing a home for its amenities. Look to these six tips for choosing the dream neighborhood of your future home.

1. Seek the help of your realtor.

Your local realtor should be able to source you with the most up-to-date information for a neighborhood including its school district, crime reports, average living costs and the like. Consult their knowledge when considering a home within your dream neighborhood.

2. Meet your potential neighbors.

Once you’re leaning toward ‘yes’ on a home, who better to approach than your potential neighbors to learn more about the neighborhood? Ask them about neighborhood specifics including pros, cons, HOA, community events, neighborhood watch, etc. Your potential neighbors will be able to provide accurate criticisms or praise before you take the plunge. 

3. Investigate the school district.

While you can certainly consult your realtor or potential neighbors for information on the local schools to see if this is your dream neighborhood, you can also conduct research on your own. Visit the local schools to learn about their performance ratings, transportation, student/teacher ratios and much more! You can also research this information online with sites like SchoolDigger

4. Research local crime reports.

You can find detailed crime reports on sites like CrimeReports and NeighborhoodScout. Simply enter in your zip code, and these sites will generate a neighborhood’s crime history and other statistics to gauge whether or not you’ve found your dream neighborhood. 

5. Explore the neighborhood on your own.

How manicured are the lawns? Often, well-maintained lawns and landscaping will indicate the quality of a neighborhood. Depending on the age of your children, you might want to look at the demographics of the families in the neighborhood. If you like the great outdoors, look for local hiking and biking trails. Other neighborhood amenities you can take note of are local pharmacies, parks, grocery stores and restaurants. 

6. Watch for warning signs. 

During your neighborhood search, you should also be looking out for warning signs. If you see multiple foreclosures or short sales in your potential neighborhood, this could mean that the area is actually declining and will not be great for resale in the future. It’s also a good idea to drive around the neighborhood during different times of the day to view the various traffic patterns and noise levels. 

Posted in Real Estate 101
Oct. 27, 2017

Top Budget-Friendly Kitchen Upgrades to Increase Your Home Value

Top Budget-Friendly Kitchen Upgrades to Up Your Home Value Conti Realty Blog

The kitchen is often the heart of the home. From cooking to entertaining, it’s safe to say that the party often drifts toward the kitchen. This of course means that your kitchen often becomes well-worn and outdated quite quickly. For future buyers and for your own enjoyment, kitchen upgrades are beneficial for everyone! Before you start worrying about the expenses, here are the top budget-friendly kitchen upgrades that will increase your home value.

Give your cabinets a facelift.

For a few hundred dollars, you can quickly give your kitchen cabinets a facelift without breaking the bank. Simply give your cabinets a new coat of paint in a semigloss finish (Your local hardware and paint store can assist you with finding this.). In addition, changing out the hardware for a more modern, yet timeless, set immediately transforms the feel of your kitchen. 

Refresh or install a kitchen backsplash.

Chances are, your backsplash has taken a hit over the years. Now’s the time to upgrade this area of your kitchen! For around $2,000, you can create your backsplash out of glass, mosaic tiles or the ultra chic subway tiles. Change up the look by choosing a variety of tile sizes and arranging them in a fun pattern, such as herringbone. Keep in mind that neutral colors are best for potential buyers.

Let there be—new—light!

Lighting is key to any room, and this also goes for your kitchen ambience. For under $100, this update is one of the most affordable kitchen upgrades. Whether you change out the outdated pendants for stylish ones or you add a light over your kitchen bar or island, you’ll notice a stunning difference immediately! Ikea has very affordable and modern pendants for as little as $30. 

Change out your countertops.

Some of the largest real estate in your kitchen is your countertops. This is where you prepare your food and display food for parties, and it may even be where you dine as well. Since your countertops serve many functions, it’s important to make them durable, yet chic. Starting at around $300, you could upgrade to concrete countertops. Other options include granite, butcher block and even reclaimed wood.

Add a hood to your stove.

If you’re not going to be replacing your stove anytime soon, the second best option to amplifying your kitchen on a budget is to install a stainless steel hood. Stainless steel hoods are often seen in lavish chef kitchens, which is why potential buyers will immediately be drawn to this feature. For around $600, plus labor for hiring an electrician, adding a hood is one of the kitchen upgrades that will guarantee a return on your investment.

Posted in Real Estate 101
Oct. 18, 2017

How to Sell Your Home in a Hot Market

How to Sell Your Home in a Hot Market Conti Realty Group Blog

Has your home been on the market for quite some time? There are several reasons that can delay a sale from pricing your home too high to not upgrading key amenities before placing your home on the market. Here are six tips for selling your home in a hot market.

Don’t forget about Home Selling 101.

When you’re in a hot market, your home is more likely to sell for a great price—even if it’s not in great condition—but it’s not something that you should fully rely on. Instead of being presumptuous about how easily your home will sell, expect it to take time to sell. Then, make sure you’re not forgetting the basics of home selling . . . and that’s the continual process of staging your home. 

Fairly price your home.

Hot markets simply mean the demand is high, but the inventory is low. This of course doesn’t mean your asking price should be through the roof. Make sure to consult your agent’s know-how when determining the asking price for your home using three factors: the local market, comparables and the latest selling trends. 

Upgrade the key amenities.

While you might not be in your home much longer, it is still in your best interest to upgrade the key amenities, especially if you’re looking to receive the full asking price. To find out which amenities need to be upgraded in your home, look to home comparables to see where you should and shouldn’t be modernizing. Key amenities could be on the lower end by upgrading your ceiling fans or kitchen faucet or as pricey as purchasing a stainless steel refrigerator.

Double-check your title. 

If there’s something wrong with the title on your home, this can certainly deter prospective buyers. Do yourself a favor and contact your title company to ensure that everything is squared away prior to placing your home on the market.

Get quality listing photos taken of your home.

Just because you’re in a hot market, doesn’t mean that you should overlook having attractive listing photos. Your listing photos are the first thing that buyers see since many look at homes online before visiting them in person. Declutter your home, stage it, then hire a professional photographer to take several quality photos of your home. 

Hire a personable real estate agent.

You’ve priced your home fairly, you have professional real estate photos, and you’ve upgraded key amenities in your home—now why isn’t your home selling? There’s a chance that your agent could be souring the situation. There can be agents that are unfriendly or just plain overworked. If your agent has these qualities, you may want to look to hiring a more vibrant, socially savvy agent.

Posted in Real Estate 101
Oct. 11, 2017

5 Steps for Making an Offer on a Home

5 Steps for Making an Offer on a Home Conti Realty Group Blog

You’ve done the legwork, now it’s time to make an offer on a home. Whether this is your first or fifth home you’re purchasing, it never hurts to brush up on how to make an offer that’s not only accurate, but it’s also attractive to the seller.

Here are five steps for making an offer on a home.

1. Research

When you’re looking to make an offer on a home, the process begins with researching the local market and the history of the home. First, you should find comps, or local home comparables that are similar to the one you’re interested in, to see how the home's selling price compares. Next, you should research the home’s history. For instance, a seller who purchased the home decades ago will be more open to negotiation on the price versus a seller who has only lived there for three years. Seek the help of your trusted real estate agent for this step.

2. Get pre-approved for a mortgage

Chances are you’ll need some assistance to pay for your home. By taking the step to get pre-approved for a mortgage with a lender ahead of time, sellers see this initiative as assurance that you’d be able to afford the home and will often take you more seriously than buyers who do not.

3. Hire professional help

Hiring a real estate agent and real estate attorney can save you from a lot of headaches as you navigate through heaps of paperwork and unfamiliar terminology. Their assistance will be invaluable, especially when it comes to the purchase agreement, home appraisal, inspection and other steps during the homebuying process.

4. Protect your money in an escrow account

Having an escrow account is a great safety net for protecting your money should the offer fall through. You can arrange to have your deposit kept in an escrow account, instead of with the seller, which will also be deducted from the final amount when it’s closing time.

5. Make your offer

Once you make your offer to the seller or their real estate agent, there’s a small window of time for them to accept the offer, reject it or place a counteroffer for you to consider. Then, you can accept their counteroffer or place a new one. Once you and the seller come to an agreement on the price, now’s the time where you can consult your real estate attorney to help you understand what you are signing.

Posted in Real Estate 101