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5 Winning Tips for Writing an Offer Letter

by Heidi Winston, RE/MAX Lifetime Achievement Recipie

In some hot housing markets, including a letter with your formal offer to buy a home is all but required. Unfortunately, Hallmark doesn’t make a card for the occasion (yet). Here are a few tips:

1. Get emotional.
Take advantage of this opportunity to sail beyond the facts and figures to convey a personal connection to the home. Pick one or two features and talk about how they fit into your vision of the perfect home. For example, “Holiday meals are important to my family. Your large kitchen has everything I need to re-create my grandmother’s recipes, and would fit all of my relatives who like to gossip while cooking.” Or, “During our showing my children escaped to climb trees in your backyard. They fell in love with the home as much as I did.”

2. Connect with the seller.
Find one or two similarities between your family and the seller’s, based on what you can discern from the home. Show you have something in common, but be careful not to dig too deep (nobody wants to sell to a stalker). For example: “We’re so excited that your home not only has a beautiful, fenced yard, but also a dog door. Our lives revolve around our two rescue pups, Sonny and Cher, who would literally leap for joy in a yard of their own.”

3. Don’t be afraid to flatter.
Tell the seller why you adore specific features that have been upgraded: “We love those colorful tiles you used on the kitchen backsplash. They remind us so much of our honeymoon in Portugal.”

4. Don’t whine.
This is not the place to play the sympathy card. No sob stories about why you sold your last place, or how many deals have fallen through. You want the seller to feel good reading your letter.

5. Grammar matters.
Check spelling and grammar. Have a grammar-nerd friend triple check it for you. You want the seller to know you put time and care into your honest appeal.

Not sure where to start? You’ve come to the right place. Contact Heidi Winston of Winston Realty Group for all of your real estate needs. For more information or to schedule a showing, visit www.winstonrealtygroup.com or email Heidi@WinstonRealtyGroup.com. Once you work with us, you'll be glad we're your real estate professionals.

Courtesy of RE/MAX Blog

Change the Life of a Shelter Dog This October

by Heidi Winston, RE/MAX Lifetime Achievement Recipie

You can become a dog’s superhero this month – October is Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month! You have the power to change the life of a shelter dog by welcoming a new fur-baby into the family. The American Humane Society first established October as the national puppy-loving month to help more than 7 million animals currently in shelters seeking “fur-ever” homes.

If you’re not convinced that adopting from a shelter is the way to find the perfect pooch, we’ve done the research to change your mind.

Don’t shop at a pet store when it’s easier than ever to adopt an animal from a shelter or rescue – the Humane Society reports that most shelters are 25-30 percent purebreds, and over 50 percent of cats and dogs in shelters are never adopted. If there is a certain breed of dog you are looking for, search the breed rescue groups in your area too.

If the landlord says no pets allowed, maybe it’s time to buy your own home where you make your own rules. More than three-fourths of Americans in their 30s own a dog according to one report and millennials now represent the largest demographic of homebuyers, so it’s no surprise that first-time homebuyers add a pet to the mix when purchasing their first house.

After factoring in the added costs many landlords impose on rentals in the form of deposits and pet fees, owning a home may be a better option than renting. Just think, you could give your new fuzzy-faced animal his very own backyard to run around in.

Find a shelter or rescue near you with the ASPCA’s Shelter Finder to start your search. If the search to add a pup to your family has you thinking about upgrading to a home to call your own, you’ve come to the right place! 

Contact Heidi Winston of Winston Realty Group for all of your real estate needs. For more information or to schedule a showing, visit www.winstonrealtygroup.com or email Heidi@WinstonRealtyGroup.com. Once you work with us, you'll be glad we're your real estate professionals.

Courtesy of RE/MAX Blog

Demand for Housing Increases in August 2019

by Heidi Winston, RE/MAX Lifetime Achievement Recipie

According to the August 2019 RE/MAX National Housing Report, buyer demand continues to exceed available housing supply, extending the favorable seller’s market that has been in place for years. While sellers have had the upper hand in negotiations in recent years with constricted inventory remaining nationally, more buyers entering the housing market could increase momentum.

“The modest inventory growth that started last fall has been swallowed up by demand as buyers have returned to the market, likely spurred on by attractive interest rates,” said RE/MAX CEO Adam Contos. “Home sales dipping at the same time inventory falls suggests there may have been some reluctance on the part of sellers to list their homes,” added Contos.

The last of 2019’s peak months for home sales also prompted encouraging signs for buyers with a steep decline in Median Sales Price from July 2019 to August 2019. Despite concerns over low inventory, the seasonal decline in inventory from July 2019 to August 2019 is on par with the national average since RE/MAX began releasing the RE/MAX National Housing Report over 10 years ago.

Here are some highlights of the latest data found in the RE/MAX National Housing Report:

  1. Home sales took a dip.

The overall average number of home sales is down 4.2% compared to July 2019, and down 1.6% compared to August 2018. Leading the month-over-month sales percentage decrease were Miami, FL at -13.5%, Dover, NH at -13.1%, and Washington, D.C. at -10.3%.

  1. Home prices became increasingly more affordable.

In August 2019, the median of all 53 metro Median Sales Prices was $263,000, down 3.6% from July 2019 and marking the steepest drop-off in report history from July to August.

  1. The number of homes for sale declined.

The number of homes for sale in August 2019 was down 3.9% from July 2019 and down 5.5% from August 2018. Based on the rate of home sales in August 2019, the Months Supply of Inventory was 2.8, a decrease compared to 2.9 in July 2019 and 3.5 in August 2018. A six months supply indicates a market balanced equally between buyers and sellers.

Sellers, are you ready to put your home on the market? Contact Heidi Winston of Winston Realty Group for all of your real estate needs. For more information or to schedule a showing, visit www.winstonrealtygroup.com or email Heidi@WinstonRealtyGroup.com. Once you work with us, you'll be glad we're your real estate professionals.

Courtesy of RE/MAX Blog

The One Where They Reconsider Apartment Living

by Heidi Winston, RE/MAX Lifetime Achievement Recipie

In honor of the 25th anniversary of “Friends”, we’re looking into the living arrangements of our six favorite “friends”: Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Joey and Phoebe. They were in their 20s and living in New York City’s West Village – in relatively large apartments.

We’ve all thought it, and it has even been analyzed multiple times, but Monica’s and Rachel’s living situation is just too good to be true. Two roommates, with average incomes for most of the series, would have had a very hard time affording a two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan. Let alone one with a living room of that size.

While they made renting in the Big Apple look relatively stress-free, there are downsides to their apartment living that could make anyone consider buying a home.

Annoying neighbors

From the “Ugly Naked Guy” to the late Mr. Heckles, Monica and Rachel dealt with their share of strange neighbors. Yet, they never considered moving out. A recent study conducted by Rent.com found that people living in multifamily homes, like apartment buildings, were willing to pay an additional $179 per month just for the ability to choose their neighbors.

While they had a ridiculous deal on their rent-stabilized apartment (1,125 square feet in Manhattan for only $200 a month!), the constant disturbances and lack of privacy would have probably led them, in real life, to at least consider finding a new home.

Lack of outdoor space

Outdoor space has become a must-have amenity for many homebuyers and renters, especially millennials who need to accommodate their pets. Throughout the series, the characters had a few different furry friends – Ross’ monkey Marcel, Chandler and Joey’s chicks and ducks – that may have benefitted from an enclosed outdoor space.

Additionally, the friends are seen using the apartment’s balcony for parties, barbecues and romantic moments. While it’s a nice addition, and one you can’t guarantee everywhere, a larger outdoor space – or even one that doesn’t require crawling out a window like Rachel’s and Monica’s – would BE (think Chandler’s inflection) more ideal.

Small/outdated kitchen

While most apartments aren’t praised for their kitchen spaces, it’s surprising that Monica, the professional chef in the group, seems to have no qualms with the lackluster space. While the gang seemed to get by with a somewhat-outdated kitchen (as evidenced by their many Thanksgivings held there), it’s one of the things that usually drives most renters to consider moving. Plus, any significant design change or upgrade would have needed the landlord’s approval. Given that Monica was subletting the apartment illegally from her grandmother, she probably avoided the landlord at all costs.

No elevator

The apartment building where Monica, Rachel, Chandler and Joey reside is a five-story walkup, meaning there’s no elevator access. Ross lived in a similar walkup apartment across the street. An elevator would have been especially helpful in Ross’ apartment situation when he is trying to move a couch upstairs himself instead of having it delivered. With an elevator, they could have avoided having to “pivot!” After a long day at the office, climbing multiple flights of stairs to get to a front door can be daunting.

Perhaps the characters of “Friends” are not getting such a sweet deal on their apartment if it means they must deal with all of these “quirks.” If you are feeling more proactive that Monica and Rachel and are ready to move on from renting, contact Heidi Winston of Winston Realty Group for all of your real estate needs. For more information or to schedule a showing, visit www.winstonrealtygroup.com or email Heidi@WinstonRealtyGroup.com. Once you work with us, you'll be glad we're your real estate professionals.

Courtesy of RE/MAX Blog

6 Lessons Monopoly Can Teach You About Home Buying

by Heidi Winston, RE/MAX Lifetime Achievement Recipie

1. Patience

MONOPOLY: So your family has decided to play Monopoly? Refill your beverage, grab a snack and change into comfortable clothes. You’re going to be there a while.

LESSON: Buying real estate is a process. There’s pre-approval for a loan, interviewing agents, searching for homes, submitting an offer, maybe submitting another offer, the home inspection, the appraisal, and final loan processing before you get the keys. Needless to say, buying a home can take some time. Instead of getting frustrated, focus on all of the great reasons you decided buying a home was right for you. Staying in close communication with your agent throughout the process will help, too.

2. Neighborhood matters
MONOPOLY: Everyone starts the game with one corner in mind: Boardwalk and Park Place. The high-priced properties have the best returns on investments, and the players who snag them first tend to do well in the game.

LESSON: Location is often a major consideration in real life as well. Home values, your lifestyle and so much more are factors in your neighborhood choice. Work with your agent to learn all you can about the neighborhoods that pique your interest.

3. Keep an open mind
MONOPOLY: Baltic and Mediterranean Avenue have a bad reputation because they’re the cheapest properties on the board, but they also present opportunity. Add a few houses and hotels and your return could be bigger than the one on nearby Connecticut Avenue.

LESSON: Keep an open mind when shopping for a home. An up-and-coming neighborhood may have appeal you didn’t see before, and more value for your budget.

4. Be prepared
MONOPOLY: You’re a Monopoly mogul! You have a handful of desirable properties and a steady stream of income from your houses and hotels. Then comes the Chance card: “Make general repairs on your property – for each house pay $25, for each hotel pay $100.”

LESSON: You never know what card you’re going to draw. But unlike Monopoly, the real world has home insurance available to help you prepare for unexpected repairs and disasters. A variety of plans, customizable to any budget, are available. Some homebuyers also opt for warranties covering potential appliance issues after move-in.

5. How to win a bidding war
MONOPOLY: Trading properties keeps Monopoly exciting. And there are no strict rules as to how a seller determines to accept an offer. Sibling rivalry, bribes involving candy or even business sense can play into a player’s decision.

LESSON: Sellers don’t always accept the highest offer. Writing a letter about why you fell in love with their home can sometimes sway their decision in your favor.

6. The importance of strategy
MONOPOLY: Monopoly is a game of strategy, but few players are inclined to study ways to win. What if you had a coach sitting next to you, advising how much to bid for a property, where to look next, and whether or not mortgaging a utility to buy Boardwalk is a smart idea? You would be unstoppable!

LESSON: Buying a home is an infrequent occurrence; for some it happens only once in a lifetime. Wouldn’t it be helpful to have someone on your side who is up-to-speed on laws for your state, knows which neighborhoods would best fit your lifestyle and helps you navigate a bidding war? That’s the value an experienced agent provides.

Contact Heidi Winston of Winston Realty Group for all of your real estate needs. For more information or to schedule a showing, visit www.winstonrealtygroup.com or email Heidi@WinstonRealtyGroup.com. Once you work with us, you'll be glad we're your real estate professionals.

Blog courtesy of RE/MAX Blog

Hiring an Agent? Do These 4 Things First

by Heidi Winston, RE/MAX Lifetime Achievement Recipie

If you’re looking to buy the right home, it often starts with hiring the right real estate agent. But how do you determine which agent is the one for YOU?

Narrow down your real estate agent options with these four steps.

1. Read all about ’em

Want to know what it’s really like to work with a specific agent? Get a feel for the experience by reading what past clients have to say about them.

“An agent can tell someone all day long that they’ll work hard for them. But positive reviews from past clients really say it,” says Jeff Bowers, Broker/Owner at RE/MAX Pro Realty in Charleston, South Carolina.

2. Make sure they know their stuff

Homebuying and selling is a competitive space. Understanding the ins-and-outs of what you will face as a buyer or seller is critical, so it’s not a bad idea to have an experienced agent in your court.

“An agent who doesn’t sell many homes a year, or is a part-time agent, is not sharpening their skills and staying on top of the market,” says George Pilant, Managing Broker at RE/MAX Northwest in Tacoma, Washington. “Skill and success requires a mastery of fundamental real estate tasks. Mastery comes through practice and repetition, and a productive agent is continually practicing their craft.”

3. Test their local knowledge

In order to help you buy or sell a home quickly and efficiently, a good understanding of the location you are interested in is key.

“An experienced agent that understands local area/neighborhood dynamics is important. The economy, unemployment, job growth, upticks and downsizes in businesses, traffic, construction and climate all influence real estate market supply and demand, pricing, days on market, concessions, etc. And all feed into the home-buy or home-sale equation,” says Jen Horner, an agent with RE/MAX Masters in Salt Lake City, Utah. “As every real estate market has it intricacies, experience is a must to navigate these dynamics.”

4. Ask the right questions

When interviewing a potential agent, make sure to ask them questions about what to expect from them during the buying/selling process. How often will they communicate with you, how do you get in contact with them? Having a knowledgeable, productive agent is important, but so is having a personable, easy-to-work-with agent.

“A home purchase is a serious investment – most likely a consumer’s largest investment. Therefore, the importance of choosing the right agent is paramount,” says Horner. “Experience is important, but the ability to mesh and have good communication and rapport is critical as well. Do you get the feeling during your interview that the real estate agent is trustworthy and honest? You need to find a Realtor that’s going to work hard for your best interest!”

Contact Heidi Winston of Winston Realty Group for all of your real estate needs. For more information or to schedule a showing, visit www.winstonrealtygroup.com or email Heidi@WinstonRealtyGroup.com. Once you work with us, you'll be glad we're your real estate professionals. 

Blog posted courtesy of RE/MAX Blog

A Plan for First-Time Homebuyers: Go from Prepared to Purchase

by Heidi Winston, RE/MAX Lifetime Achievement Recipie

If you’re a first-time homebuyer who has succeeded in saving enough for a down payment (remember, you don’t necessarily need 20%) on your very first home – congratulations! You’ve tackled one of the hardest parts of the homebuying journey with success, but you haven’t crossed the finish line to homeownership just yet. Now it’s time for the follow-up work that can take you from prepared to purchase.

Credit Check

Do you know your credit score? If not, it’s time to request a copy of your credit report from TransUnion, Equifax and Experian to find out your score and what it means to your future financial picture. Start working to resolve any errors or outstanding debts before it’s time to make an offer on a house. It’s important to determine your DTI, or debt-to-income ratio, by reviewing assets and debts. The higher your DTI percentage, the riskier the investment is for lenders – which can lead to higher interest rates.

Prepare the Paperwork

Begin gathering all necessary documents now to make the process run smoothly. Depending on your situation, this may include income documentation, proof of assets, personal documents, pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements, IDs, previous addresses and Social Security numbers. Study the documents as you collect them to familiarize yourself with your financial situation, motivate your home search and keep your debt-to-income ratio low.

Get Pre-Qualified or Pre-Approved

After you find the right agent, the next step is to make an appointment with a loan originator (ask me for a recommendation). A loan originator can help you with pre-qualification or pre-approval. Keep in mind that many homeowners borrow less than the maximum to account for other expenses and opt in to lower monthly payments. Revisit your financials with these new numbers in mind and, if necessary, make any final edits to your budget and payment plan.

Start your first homebuying experience off the right way letting me help you through this process. 

Contact Heidi Winston of Winston Realty Group for all of your real estate needs. For more information or to schedule a showing, visit www.winstonrealtygroup.com or email Heidi@WinstonRealtyGroup.com. Once you work with us, you'll be glad we're your real estate professionals. 

Reprinted from RE/MAX Blog

The National Housing Market is Rebalancing; It’s a Good Thing!

by Heidi Winston, RE/MAX Lifetime Achievement Recipie

March is traditionally the harbinger of the busy homebuying and selling season. Last month followed that annual tradition but at a much slower pace than in recent years, according to the latest RE/MAX National Housing Report.

Home sales this past month were 8.6 percent lower than sales during March 2018. But should home sellers be concerned? RE/MAX CEO Adam Contos has said the current rebalancing of the national housing market is healthy for the industry since the demand among buyers and sellers is slowly equaling. The report also found that the average months supply of inventory — the amount of time it would take for every home currently on the market to sell if no other homes are listed — was 2.7 months. A balanced housing market is inventory of 6 months or more.

Here are some highlights of the latest data found in the RE/MAX National Housing Report:

  1. Homes sales in March were the slowest start to spring homebuying in five years.
    From 2015 to 2018, the housing market’s spring sprang to life with an increase in sales from February to March averaging 37.0 percent. March 2019’s month-over-month increase of 28.8 percent was the smallest since 24.6 percent in 2014.
  1. Inventory is up. Transactions are down.
    March was the eighth consecutive month of year-over-year sales declines and the sixth straight month of year-over-year inventory growth, with a 5.3 percent gain.
  1. Most homes are increasing in value, but at a slower pace.
    Housing activity in the report’s 54 markets nationwide also saw the Median Sales price grow by 3.4 percent year-over-year — notably smaller than the year-over-year increases in February (5.5%) and January (4.6%).

You can find more data in the RE/MAX National Housing Report. Ready for the spring selling season? Contact me today.

Contact Heidi Winston of Winston Realty Group for all of your real estate needs. For more information or to schedule a showing, visit www.winstonrealtygroup.com or email Heidi@WinstonRealtyGroup.com. Once you work with us, you'll be glad we're your real estate professionals. 

Reprinted from RE/MAX Blog

How Cash-Strapped Consumers Can Become Homeowners — and Build Equity

by Heidi Winston, RE/MAX Lifetime Achievement Recipie

Anyone who has saved for a down payment for a home knows it’s tough — especially for first-time homebuyers. In 2018, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that 13 percent of first-time homebuyers, said the most difficult step in the homebuying process was saving for a down payment.

It’s a misconception that a 20-percent down payment is required for a home purchase, when in reality, many home loan options exist that may be able to put consumers into a home for as little as three percent down. In fact, 77 percent of non-cash first-time homebuyers in 2018 purchased a property using a down payment of less than 20 percent. Buying a home may be within reach — RE/MAX and Motto Mortgage put together a list of the most popular loan options for first-time buyers.


Contact Heidi Winston of Winston Realty Group for all of your real estate needs. For more information or to schedule a showing, visit www.winstonrealtygroup.com or email Heidi@WinstonRealtyGroup.com. Once you work with us, you'll be glad we're your real estate professionals. 

Reprinted from RE/MAX Blog

Lucky In Love and House Hunting: Agent Advice to Find the Right Fit

by Heidi Winston, RE/MAX Lifetime Achievement Recipie

If you and your partner are house hunting — don’t let the stress of shopping for a new home dampen your romance. With two different opinions driving the purchase process, it can create disagreements. RE/MAX offers advice and tips for finding your perfect home — together.

TALK ABOUT YOUR FUTURE TOGETHER
“Consider the lifestyle changes most couples face throughout a long relationship,” says agent Lisa Harris of RE/MAX Center in Braselton, Georgia, near Atlanta. “Homeowners are living in their homes longer than ever, so couples need to consider possible lifestyle changes in the future. Think about kids, elderly parents, job changes and hobbies.”

SLOW DOWN
“In my area (metro Denver), I expect buyers to see multiple offers on homes through May and June,” says Manager Phil Shell of RE/MAX Alliance in Arvada, Colorado. “My best advice is for buyers to work with a professional agent who is familiar with the area and offers insights to the local housing market — the way you handle bids over list price and how quickly you react in a seller’s market depends on a specific region’s market. An experienced agent can offer advice on if you should be cautious or a little crazy.”

LISTEN TO EACH OTHER
“I always ask couples to write down their top 10 wants and needs separately, then I compare the lists to see where they can agree — it’s a great starting point for couples to get them on the same page before I begin to show them homes,” says Shell. “If nothing matches on their lists, I have them write down 20, and so on, until they can agree on at least a couple of factors to kick off their house hunting.”

RELY ON A GREAT AGENT
“The first thing I recommend house hunters do is ask their agent important questions,” says Harris. “Questions like, ‘How long have you been in the business?’ ‘How many buyers did you help last year?’ or ‘What are the top three things that separate you from the competition?'” Harris adds that the answers to these key questions allow homebuyers to identify the characteristics and qualifications they value most in an agent. And they also highlight the agent’s strengths that will help guide a couple through the real estate process.

When you are ready to start looking for a home, contact Heidi Winston of Winston Realty Group for all of your real estate needs. For more information or to schedule a showing, visit www.winstonrealtygroup.com or email Heidi@WinstonRealtyGroup.com. Once you work with us, you'll be glad we're your real estate professionals. 

Reprinted courtesy of RE/MAX Blog

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 10

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Contact Information

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RE/MAX Central Realty
Heidi and Michael Winston
8921 W Sahara Ave, Suite A
Las Vegas NV 89117
Heidi: 702-277-6599
Michael: 702-219-8692
Fax: 702-974-2288