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Ask These 7 Questions to Create a Whole House Color Palette

by Lakeshore Realty

It seems so simple, but picking a paint color is one of the biggest obstacles my clients have when updating their homes. Once they realize they're really picking an overall palette, they're positively paralyzed.

I've been part of the process in thousands of homes, and it really is easier than most people think. Answer a few questions, make a few quick decisions, and then narrow those decisions down to an ultimate choice. I usually give myself a week to make a final decision.

What Do You Like, and How Do You Want to Feel?

Flipping through magazines and websites can be a big help when you're looking for inspiration, but first, take a minute to answer two important questions that people often forget: What are your favorite colors, and how do you want to feel in your home?

Are you looking for a serene oasis from the world or a fun and funky vibe? Finding yourself on that spectrum and considering the colors most likely to take you there is where you want to start. We react to color on such a gut level that instinct will serve you well. If you're really having a tough time, head to the closet and note the colors of your favorite clothes. Check out the bedding and the art on the walls. You'll be surprised how quickly you see a pattern that resonates. Choose three colors to get started.

What Are the Elements You Can't Control?

Now, factor in the elements of the architecture and design that you can't change. Cabinets, carpet, floors and furniture are more permanent fixtures, and it's easier - and more affordable - to paint around those things rather than remodeling just to match the paint. Now, which of your three colors come off the list? Decide quickly, be brutal, and keep moving. You can do this!

Which Rooms Can You See from Other Rooms?

Even if you're not working with an open floor plan, you want to consider everything in your line of sight as you choose colors for particular rooms. This won't necessarily result in removing any of the colors from the list, but you may end up choosing a different tint or shade of the color you like for another room in your sight line.

Are You Ready to Commit? (You Still Get to Pick Three!)

Time to make a call. Start with your three main paint chips, and then choose one or two of its neighbors on either side to give you a spectrum of the colors you like. This will give you options for accent colors or for picking a broader whole-house color palette. The chips will look different in the store than they will at home, so head home and tape them up somewhere that gets some natural light, so you get a sense of how they look in all kinds of light. Remove the "non-contenders" as soon as you can until you're down to one chip for at least two of your three colors.

Can Your Choices Pass a Test?

This is a crucial part of the process. Pick up an eight-ounce sample of your chosen colors and brush some on every wall they're intended for. Depending on the light, one color will often look like two different shades when painted on different walls. Live with them for at least three days - viewing them morning, noon and night - again noting the difference in shades under different light sources, and start narrowing.

If you're still having trouble deciding, vow to eliminate one color a day. Remember, you can always change paint, and you've already chosen colors you actually like.

Do You Want a Different Look Between Upstairs and Downstairs?

If you're working with a two-story layout, you're no doubt trying to decide if you want a different color upstairs. Many of my clients do, often choosing warmer, cozier shades for their more private spaces. If possible, try to look for colors somewhere on the spectrum of your anchor color. But whatever you choose, just repeat the process upstairs.

Do You Have Any Neutral Nooks?

Stairwells that connect your two living areas, small hallways and the other nooks and crannies of the house where colors come together are often best left in a neutral shade to avoid clashing. For these spaces, look at shades of white, beige, or "greige," a taupey color that will work with just about anything. Believe it or not, our eyes want an occasional rest from color, and this is a great way to achieve that, and bring the colors you do use into more sharp relief.

Hopefully these questions will help you develop a palette that's a perfect reflection of your personality. If you have any of your own suggestions, please share them in the comments!

It's OK To Lighten Up...Your Floor, That Is

by Lakeshore Realty

After years of dark floors, we're finally lightening up again. But don't start to panic about light maple elbowing its way back into your home. The new light wood has more texture, more color variance, more beauty. And, its return to vogue may also signal an important economic trend.

"During the economic downturn, people gravitated toward the traditional dark colors. But with the economy improving, (there is) a rise in the demand for lighter tones," said the Orange County Register. "Some of these are finished to look like driftwood or washed in white to make them look beachy. The look is popular on both coasts and is growing elsewhere in the country."

The newspaper also sees "a growing popularity in what are referred to as ‘domestic exotics,' like hickory and ash. Walnut is growing in popularity, and if left natural, is much lighter than traditionally dark-stained walnut. Many of us remember the pickled light woods of 25 years ago. The gray, white and lighter multiple stain color processes of today are this generation's version of that trend.

If you're ready to lighten up, here are a few options you might want to consider.

A variegated look brings warmth and interest.

Ultra-wide planks set a beautiful foundation.

Go rustic and reclaimed.

Not unique enough? How about floors made from wine barrels?

Bring in grey tones for a modern look.

Curved wood "that follow a tree's natural growth" are a hit in Europe, said interior design firm Beasley & Henley.

Want the look without the work? Porcelain tile resembles wood without the upkeep.

You can also get a similar effect with hard-wearing vinyl planks that look like wood.

What's The Best Type Of Mortgage Loan For You?

by Lakeshore Realty

Question: We are first time home buyers. We have signed a contract to purchase an older home in a nice neighborhood, and the purchase price is $400,000. We have 45 days in which to obtain financing, and have started shopping around with different mortgage lenders. We have two questions. First, the contract states that we will put down 20 percent and obtain a mortgage loan of 80 percent (i.e. $320,000). However, we have begun to realize that there will be significant closing and moving costs, and we would prefer to put down less money. Are we committed to a 20 percent down payment, since that is spelled out in the contract? Second, what kind of loans are available and what's best for us?

Answer: Your first question is easy. Technically (or legally) speaking, you are bound by the terms of the sales contract. You must put down 20 percent -- or $80,000. However, as a practical matter, I suspect that you and your sellers can sign an addendum to the contract which modifies these terms. So long as the amendment (1) will not create any delay in the time you have to go to settlement and (2) will not cause the seller's to spend any more money than was originally called for in the sales contract, this addendum should cause the sellers no problem and indeed it can probably be signed when you actually go to settlement. I suspect that your lender will want to have this addendum in its files.

Your second question is quite difficult to answer, since I do not have any financial information about you. You should discuss these issues with your potential lenders. Ask them to qualify you based on the highest (and the lowest) loan which you are seeking. For example, a "conventional" loan is where you put down 20 percent and borrow 80 percent. In your case, this will require that you put down $80,000. Since you have indicated that this will create a financial strain for you, you can also consider the following options:

an 80-10-10 loan. Here, you will be obtaining two loans. One in the amount of 80 percent (i.e. $320,000) and a second loan in the amount of $40,000. Under this arrangement, you will only have to put $40,000 down when you go to settlement. The 80-10-10 loan was designed to help homeowners avoid the necessity of paying private mortgage insurance (PMI). Lenders want to be sure that should you become delinquent on your mortgage payments, and the lender has to foreclose on the property, that there will be some equity left in the property. The typical benchmark is 20 percent. If you borrow more than 80 percent of the value of the house (called "loan to value ratio") you will be required to pay private mortgage premiums for a long period of time. This PMI is insurance coverage for your lender, which will cover any loss which it incurs should the house be foreclosed upon and the foreclosing price does not cover the entire mortgage balance.

However, since the lender in an 80-10-10 loan is only making a first mortgage (deed of trust) in the amount of 80 percent, no PMI is required. You should understand that you will have to sign a second deed of trust in the amount of 10 percent of the value of the house. This second trust will carry a higher mortgage interest rate than you will get for the first trust. Additionally, the second trust will probably have a shorter due date (perhaps 10 years) than your first trust.

a 90 percent loan. Here, you will borrow $360,000, and sign only one mortgage document. You will still need $40,000 cash at settlement. And private mortgage insurance will be required.

a 95 percent loan. Again, private mortgage insurance will be required, but you will only have to put down five percent (i.e.$20,000).

 

This is but a small sample of the various loan which are available. There are also variations on these various mortgages. For example:

1. Fixed thirty year. Here, the loan will be amortized over 30 years. Each and every month, you will make the same monthly mortgage payment (although if the lender escrows for taxes and insurance, the amount may change on a yearly basis depending on whether taxes and insurance premiums are increased).

2. Fixed fifteen year. Here, the loan will be amortized over 15 years. This means that although the interest rate will be lower than for a 30 year loan, your monthly payments will be much higher, since you will be paying off the loan in half the time. While some people like the idea of paying off their mortgage early -- and thus saving a lot of interest payments -- I am personally opposed to a 15 year loan. If you have the right to pay off the loan (in whole or in part) without penalty, a thirty loan gives you the right to make payments as if they are based on a 15-year amortization, but you are not obligated to make these higher payments should you decide that your money can be used for other -- and better -- purposes.

3. Finally, there are a number of adjustable rate mortgages -- called "ARMS" -- which carry different rate adjustment periods. These adjustments can be made on a yearly basis, or once every three-five-seven or even ten years. Keep in mind, that the smaller the adjustment period, the lower the interest rate will be.

4. Balloon notes. Here, your loan may require that you pay monthly mortgage payments based on a 30-year amortization. However, at the end of a fixed period (for example 7 or 10 years) the entire balance then outstanding will become due and payable. This kind of loan is typically more common for commercial or investment loans, but you should be aware that balloon loans do exist -- and you should make sure that your loan will not suddenly become due (i.e. balloon) after a number of years.

You should contact two or three mortgage lenders and ask the following questions:
•what kinds of loans do you have available?
•what are the rates for each loan?
•based on our financial situation, can we qualify for any or all of the various loans?
•is there a pre-payment penalty if we decide to refinance early, and if so, how much is the penalty?
•can we pay our real estate taxes and homeowner's insurance premiums directly, or will you require that we escrow. This means that the mortgage lender will collect, on a monthly basis, one-twelfth of the real estate tax and one-twelfth of the annual insurance premium. When the tax and the insurance comes due, the lender will make these payments on your behalf. However, when a lender requires these escrows, this means that your monthly mortgage payment will be higher. This is referred to a PITI (payments of Principal, Interest, Taxes and Insurance).

You are entitled to get information giving you an estimate of what you will have to pay when you go to settlement. You are also entitled to get full disclosures of the mortgage interest rate for your loan. For more information, go to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) website and search "Know Before You Owe".

Shopping for a mortgage loan is time-consuming, tedious and often confusing. However, it is your money at stake and you don't want to make a drastic mistake which will haunt you for years to come.

Don’t Sink Money Into the Wrong Home Upgrades

by Lakeshore Realty

If you’re considering home improvements—or even just adding a few extra touches to freshen up the place—don’t rush the process. A plan is key for any successful remodeling job.

You don’t want to pay for impractical or expensive home improvements that are out of style by the time you have to hang a “For Sale” sign in the yard.

Instead, look for smart, traditional and fashionable upgrades to provide value and aesthetic beauty for years to come.

While you’re looking for upgrades, consider these following tips for remodeling.

Kitchens

  • Spacious kitchens with abundant natural light make cooking a pleasure, not a chore.
  • Light-colored kitchens can create an illusion of a bigger space.
  • Adding a skylight is another way of creating a spacious feel.
  • Multiple storage shelves and cabinets plus an extra sink will reduce counter clutter.
  • Built-in microwaves, dishwashers, six-burner ranges and convection ovens are great for utility and convenience.
  • An island range with bar stools promotes an inviting, social atmosphere.

Bathrooms

  • Two-bath homes, plus a master bathroom, are optimal.
  • Many home buyers see high-end items like whirlpools, Jacuzzis, steam and jet showers, double shower heads and hand-held sprayers as essentials.
  • Large storage cabinets, freestanding or built-in, are great.
  • Avoid all-white bathrooms—splashes of color reduce the sterile feeling.
  • Bigger is better. Tiny bathrooms are out.  

Floors

Hardwood flooring increases resale value, so keep hardwood floors in top shape by refinishing them. As an alternative, laminate flooring is typically cheaper than hardwood and a nice upgrade from carpet.

Ceiling Fans

Try to install ceiling fans that make use of a remote control. This will allow you to change speeds without getting up.

High-End Home Amenities

  • Specialty rooms like media rooms, wine cellars, workout rooms and children’s playrooms can boost resale value and personalize a home.
  • Outdoor fireplaces, patio heaters, electronic insect control devices, decks and fountains are popular.
  • Outdoor kitchens can boost resale value.
  • If you live in a hot climate, an in-ground swimming pool can increase your home’s value. However, buyers in more more seasonal climates may see pools as an inconvenience. Ask a REALTOR® to see whether pools are popular in your area.

Mortgage Credit Eases, Applications Rise

by Lakeshore Realty

The latest Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) report from the Mortgage Bankers Association says that mortgage credit availability increased in March 2015.

Based on data from Ellie Mae, the MCAI rose to 121.4, an indicator that mortgage credit is loosening. A finding under 100 means that lending standards are tightening.

Mike Fratantoni, MBA's Chief Economist, said there are a number of factors that contributed to the loosening of credit in March. Freddie Mac's introduced their 97 LTV program following Fannie Mae in December. Parameters expanded on jumbo loans and there was an increase in offerings of cash-out refinance loans. FHA and VA refinances were streamlined.

"As a result of these changes, all four component indexes of the MCAI increased last month: jumbo, conforming, conventional, and government," said Fratantoni. "Although credit remains tight by historical standards, this increase in availability, coupled with low rates and job market strength, should lead to stronger home purchase activity this spring."

In the last week in March, mortgage applications increased 4.6 percent from the week before on a seasonally adjusted basis, said the MBA. The Refinance Index increased 4 percent from the previous week while the Purchase Index increased 6 percent from one week earlier.

The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 6 percent compared with the previous week and was 8 percent higher than the same week a year ago. That could be a harbinger of a busy spring housing season.

Lynn Fisher, MBA's Vice President of Research and Economics said, "The increase in purchase volume was led by a nearly 6 percent increase in both conventional and government markets, perhaps signaling that households are finally ready to begin the home-buying season."

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) decreased to 3.89 percent from 3.90 percent, with points and 20 percent down.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,000) increased to 3.90 percent from 3.89 percent, with points and 20 percent down.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA increased to 3.73 percent from 3.71 percent, with points for an 80 percent LTV loan.

 

  

  • Sold Properties by Lakeshore Realty Agents and Sold Lakeshore Realty Listings in March 2015

Below we have a list of properties that were sold in March 2015 by Lakeshore Realty Real Estate Agents and properties that were listed by Lakeshore Realty agents and were sold on the North Lake Tahoe, Incline Village and Crystal Bay real estate market.

993 Galaxy 

Bed: 4
Bath: 4
Year Built: 1984
Sq. Ft.: 3076

Days on Market: 322
Sold Date: 03/16/2015
Sold Price: $850,000

 Selling Agent:
Yvette Shipman

 

952 Lakeshore Blvd.

Bed: 5
Bath: 5.5
Year Built: 1994
Sq. Ft.: 5716

Days on Market: 149
Sold Date: 03/18/2015
Sold Price: $3,750,000

Listing Agent:
Chris & Patti Plastiras

 

716 Birdie

Bed: 4
Bath: 3
Year Built: 1984
Sq. Ft.: 2504

Days on Market: 219
Sold Date: 03/18/2015
Sold Price: $670,000

Listing Agent:
Carole Madrid

 

170 Village Blvd.

Bed: 2
Bath: 2
Year Built: 1988
Sq. Ft.: 1089

Days on Market: 27
Sold Date: 03/30/2015
Sold Price: $479,000

Listing Agent:
Carole Madrid

 

 

1000 Lakeshore Blvd.

Bed: 3
Bath: 2.5
Year Built: 1979
Sq. Ft.: 1536

Days on Market: 1
Sold Date: 03/05/2015
Sold Price: $558,000

Listing & Selling Agent:
Tim Lampe  

 

 

933 Northwood Blvd.

Bed: 3
Bath: 3
Year Built: 1998
Sq. Ft.: 2794

Days on Market: 1
Sold Date: 03/30/2015
Sold Price: $1,143,000

Selling Agent:
Sharon Peplau 

To access all the Incline Village and Lakeshore Realty listings please click here. You can also contact us by email or call us at 775-831-7000. If you are in Incline Village, please visit us at 954 Lakeshore Blvd. Incline Village, NV 89451.

 

House Hunting and Credit Fraud: The Nightmare Behind Financing a Home

by Lakeshore Realty

One of the single-most important aspects of buying a new home is related to your credit history. A solid credit score will not only help you get approved for a mortgage, but you'll also likely receive much more favorable terms and conditions. If you've been a victim of identity theft, however, you'll be paying the price of having a poor credit score even though its no fault of your own. The good news is that there are a number of steps that you can take to repair your credit after identity theft in order to buy that new home.

 

Contact the Credit Reporting Companies

After identity theft, the first step that you should take involves calling all three of the major nationwide credit reporting companies and putting a fraud alert on your credit report. To do so, use the following telephone numbers:

  • TransUnion - 1-800-680-7289
  • Experian - 1-888-397-3742
  • Equifax - 1-800-525-6285

Put an "extended alert" on your credit report. Good for seven years, these types of alerts will verify to creditors that there has been an identity theft issue with your credit history and that they should take additional steps in verifying your identity and other information before opening up a new line of credit (like a mortgage).

Removing Fraudulent Information

The next step that you'll want to take when repairing your credit involves going through and removing all fraudulent information from your credit report. When contacting each of the three major credit bureaus, be sure to request a full copy of your credit history. Go through each entry and identify the ones that were made by the person who stole your identity.

Itemize all of the errors that you've found on each of the three credit reports and obtain all necessary documents proving your innocence. If you found that the person who stole your identity opened up a credit card in your name, for example, you would call that particular credit card company and ask them to send you a copy of the application or other documents that you can use to prove your innocence. Then, you can send a list of the errors and all supporting documents to each credit bureau and ask them to remove that fraudulent information.

The credit bureau will need to alert you regardless of its decision. Rest assured that whether a particular item is removed from your credit history as a result of the identity theft, you will receive written notification of this. You can then present this information to your mortgage company to help buy your new home.

Consider a Protection Service

By and large, one of the best ways to repair your credit after identity theft involves taking a proactive approach to make sure you aren't a victim again in the future. LifeLock offers a full line of identity theft protection services, and offers a discount to veterans. All packages include a $1 million guarantee to help fight identity theft cases.

It Doesn't Pay to Wait To Buy A Home - NOW is the time!

by Lakeshore Realty

There will always be those who try to "time the market," but there's one factor you can't know -- when buying a home will become more expensive.

Certainly you can tell from recent trends whether or not prices and mortgage interest rates are in your favor. Monthly prices have risen year-over-year for three years. Mortgage interest rates are slowly rising, but remain at extremely attractive levels.

You could wait for prices to fall, but there are two problems with that idea. First, it would take an economic recession to lower prices, which could take months or years. With the exception of the Great Recession, you won't know if you're in or out of a recession until the talking heads online inform you.

Second, mortgage interest rates have been kept artificially low for five years. That's a very long time. With steady gains in employment, it's not likely they will go any lower. In fact, higher interest rates could wipe out any gains you could save by waiting to buy.

Here's a real life example:

If you buy a home and get a $200,000 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage at 4.5 percent, your monthly payment will be $1,013.37 and you'll pay $164,813.42 in interest over the life of the loan.

The same home at 5.0 percent interest costs $1,073.64, a difference of $60.27 more per month and $186,511.57 in interest over the life of the loan. The difference in interest payments alone is $21,698.15.

If your home dropped 5% in value and you were able to buy it at $190,000 and 4.5% interest, your payment would be $962.70, a difference of $50.67 per month, with $156,572.75 in interest over the life of the loan. You'd save $50.67 more per month than if you'd paid $200,000.

At 5.0 percent, your $190,000 home costs $1019.96, or $53.68 more per month than if you'd gotten the loan at 4.5 percent. Your interest payments would total $177,185.99 over the life of the loan. The difference in payments is $20,613.24.

Currently, mortgages for borrowers with good credit are around 4.00 percent. If you had purchased your $190,000 home a year and a half ago when prices were lower and interest rates were at 4.00% interest, it would cost you $907.09 per month and a total of $13,6552.06 in interest.

The question is -- did you?

There's never a perfect time to buy a home and you shouldn't buy a home just for financial reasons. Buy your home to raise your family, be close to friends and relatives and to be free from a landlord where you get nothing back but cancelled checks at the end of the lease.

Don't put your dreams off to gamble with the market. Think of getting the home you want at a reasonable price and payment as the best way to beat the market.

North Lake Tahoe March 2015 Real Estate Sales Comparison

by Lakeshore Realty
  • North Lake Tahoe March 2015 Real Estate Sales Comparison

The charts bellow reflect Incline Village real estate sales for the month of March in the past 5 years. These reports we're created individually for Residential Home sales and Condominium Sales.

  • Residential Home Sales Report


Click here for larger image

- Please note that the report above was created using data extracted from the MLXChange System and reflects Residential Home sales.

  • Condominium Sales Report

Click here for larger image

- Please note that the report above was created using data extracted from the MLXChange System and reflects Condominium sales.

To access all the Incline Village and Lakeshore Realty listings please click here. You can also contact us by email or call us at 775-831-7000. If you are in Incline Village, please visit us at 954 Lakeshore Blvd. Incline Village, NV 89451.

Curb Appeal 101: How to Create a Beautiful Property

by Lakeshore Realty

​Landscaping and gardening labors pay off at selling time, claims a Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report. Not only does a well-groomed exterior invite potential buyers into the home, but curb appeal projects are the most valuable home improvement projects. Furthermore, Smart Money Magazine reports that homeowners who spend 5 percent of their home’s value on landscaping could recoup 150 percent or more of their money. And, a study by the National Garden Association revealed that 99 percent of real estate professionals believe that the landscape enhances the overall sales appeal of the home.

So, before you put your home on the market, consider upgrading your curb appeal by adding backyard gardens, trees and shrubs to your property.

Trees and Shrubs

A study by the Forest Service in Portland, Oregon, found that trees with large canopies within 100-feet of other homes added nearly $9,000 to the sale price of the home. And the same study revealed that properties with healthy, mature trees spent less time on the market.

House Logic recommends planting evergreens on the north side of your home to block the wind and deciduous trees on the west side of your house to provide shade in the summer. The site also strongly suggests planning out where you will plant your trees. Trees should never be planted under power lines or near your home’s foundation or sewer lines. Real estate appraiser Frank Lucco states that a tree planted in a hazardous location can actually reduce the home’s appraised value.

If your property has existing trees, use the National Tree Benefit Calculator to get an estimate of their value. Simply enter your zip code, tree species, the diameter to instantly have access to its benefits, including air quality, energy and property value.

Backyard Gardens

Beautiful backyard gardens can potentially catch the eye of prospective buyers, especially if they have a green thumb. According to Better Homes and Gardens, homes with paths, foundation plantings and flowerbeds result in a high value per investment.

One of the major challenges you may encounter while planting your garden is figuring out how to keep the bugs away. While many insects are beneficial to the garden, pests like aphids can destroy your roses and soil-dwellers like snails and slugs can ruin your veggies or succulents. Many pest control professionals can solve your bug problem with eco-friendly solutions that won’t harm your garden or pose a risk to small children or pets. Find an exterminator near you by visiting exterminators.com.

Add Color to the Landscape

Seasonal color can make your front yard flower  beds pop. Annuals are relatively affordable and easy to tend. Use a variety of colors that complement your home’s exterior, suggests HGTV. These professionals also recommend labeling each plant as a courtesy for the new buyer. This way, the new owners will be able to research the growing needs of the plants on the property.

An additional way to add color to your flower beds is by adding fresh mulch. This can enhance the contrast of the nearby plants and flowers around your home. HGTV notes that mulch is cheap and very easy to apply.

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