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12 House-Hunting Tips to Help You Make the Right Choice

by Lakeshore Realty
Stay organized and focused on your quest for a new home, to make the search easier and avoid surprises later

In the hunt for the perfect house, it's easy to get swept away by a home's most charming details (a gracious front porch) and play down the important stuff you'll be kicking yourself for later (the price is over budget). And if you are touring multiple homes each weekend, keeping everything straight can get complicated.

Set your priorities and streamline the house-hunting process early on, and you can breathe easier knowing you have a handle on things. It's probably the most important purchase you will ever make, so take a few deep breaths and make a plan before diving in — you'll be glad you did.

These 12 tips can help you stay organized and focused on the important things during your house hunt.

1. Set your priorities.

Before taking a look at any houses, sit down and write out everything you want in a home, with input from all members of the household. Then choose your top five, or even top three, must-haves.

Once you start looking, all sorts of charming features are bound to sway you; keeping your priorities list close at hand can help you stay on track.

2. Make a comparison chart.

After you have seen a dozen or more houses, it becomes very difficult to keep track of the features in each one. Make things a little easier by creating your own comparison chart or checklist to bring along to each home, and make notes on it during or immediately after each tour.

Beyond the basics (beds and baths) consider including notes on landscaping, the condition of the roof and exterior, natural light in each room, storage space and cost per square foot. Consider this chart a personal tool — something you can look back on to help guide your decision making, not a substitute for a good home inspection.

3. Walk through once and let yourself soak it all in.

When you tour a home for the first time, the excitement can make it difficult to focus on ... well, anything at all. So I say, just go with it. Have fun, wander around and mentally note your first impressions of the space. Once the butterflies have died down, it's time to get to work.

4. Then go back to the beginning and start again.

Walk back to the front of the house and literally begin your tour again. This time, pull out your clipboard and pen, take your time and approach the home as if you were an inspector rather then a potential buyer.

5. Bring furniture measurements

Jumping the gun? Maybe. A deal breaker? Probably not. But if every room in the house presents problems with your current furniture situation, you could effectively be adding thousands of dollars to the price if you have to purchase new furniture — something that is probably better to know sooner rather than later.

6. Sketch a floor plan.

You do not need to have any real drawing skills to make a superbasic floor plan on paper, and having it to refer to later is priceless. Just do your best. Starting at the front door, draw boxes for rooms and mark doors, windows, stairways and openings roughly where they are.

7. Ask to take photos (or even a video).

It's amazing how quickly memory fades. Make sure you have backup by creating a floor plan and taking photos or a short video tour if possible — it will really give you a full picture of what the house looks like. Be sure to ask the Realtor for permission before taking any photos or video. And even then, it is assumed that they are for personal use, so don't post them to your Facebook page or blog ... at least not until you own the house.

NOTE: Our Lakeshore Realty website provides photos and virtual tours — you will have these to refer back to as well!

8. Open the closets and cupboards.

Proper storage is a really important factor in how a home looks and feels when you are living in it. Note the number and size of cupboards and closets throughout the house, and don't be afraid to peek inside. If the current homeowner has them packed to the gills, that may be a sign that the house doesn't have enough storage for its size.

9. Lift up the rugs.

While this is not something you necessarily want to do during a quick tour, if you are back for a second look and are really considering making an offer, it is important to know what you are getting into. Rugs (and even furniture) can be used to conceal damaged flooring, so you have a right to see what's going on under there. Just let the Realtor know what you want to see, and he or she should accommodate you.

10. Look high and look low.

It is important to get a good look at the house that could be your new home, so make a point of focusing on things outside your usual line of vision. Check out the ceilings, walls, floors, trim, windows, roof and under the sinks.

11. Check out the property at different times of day

If you do come back for a second showing, make it during a different time of day from the first tour. In the evening, notice not only the changes in light, but the atmosphere in the neighborhood. Are people out sitting on porches? Are kids playing outside? Is it noisy? You are bound to learn and discover different things about the house each time.

12. Take a moment to envision how you would use the space.

Just because the current owner (or staging company) has the second bedroom set up for guests doesn't mean you can't use it as an office, a home gym or a nursery. Paint colors, furniture arrangements and window treatments can also all be swapped out, so use your imagination and really put yourself in the home.
 

Source: Houzz.com

 

Happy Earth Day 2013 - Great Tips For Homeowners!

by Lakeshore Realty
Tips that are good for the planet... and you!
 

Today is Earth Day! Here we offer a variety of tips for homeowners.

As we wrote in a previous blog Most Americans Want Eco-Friendly Homes, the desire to be eco-friendly has increased dramatically in recent years, and homeowners are realizing an increase in home values.

HOME BUYER'S WISH LIST

Home buyers' wish lists are topped with requests for Energy-star ratings and homes built green-friendly. In the highly anticipated survey released in February by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), researchers found that Energy-star rated appliances are most coveted, with a close second choice of energy efficiency in the laundry room. Luxury home builders are already renovating homes that are perfect for such discriminating preferences.

"Nine out of ten buyers would rather buy a home with energy-efficient features and permanently lower utility bills than one without those features that costs 2 percent to 3 percent less," the home buyer survey highlighted.

THE HIDDEN COST OF HOME ENERGY USE

By improving your home's energy efficiency, you can profit in four ways: save money, improve your life, and help the earth — making your home safer and more comfortable.

Many people believe that their car is the largest single source of air pollution for which they are personally responsible. But in fact, the average home causes the emission of more than twice as much carbon dioxide—the principal greenhouse gas—as the average car. This is because most of the energy consumed in our homes is produced by burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas. This pollution is actually a hidden cost for the energy we use, over and above the dizzying $241 billion Americans spend each year on their home energy bills!

Go Green... save energy, save money, increase your home value, and get energy-efficiency tax credits!

Much of this energy use is unnecessary because there are a variety of proven, widely available products on the market today (heating, cooling, appliances, windows, lighting, etc.) to drastically reduce your home's energy bills, and accompanying pollution. What's more, many of these products actually improve the comfort and livability of your home. One such product we have found to be highly effective is the Nest thermostat.

PROJECTS TO KEEP YOUR ENERGY BILLS OUT OF HOT WATER

We are all guilty of using a little too much hot water in our daily lives -- whether it is spending an extra two minutes in the shower, leaving the water running while washing dishes or washing clothes on hot water instead of cold. Taken together, these habits of wasting water add up. So it is no surprise that water heating accounts for 14-18 percent of homeowners’ utility bills. If you are looking for ways to save on water heating costs, you have plenty of options.

Water Heaters 101

For long-term investments, consider purchasing an energy-efficient water heater. Whether you're looking at tankless water heaters or considering solar, the new Energy Saver 101 lays out the different types of water heaters on the market and will help you figure out how to select the best option for your home.

Click to view the Energy Saver 101 slide show
Read the full article Projects to Keep Your Energy Bills Out of Hot Water

BENEFITS TO ADDING SOLAR PANELS

Solar Panels Will Save the Planet and Make You Rich

Read the full article 7 Ways Solar Panels Will Save the Planet and Make You Rich.


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

 

Seven Seller Slip-ups That Send Buyers Packing

by Lakeshore Realty

 

Sure it's a sellers' market, but that doesn't mean it's a fool proof market.

Sellers who approach the market like a cocky kid who thinks he or she knows it all will soon learn the real estate world isn't his or her oyster.

If you want to sell your home quickly for the maximum sales price, consider these pearls of wisdom to avoid common seller mistakes.

Mistake No. 1: Pricing your property too high - Every seller wants to get the most money for his or her product. Listing with an excessively high price is a mistake.

A high listing price will simply alienate some buyers before they even see your property. Other buyers could expect more than your home really has to offer.

Over-priced properties tend to take an unusually long time and sell for a lower price than a similar home that's priced right.

Mistake No. 2: Mistaking refinance appraisals for market value - In a refinance, lenders often estimate the value of your property at a higher level than the home is worth to encourage refinancing.

It's a good idea to ask your real estate agent for the latest comparable market analysis, based on similar, recently sold properties in the same community.

Mistake No. 3: Forgetting to "showcase" your home - No matter how many times sellers hear this advice, no matter how simple it is to achieve, there's widespread neglect when it comes to getting a property ready for sale.

A poorly maintained home with neglected décor and an unorganized appearance will turn away buyers and slash thousands of dollars off the selling price.

Mistake No. 4: Trying to "hard sell" while showing - Buying a house is an emotional and difficult decision.

Give prospective buyers time and space to examine your property. A home tour or open house event is not the time for pressuring prospective buyers.

Point out subtle issues, but be friendly, be hospitable, be available and be receptive to questions, but only if the potential buyer asks.

Mistake No. 5: Trying to sell to lookers - A prospective buyer who shows interest because of a "for sale" sign likely isn't really interested in your property.

These buyers are more likely six to nine months from really taking the plunge. They are more interested in learning what's available, rather than looking for a home to buy.

Your real estate agent can distinguish between the looky-loos and real buyers by determining a prospective buyer's savings, credit rating, and purchasing power.

If your real estate agent can't make this distinction, and you have to investigate on your own, consider finding a new real estate agent.

Mistake No. 6: Not knowing your rights and responsibilities - It's crucial you are aware of all the details in your real estate contract.

Real estate contracts are legally binding documents and can be complex and confusing, but failing to sweat the details could cost you thousands of dollars in repairs and inspections.

Mistake No. 7: Signing a contract with no escape - You have a right to a contract that allows you to fire your real estate agent - and hire another - if the original agent fails to do the job as promised.

Source: Realtytimes.com

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.

 

 

 

Home Hunting without Fear

by Lakeshore Realty

Those who've suffered the agony of defeat in what's likely the most dangerous consumer game, learned the hard way that sheer fearlessness isn't enough to become and remain a homeowner - through good times and bad.

The idea isn't just to buy a home. The goal is to keep your own roof over your head.

Preparation is key, according to the National Association of Realtors.

From NAR, here's how to get ready to be and remain a homeowner.

Create a wish list. Write down housing wants and needs. Include all the physical characteristics you want or need. Include style, size, layout and room configuration. Look at the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and the basic amenities you must have. Include critical features such as location and services and a home's proximity to good schools or public transportation lines.

Browse for housing. Realtor.com and other web sites offer home valuation features and neighborhood data on trends in local markets. Use features to determine how a listing compares with nearby, comparable properties in terms of value, actual sales prices, home features, neighborhood characteristics, and more.

Work with an expert. Finding a professional real estate agent who will represent your best interests can make the difference in location, negotiating the best offer, and closing the home of your dreams. Look for a full time real estate agent, who has uploaded telling photos and videos of their listings and look for agents with good Web sites to market your listing.

Get the complete picture before you visit. You can't know everything about a community from an online listing. Schools, crime, and proximity to shopping and work all impact property values. NAR says talk to a Realtor and go to Realtor.com to explore communities.

Make sure the property details are reliable. Buyers need know when a listing has experienced a price change. Look for Web sites like Realtor.com that updates listings frequently, including price changes. Fresh and reliable information is critical. Realtor.com time stamps listings to help buyers make better informed decisions. Get email alerts and stay on top of changes so you can be first to act.

 

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.

 

 

State Assembly Committee Passes AB396

by Lakeshore Realty
Lake Tahoe's Nevada shoreline could go public

On Thursday, April 11, 2013 the State Assembly Committee on Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Mining voted to pass Assembly Bill 396 as amended, which would allow public access to Lake Tahoe's shoreline. The bill now goes to the full Assembly.

Unlike California, Nevada law does not provide for public access on private property between the high- and low-water marks at Lake Tahoe. AB396 would allow access up to the high-water mark of public waters in the state.

The legislative digest for the bill states: "Subject to certain specified restrictions, this bill authorizes persons to use water that is navigable or capable of being navigated by oar, paddle or motorized watercraft year round at or below the ordinary high-water mark for any otherwise lawful activity that uses water, including boating, fishing, swimming and wading."

“AB396 means private beaches would no longer exist.” — State Senator James Settelmeyer

Jan Brisco, executive director of the Tahoe Lakefront Owners' Association, said the bill represents a "significant shift" in how property rights operate on the Nevada side of the lake.

Proponents of the bill focus on the revenue outdoor recreation brings to the state, claiming that it generates $14.9 billion in consumer spending and 148,000 jobs.

Under the legislation, people would also be allowed to carry a kayak around obstacles, like piers, that enter public water.

According to the bill, "If a natural or artificial obstruction interferes with the use of a public access water, a person may, along with his or her vessel, portage around the obstruction in a manner that is reasonably direct and closest to the water to reenter the water immediately above or below the obstruction at the nearest point where it is safe to do so."

Shoreline property owners would be allowed to place a fence or barrier on their property across lake water, but would be required to include a ladder or gate to provide access around the obstacle, according to the bill.

Allowing public access to private lands without compensation is "troublesome," Brisco said, adding many people have sought out shoreline property on the Nevada side of the lake because of the property rights.

According to State Senator James Settelmeyer, "AB396 would allow a person to trespass on property below the normal high water mark. That means private beaches would no longer exist. You have to pay taxes on the land, but you can't keep someone off it. They could then sue the property owner if they get hurt. Property rights are in jeopardy."

 

Source: North Lake Tahoe Bonanza

Additional Resources:

Assembly Bill 396 as introduced   (Download PDF)
Assembly Bill 396 as ammended  (Download PDF)

 

Nevada State Senate Committee Passes SB229

by Lakeshore Realty

Last Thursday the Senate Committee on Natural Resources voted to repeal a law that paves the way for Nevada's withdrawal from a decades-old compact regulating development and environmental protections at Lake Tahoe. In a 3-2 party-line vote, the committee approved Senate Bill 229, which seeks to undo a law passed in 2011. It now goes to the full Senate.

The previous law, SB271, set up an exit strategy for Nevada to quit the bi-state Tahoe Regional Planning Agency in 2015 unless it could come to terms with counterparts in California over development in the scenic basin that straddles the Nevada-California line. It gives the governor the option to extend the deadline another two years, to 2017.

Nevada lawmakers blamed California for favoring tough environmental standards they complained hindered development and stifled the economy of a state reeling under the weight of the Great Recession. Homeowners also complained of being bullied by regulations that prevented them from carrying out simple home improvement or safety projects, from sweeping up fallen pine needles to repaving a driveway or removing a dead tree.

One sticking point was the lack of a new regional plan, which hadn't been updated since the last 1980s despite years of talk.

A new plan was approved by the TRPA governing board late last year. One concession to Nevada is that it gives more control for smaller development projects to local governments.

Conservationists said with a new plan in place, Nevada should repeal its threat to leave TRPA and re-commit to a collaborative effort to protect Lake Tahoe.

"At this point I think it's time Nevada shows we care about the environment," Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, said at Thursday's committee meeting. "Right now we want to show California that we've done our part and let's get back to protecting Lake Tahoe."

But opponents, including Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, say Nevada needs to keep the pressure up and its option open on regulating Tahoe development. They argue that even though a new regional plan has been adopted, it's being challenged in a federal court lawsuit filed by two environmental groups.

They also counter that local governments have yet to adopt plans on how they will regulate development in their jurisdictions.

Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, said if Nevada repeals its threat, "California will no longer be at the table." He was joined by Sen. Pete Goicoechea, R-Elko, in voting against repeal.

"The drop dead date on this is after the next legislative session," Goicoechea said, suggesting lawmakers could reconsider repeal in the 2015 session.
 

Source: North Lake Tahoe Bonanza

Additional Resources:
Senate Bill 229 as introduced  (View or Download PDF)

 

Most Americans Want Eco-Friendly Homes

by Lakeshore Realty

     

 

Eco-friendly homes have gone mainstream: most people would trade in their swimming pools for Energy Star appliances and CFL lighting, according to the realtor.com survey.

The desire to be eco-friendly has increased dramatically in recent years. We may commemorate Earth Day in April but many people make a concerted effort to go green in large or small ways all year long. And now, in addition to hybrid cars, biodegradable packaging, and recycling efforts, our users are telling us that they are also increasingly eco-minded when it comes to their homes.

Living Green:

More than 30% of the respondents currently live in an eco-friendly residence and nearly 85% of those we surveyed said they would like to own an eco-friendly home. Eco-friendly residences often use green building materials and low-VOC paint and have other features such as high-efficiency water heaters, energy-conserving insulation, and rainwater collection.

Those who don’t live in an eco-friendly residence are still doing their part to go green: 80% have energy-efficient appliances while almost 75% have energy-efficient lighting. It seems that there is plenty of room to grow when it comes to solar power; just 5% of our respondents indicated that they have solar panels.

It appears that most of us are paying attention to environmental concerns, with the majority of people saying they have been aware of the need for eco-friendly homes for some time. Only 7% of our survey respondents said that the eco-friendly became a concern for them in the past year, with the bulk of respondents indicating that their interest in going green began at least several years ago.

Green Homes, Real Value:

How important is living in a green home to today’s buyer? Nearly 40% of survey respondents told us they would be willing to sacrifice square footage for a more eco-friendly residence. Smaller homes are often greener because they consume less energy and materials. A full three quarters of our respondents (75%) would give up the pleasure of their own pool, while 74% would say farewell to the game room.

Their motives aren’t purely altruistic: survey respondents also indicated that they are aware that eco-friendly features have real value. A total of 70% of respondents believe that eco-friendly features add monetary value to a residence, while 68% would pay more money for an eco-friendly residence.

Eco-friendly homes aren’t just good for the environment; they can also be good for our wallets. No wonder then that energy efficiency features were very desirable for our respondents. Energy-efficient air conditioning topped the list at 86% of those surveyed opting for it. Also, 85% wanted energy-efficient appliances, 79% were interested in energy-efficient lighting, and 76% had their heart set on water-conserving appliances.


Source: Realtor.com

 

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.

Incline Village and Crystal Bay 2013 First Quarter Sales Report

by Lakeshore Realty

Incline Village and Crystal Bay 2013 First Quarter Sales Report

Below you'll find "Sold" property data for Incline Village and Crystal Bay real estate market, both located on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, Nevada. The charts show three categories of properties: Residential, Condominiums, Town homes (Planned Unit Developments).

 

 

 

 

Please note that the reports above were created using data extracted from the MLXChange System and reflects property sales starting January 1 through March 31

Home Prices Improve at Fastest Rate Since 2006, Driven by Western States

by Lakeshore Realty
Rapidly rising home prices were confirmed by another report this morning, this one from CoreLogic. Its Home Price Index (HPI) jumped 10.2 percent on an annual basis in February, the biggest year-over-year increase since March 2006 and the 12thconsecutive month that home prices have risen nationally. The HPI, which includes sales of distressed properties, also increased on a monthly basis, rising 0.5 percent from January to February 2013. When sales of lender-owned real estate (REO) and short-sales are excluded from the calculations home prices increased by 10.1 percent on an annual basis and 1.5 percent from January to February.
CoreLogic's Pending HPI for March indicates another 10.2 percent increase from March 2012 and a 1.2 percent increase from January to February. Excluding distressed sales, March 2013 home prices are poised to rise 11.4 percent year over year from March 2012 and by 2.0 percent month over month from February 2013. The Pending HPI is based on Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data that measure price changes for the most recent month.

The states with the greatest home appreciation including distressed sales were Nevada (+19.3 percent), Arizona (18.6 percent), California (15.3 percent), Hawaii (14.6 percent) and Idaho (13.5 percent). When distressed sales are excluded the same five states lead in prices increases with only slight changes in the order and number; Nevada (18.3 percent), Arizona (16.4 percent), Hawaii (15.5 percent), California (15.3 percent) and Idaho (15.3 percent).

Delaware was the only state to post a decrease in home values on both the HPI including distressed sales (4.4 percent) and the HPI excluding them (1.9 percent) but Alabama (1.5 percent) and Illinois (-1.0 percent) also showed price depreciation when distressed sales were included.

Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to February 2013) was -26.3 percent. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the HPI for the same period was -19.3 percent. Even with the recent price increases Nevada is still down from its peak price level by 50.8 percent when distressed sales are included followed by Florida at 43.3 percent. Other states with peak-to-current price depreciation exceeding 35 percent are Michigan, Arizona, and Rhode Island.

"The rebound in prices is heavily driven by western states. Eight of the top ten highest appreciating large markets are in California, with Phoenix and Las Vegas rounding out the list," said Dr. Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic.

"Home prices continued their march upward in February. Nationally, home prices improved at the best rate since mid-2006, marking a full year of annual increases and underscoring the ongoing strengthening of market fundamentals," said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. "Continued home price appreciation will provide fuel needed to drive further recovery in the home purchase market."

News Source: www.mortgagenewsdaily.com

North Lake Tahoe March 2013 Real Estate Sales Comparison

by Lakeshore Realty
  • North Lake Tahoe March 2013 Real Estate Sales Comparison

Welcome to the Sellers Market! Looking at the events unfolding in the past 3-4 months we can certainly say that we switched from a Buyers Market in 2012 to a Sellers Market at least so far in 2013. With a diminished Lake Tahoe and Incline Village real estate inventory, sellers are getting a lot more offers on their properties, some of them even above the asking price. The average "Price Differential" index is getting closer and closer to 100% telling us that Sellers are accepting offers really close to their asking price. Also homes tend to stay a lot less time on the market, the "DOM" (days on market) index having a big drop compared to the previous couple of years.

  • Residential Home Sales Report

Click 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 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.

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Lakeshore Realty
954 Lakeshore Blvd.
Incline Village NV 89451
775-831-7000
800-954-9554
Fax: 775-831-6777

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