2013 meterIt is human nature to want to get the best deal so I’m not surprised when new clients ask this question.   My advice is not try and time the purchase to get a better price.  Often buyers think they will get a better deal on a home in the off or shoulder season.  But generally speaking, sellers are savvy and home values do not fluctuate by season.  The best time to buy a property is when you find the property you want.

Know what you want and be prepared to take action.  You have to be confident you understand where the market is and what you want out of your property.  What is your budget?  When will you be using the property?  Will you be renting?

When you do find the property you want, I recommend you request photos of the property taken during different seasons.  You really need to see the difference between summer and winter.  Where does the snow accumulate?  How is your view impacted by the snow or trees during the summer versus the winter?

Trying to time the real estate market is not recommended but do watch for trends.  It doesn’t matter if you buy the “deal of the century” if it is not something that matches your goals.   Prices were relatively flat in 2012 but we have seen an increase in 2013.  Historically Mammoth Lakes has followed the trends in San Diego and Orange County by 6-8 months.  In those markets they are currently seeing multiple offers and properties are selling for over the asking price.     The median days on market is decreasing in  Mammoth Lakes.

In summary, be prepared:

  1. Know your budget.
  2. Identify your goals for the property
  3. Know which area of town you want to buy.
  4. If financing, get preapproved.
  5. Establish a relationship with a real estate agent and communicate the info above.

A trustworthy real estate agent will help you understand the market and help you find the property that matches your goals.

For past articles, visit www.sonjabush.com

Stand Out From the CrowdOne of the most interesting things about showing property in Mammoth Lakes is I can show several different condos in the same complex and get drastically different feedback from the same potential buyers.

This past weekend was a good example. I took my client to see three different condos in the same complex. He wanted to see for himself why the price was so different when the floor plans and views were exactly the same.

The answer boiled down to four key areas:

1. Carpet: It is nice if the carpet is new but if it is not new, is it at least clean? Even though it is easy to clean, a dirty carpet leaves a nasty first impression.

2. Paint: When you enter the front door are the walls scuffed and paint chipped? If you are going to paint before selling, consider a neutral clean palette. The first 30 seconds in the property is important — paint can help make a good first impression.

3. Clutter: Should go without saying but buyers want to visualize the place as their own. All the ski gear, knick-knacks and items you will be taking when you sell, should be out of sight. Since most places are sold furnished in Mammoth Lakes, buyers can get a real sense of what it will be like for them when all the clutter is gone.

4. Kitchen: This is a costlier issue than paint, carpet and clutter but a necessary fix if someone really wants to sell. A total remodel is not necessary. Something as inexpensive as new kitchen cabinet hardware and light fixtures all the way to costlier new appliances will help you sell your property. Even a dated formica kitchen with dark wood cabinets looks better with new hardware. Consider a new faucet, painting the cabinets and upgrading appliances for a real boost.

Granted there are some buyers who want a “fixer” but most want a turn-key property. They want to buy it and enjoy it.

Ask your real estate agent for input. Better yet, ask them to show you a property similar to yours that has made some of these improvements so you can get some fresh ideas m

For previous articles visit www.sonjabush.com

OOPS!According to real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran (you might know her from Shark Tank) if you are in the position to consider making a down payment on another property, now’s the time to do it. According to Corcoran, “It’s the smartest thing you can do right now,” adding that the second-home market is “the last area you can still get a steal of a deal.” But if you’re thinking of taking the plunge, Corcoran advises you act fast. “In the second home market, the homes are abundant but starting to shrink up.” As for Mammoth Lakes specifically, inventory levels are extremely low for both condos and single family homes.

If you decide to make a second home purchase, be sure and avoid some of the biggest mistakes made by second home buyers.

 Buying Where Your Friends Live:  Too often, Corcoran says, people fantasize about vacationing with or near friends and end up making a purchase that isn’t right for them.

Not Having a Budget: Set a budget and stick with it. “Look over your budget,” Corcoran says. She also adds that it’s a smart move to make a low bid on a property that is out of your price range, especially if it has been languishing on the market for months. “People who have the nicest homes always overprice, and it just sits on the market,” she adds.

Focusing on the Wrong Amenities: Don’t buy into a community because of its amenities. If you’re not a tennis player now, you won’t become one because your new development has a court. “Most people generally won’t use the extra stuff and they get blinded by all of that,” Cochran explains.

For previous articles, visit www.sonjabush.com

For more information on Ms. Corcoran, visit www.BarbaraCorcoran.com

We all know houses are not selling like they used to.  If you are considering selling your home, there are several tips that will make it easier to sell.   First impressions make a huge difference between a sale or no sale.  These tips apply to any economy or market.For Sale

  1.  Less is More:  Even if you have not moved out, removing some furniture can help the home feel more spacious.  This also provides a potential buyer with a better visual of how the property could look as their home.
  2. Odor Control:  Sometimes homes have an odor you may not even notice since you there every day.  Ask a friend (or your agent) to be honest about any odor.  While the house is on the market, take the trash out every day and clean the refrigerator regularly.  If you have pets, keep an eye on the situation (i.e. litter box).  I have been in some gorgeous homes but a strong offensive odor has turned buyers away.
  3. The Little Things:  There are small and often inexpensive changes you can complete yourself to freshen up your home.  For example, replace dated/cracked light switch covers , install new hardware on cabinets, remove broken window treatment (no window covering is often better than broken blinds).  Although potential buyers know the house is lived it, it is helpful to remove excess clutter such as newspapers, mail, laundry and shoes.
  4. A Neutral Appeal:  If you have customized every room with dark paint or wall paper, you may want to update the colors to a more neutral tone.  This can help potential buyers create their own vision for the home and also when they are comparing their options, your home may need less investment and work if they buy the house.
  5. Curb Appeal:  This one is pretty obvious to most but again look at the exterior of your home from the potential buyers’ perspective.  Is the home welcoming?  Is there a clear path to the front door?  Is the front porch clean and appealing?

Keep these tips in mind when selling your property.  The best way to do this is to walk through your home with an honest friend as if you are both touring the home for the first time.  An experience real estate agent can also help.

Source:  Investopedia

For previous articles, visit www.sonjabush.com

Do you plan on renting out the property when you are not in Mammoth? If yes, then you are pretty much eliminating most single family homes.

Why? Most people are not aware most single family homes cannot be rented out on a nightly basis — only some areas within the Town of Mammoth Lakes are zoned transient rentals (check the town’s website).

Next, consider maintenance of the property. Maintaining property at an elevation of 8000′ is a little different than sea level. Owning a condo means you pay monthly Home Owners Association (HOA) dues and in most cases snow is removed in the driveway (parking lot), walkways and areas in front of fire hydrants. Additionally, consider roof snow/ice removal and prevention of frozen pipes are usually handled by the management company.

Owning a single family residence means you must take care of these maintenance concerns yourself. You can hire your own management company, compare pricing, negotiate the contact and make sure the work gets done.

Finally keep in mind the HOA fees in the majority of Mammoth projects include many of the typical monthly out of pocket expenses, including fire insurance and a reserve for repairs (roofs, siding, painting, landscaping, road/side walk repair, etc).

There are many great condos and single family homes in Mammoth Lakes. Before you buy, make sure you have all the facts so you can make a well informed decision. A qualified real estate professional can help.

For previous articles, visit www.sonjabush.com

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