What's Hot and What's Not in Home Design
From dark hardwood flooring to home offices hidden away in closets, we're taking a look at what's hot and what's hot in-home design trends in 2022.
Not hot: The Cloffice
Early on in the pandemic, people started turning their closets into a home office. Coined the "cloffice," these makeshift offices served their purpose at a time when we all needed a quiet place to work. Homeowners are no longer looking for temporary workspaces, and if they are still working remotely, they're now looking for a more permanent, clearly defined home office (with windows!).
Hot: Light-colored flooring
After years of preferring dark hardwood flooring, we're seeing a resurgence in lighter wood plank flooring. One of the hottest trends is a color known as greige, a blend of gray and beige. It can offer a fresh look to bedrooms, living rooms and entryways. Darker colors can overpower a room at times. Lighter tones can make a room look brighter and larger, plus they camouflage dirt and dust much better than hardwood.
Wallpaper has been rising in popularity in recent years, but it's made a full comeback for 2022—just not in ways you might expect. You can use wallpaper to create a statement wall, provide a colorful backing for cabinets or line your shelving. Another outside-the-box idea is to use wallpaper on a ceiling to add dimension and excitement to your room.
Hot: Murphy beds
Creative furniture solutions, such as Murphy beds are coming back in a big way. These items are functional, allow us to do more in a small area, and have greater flexibility when designing a space.
Not hot: Minimalism
An uncluttered, sparsely decorated home can feel sad with a lack of personality. As we spend more time at home, they're seeking more meaningful interiors and placing more personal accents on display.
If you've always wanted to turn your home into a plant paradise, now's the time to do it. Rather than going the faux plants route, which may have been convenient in the past, this year you should go for the real deal. After all, plants add a little joy to your surroundings.
When it comes down to it, trust your own personal style. The design elements that make you happy are the best ones to choose!
JJ Elek Realty -Trusted for over 50 years! Call Today 732-634-9100.
Home Cleaning Tips That Can Help You Sell Faster
Selling a home can be difficult, but one of the easiest and most important steps is to make sure your space is spotlessly clean for potential homebuyers that walk through the door. Whether you hire a professional cleaning service or do it yourself, a few simple tasks will help your home look and feel brand new.
Emphasize the entrance
With any home tour, it's important to make a strong first impression. Consider replacing or painting the front door to liven up the outdoor entrance. Clean and polish any door knobs and fixtures. Place seasonal decorations like flowers on either side of the door or choose a wreath.
Declutter, depersonalize, and organize
Your home will look cleaner and bigger when it's not full of so much stuff. Keep only the essentials and put everything else in storage, or donate it. Be sure to remove any personal items like family photos, collectibles, and mementos, which make it more difficult for potential buyers to envision themselves living there.
Focus on floors
Take the time to steam clean all carpets, mop any vinyl flooring, and use a wood-cleaning product on any hardwood floors. Consider hiring a professional cleaning service for marble or tile.
Freshen up the paint
When was the last time you really looked at your walls? Painting the inside and/or exterior of your home can dramatically improve its appearance and make it feel fresh. Stick to neutral colors such as white, beige, or alabaster to appeal to more people. For the exterior, choose simple paint that matches other homes in the neighborhood.
Clean up the yard
Doing a simple landscaping cleanup can have a major effect on curb appeal. Start by mowing the lawn, weeding the flowerbeds, and pruning the bushes. Consider planting small flowers to add a pop of color.
Deep clean the kitchen and bath
The rooms buyers most closely inspect (and judge) in a house are the kitchen and bathroom. Wipe down or paint the kitchen cupboards, clear everything off the counters, and clean the grout between the backsplash tiles. Deep-clean the tile and grout in the bathrooms, and organize the medicine cabinets (buyers will open them). Make sure everything is sparkling clean. Nobody wants to imagine soaking in a dingy tub. Lastly, make sure no mold is present. Nothing is more off-putting to potential homebuyers than seeing mold in the kitchen or bathroom.
Looking for more tips on cleaning your home before putting it on the market? Reach out to one of our agents at 732-634-9100 for some recommendations.
Should You Stage Your House to Sell It?
When you decide to list your house for sale, you may wonder whether or not to stage it. How much does staging cost? How do you do it right? Will it increase buyer interest? Let's take a closer look at the process.
What is home staging?
Home staging is the art of decorating your house to appeal to potential homebuyers. It allows potential buyers to envision themselves living in your home, which could increase the number of offers and size of the offers you get. Staging has many benefits that can lead to a successful sale without having to pay the many costs of a full redesign. Your best bet is to hire a professional stager who knows the elements of design and what appeals to buyers in your area.
Will staging help your home sell?
According to the International Association of Home Staging Professionals (IAHSP), an investment in home staging is always less than a price reduction or lower starting price. It's a proven, up-front investment to help get the highest rate of return on the sale of a property. In fact, it can net 5-20% more in the sale, according to statistics tracked by IAHSP and National Association of Realtors.
How much does it cost to stage a house?
Home staging costs around $1,500 on average but can range anywhere from $600 to $4,000. The pricing depends on the location, size, and list price of the property, as well as the number of rooms being staged, the type of furniture and decor, the duration of the initial staging agreement, and whether or not the property is vacant. The 2022 Home Staging industry statistics showed that $3,250 is the average investment for staging a vacant property.
Here's a breakdown of the costs you're likely to see:
Is home staging worth the price?
When it comes to staging your home to sell, the cost of staging is usually worth it. There are plenty of affordable ways to get the jobs done and the experts at JJ Elek realty can help. Contact one of our agents at 732-634-9100 for more information.
Thinking about selling your home? It can be an overwhelming, with tasks like home inspections, staging, and marketing piling up on your to-do list. To make the process a little less daunting, we've put together a quick guide to selling your house in 2022.
While it's the buyer's responsibility to get the home inspected, hiring your own home inspector before negotiations is a more proactive approach. Known as a "pre-listing home inspection," this step will reveal the exact condition of your property, and if you've already addressed repairs, it's less likely that anything new will arise and impact your negotiation.
After you've addressed necessary repairs, take the extra step of making small upgrades to help increase your home value. Some ideas include:
Limit the amount of stuff in your space to help potential buyers be able to envision themselves and their belongings in it. Clear off tabletops, remove personal photos, pack away toys. If you're looking for a quick turnaround, bring in a professional organizer to help get your house in order.
Real estate agents are easy to find, but finding the one for you can be a challenge. Get referrals and read online reviews to narrow down your options. Once you select one, you and your agent should come up with a plan of action with timelines.
When thinking about how to price your house:
Remember that market conditions and buyer behavior change often, so work with your real estate agent to ensure your home is priced accordingly.
Nothing sells a house faster than professional photos, so consider hiring a professional to take some of your home. Aerial photography with a drone can offer a bird's eye view of your property and the surrounding area has become increasingly popular with buyers looking online. You may also want to consider having your home digitally scanned for a 3D online tour.
Your real estate agent will list your home online on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) so that it shows up on real estate websites. You should also do some marketing of your own. Spread the word through family and friends. Share your listing on social media and send out emails.
When you're ready to sell your home, partner with an agent at JJ Elek Realty. We offer well-developed, strategic programs that accelerate our clients—both buyers and sellers—to the top of the market.
How the Delta Variant Could Affect the Housing Market
When the COVID-19 pandemic first struck the world, housing experts predicted that stay-at-home orders, closed businesses, and general uneasiness would result in a drop in home prices. Instead, we saw an unexpected hike in prices due to a significant lack of homes for sale. Buyers became more competitive as sellers became more hesitant to sell.
When vaccines became available and a semblance of normalcy returned, we started to see home prices level out. But then the Delta variant hit. Experts have been debating how the new variant will impact the housing market, so what can we expect?
Declining Mortgage Rates
The housing market may get an even bigger blow caused by a drop in mortgage rates. Since the Delta variant emerged, investors have begun shifting their overseas money into mortgage bonds, which has dropped mortgage rates to as low as 2.37% in some areas. If the pandemic worsens, these rates will drop even lower.
While this may inspire would-be buyers to begin shopping again in larger numbers, the increased transmission of COVID, plus any newly introduced stay-at-home mandates, could decrease the amount of people willing to sell, which would result in a boost to home prices.
No Reason to Panic
It goes without saying that buyers would love for more homes to become available, and for those homes to not be priced over market value, but the Delta variant doesn't appear to be cooperating with that goal. This doesn't mean you should expect things to get worse. In fact, the market may end up showing little to no change.
Vaccinated individuals may feel comfortable enough to continue home shopping as they have been, even with the rise of the new variant. And since no new stay-at-home orders have been issued, home prices will likely stay where they're at.
Looking to the Future
As it stands, the housing market hasn't changed drastically since the introduction of the Delta variant, but experts agree that more time is needed to determine its overall impact. Until then, it's important to stay informed and to contact a JJ Elk agent if you have any questions about buying or selling a home in the coming months.
The Eviction Moratorium and What It Means
The COVID-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented time for everyone across the world, including landlords and their tenants. Financial hardship, businesses shuttering, and loss of work have contributed to many Americans being unable to pay their rent.
The federal government, as well various states, have begun taking action to limit the impact COVID has had on tenants, including a moratorium on evictions, a halt of late rent fees, and prevention of utility shutdowns due to non-payment.
What is the Current Status of the Moratorium?
On August 3rd, 2021, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an Agency Order on the current eviction moratorium in place until October 3rd, 2021. Titled Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions in Communities with Substantial or High Levels of Community Transmission of COVID-19 to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19, the order protects people from eviction if they're unable to pay their rent and meet the criteria below.
This order also requires that tenants who meet any of these criteria complete a declaration form. Since US states can put their own moratoriums in place, a tenant may still be protected by their state orders if they fail to meet the federal criteria listed by the CDC.
Contact JJ Elek Realty for More Information
Find out if your state has any tenant protections in place by visiting your state or governor's website. If you live in New Jersey, feel free to reach out to a JJ Elek Realty agent for more information.
Tips to Downsize Your Home
Whether you're a recent empty-nester, eager for a change, want to simplify your life, need to move closer to family, there are plenty of reasons to downsize your home. There are also plenty of ways to do it wrong!
Have no fear. We've seen it all when it comes to the downsizing, and we've created a short checklist to make it a little easier.
Your Downsizing Checklist
The best tip for downsizing is to know your strengths and weaknesses. If you're a super organizer, maybe you'll just need help moving boxes on moving day. If you have a hard time letting go of items, a professional organizer could be well worth your money.
Whatever your situation, once you've completed the process, you're likely to find it was a great decision financially and mentally.
How to Get Started Selling Your Home
If you're planning on moving, downsizing, or just want to trade in on years of good homeowning for an experience someplace else, you'll have to get ready to sell your home. It's a big task with many complicated steps, but the hardest thing is organize a moving van. The legal stuff? That can be handled by professionals. Here's how.
Hire an Agent
It would be nice if we could just shake hands and take a check for our house, but it's not that simple. Land and property ownership requires much more time and official approval to transfer. That's why you should look for an agent to help you.
A JJ Elek agent can get you on the market and handle all the paperwork. Even if you already know who you're selling it to, they'll speed up the process and get the keys in their hands. Want to get the best price on an open market? An agent is a must. They know all the details and have the connections to help buyers to find your home.
Set the Scene
There's a good chance there are things left to do to the home before it can be sold. An agent can help set a deadline and determine the best time is to sell based on the market trends. Then they can help get the house inspected so it can be approved for future ownership.
There's no need to overspend to prepare a home. If there are problems, fix them simply and conclusively, but don't lavish it with costly upgrades. Spending more won't necessarily raise the price in the end. Clean it up and take photos that show the house from room to room. You can do it yourself, but a professional will know what buyers want to see.
Hit the Market
Once your house is on the market, your agent will receive the requests and run the best ones by you. Make sure your expectations are well tempered. If you try to set the bar too high, buyers will pass it over. No one settles on just one house when they're looking to buy. Once you set a good price, expect it to alter as tours begin. Once that's set, an agent can help arrange the taxes that will be incurred and produce a final profit.
The last step is the closing paperwork to finalize the sale, and you're set if you have an agent to facilitate the process.
If you'd like more information about selling a home in the Woodbridge, NJ, area, we can help. Contact JJ Elek Realty to get started today.
Everything You Need to Know About Closing Costs
If you've ever wondered what closing costs are and who pays them, you're not alone. They're often a mystery to first-time home buyers — and even first-time sellers. Here's a breakdown of what they are and who's responsible for them.
What Are Closing Costs?
Closing costs are fees paid to third parties to help facilitate the sale of a home. The total can range from 2 to 7 percent of a home's purchase price. This means a $250,000 house can expect the amount to run anywhere from $5,000 to $17, 500.
Who Pays the Closing Costs?
While both buyers and sellers pitch in to cover the fee, the majority of the cost is paid by the buyer since many of the fees are associated with the mortgage. Often, you'll see the buyer's share running about 3 to 4 percent compared to the seller's share of 1 to 3 percent.
When Are Closing Costs Paid?
While some of the closing expenses, like the home inspection fee, must be paid upfront before the home is officially sold, the bulk of the closing costs are paid upon the exchange of the keys.
What Fees Can the Home Buyer Expect to Pay?
Buyers should expect to pay the following (among others) as part of closing costs:
Keep in mind that at least three days prior to closing, the lender is required by federal law to send the buyer a closing disclosure outlining these costs.
What Fees Can the Seller Expect to Pay?
Home sellers typically cover fees associated with:
A Real Estate Agent Can Help
If you're curious what your closing costs will be, you can find many closing calculators online where you can plug in the numbers yourself. Otherwise, your best bet is to consult a real estate agent, lender, or mortgage broker for a more accurate estimate. Remember, before you close, you'll want to check all documentation to make sure all the costs line up with what you originally quoted. Contact JJ Elek today for more information about closing on a home
4 Surprising Factors That Can Boost Home Value
Making your house more energy efficient, adding square footage, and upgrading the landscaping are some of the more well-known ways to increase its worth. There are thousands of data points like these that correlate to sale prices — but there are many others that aren't so obvious.
Here are some of the surprising factors that can affect either the existing value of your home or the price buyers are willing to pay for it.
If you own a home in the major metropolitan area, there's a good chance you're sitting on a rapidly appreciating financial asset. While many people may be leaving the city for the suburbs, they still want to be near a major city. According to a recent Zillow analysis, home values in the New York metro area are worth $2.6 trillion.
Between 1997 and 2014, homes within a ¼ mile of a Starbucks saw a 96 percent boost in value, on average, compared to 65 percent for all U.S. homes. Those with a Dunkin' nearby appreciated 80 percent, on average, during the same 17-year period.
HGTV's Chip and Joanna Gaines inspire many homeowners with their identifiable aesthetic seen on their show Fixer Upper. Some of their favorite features like farmhouse sinks and barn doors actually contribute to homes selling faster and for a premium in the real world. According to a recent Zillow analysis of over 2 million homes sold nationwide, listings with "barn door" in the description sold for 13.4 percent more than expected and 57 days faster than comparable homes without the keyword. Listings boasting a "farmhouse sink" led to a nearly 8 percent sales premium.
Walls painted in cool neutrals like blue and gray have been shown to convey that a home is well cared for or has other desirable features. A recent paint color analysis by Zillow examined 32,000 photos from sold homes around the country, finding that blue kitchens sold for a $1,809 premium compared to similar homes with white kitchens, and pale-blue to soft periwinkle-blue bathrooms sold for $5,440 more.
If you're in the market to buy or sell a home in New Jersey, JJ Elek can help you dig up useful tidbits like these to help you in the process. Contact us today to learn more.
Selling Real Estate in 2021? Central Jersey is the Place to Be.
For Central New Jersey, a combination of pandemic-paused homebuyers, record-low mortgage rates, limited inventory and families leaving cities for the suburbs has created the perfect storm. You're set up for success if you're selling real estate in 2021. Let's explore why.
People are ready to buy again
Not only are housing prices expected to continuously rise, but due to increased demand, sellers should expect a competitive market. In fact, some sellers are seeing up to 30 offers on their property, and buyers are offering up to $130,000 over the asking price!
People will continue to leave New York City for the NJ suburbs
The New York Times found that about 5% of New York City residents and 18% of Manhattanites left the city between March and May of 2020. The pandemic's low mortgage rates and remote learning/work environment have accelerated the movement because families have more flexibility. Add to this concerns about health, safety, and reduced quality of life, and it looks like this migration will continue for the foreseeable future, which is great for home sellers.
Remote work is driving the demand for more space
Digital collaborations and hybrid learning continue to transform our daily routines, prompting home buyers to look for space that can support work and learning from home. More time in and around the home means home offices, multi-purpose living spaces, spacious backyards, and walkable communities will be on top of buyers' lists.
Mortgage rates are enticing buyers
Affordability is the best it's ever been, and all indicators point to another great year for home buyers, despite rising prices. A wide range of buyers can secure 2.5 to 2.9% for a 30-year fixed mortgage.
With so much uncertainty affecting the economy and day-to-day life, it can seem difficult to plan for the future. But thanks to expert forecasts and market patterns, we know to expect a red-hot seller's market in 2021. If you're ready to list your home, JJ Elek is here to help you sell it.
Tips for Selling Homes with Ease in Spring 2021
As the world faces a new normal in 2021, real estate agents face new opportunities and challenges. Make-up buying from the disruption of the pandemic will propel a demand of home purchases, with a healthy share of Millennial and Gen-Z first-time buyers along with trade-up buyers older generations.
How can real estate agents prepare for the surge in consumer spending and availability of homes on the market? Here are some tips to set yourself up for easy sales in spring of 2021.
Focus on Digital Marketing
Many people are still working remotely and practicing social distancing, and that means most potential buyers will be searching for homes online. Capitalize on SEO to showcase listings and attract new clients. Start a blog to share updates about local market conditions and available properties.
Stay Active on Social Media
Home buyers and sellers often check social media to find out more about an agent. Make sure your profiles are professional, approachable, and up to date. Provide consistent updates, with useful information for buyers and sellers, and links to available homes. Be interactive to start building a network of potential clients.
During these times, many sellers are concerned about showing their homes and buyers are reluctant to visit them. Agents who excel at photography can offer quality images and video for virtual tours to be posted on websites and social media. Showcase large properties with aerial photography using a drone, if possible.
Maintain Safety Protocols
Fear is common with the new normal. Agents must know and maintain safe protocols for showing homes and interacting with clients. Have hand sanitizer, masks, and cleaning supplies ready for use at all times. Confident agents who know how to handle all situations make buyers and sellers feel comfortable to take action.
As everyone remains curious about what 2021 will bring, real estate agents have opportunities to connect with clients in a meaningful way. JJ Elek agents are ready for the challenge.
Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Virtual Home Tour
The COVID-19 economy has drastically increased consumer demand for virtual home tours. Using 360-degree and 3D tour technology, you can deliver an immersive experience to view potential homes while limiting in-person contact.
And it's not as complicated as you might think. This step-by-step guide includes everything from the equipment to the execution needed to set up a successful virtual home tour.
Anyone who's doing any volume of home sales should invest in a 360-degree camera. You can capture and turn thousands of square feet into a dynamic home tour in less than 20 minutes. Most models cost between $250 and $500. Whichever 360-degree camera you use, you'll also want to purchase a tripod or monopod, an extra battery, and a battery-charging station. You'll also need to download a smartphone app or invest in a hosting platform to store, edit, and share your photos. There are hundreds of 360-degree tour providers and hosting platforms, including Giraffe360, and EyeSpy360, Immoviewer, Matterport, Ricoh360 Tours, and Box Brownie. Choose one that allows you to upload and store your photos as you take them, and you're ahead of the game.
Before you take any pictures, plan your shoot, preferably during the daytime.
Many editing programs, including Box Brownie and Immoviewer, will put your photos in the right sequence as they upload, as long as you've taken them following the floorplan. If you have the editing skills to stitch the images together yourself, you can use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, available as a monthly online subscription.
Once the images and 3D model have been created, it's time to share it. MLSs, platforms like Realtor.com, and social media are key places to publish your virtual home tour. You can share the link on Facebook, and even embed it in email campaigns and text messages
Moving forward as an agent, it's vital to make sure to make virtual home tours a part of your process. At JJ Elek, we empower our team with cutting-edge technology, education, and 100% administrative support for successful marketing campaigns. This makes all the difference.
Why Working from Home May Impact Buyer Preferences
COVID-19 has profoundly changed the ways we think, interact, shop, and work. We used to have in-person meetings, go to conventions, and meet for cocktails. Yes, we're socially distant these days, but how much is it affecting real estate? Has buyer desire changed?
With so many businesses rolling out work-from-home policies in 2020, finding the right house matters more than ever. Home buyers are drawn to more spacious homes with effective working spaces, according to recent Zillow research. In fact, for-sale listings in spring 2020 had 10% more focus on home workspaces than the previous spring. The fact is, appealing to work-from-home buyers can boost your home's profile.
Think like a remote worker when selling a home
Right now, remote-workers are getting by with what they have. Some were forced to convert a room into a home office. Others already had a home office space, but want something better now that they're using it more. Some are simply working at the kitchen counter or on their couch. Those on the market for a new home are specifically looking for more room, with dedicated office spaces — and many will consider new geographic locations to get it.
Broaden your advertising scope to attract geographically flexible buyers
The length of a commute isn't much of a factor now. Given their newfound ability to work from practically anywhere, home buyers are ready to migrate away from the expensive cities they previously chose for career reasons. Secondary cities are rebounding more quickly than the downtown markets where larger homes were always much harder to come by.
Highlight usability of space for activities
Homeowners aren't just looking for a room for a home office. The desire to have a home gym, an updated kitchen, laundry rooms, storage, and more space in general – indoor and outdoor – are all key factors motivating buyers to change their home search parameters.
If you want to get the most bang for your buck, focus on the features that today's home buyers really want to see. The agents at JJ Elek can help you do just that.