Category Archives: Social

What is an MLS?

Odds are you’ve spent a little time online searching for homes. After all, most home searches begin online. You may have even used a broker’s website or a site like Trulia or Zillow to help you browse listings.

But where does listing information come from?

Way back in the day, prior to the Information Age revolution, brokers used to gather and exchange information about their properties. The idea was fairly straightforward: I’ll help you sell your properties if you help me sell mine. It’s a “private offer of cooperation and compensation.” Cooperation meant the real estate industry could thrive and buyers and sellers could enjoy smoother transactions.

This spirit of cooperation gave rise to Multiple Listing Service(s) (MLS). By consolidating information about housing inventory in an MLS, listing brokers and buyers’ brokers can easily share up-to-date information about homes on the market. Though an MLS is typically a private database available to brokers, much of the information is syndicated to outside sites in the interest of casting wider net for buyers and sellers.

As an MLS is the primary source of information about a property, it tends to be the most accurate. It may also contain private information for use by brokers only, such as times the home is available for showings and seller contact information.

There are upwards of 850 MLS databases in the U.S. alone, and to a certain extent, there is market pressure to centralize these into a national MLS database. We’re sure to see changes in how Multiple Listing Services are used in the future, but the core benefits to home sellers and buyers is sure to remain.

Ready to put the power of an MLS to work for you? Search with me today for homes on the market right now. I’d be happy to help you find your next home:

Retirement strategy? Relocate!

Unlike earlier generations of retirees who paid off their mortgages and retired in their family home, today’s Baby Boomers are looking to capitalize on home equity to enhance their retirement savings. If you’re thinking how relocating might stretch your retirement dollar, below are a few points you should consider before relocating, downsizing, or trading up:

 

  1. Speak with your spouse or partner first, even if you think you’re both of the same mind. Don’t assume that you’re in agreement. When the moment to make the leap comes, feelings may change.

 

  1. Consider the cost-of-living in a different part of the country. There’s a pretty big swing between rural Florida and urban San Francisco, for example. This might also mean factoring fuel costs if you’re moving into an area where you’re likely to spend more time driving.

 

  1. Consider whether your plans are realistic. For example, could you really live in a 1-bedroom condo after spreading out for years in your present 4-bed/3-bath?

 

  1. How much will the ease and pleasure of retirement depend on family and friends? What are the pros/cons of moving nearer/farther away? Conversely: Are there any detriments to moving closer to younger family members? (I.e. are you ready to open a free grandkid-sitting service?)

 

  1. Consider the potential impact of capital gains if you have substantial equity in your home— speak with a tax professional. This is especially true if you’re downshifting from ownership into a rental market.

 

Relocating to a more affordable area as well as to a smaller home is a strong strategy. But real estate values and property taxes can vary immensely by locale, even within the same state. Research thoroughly. Also, you want to spend significant time in the location to make sure its compatible with your lifestyle, pace, and interests.

 

If you’re thinking about relocating or know someone who would like to speak to a local agent about relocation plans, please pass along my information. I would be honored to serve your friends and family:

Ready to downsize?

Thought I might float an idea by you regarding any plans you may have for your future home. Are you like some of my clients? They have recently looked into downsizing now that their kids are out of the house, or have considered investing in second homes. One of the more popular options has been condos and town homes, especially in walkable, urban-like areas such as the Carmel Art District or even in booming Noblesville.

I don’t know if it’s something you’ve considered, but there are a number of benefits to condo and loft living. It’s a great way to take the majority of home maintenance issues off your back while maintaining the equity-building benefits of owning property.

Additionally, the lofts and condos selling these days are gorgeous compared to the “apartment style” condos of years ago. We’re seeing a lot of refurbished classic industrial buildings, amazing views, and quality amenities in these newer projects.

The draw for several of the people I’ve consulted with centers on having convenient access to shops, restaurants, museums, theaters, farmers’ markets, and other car-free destinations. Some have even bought lofts in other cities for the express purpose of renting out their property to vacationers when they’re not using it.

If you ever have any interest in pursuing something like this, or even would like to take a look at what modern loft living looks like these days, I’d be glad to give you a tour of the local market, or even connect you with someone in a city you’ve been considering.

Generational Wisdom

Recently I learned of a story of PBS Newshour about a housing community in Oregon where families who adopt foster children live side by side with seniors who volunteer their time in exchange for affordable rent. With 15% of seniors living below the poverty line, this story of a solution to senior housing and creating a stable environment for children was particularly inspiring.

One of the benefits that emerged from the situation was the way in which foster parents, children, and seniors from different generations interacted and shared their experiences with one another. The children and young refreshed the seniors’ worldview, while the seniors had a lot of perspective to share with the parents and the children.

We all know there are major housing challenges in the future. As the Baby Boomer generation ages, there are empty nest issues and home safety challenges. But this isn’t only about ways to care for the aging… it’s about the vast resources of experience and wisdom each generation has to share with one another.

In helping clients buy and sell homes, it’s easy to see the biases and behaviors of a wide range of generations. From Boomers downsizing who feel their home has “enough curb appeal, thank you” to the Millennials who share Instagram photos of properties seeking friends’ comments, there’s a lot to learn. Conversely, some young buyers don’t understand a 30-year mortgage, while many a gray head can school you on 11% interest rates.

There’s the wisdom of now, the wisdom of then, and the wisdom of way-back-when. Our neighborhoods and communities can be even stronger if we keep this in mind. Who teaches you every day? Who do you teach?

What’s a Walkability Score?

Walk Score is a company which “analyzes hundreds of walking routes to nearby amenities. Points are awarded based on the distance to amenities in each category. Amenities within a 5 minute walk (.25 miles) are given maximum points. A decay function is used to give points to more distant amenities, with no points given after a 30 minute walk.”

Additionally, Walk Score looks at pedestrian friendliness, a component which takes into account population density, block length, and intersection density. (Source: http://www.walkscore.com/methodology.shtml).

Rankings are based on a 0 – 100 scale. Here’s how the scores translate to an area’s walkability:

90 – 100: Walker’s Paradise. Daily errands do not require a car.
70 – 89: Very Walkable. Most errands can be accomplished on foot.
50 – 69: Somewhat Walkable. Some errands can be accomplished on foot.
25 – 49: Car-Dependent. Most errands require a car.
0 – 24: Car-Dependent. Almost all errands require a car.

In addition to a Walkability Score, Walk Score also evaluates for Transit Score (how well a location is served by public transit) and Bike Score (whether an area is good for biking).

All three of these scores can help you determine your personal values when you’re buying a home. They can also be useful to profile the kind of buyer who might be interested in a home you’re selling. It’s important to understand that a high or low walkability score is not necessarily bad. It all depends on personal values. (Someone who wouldn’t walk to errands anyway might find themselves bothered by the proximity to a highly-trafficked commercial businesses, for example.)

If you’re curious about your own home’s walkability score, or you’d like to learn about the most and least walkable neighborhoods in a given city, you can search for addresses on the Walk Score website at http://www.walkscore.com/.

Want to see a walkability score in action? I’d be happy to show you local neighborhoods! [CONTACT INFORMATION]

Using Twitter to Keep Up with Breaking News

With all of the social media websites and mobile apps out there today, you might find yourself looking to cut back or even use certain social sites for specific functions. While Facebook might be great for keeping in touch with family and friends scattered across the country, and Pinterest might be ideal for “scrap-booking” ideas for your next home, what in the world should you use Twitter for?

If the idea of “tweeting” messages out in 140 characters seems like a waste of time, perhaps you should consider Twitter in a new light. What Twitter excels at is breaking news, especially hyperlocal breaking news.

Hyperlocal is a term which simple means “very close” to you or your neighborhood. While a wildfire two states away might not be of concern to you, a four-alarm disaster in your neighborhood can suddenly be a real priority.

You don’t have to tweet to make use of Twitter. In fact, one of the best ways to use Twitter is simply as an “awareness” tool for your immediate area. Many people don’t realize that a variety of services and businesses break news daily via short Tweets with links to more information.

Here are some common categories you’re likely to find if you search Twitter for tweets and accounts near you:

– Fire / Police / EMS / local radio scanners
– Public utilities (including power and water… great for getting updates on outages)
– Local transit (trains, busses, taxis)
– Local government and civic notices
– Sports stadiums (traffic advisories, event information)
– Local news stations (learn what’s going on between regular broadcasts)
– Neighborhood blogs (very popular in cities)
– Neighborhood businesses (often advertise specials, events, and “Twitter only” freebies)
– Your actual neighbors!

You’d be surprised how useful Twitter can be when you think of it in terms of a breaking news delivery platform. Give it a try today. Who knows, you may even find yourself becoming a local news source yourself!

Ready to start reading hyperlocal tweets? Start by following me on Twitter! Follow my account, @soldonyou_ today.

What are you looking for?

As we continue the search for your new home, I wanted to ask you a few questions which will help you prioritize what you’re looking for in both a home and a neighborhood.

Ideally we’ll find a home that meets all of your criteria, but considering these questions will help you make clear decisions down the line should you need to make a compromise (for example: a home’s amenities versus the neighborhood’s “walkability score”). Here are some things to think about:

1. If you had to choose between a smaller home and a longer commute, which would you choose?

2. How important is it to you to be able to walk to grocery stores, restaurants, and other local businesses?

3. Are you concerned about having access to sidewalks and parks?

4. What about your current neighborhood bothers you? What do you like about it?

Keep these questions in mind as we tour homes and survey neighborhoods. You might also find this article from HGTV informative, “How to Choose a Neighborhood”:

http://www.frontdoor.com/real-estate/how-to-choose-a-neighborhood

I look forward to talking with you soon. Your happiness with your new home is my #1 priority.