Posted by Brian Lamb Marketing and Associates

Before making the decision to buy, people shopping for homes consider many factors, including the location of the house, the school district, size of the lot and also interior features. Most buyers insist on a house that grants most of their wishes, but shoppers often settle for a house without getting everything they want.

When it comes to certain interior features, many are willing to spend thousands of dollars above the price of the home to have specific features included. At least 60% of buyers said they would be willing to pay more for central air conditioning, new kitchen appliances and a walk-in closet in the master bedroom if they did not already have these features.

Let's take a look at today's most wanted home features

1. Open concept floor plans — Today’s home buyers desire a floor plan that flows seamlessly from one room to another. An open concept floor plan may not be a feature of many older homes, however, in most cases it can be created with the simple removal of a wall or two. 

2. Eat-in modern kitchens — Kitchens continue to be the social centre of the home. A beautiful kitchen with a large islands that serve a multitude of roles, from food preparation station to homework spot to eating area, is becoming a must-have feature for many home buyers.

It’s very easy to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a kitchen remodeling project, however, there are many ways to update a kitchen without breaking the piggy bank.  Knowing what the current trends are for kitchens is extremely important to keep in mind when completing any remodel or update.

3. Energy-efficient fixtures and appliances  — With energy costs on the rise and growing interest in protecting the environment, today's buyers are conscious of buying homes that are green. Energy efficient appliances and new HVAC (heating, ventilation and cooling) equipment are also top on the wish list.

4. Home office — As technology continues to make us more mobile, many buyers have more options than ever to work from home. Having a dedicated space is important because it will help keep them focused and concentrated on work while they are at home.

Most agents will point out that a room could be used as an office or other flex living space, especially if it is currently used or staged as a bedroom.

5. Main-floor master suite — This is a must feature for empty-nesters and certain other buyers, and appears to be getting more popular in general due to the increase in our aging population.

6. Outdoor living spaces — A Comfortable outdoor space with a dedicated area for sitting, with outdoor furniture that feels like indoor furniture, continues to top must-have lists.

7. First floor laundry — Getting the laundry room out of the basement and onto the main level has become the standard.

8. Smart home technologies — Many of today’s home buyers are very “tech savvy,” especially millennial home buyers.  Home technologies can help increase the “WOW” factor of a home.

Some of the most popular home technology features that today’s home buyers are looking for include:

  • Programmable thermostats, such as a Nest, which can be controlled via a smart phone, tablet, or other mobile device
  • Whole home speaker systems, such as Sonos
  • Keyless locks that can be accessed via Bluetooth
  • Timed irrigation systems

9. Smart storage and dedicated pantry — Dedicated pantry rooms and areas that are specifically designed for storage are becoming more and more appealing to buyers.
10 - Finished basements — Many buyers are looking for a finished basement to use as an entertaining space for a large screen TV or billiards, or even a wet bar.

Other notables
Some other notable features that home buyers consider very important when buying a home include central air conditioning, recessed lighting, hardwood flooring, energy efficiency and the potential to turn a profit should they decide to sell their home in the near future.

Today’s buyers are looking for a little luxury and features and treatments that are the highest quality their price range will permit.

Posted by Brian Lamb Marketing and Associates

1. Why do I need to talk to a bank before starting to look for homes?

Talking to a bank will help you determine how much you can afford. If you are a first-time homebuyer, there may be programs your bank knows about that are applicable to your personal situation. Also, there are additional costs associated with purchasing a home that your bank can help bring to light to ensure that you are fully aware of the financial decision you are making. Also, a mortgage professional will help you find the best interest rate that you can get based on your financial history and credit score.


2. Why do I need a Real Estate agent to help me buy a home? Can’t I just work directly with the seller or seller agent?


Getting a Real Estate agent will be one of the best financial decisions you might make when buying a home, yet most of the time, you don’t even have to personally pay the agent. Your agent’s fee will likely come from the seller and/or the listing agent. Your agent will help you through every aspect of the buying process. An agent will find out your preferences and requirements and find homes that you might not otherwise have access to and give you advice based on the current market and local area. Agents help with the negotiation process. An agent advocates for your best interests. They help with the vast amount of paperwork and make sure you understand every step of the transaction. A Real Estate agent likely knows the industry better than you do and will be someone you can trust to help you with one of the biggest decisions of your life.


3. What kind of credit score do I need to purchase a home?


In most cases, you will need at least a 620 credit score or higher to get the best interest rate. The higher your credit score, the better your lending terms will be. There are some lenders who will approve home buyers with a score of 600 or less, but most likely, the interest rate would be higher than it would with a higher credit score.


4. How much money do I need for a down payment?


For an FHA loan, you usually need between three and five percent. For other conventional loans, ten to twenty percent is recommended or required.


5. What are the costs outside the loan and the down payment?


Many home buyers miscalculate the costs of purchasing a new home. In addition to the down payment, there are generally closing costs associated with a home purchase. You also need to consider the costs of taxes, homeowners association fees, home inspection costs, utilities, homeowners insurance, and any repair or maintenance fees. Always be prepared to make some repairs to the home, whether it’s new or old. Have approximately three months of living expenses saved up in addition to the down payment and closing costs for an emergency repair fund. Always know beforehand the costs of utilities and taxes, so there are no surprises.

Posted by Brian Lamb Marketing and Associates

When buying or selling a house, choosing the right Real Estate agent is essential. And choosing the wrong Real Estate agent can be a disaster. Here are five red flags to watch out for when choosing your Real Estate agent:


  1. The agent is hard to reach, shows up late for appointments, or doesn’t show up at all. The first sign that your Real Estate agent is likely unreliable and doesn’t have your best interest in mind is that he doesn’t return calls or emails, shows up late of showings, misses appointments, and doesn’t make you a priority. While Real Estate agents are indeed busy, failing to keep commitments and being unreliable is a big red flag.
  2. The agent is your relative. This is a touchy subject. However, many home transactions have turned good familial relationships very sour. If you have a relative that is a full-time agent who specializes in your area, it could work out. But if anything does not go as initially planned, resentment can build, or even worse, your transaction can completely fail. Hire a Real Estate agent who is an expert in your area and maintain the peace during the holidays.
  3. The agent is not familiar with your local market. Whether you are buying or selling a home, having an agent who is an expert in the local market is important. Real Estate is a local business, and you need an agent who is familiar with your area.
  4. The agent is not detail-oriented. If you’re a buyer, you need an agent who will be able to keep track of all your information, your preferences, the homes you want to see or the ones you’ve already seen. The agent needs to make sure there are no liens on the home and a good agent knows that things to look for that might cause you grief down the road. If you’re a seller, you want an agent who is going to know all the details about your home and what you want in a buyer, and a good agent will do what she can to make sure the sale goes through. A detail-oriented agent is familiar with all the paperwork and the contracts involved in a transaction and will ensure all bases are covered.
  5. The agent’s current online listings have poor quality photos. The best agents know that most home searches start online and that many first impressions are made with photos on online listings. If the photos are bad quality, are hard to see, or if the home looks messy in the photos, find another agent. If the agent does not take the photos herself, she will at least make sure the ones she posts are good quality and show her listings in the best light possible.