Author Archives: semoninblog

Preparing for a New MLS

A MLS (Multiple Listing Service or Multiple Listing System) is a database used by real estate brokers and licensed real estate agents to search and gather information about all homes listed for sale by other broker participants. Sale history of properties is also stored in the MLS and can be used to compile data and market statistics. MLS developers are constantly coming up with new resources such as interactive maps, prospect and portal tools, customizable saved searches, and much more.

The Greater Louisville Association of Realtors (GLAR) made the decision to switch systems, a change that will take effect Monday, January 20th. As of Monday, the system agents have used in the Greater Louisville region for years, known as List-It, will be static information. All updates and new listings will be posted to the new site, FlexMLS.

FlexMLS will provide real estate professionals in the area a variety of new and innovative tools that can enhance the way business is done. Since the MLS is a primary resource for real estate agents—one that is used on a daily basis by most—it is essential these professionals understand how to operate and navigate the site.

At Semonin Realtors®, we have been spending the past couple of weeks preparing for this change and have performed a number of training classes offered exclusively for Semonin agents. The Marketology department at Semonin has also put together a 100-page manual agents can use as a reference guide to help them through this transition. We have gotten raving reviews from a number of agents who have already attended one of these classes, which we will continue to hold throughout the coming weeks. Here are a few photos of some of the training courses:

Semonin Realtors

Semonin Realtors

 

Semonin Realtors

The 2014 Home Improvement Expo

Home remodeling and renovationWith every new year comes new ideas and fresh motivation for change or accomplishment. This is the time to take a look at the things on your do-to list that you still haven’t gotten around to do, especially things around the house. If you are a homeowner looking to remodel or simply update your home, make plans to attend the Home Improvement Expo this weekend, January 10 – 12, 2014.

This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday homeowners from all over will come together at the Kentucky International Convention Center to visit with the most knowledgeable and experienced remodeling and building professionals. These experts will showcase the latest innovations and design trends for everything in the home from the smallest of details to the most expansive renovations. The home show will include things in all aspects of the home, inside and out, such as:

Home Improvement Expo

    • Countertops
    • Cabinetry
    • Home automation technology
    • Basement finishing
    • Sunrooms & Additions
    • Windows, doors, and roofs
    • Landscaping
    • Waterproofing & Insulation

…and MUCH more!!

Whether you are in the beginning stages of just considering, or simply wishing for, change around your home, or you have already started some remodeling projects the Home Improvement Expo is the perfect place to find inspiration and learn what it will take to bring your ideas to life.

Tickets to the show are $5 for adults, and admission for children under 18 is free. For more information, directions, and hours click here to visit the official home show website.

The 2014 Housing Market

It is always hard to predict the future in real estate, as you can never be absolutely sure what the housing market will do. However, based on past activity and current trends there are a few things believed to happen during 2014:

Interest Rates Will Rise

Throughout the year of 2013 we saw interest rates rise steadily. During the first quarter of the year, rates hovered around 3%, but as we closed out 2013 rates were just under 5%. It is believed that this trend will only continue on its upward slope throughout 2014, and interest rates on mortgage loans will begin to approach the mid-5% to 6% range.

Home Sales Will Increase

The numbers have shown the strength of the housing market is only getting better. More people are becoming increasingly optimistic about buying a home. Furthermore, Generation Y—the largest generation since the Baby Boomers—is moving into the “ready stage” when it comes to making an investment in real estate. With interest rates rising at a steady rate, many people are looking to buy sooner rather than later.

Demand Will Exceed Supply

The surge of homes sales will likely cause a shortage of inventory, similar, if not worse, to what we saw in 2013. To satisfy the demands of all the home buyers, it is probable that 2014 will bring excellent opportunity for builders and real estate professionals.

Happy New Year

Source: Keeping Current Matters: “KCM’s Housing Predictions for 2014”

3 Ways to Welcome New Neighbors

Welcome new neighbors

As a kid, it was always difficult to be the new kid in class. Being the new neighbor on the street can feel the same way. Reaching out and welcoming any newcomers can help your neighborhood maintain a good sense of community and camaraderie. However, many people have a hard time finding ways to reach out without seeming invasive and pushy. While a quick stop by to say hello or to deliver food is never a bad idea, there are other ways to extend a unique and helpful welcome. Try these 3 friendly ways to break the ice and greet the new neighbors:

1. Drop by a neighborhood “cheat sheet”. Moving in to a new home can be stressful with all the unpacking and settling in. Not knowing certain things about the area can make the process even more overwhelming. To help ease the pain for your new neighbors, drop by a short list of neighborhood things, such as important phone numbers, places, or dates like what day is garbage pickup. Include where the nearest grocery store, hospital, or park is located, and recommend the best pizza delivery in town. This gesture will not only break the ice and give you a reason to introduce yourself and welcome them to the neighborhood, but it will also provide them with a helpful reference that they will surely be grateful for.

2. Invite them to a neighborhood party or event. If you were ever the new kid in class, you understand how difficult it can be to become included. All the children have already formed their little groups of friends and as the newbie, you don’t want to intrude, you want to be invited. When new neighbors move in, make them feel welcome and included by extending an invitation to a neighborhood function. Offer to walk together or give them a ride so they feel more comfortable arriving at the event where they don’t know anyone. Keep in mind the big to-do list they probably have on their plate with the move, so don’t be offended if your invitation is declined. Give them a little time to settle in and they might take you up on the next event.

3. Offer ways to help them settle in. With so much to do, many new neighbors don’t want to be constantly disrupted with people delivering pies and wanting to chat. Think of ways you could lighten their load, such as watching their kids in the yard for a day, or mowing their lawn after yours is done. They will appreciate the consideration or these kinds of gestures that respect their needs.

 

The Importance of Photography

Making a Good First Impression When Selling a HomeTaking good real estate photos

When home buyers search for a property they are ultimately going through an elimination process. Generally, when a buyer crosses a house off their list, it stays off their list. This is why first impressions are crucial when selling a home. In today’s information and technology driven society, the majority of home buyers are starting their house hunt on the Internet. Furthermore, according to a survey by the National Association of Realtors, about 80 percent of home buyers rated photos as the most useful feature when shopping for homes online. As a result, sellers now have to count primarily on property photos to make a good first impression on prospective buyers. As shoppers scroll through online listings, those with poor photos, or none at all, are the ones they tend to cross off their list first or overlook all together.

To better improve a listing’s Internet appeal, the quality AND quantity of pictures is important. A single picture of the outside of the house can be just as ineffective as 30 bad photos. Even though pictures are just giving buyers a preview of a property, they still want to feel they’ve had a good look at the property. Online listings with too few photos can make buyers question why there are not more—is there something wrong that the seller does not want them to see? This brings up another important trait of good real estate photos: honesty.

Making a home appear as appealing as possible in photos is important, but be careful to not get carried away. The pictures you use should be honest. Deceiving photos will leave the buyer irritated when they view a home and find it not how it was pictured on the Internet. For example, avoid using photos that are not current that will mislead buyers. If a photo shows a swimming pool in the backyard that has since been removed, do not use that photo.

Since many can underestimate the power of good real estate photos, the job is often rushed through in effort to get the property listed faster. However, it is important to take the proper time to prepare and produce valuable pictures. Before pulling out the camera do a little staging. Simple jobs like picking up clutter and making beds can make a huge difference. Buyers are purchasing a house, not all the stuff in it. Put away items that could be distracting, like toys or laundry.

Lighting is another factor to consider. Better pictures can be taken when there is more natural light in the space. Open the curtains and blinds and turn on all the lights in a room to make the space appear open and bright. It is also a good idea to consider the weather and time of day you take photos—a more beautiful day makes for more beautiful pictures.

There are numerous photography tips and tricks that can be helpful to learn, and there is always the option of hiring a professional to take the pictures. However you choose to get them, give prospective buyers a good first impression with good, quality photos.

The Different Demands of Different Generations

What is your dream home? Ask someone from another generation, older or younger, and you may not get the same answer. Studies have shown the various values and attitudes of different generations have led to some difference of opinion when it comes to what features are most appealing in a home. As taste shifts, so do the elements found most often in real estate.

 Baby Boomers (1946-1964)

Generally, baby boomers are hard workers and willing to put in long hours to get what they want. For people in this group, image is important, which is why their idea of a dream home is one that depicts a picture of success. According to a survey by GfK Roper Reports, they rank a state-of-the-art kitchen No. 1 on their “must-haves” list, with walk-in closets, whirlpool baths, fireplaces and swimming pools completing the top five. Boomers, who are becoming “empty nesters”, are well-established in their careers and hold positions of authority. Homebuyers in this generation may be looking to downsize, but more importantly they want a place to show off their life’s hard work—a home that says, “I’ve made it.” So while they may be looking for a property with less square footage, they want a home that is packed full of high-end features. They are also more active than other generations and tend to have a more sophisticated style, so gardens and workshops/studios are appealing.State of the art Kitchen

 Generation X (1965-1980)

This generation is of child-rearing age, meaning their homes are very family-focused. The formality of baby boomer homes does not appeal to gen X-ers who want a more causal and comfortable abode. In the midst of parenting, gen X-ers are looking for practicality, a home that can help them eliminate clutter and chaos. For this group, the top two must-haves are state-of-the-art kitchens and plenty of storage with large walk-in closets. Also a popularity for this generation are open-floor plans. With children in the house, they like the idea of having the entire family able to do different things all in the same space. While gen X-ers tend to be very in tune with style and design, their home is not about impressing people. gen X-ers want a home that fits their personal lifestyle. Homebuyers in this generation know what they want and tend to be less prone to settle for less.  Family Home

 Generation Y (1980-2000)

At this stage in their life, the Millennial generation is all about fun! Their idea of a dream home includes anything and everything that is good for entertainment. Unlike the baby boomers and gen X-ers, gen Y cares less about high-end kitchens, gardens, or workshops. The top of their wish list consists of things like swimming pools, game rooms, fitness rooms and high-tech entertainment centers. In addition to gen Y’s need for fun and entertainment, they are also moving away from their parents and emerging socially. This makes many gen Y-ers crave homes in an urban setting, walkable to shops, restaurants, parks, and nightlife. This “always on the go” type of lifestyle leaves the generation looking for properties that require little maintenance. Many homebuilders have started to focus on new developments that specifically cater to these needs.Swimming pool

As a homeowner, you may think understanding these differences is of no importance to you. However, owning a home is not just about having a place to live; it is about caring for your investment and increasing its value for resale. To effectively do so, it is important to identify trends to know what would be worth adding to your home and what repairs or renovations would pay off in the end.

Source: MSN Real Estate “Dream homes vary by generation” 
*Birth dates are an approximation

Neighborhood Spotlight: The Highlands

One of the oldest neighborhoods in Louisville, the Highlands was originally a wealthy area until the suburbs attracted its residents and businesses around 1960. The neighborhood was revived in the 1980s and has been one of the hippest parts of town ever since. Both Louisville residents and visitors know the area to be one of the most popular, eccentric, and energized areas of the city. Built around the infamous Bardstown Road and Baxter Avenue, the Highlands is dense with eclectic local shops, unique restaurants, and dynamic bars and nightclubs.

Passionate about the arts and culture, the Highlands is home to many local artists and musicians, enriching the community with a unique flare. There is also an event to attend whether it is a poetry reading at a café, an art showing at a local gallery, or live band playing at one of the bars. The community also emphasizes an active lifestyle as residents enjoy some Louisville’s most esteemed parks including Cherokee Park and Seneca Park & Golf Course.

Neighborhood streets in the Highlands are lined with older homes, but many have been renovated and modernized. Residents cherish the history and old architectural features of the area’s real estate, but enjoy giving their own home modern and quirky touches to incorporate the old with the new and compliment the area’s unique and artistic environment.

For a list of homes for sale in the Highlands, click here.

Get Pre-Approved For a Mortgage Loan Before You Shop

Financing Your New Home

So, you’ve made your decision to buy a home! How exciting! Let’s start looking! …Not so fast. Now is the time to ask the most important question: How much can you afford?

Many people get caught up in the excitement of shopping for a house and bypass this step of the home buying process, thinking they will just come back to it once they’ve found the property they want to purchase. But making this the step of the process an early one is vital when it comes to minimizing the potential of problems that could happen later in the journey. Suppose you find the home of your dreams, but the price exceeds what you expected to qualify for, or an issue on your credit report keeps you from a loan approval, or the lending process takes longer than you anticipated and by the time you set up your financing the house has sold to someone else! Now you are back to square one.

Prior to shopping for homes, contact a mortgage lender and get pre-approved. Mortgage consultants evaluate your finances and work with you to define parameters that will allow you to find a home that compliments the needs of your lifestyle and your wallet comfortably. This helps you go into your home search with a definitive price range and avoid falling in love with a property you can’t afford. When the time comes to make an offer on a house you’ve found, your pre-approval will allow you move forward quickly and confidently, as well as make you more appealing to sellers.

Remember, buying a home is one of the biggest investments you will make in your lifetime, so while it is important not to postpone this step, it is also important not to rush it. Make sure you take the time to shop around to compare interest rates and financing options offered by different lenders. This will better lead you to a loan that best fits your real estate needs.

Neighborhood Spotlight: Polo Fields

Get a little bit of everything in Polo Fields

Golf, tennis, swimming, playgrounds, jogging paths, walking trails, upscale country club dining… what is this, some kind of resort? Close, but no. Located in the East Louisville area is the neighborhood of Polo Fields. In addition to its assortment of amenities, Polo Fields is also fully-equipped with a variety homes suitable for a wide range of buyers.

Polo Fields continues to expand, adding sections, or sub-neighborhoods, to accommodate different lifestyles within the single community. Some sections feature upscale, luxury style homes on larger lots that back up to a private wooded setting or directly along the golf course. But just by turning a couple of corners you can find yourself on streets full of life with energetic kids and neighbors congregating outside their newly constructed, spacious, yet affordable homes. Even ranch-style, low-maintenance homes, popular among the elderly and retirees, can be found in certain parts of Polo Fields, where people can enjoy a lifestyle similar to what condo-living offers without giving up the advantages of a single-family home.

In an area previously dominated by farm land, Polo Fields is part of a growing community as new developments are underway. Shopping, dining, and business developments have made plans to break ground and begin bringing a little more life and convenience to surrounding neighborhoods, including Polo Fields.

For a list of homes currently for sale in Polo Fields, click here.

Trick-or-Treating Safety Tips

122702843In just a few days your neighborhood streets will be filled with little ghosts and witches, princesses and pirates, and any other character you could possibly imagine. Halloween night is one of the best nights of the year for young children, but can also be dangerous. Take a look at these trick-or-treating safety tips before grabbing the jack-o-lantern bucket and heading out the door:

1. Bring light

The sun sets early on Halloween night, so make sure you and your children can be easily seen by drivers on the road. Apply reflective tape to your child’s costume or buy some glow sticks or necklaces for them to wear. It is also a good idea to bring a flashlight with you so you and your kids can see where you are walking and avoid tripping.

2. Use safe props

A pirate is not a pirate without a sword! While many costumes come along with fun props, make sure they are safe for your child to carry around while trick-or-treating. Avoid props that are sharp or heavy and instead use something made of rubber or plastic.

3. More Kids = More Adult Supervision

There’s nothing worse than getting separated with your child. Especially when she is dressed as a witch and you look around only to see everyone else is also a witch!  If you think it is easy to lose your child in crowded areas, think about how hard it is when it is dark and everyone is in disguise. If you are taking a group of children trick-or-treating make sure you also have enough adults to keep an eye on everyone. A good ratio is to have one adult for every two children.

 4. Avoid masks

Masks can make it difficult for children to see or breathe. If possible, try to use face paint and hats to complete the costume instead of a mask.

5. Check your child’s candy

For many kids, the best part of the night is dumping the candy all over the floor and digging through the pile of sweets shouting about all their favorites. Sort through the candy with your child and be sure to throw away any pieces that look to have been opened or not in its original wrapper. If you child has allergies, this is also the time to rid of anything they are unable to have.

Use these tips to stay safe while trick-or-treating, but above all have fun! HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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