Buying a Fixer-Upper – 5 Facts to Consider

Fixer Upper House That Needs a Lot of WorkMost buyers are lured by the low asking prices and the opportunity to buy a property they can afford in a good neighborhood, school district or with a larger lot to expand. However, it’s often less costly to buy the more expensive house.

Here are some reasons why:

#1 Fundamental repairs to foundation, structure, plumbing, electrical, roof, etc.can be huge ticket items. These issues need to be addressed first. Meanwhile buyers are really dreaming about on the granite counters, designer paint colors and creating their spa bathroom retreat with all the luxury bells and whistles they see on HGTV.

#2 I work with excellent contractors who really know the costs of remodeling; however, even so they cannot predict all unforeseen ‘surprises.’ Unanticipated costs of 10%-25% are more the norm than the exception. For instance, states a middle-of-the-road bathroom remodel runs from $100-$200 per sf. An average kitchen costs approx. $60,000. and HGTV estimates a gourmet kitchen over $80,000. Buyer frankly can run out of money.

#3 Yes, there is the FHA 203K loan. But, there are specific time lines, approvals, appraisal required to utilize this loan program. mortgage company guidelines restrict how much money a buyer qualifies to receive. Also, good contractors are busy in summer making it hard to coordinate the FHA required estimates and deadlines.

#4 Fixers tend to be older homes. And with older homes come potential health and safety risks such as lead based paint or asbestos. Remediation can be costly and your contractors must have the appropriate EPA certification.

#5 Sellers would often rather find a buyer using all cash that can close quickly with no contingencies rather than working with a 203K loan scenario.

After major renovations are complete buyers will have a custom home, exactly to their liking and tastes, but it won’t come cheap. And, I always caution clients about over improving. An option to consider might be a more ‘cosmetic’ fixer as old appliances, fixtures, faucets, wallpaper, shag carpet and linoleum are easier and cheaper to renovate!

Ready to go “bargain” hunting?

Transition Thursday: 10 Best Retirement Steps to Take Right Now

Chalk drawing of house and dollar sign on blackboard1. Have a discovery phase
Call it an assessment, checkup or discovery, but a key part of planning for retirement is taking an overall look at what’s going on. See where your money is invested, check the performance and scrutinize your contributions. Online tools, such as Bankrate’s best retirement calculator or retirement income calculator, can help you to see if you are on track to accumulate enough money to meet your expenses and the live you want to live in retirement.

2. Learn the rules
The rules of retirement financing are complicated, but you don’t have to be Einstein to learn them. Get the lowdown on a couple of specifics. Should you be in a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA? One has tax-deductible contributions, the other has tax-free withdrawals.

Social Security has different claiming strategies, and one notable loophole — “file-and-suspend” — is over. As you prepare for retirement, check your Social Security account to see how you might claim a bigger benefit by waiting until your full retirement age. At the very least, you should know that for every year past 62 you delay benefits, your monthly check increases.

Read more tips at


DAYNA WILSON: As a Certified Senior Housing Professional (CSHP) , I have special knowledge about everything from reverse mortgages to the importance of universal design. I can tap into my network and put you in touch with my team of qualified home inspectors, movers, attorneys, CPAs, organizers and other experts. I have all the resources and knowledge to simplify the transaction and eliminate the anxiety of selling your home.

Call me today to talk about your real estate concerns. I’m here to listen: 925.788.6582

Transition Thursday: 4 Tips to Start a Bidding War on Your Home

Chalk drawing of house and dollar sign on blackboardPrice low to sell high.

Listing on the high side and testing the market doesn’t work. Your home will sit on the market and you are helping the neighbor down the street to sell his home. Listing below market value will attract attention, increase traffic flow and generate showings in the first few days.

Set a deadline for offers: Yes, this is scary, as you may not get any offers. Yet, it can light a fire under the procrastinators. Agents and buyers like to know the expectation of when contracts will be reviewed. You can wait until the first weekend of open houses to determine if this is the best course of action for your property.

Spark interest ahead of time:

Announce your Coming Soon listing before placing the details on the multiple listing service. Using social media channels is a strategic way to begin creating a buzz. Mass emails to potential buyers and realtors is also key. You can also list the home on the MLS, but state no showings are allowed until the open house. People want what they cannot have.

Create a unique open house experience:

People want to come to a party. How about a neighborhood sneak-peek? I had a lovely property with a pool cabana and offered chair massage. Another, I hosted an art show. The next will offer interior design tips from my stager extraordinaire. Stand out, be different and entice people to come see the home and experience it for themselves.

It’s About Time! 4 NEW TIPS for Home Sellers

If you live in Contra Costa County, you know it’s been a Seller’s Market for awhile now. Values are up, inventory is down and interest rates are still around 4%. Even so, it takes more than plopping a sign in the front yard to successfully close an escrow. Since the time is right to sell for top dollar, here are 4 things to get homeowners up to speed on this fast and furious market:

#4 Price it Right: What is the average amount of days on the market now? Answer: 18 days. If your home is still sitting on the market over a month, will buyers assume something is wrong with your house? Today’s buyers are well informed and savvy and know when a home is overpriced. Your agent will help you determine the right price, the market price, what makes sense.  Statistically, if you ask 10% over fair market value, you just lost 30% of potential buyers who would have looked at your property. And, you will be required to drop your price when new, lower priced listings pop on to the scene.

#3 Pay to Stage: Bare rooms look sad and well, empty and unappealing. Staged homes sell 88% faster and for 20% more. (2015 Profile of Home Staging Survey) Cannot afford $2,500. – $5,000? At least consider staging the public rooms and master bedroom, as the kitchen, living and master bedrooms are considered most important to buyers. You should get a substantial return in this upfront investment.

#2 Market for Maximum Exposure: Professional photography is a must, and now videography is also the norm. It allows buyers to virtually walk through your home before getting in their car. I’ve heard 1 in 5 buyers purchase their homes sight unseen! We also make use of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other forms of social media. You’ll want to spread the word to your social media ‘friends’ as well. Our team also has access to over 600+ real estate-related websites so your listing will be seen across the nation and the world.

#1 Prepare for Multiple Offers: You and your agent should have a strategy for how you wish to respond to more than 1 or 2 offers. It’s really what is important to you. Have you already moved out, or do you need to rent it back? Sometimes the highest offer isn’t the best offer. There are a multitude of ‘terms’ that are also negotiable between buyer and seller. Contingencies, closing date and the type of financing, etc. all can play a part in how a seller decides to respond.

Let’s sit down together and discuss your personal situation and your options. You know why you need to move; I just want to help you get there faster.

FREE SEMINAR: June 7 – Tax, Legal & Financial Issues

 The “Savvy Seniors Living Seminar Series” presents “Tax, Legal & Financial Issues” on June 7.

We all know there can sometimes be complexities related to the transfer of property. More times than not families try to solve these problems during a crisis, but creating a contingency plan in advance is a far better way of dealing with potential pitfalls. Your home is often your most valuable asset and there are thing you need to know before you move forward with any major decisions that will impact your future.

You may be asking…

– What legal documents are needed when selling my home??
– What are the tax implications of owning, selling, or transferring property??
– How should property be deeded to avoid potential future challenges?
– What other issues should I be aware of?

Join us to hear first hand from legal, financial and tax experts about how to avoid common challenges faced by families just like yours.

Admission is free. Location: Lafayette Library Community Hall, 3491 Mt Diablo Blvd in Lafayette. Time: 10 AM – 11:30 AM. Please call 925-788-6582 to register or sign up online at Space is limited and pre-registration is required.

What is Universal Design?

It’s basically a home designed and setup to function and be accessible to anyone of any age, regardless of difficulties or disabilities with vision or mobility. The concept was introduced in the 1950s.

In 1992, the Americans with Disabilities Act required that all public buildings be reasonably renovated to accommodate people with disabilities. As the baby boomers enter their golden years, they’ve begun embracing the idea of universal design in residential homes, too.

The most obvious design example is a single level home with no steps to enter or inside. Other examples include proper lighting and no-glare surfaces. Everyone is familiar with grab bars, and to take it a step further in making the bathroom safe and functional for all, universal design concepts incorporate lipless showers, wider hallways, and doorways to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs. My downsizing clients are seeking homes with easy access coming and going from both the front door and the garage.

Drawers, storage, and appliances at the proper level is another adjustment that can be made to avoid deep bending or reaching. For instance, I’ve worked with clients who are coming back from hip surgery and are instructed to avoid bending more than 90 degrees as they heal.

Owners who consider their current home to be their forever home should consider incorporating universal design upgrades that will allow them to manage if mobility becomes more challenging. My brother and sister-in-law are completing a major remodel in their Lafayette, CA home and are considering all these issues as they plan to age in place.

Even younger homeowners may consider adding some aspects of universal design if an elderly or disabled family member moves in. Adding universal design elements can add value when selling your home.

Remodeling ROI

Our clients constantly ask us to come to their homes and tell them which remodeling or updating projects they should consider before listing their homes with us.

Well, “that depends,” we say.

Whether you’re dying to update your kitchen, add a half-bath, or kick back on a brand-new deck, it pays off big-time to know just what kind of return on investment your dream renovation might deliver.

You’re in luck. Remodeling magazine has just released its annual Cost vs. Value report, which analyzes what you’ll pay for various upgrades – and how much you’ll recoup on that investment when you sell your home.

There wasn’t much change between the 2016 and the 2017 report. What did change is the value of pricier project rose, reflecting the fact the housing market is healthier than ever.

Still, the perennial chart toppers for ROI are the cheapest to pull off. For the past two years, the top finisher was installing loose-fill fiberglass insulation in the attic. Not exactly sexy, but boy, is it cost-effective!

The biggest take-away for home sellers is the fact that the attic insulation is the ONLY renovation that brings over 100% ROI and the remainder typically won’t pay them back in full.

What we do see is that many homeowners have deferred maintenance and haven’t updated their homes for years, if not decades. They have a tough choice to make: sell “as-is, (which is a misnomer since ALL real estate sold in the state of CA is sold as is, per the purchase contract) or do a few updates to bring the home to its market ready, competitive best.

I recommend a consultation with your Realtor to look at the comparabel home sales to determnine what your home will sell for and then move forward accordingly.

P.S. Note: I work with extraordinary contractors, flooring professionals and other seasoned service providers that will, on a case-by-case basis, get paid out of escrow.

Senior Segment is Reshaping Real Estate Dynamics in Walnut Creek, Ca. and Beyond

Baby Boomer CoupleImagine the different kinds of expertise involved in helping a first-time buyer purchase a home, versus helping a last-time seller to downsize. First-time buyers and 65+ sellers face a vastly different set of options, expectations, concerns and challenges, but too often, the real estate industry has taken a one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter approach to serving clients.

Demographic trends are pointing to seismic shifts ahead for housing in this country. Aging seniors are projected to move out of an estimated 11.3 million homes between 2010 and 2020, and in the next decade, that figure is expected to reach 15 million. Every single one of those millions represents a unique individual who deserves to have his or her move handled with the utmost compassion, integrity, attention to detail and connectedness to the full spectrum of professionals who are often involved in ensuring a seamless transition for seniors and their families.

Dayna Wilson’s Savvy Seniors Division is committed to a proactive approach to understanding the big-picture trends that have an impact on our community and our clients. We also understand that distinct expertise is needed to meet the needs of various segments of our community.

cshp_logo2e35c3This is why I’m thrilled to have completed the rigorous requirements to achieve the Certified Senior Housing Specialist (CSHP) designation. This prestigious designation awarded only to a select number of elite real estate professionals in any market by the Seniors Real Estate Institute® represents completion of a competency-based curriculum as well as ongoing education and training. CSHPs are held to the highest standards of professionalism and most importantly, they are passionate about serving senior clients with dignity and compassion.

Demographic shifts and improvements in life expectancy have given rise to senior housing options that far exceed those of previous decades. CSHPs are not only in touch with the full range of options within their communities, they have the specific skills needed to help seniors to get where they want to go – unraveling the complexities involved in downsizing and selling a family home.

“Despite the fact that seniors are the fastest growing segment of the population, this segment of the market remains largely under served. 10,000 Baby Boomers will turn 60 every day for the next 18 years. At the other end of the senior spectrum, the 90-plus segment of the population nearly tripled over the past three decades, and is expected to quadruple over the next 40 years.

“The expertise, combined with our passion to ensure the dignity of elderly clients, is not just a benefit to our senior clients but also their families,” Dayna emphasized. “Our goal is to be a profound asset to the entire community.”

Dayna’s Dash of Real Estate

Dayna's Dash of Real Estate

Top 11 Reasons Sellers Should List During the Holidays

Festive holiday wreath hanging on a blue door#11 By Selling Now, you may have an opportunity to be a non-contingent buyer during the spring, when many more houses are on the market! This could allow you to sell high and buy low!

#10 You can sell now for more money and we will provide for a delayed closing or extended occupancy until early next year!

#9 Even though your house will be on the market, you still have the option to restrict showings during the six or seven days around the Holidays.

#8 January is traditionally the month for employees to begin new jobs. Since transferees cannot wait until spring to buy, you need to be on the market during the Holidays to capture that market!

#7 Some people must buy before the end of the year for tax reasons!

#6 Buyers have more time to look for a home during the Holidays than during the regular work week!

#5 Buyers are more emotional during the Holidays, so they are more likely to pay your price! 

#4 Houses show beautifully when tastefully decorated for the Holidays! 

#3 Since the Supply of listings will dramatically increase in January/February there will be less demand for your particular home! Less demand means less money for you!

#2 Serious buyers have fewer houses to choose from during the Holidays and less competition means more money for you! You did want to net the most amount of money, right?

And, the Number One Reason Homeowners Should List, the Number One Reason Homeowners Should List Their Homes During the Holidays…
#1 People who are house-hunting during the holiday are more serious buyers!