Is April the Best Month to Sell?

  • Homes listed in the first week of April get 14 percent more online views on average and are likely to sell 6 days faster on average than the rest of the year.

  • The number of buyers jumps dramatically in April, but the number of listings doesn't peak until a little later, so there is less seller competition.

  • The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage has fallen more than a quarter of a percentage point in the last week and is nearly a full percentage point lower than the recent peak last November

Timing is everything, especially in a housing market that has been less than dependable lately. So if you want to get the best price for your home in the shortest amount of time, you'd better list it next week, at least according to realtor.com.

Homes listed in the first week of April get 14 percent more online views on average and are likely to sell six days faster than the average during the rest of the year.

Homes sold in April are also priced 6 percent higher than those in January. According to the most recent pricing data, that could mean an additional $17,000 for sellers listing the typical home prices around $306,000. One caveat is that realtor.com is looking at average prices and does not take into account the type of homes for sale at different times of year. Larger, more expensive homes tend to be listed in the spring because families like to move over the summer, during school vacations.

"Given the time it takes from listing to close, putting a home on the market in early April positions sellers to attract buyers seeking to close and move before the beginning of school year," said Danielle Hale, chief economist for realtor.com.

The number of buyers jumps dramatically in April, but the number of listings doesn't peak until a little later, so there is less seller competition. The average list price in June is higher than April, again as larger family homes are being listed during school vacations, but there are fewer buyers, which increases the chance for a price reduction, although not by much. Homes listed in June are 1 percent more likely to see a price reduction and garner 2 percent fewer online views on average than the rest of the year.

If next week was already a great week to list, the steep drop in mortgage rates that started last week is only making it better. Buyers now have a little bit more purchasing power. The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage has fallen more than a quarter of a percentage point in the last week and is nearly a full point lower than the recent peak last November. Every quarter-point drop knocks about $50 off the monthly payment on a $300,000 mortgage.

Of course all real estate is local, and locality can impact timing. The best time to list in New York, Chicago and Dallas is March 31, according to realtor.com. In Atlanta and Seattle, it's April 7. In Los Angeles and Boston, it's April 14. In Phoenix and Tampa, it's early June.

And not everyone agrees. Researchers at Zillow, a competitor of realtor.com, claim the first two weeks in May are the best nationally. They add that homes listed on Saturdays get the most page views, although most real estate agents will tell you Thursday is when most people are trolling online, planning their weekend house hunts.

"Sellers time their listings to optimize their sale in all sorts of ways," said Skylar Olsen, Zillow's director of economic research and outreach. "Some need to time the sale just right to manage their own synchronized home purchase. Others are seeking to get the highest sale price possible."

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Five Trends Real Estate Investors Must Watch This Year

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For investors seeking to diversify portfolios, build equity or secure a steady source of investment income, the real estate sector presents a myriad of options and opportunities. The increased interest I've observed in the single-family rental sector can be attributed in part to the recent volatility in the equity markets and the growing uncertainty around when the economic expansion will finally lose steam. Here are five real estate industry trends savvy investors need to be watching in 2019:

1. Build-To-Rent Properties In Secondary And Tertiary Markets

The build-to-rent industry has expanded significantly over the past year, with traditional homebuilders and real estate investors becoming increasingly active in this space. Expect to see continued expansion in 2019, most likely in relatively affordable markets such as Atlanta, Charlotte, Houston and Phoenix where rental demand is strong and build-to-rent developments can deliver reasonable yields to investors. The factors I see driving migration toward these markets and away from expensive markets such as Northern and Southern California and the Northeast include high land prices, increasing labor and materials costs and arduous permitting policies in those regions.

2. Large Capital Partners Entering Joint Ventures

This year holds robust opportunities for joint ventures in the real estate investment space. Joint ventures between REITS and other operators with large capital partners make sense for a variety of reasons, including an ability to get direct exposure to housing while not having to build their own platforms. For example, in 2018, Toronto-based real estate investment firm Tricon Capital Group announced (registration required) it was partnering with an Asian sovereign wealth fund and a large U.S. pension fund on a $750 million joint venture to invest in 10,000–12,000 single-family rental (SFR) homes.

REITs, in particular, are coming off of a strong year of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity, as they seek efficiencies that can come from increased scale and more efficient property and asset management. Expect to see them exploring joint venture opportunities as a new way to deploy capital and generate returns.

3. Retail Investor Interest In Single-Family Rental Homes

Speaking of single-family rentals, demand for these properties among retail investors continues to show strength, especially in the wake of stock market volatility. Since residential real estate returns tend to be uncorrelated with stocks, investment properties can act as a portfolio hedge against stock market risk. Compared to investing in equities (including using REITs to gain exposure to the real estate asset class), investment properties such as SFRs may offer advantages including the ability to choose your markets and amount of leverage, as well as the potential for higher dividends by owning the properties directly.

4. Renting As A Lifestyle Choice

According to Pew Research Center, as of 2016, only about 37% of millennials occupied homes they owned, whereas more than half of early baby boomers were homeowners by the same age. Highly educated workers are increasingly drawn to cities and central business districts, where they tend to rent rather than buy homes in the suburbs. While it’s easy to blame falling rates of homeownership on lack of affordability, lending regulations, tighter underwriting practices and overflowing student debt, we must consider that for some, renting is a lifestyle choice.

Renters often have more flexibility than homeowners to move cities, change jobs or adjust for changes in their family unit. This trend is driving down rental vacancies and creating momentum in the build-to-rent movement, which often results in premium new construction featuring amenities like in-building gyms, stainless steel appliances, outdoor spaces, parking and proximity to recreational activities. In 2019, expect to see a lower rate of mortgage applications and a higher rate of urban-dwelling renters in cities across America.

5. Getting Creative To Satisfy Demand

The growing demand for rental properties increases rent prices for existing housing stock, of which there is simply not enough in many areas. Due to obstacles like permitting restrictions, impact fees, land costs and politics, building brand new inventory is not always an option. To satisfy demand, the real estate industry will have to find creative ways to increase supply.

Some property owners are exploring co-living, which allows management companies to fractionalize buildings and rent out bedrooms while slashing operational expenses via shared common spaces. Multigenerational housinghas also seen a spike in popularity. Reasons for this include declining housing affordability in the U.S. and increasing populations of foreign-born residents. In response, I've seen some builders and developers designing plans for single properties with separate living spaces for adult children and elderly parents. This trend also presents an opportunity to increase supply in existing construction that was not originally developed for multigenerational housing. In 2019, developers and builders alike will experiment with unconventional ways to create inventory without building new stock.

Takeaways

Between increasing demand from retail investors, a growing number of renters, an uptick in joint ventures and a wave of ambitious and creative new projects, both the SFR marketplace and the real estate industry at large can expect to see a great deal of activity in the year ahead. This being said, many economists predict we may be experiencing a recession sometime in the next two years. Property owners and investors should be cognizant of this potential as they implement their investment strategies. Some sectors of real estate, like SFRs, are likely to perform better than others given the fact a downturn could in fact increase residential rental demand as fewer people may be able or inclined to buy homes. Even so, this is just the beginning for SFR properties as an asset class.

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12 Enclosure Ideas for Garbage Bins, Compost Piles and AC Units

1. Enclose With Attractive Woodwork

An enclosure is a traditional solution for hiding bulky plastic garbage and recycling bins. This design in Boston by Michael D’Angelo Landscape Architecture gives the typical approach a modern twist with evenly spaced horizontal boards for both the bin enclosure and the fencing. The enclosure’s sloped roofline also would make it easy to lift the lid of a bin to add trash, recycling or green waste without needing to pull out the bin completely.

2. Tie In With Your Home’s Architecture

When adding a structure to the landscape, it’s best to reference the home’s architecture by pulling in the style, paint color, rooflines and materials. If it’s done thoughtfully, something that could be an eyesore — say, garbage bin storage in the center of a front yard — can become an attractive asset to the overall look of the home. 

At this duplex in Portland, Oregon, for example, the cedar used for the bin enclosure pulls the warmth of the wood down from the siding around the home’s entrance. Given the size and shape of the bin enclosure, it almost reads as if the wood siding was cut out of the front door section and transplanted to the ground-level bin storage.

The enclosure, designed by Pistils Landscape Design + Build, looks good from all angles and complements the home’s style and materials.

3. Conceal Behind a Screen

A screen can be a space-saving strategy for concealing garden elements in tight quarters, as it can be positioned as close to the fence or as far away as needed to accommodate bins, bikes or garden tools. In this Sydney backyard by Outhouse Design, a custom laser-cut Cor-Ten steel screen separates the garbage and recycling bins from the seating area while providing an attractive backdrop.

4. Tuck Under a Deck

If your entryway is elevated, put the area under the deck to good use by enclosing it with wood siding and shed-style doors. This design by Land2c Landscape Architecture for a home in Seattle incorporates a bench seat at deck level that can be conveniently opened to drop garbage or recycling straight into the open bins concealed below. While only a few steps from the back door, the bins are completely concealed from view and easy to access.

5. Top With a Living Roof

To help a shed for garbage and recycling bins read more as “garden” than “structure,” consider topping the enclosure with a living roof or planting vines to cover the exterior. In this London garden, designer Kate Eyre positioned the enclosure for the bins along the far side of an entryway courtyard. The thin, horizontal boards match the home’s fencing.

While the enclosure visually recedes into the fencing, the living roof of hens-and-chicks(Sempervivum spp.) stands out as a mini frost-tolerant dry garden. One would imagine that when viewed from the home’s upstairs windows, the succulent-topped enclosure would blend into the larger garden beds.

6. Grow a Leafy, Sweet-Smelling Screen

Surround a storage area with a trellis or wire fence, plant leafy vines and soon storage bins bikes or other equipment will be hidden from view. In this Mountain View, California, yard by Taproot Garden Design & Fine Gardening, a metal framework screens off the area for garbage and recycling bins from the driveway and street. Honeysuckle vines soon will cover the framework with fragrant blossoms and a leafy screen, masking both the sight and any odors from the garbage bins.

7. Get Edgy With Metal

If your home or garden aesthetic leans toward contemporary, consider using metal rather than wood to create a more modern bin unit. The designers at 415 Remodeling installed a steel enclosure in the side yard of this San Francisco home and added a living roof of mixed succulents and planters filled with evergreens and ornamental grasses to help soften the metal structure.

8. Adopt a Wall-Plus-Enclosure Combo 

If you have a midheight wall close to the street, you’re nearly set for creating a concealed area for storing bins. Adopt a mixed-materials strategy, as was done for this brick-and-wood bin enclosure in an English front yard.

From the street, the enclosure looks like a handsome wooden top for the brick wall, though it’s hiding six green bins from view.

9. Fence Off Your Side Yard

Fencing off your side yard may seem like an obvious solution for hiding bins, rakes and other outdoor tools, so be sure to match the dimensions with what you’d like to store. Keep the length of fencing from the home to the gate long enough to conceal large plastic garbage and green waste bins even when the gate is open. 

Make sure that the gate is wide enough to haul a bin through to the street and that it opens away from the bins, and consider a smooth floor surface for easy rolling. If you’d also like to store bikes or other equipment in this area, it could make sense to add a storage shed against the house in combination with a bin storage area.

10. Conceal AC Units With Neat Fencing

An open-topped wooden enclosure makes for a smart screen for air-conditioning units outside this garden in Mountain View by Taproot Garden Design & Fine Gardening. The open slatting of the ipe wood and the lack of a roof ensure plenty of ventilation for the units while providing an attractive screen. The raised bed, made from the same wood, provides a growing spot for peppers and herbs.

11. Give Compost an Organized Three-Bin System

If you have the space for it, installing a three-bin compost system can help turn a growing heap into a tidier system that is easier to manage. Generally speaking, a three-bin system works by always having compost going at different levels of decomposition. Fresh food scraps, garden clippings and leaf litter would be added to one bin, the middle bin would have scraps that are a little more decomposed, and the third bin would be filled with fully decomposed, ready-to-nourish-your-garden compost.

Urban Artichoke built this composting system for a San Francisco Bay Area client with a backyard edible garden. The bins are positioned along the back wall of the property, partially out of view and with easy access to raised beds.

12. Use Metal Cages for Compost and Leaf Litter

Don’t have room for a three-bin compost system? In this Austin, Texas, backyard farm designed by B. Jane Gardens, bins made of galvanized wire mesh corral leaf litter and garden clippings for a compost system that’s more organized than a simple pile. When compost is ready for adding to beds, one could tilt the lightweight mesh to shovel from the bottom.

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