Monday, June 30, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - June 30, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week June 30 2014Last week brought several economic and housing sector reports including Existing Home Sales, Case-Shiller and FHFA home prices for April, as well as New Home Sales. Freddie Mac's weekly mortgage rates survey and the weekly report on new jobless claims were released on Thursday, and Consumer Sentiment for June rounded out the week on Friday.

Existing Home Sales Stronger than Expected! 

Good news came from the National Association of REALTORS® Existing Home Sales report for May, which reported 4.89 million previously owned homes sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. Analysts had projected a seasonally-adjusted annual figure of 4.75 million existing homes sold based on April's reading of 4.65 million existing homes sold; April's reading was later adjusted to 4.66 million. May's reading represented a monthly increase of 4.90 percent over April's reading and was the second consecutive monthly increase in previously owned home sales.

The median sales price for existing homes sold in May was $213,400, which represented a 5.10 percent increase year-over-year.

May's reading for existing home sales was the highest in seven months, and mortgage rates trended down during May, but strict lending standards were cited as a significant obstacle to first-time homebuyers.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen recently said in a press conference that mortgage lenders "need more clarity" as to their potential liability for failed mortgages. Mortgage lenders and loan servicing companies can be required to repurchase defaulted loans or to reimburse Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for losses associated with mortgage defaults and foreclosures.

Case-Shiller, FHFA Report Slower Pace for Home Price Growth

The S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index and FHFA's House Price Index for April documented slowing rates of home price growth. Case-Shiller reported a 10.80 percent year-over-year growth in home prices for April, and FHFA reported a year-over-year gain of 5.90 percent rate of appreciation for home sales associated with mortgages owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Analysts noted that home price growth is leveling out after last year's steep appreciation in home prices. While homeowners may disagree, economists say that a slower rate of home price growth can actually bode well for housing markets. More buyers can afford a home, which adds stability to housing markets. First-time buyers provide a foundation for home sales; if they cannot buy homes, then homeowners can't sell existing homes and buy new homes. A slower but consistent rate of home price growth allows homeowners to build home equity, but won't likely lead to housing "bubble."

New Home Sales Blast Past Expectations, Mortgage Rates Fall

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported that new home sales for May reached a six-year high with a reading of 504,000 new homes sold on an annual basis. April's reading exceeded expectations of 440,000 new homes sold as well as April's adjusted reading of 425,000 new homes sold. The month-to-month increase in new home sales from April to May was the largest monthly increase in home sales in 22 years.

Although analysts caution that month-to-month seasonally-adjusted sales reports are volatile, this uptick in new home sales may help bolster builder confidence in housing markets. May prices for new homes also rose with the median home price at $282,000. This reading represents a year-over-year increase of 6.0 percent for new home prices.

The Northeast led regional results for new home sales with its reading of 54.50 percent; The West reported an increase of 34.00 percent. New home prices in the Southeast rose at an annual rate of 14.20 percent, and the Midwest region reported a 1.40 percent increase in new home prices. While analysts characterized the Northeast region's May reading as exaggerated, overall results for new home prices indicate a comeback for new home prices.

Freddie Mac put some icing on the good news cake with its weekly mortgage rates report. Average rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped to 4.14 percent with discount points lowered to 0.50 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by eight basis points to 3.22 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 2.98 percent with discount points lower at 0.40 percent.

Thursday's Weekly Jobless Claims Report reading fell by 2000 new claims to a seasonally adjusted reading of 312,000 new claims filed. Analysts had expected a reading of 310,000 new jobless claims. 214,000 per month have been added to the economy from January to May 2014.

Positive economic developments were not lost on consumers. The Consumer Sentiment Index for June posted a reading of 82.5 against an expected reading of 81.9 and May's reading of 81.2.

This Week's News

Scheduled economic news includes Pending Home Sales, Construction Spending, the ADP Employment report, and the Non-farm Payrolls Report. The National Unemployment Rate report along with Freddie Mac's PMMS and Weekly Jobless Claims round out the week. No news is scheduled for Friday's Independence Day holiday.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Low Budget Decorating Tips For Your Home

Low Budget Decorating Tips For Your HomeDon't despair if you are short on cash. You can still have a beautifully decorated home. Sometimes a little elbow grease is a decent replacement for extra cash, and other times you can get great deals by shopping around. You may even find the expensive item that you wanted for a great bargain.


Simple things can mean a lot. You can change the entire look and feel of a room by just changing the window treatments. New drapes or blinds add warmth and appeal and will instantly give your home a fresh new look.

If that's not enough, a fresh coat of paint transforms any room. Paint is one of the least expensive home decorating tools, and you can save even more money by doing it yourself instead of hiring a painter. It doesn't require a lot of skill it just takes some time and good planning.

If your furniture looks tired, adding new throw pillows in vibrant colors that either match or contrast your room's colors can make a world of difference, and help your old furniture regain its appeal.

The bathroom is the second most commonly remodeled room in the house (after the kitchen), but it can cost a lot of money to replace cabinets, fixtures, or tile. Simple things can help give your bathroom a face-lift: add candles for a lovely glow and inviting fragrance. Get new towels to hang and repaint walls. Re-grout any tiled areas for a fresh new feel.


Coming home from a long day of work to a worn-out looking home can be a downer. Add some hanging baskets of flowers or vines by the door and trim your path with a flower bed or decorative stone. Apply a little labor and repaint the trim on windows and doors to give your home a quick lift.

It doesn't take a lot of money to make your home a haven.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Guide to Selecting a Home and Property That Will Suit Your Growing Family

A Guide to Selecting a Home and Property That Will Suit Your Growing FamilyBoth seasoned homeowners and first-time buyers know making the decision to purchase a new home is not one that is taken lightly. There are so many things to consider, from choosing a home with growth potential to finding a community to support a family's interests and lifestyle.

While the decisions may seem endless, don't be discouraged. Develop a strategic approach to buying a home with our definitive guide to selecting a home and property that will suit a growing family's needs. Use this guide, along with advice from a trusted real estate professional in your area, to get started on the path to home ownership.

Look For Neighborhoods With Growth Potential

Choosing the right location is one of the most grappled with decisions when it comes to buying a home. While some home-buyers aspire to "keep up with the Joneses," purchasing a home in the "trendy" neighborhood of the moment, savvy home-buyers know the best bargains can be found in "up-and-coming" locales.

Skip the higher property values and congestion and search for a home in an unincorporated area with growth potential. This might require driving a few extra blocks for that morning Starbucks coffee, but this will easily be overlooked once the community grows (and your home value with it).

Unfinished Basements Are Your Friend

Sure, most home-buyers cringe when they enter the sometimes scary, always dark and lonely, unfinished basement. But the savvy home-buyer knows unfinished basements are their friend.

A basic renovation can take the space from ghastly to awesome. Unfinished basements provide a number of options for growing families and are a great way to add bathrooms, bedrooms and common areas for kids and teens.

Choose A Home With Income Potential

While the average buyer is interested in a single-family home, don't discount homes with basement apartments or mother-in-law suites. These types of home configurations can lead to significant income potential and can help to offset the cost of a monthly mortgage payment.

Income potential doesn't just include garage apartments and mother-in-law suites; it encompasses open space as well. Build a duplex or a guesthouse on extra land for a significant return on investment. Or, take advantage of special land grants to grow crops or house bees on unused acreage.

Think Long-Term When Choosing Schools

When choosing schools, think macro not micro. Remember to evaluate school districts at all levels: elementary, middle and high schools. Don't choose a community based on the elementary school, if the middle and high schools are not as impressive.

A young child might be an elementary school student upon purchasing the home, but will matriculate through the school district during the course of a 30-year mortgage. Be sure to select a home in a community with a school district that can support youngsters at every level.

For more information about finding a home for a growing family, contact a real estate agent in your area. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Getting Past No: What To Do If You're Turned Down For A Mortgage Or Other Home Financing

Getting Past No: What to Do If You're Turned Down for a Mortgage or Other Home FinancingGetting pre-approved for a mortgage loan is an integral part of having the ability to purchase a home in today's society.

With most home prices well above what the majority of us have in the bank, getting approved for a mortgage can be the deal maker or breaker when it comes to purchasing a piece of property. Therefore, getting rejected for a mortgage can feel like a huge loss.

The first thing to realize, however, is that there are action steps you can take to get to "yes." Here's what to do if you're turned down for a mortgage or other home financing.

Shop Around: Don't Take "No" The First Time

If you get a "no" from your bank the first time around, don't be fooled into thinking that everyone will give you the same answer.

Instead, be sure to shop around your mortgage with different banks, and opt to speak to a mortgage broker to leverage all of your options.

When looking at several different lenders, you'll have a much higher chance of getting a yes since every lender adheres to different rules and restrictions. Though you may end up with a mortgage with a slightly higher interest rate, you're likely to get approved for a mortgage or other home financing.

Ask Friends: Get A Co-Signer

If your "no" was the result of bad credit history or a low credit score, perhaps you should consider asking for the help of friends and family. Sometimes bringing a co-signer in on the deal who has better credit history and a higher credit score will change the response of your bank or lender significantly, and suddenly you'll find yourself hearing the sought-after "y" word.

Ask Questions: Fix The Problem

If you've sought out several different banks and lenders, and still find yourself with rejected mortgage applications, be sure to understand why the "no" came in the first place. If it's an issue of your credit history, which can't be appeased with a co-signor, you may need to put in the time in order to correct some of your credit issues.

Other common reasons why people are rejected for a mortgage include unrealistic borrowing expectations, i.e. applying for a mortgage that is too high for you to satisfy, as well as an unreliable employment history or a general lack of credit history. Speak with your mortgage professional to determine the reason, and if shopping around or bringing in a co-signor doesn't transform the "no" to a "yes," seek to fix the problem instead.

Though it can be a daunting task to apply for a mortgage after you've been rejected, ensuring that you arrive at that ultimate "yes" is something you need to undertake in order to purchase a home and reach that next milestone in your life.

Having trusted professionals on your side is something that will surely ease the tension on all things involved in purchasing a home, including getting approved for a mortgage. For more information on how to get past "no" when searching for a home, call your trusted real estate professional today.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Dos And Don'ts Of Buying Distressed Real Estate

How to Build the Ultimate Tree House for Your Children in Just Seven StepsDistressed real estate is real estate in need of serious repairs. These properties are often called "handyman specials." If you have the skill or the money to complete the repairs, you can often find great deals. Here are some dos and don'ts of buying distressed real estate.

DO Get A Home Inspection

Distressed homes need repairs. Some of these repairs, like broken floor tile, are easy to see. Others, like water damage in the attic, can be easily hidden. The only way to know for sure what you're buying is to have the property inspected by a professional home inspector.

DO Pay Attention To The Home's Market Value

You don't want to buy a home and spend your hard-earned money for repairs only to find out the home is worth less than you paid for it. Have your agent complete a comparative market analysis so you know what the home is worth.

DO Have An Estimate For Repairs

There's no point buying a distressed home if you can't afford the cost of the home and the repairs. Get an estimate from at least three contractors before you buy. Knowing the cost of repairs beforehand will help you make the best decision.

DON'T Think About Potential Profit

You've probably heard countless stories about people who bought distressed properties and sold them for outrageous profits. However, the reality is that most distressed homes are sold for a small profit or no profit.

DON'T Buy A Home Just Because The Price Is Low

When you buy distressed homes, you have to consider more than just the asking price. Add together the cost of repairs, insurance, and what you can realistically expect to make from the sale. This will tell you if the home really is a good investment for you.

DON'T Buy If You Don't Have The Money

No matter how good a deal you find on distressed homes, they aren't worth it if they will stretch your budget too far. The last thing you want to deal with is damage to your credit score and the risk of foreclosure in the event you can't pay for the home.

Looking for a great deal on distressed real estate? Contact your trusted real estate professional today.

Monday, June 23, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - June 23, 2014

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week June 23 2014 Last week's scheduled economic news included the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, Housing Starts and Building Permits. The Fed's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) issued its usual statement at the conclusion of its meeting, and Fed Chair Janet Yellen also gave a press conference.

Home Builder Confidence Improves, but Housing Starts Slow

NAHB released its Housing Market Index report, which reached its highest reading in five months. The index moved up from 45 to 49; a reading of 50 indicates that more builders are confident about housing market conditions than those who are not. David Crowe, NAHB chief economist, said that builder confidence is in line with consumer confidence; he noted that consumers are waiting for a stronger economic recovery before buying homes and that builders didn't want to build more homes than markets would bear.

According to the latest figures from the Department of Commerce, May housing starts fell to 1.00 million from April's reading of 1.07 million on a seasonally adjusted annual basis, and missed the consensus reading of 1.02 million. Building permits issued in May fell by 6.40 percent to 991,000 permits issued for single and multi-family construction. In recent months, permits for single family homes have fallen, while permits for multi-family units are increasing. This concerns economists as single-family homes generate sales of retail goods including furniture and home improvement supplies, while multi-family housing is often occupied by renters and yields fewer home related purchases.

Warmer weather was expected to add to the pace of housing starts, but this did not occur during May.

Fed Reduces Asset Purchases, Mortgage Rates 

FOMC members reduced the Fed's monthly asset purchases by $10 billion, for a monthly volume of $35 billion in Treasury securities and MBS. The meeting minutes noted FOMC concerns that inflation has not yet reached the committee's benchmark of 2.00 percent inflation as a benchmark of economic recovery.

The minutes reflected FOMC's position that it will maintain the target federal funds rate at between 0.00 and 0.25 percent for a considerable period after the asset purchases under the current quantitative easing program have ended. While analysts previously associated "considerable period" with a time frame of six months, Fed Chair Yellen stated during her press conference that there was no formula for determining the Fed's actions; she emphasized that the Fed and FOMC would monitor a wide range of economic indicators, economic reports and developments in support of any decisions to change current monetary policy.

In response to a question about tight credit, Chair Yellen cited banks' reluctance to lend to all but those with "pristine" credit scores as a factor contributing to slower recovery in the housing sector.

Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates on Thursday. The reading for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 4.17 percent, a decline of three basis points. Discount points were also lower at 0.50 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was lower by one basis point at 3.30 percent; discount points were unchanged at 0.50 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell to 3.00 percent from last week's reading of 3.05 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.40 percent.

New jobless claims were higher than expected at 312,000; analysts had predicted a reading of 310,000 against the prior week's reading of 318,000 new jobless claims.

No economic reports were released Friday.

What's Ahead

This week's economic calendar includes several housing-related reports. Existing home sales, the Case-Shiller Housing Market Index and New Home Sales will be released along with multiple consumer-related reports and weekly updates for mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Friday, June 20, 2014

How To Attract High-End Buyers For Your Home For Sale

How To Attract High End Buyers For Your Home For SaleThere's at least one good thing about the drop in the dollar and it's boosting the real estate market. Many high-end Europeans are now looking toward the U.S. for a vacation home or permanent residence, and that could mean big hope for your home for sale. However, this also means a different way of selling.

Stage A Benefit

No open house for high-end buyers. Host an event instead - maybe even a benefit dinner for a worthy charity. Let people come and view the property, but give them an avenue to mix and mingle as well. In addition, they get to see how the house handles a bunch of guests.

Showcase A Chef

If you have a gourmet kitchen (or two), check with chefs that would like to showcase their cooking abilities. This creates an entire "house-buying" experience for your guests. Again, they see what the featured kitchen can handle as well as being able to enjoy the culinary arts of a professional chef.

Host A Private Tour

If your home has beautiful gardens and a large landscape, add a private concert or tour of the gardens. A wine cellar and large sitting rooms can turn the event into a stylish wine tasting event.

The biggest trick in attracting high-end buyers is showing off the house's best features. If the event is hosted at night, you can show how attractive the home is with an overall "candlelight" appearance. You might even go so far as to set the time for when the sky is at it's best and frames the home just right.

First impressions are everything, so pull out all the stops. Don't let any great feature go undiscovered, from indoor swimming pools to music rooms and manly dens. Let your home shine!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Discover Why Your Home Isn't Selling This Summer

Discover Why Your Home Isn't Selling This SummerJust when you think you've done everything you need to do to get your home ready for the market, months pass and your home doesn't sell. Consider a few factors that can effect your goal of selling your home.

Priced Too High - If your home has an excessive asking price, it will be harder to sell. With so many homes available today, a big price tag may turn buyers off.

And, your competition down the street may have the same home but a better price.

The Market - No longer can you simply put a home on the market and watch the offers roll in. Nowadays, you have to be diligent and knowledgeable in your approach.

Research the market value of homes in your neighborhood and know what kind of competition you're up against. And, understand today's buyers and what they need in order to make a good offer on a home.

Unfavorable Location - No matter how gorgeous a home is a bad location can hurt sales. Although you can't change the location, you can be creative in figuring out ways to appeal to buyers. Offer incentives to attract buyers or lower your asking price.

The Appearance - Does your home need some work? If so, you want to attack those issues first before putting your home on the market.

Things like dirty carpets and broken appliances can turn buyers off. Try staging your home. This will help to ensure your home dazzles potential buyers.

You Didn't Consult A Professional - Trying to sell a home yourself can be an extremely daunting task. That's why you need a real estate professional who knows the ins and outs of the industry and can market your home in the right way.

The good thing is that you can make changes that will improve the situation. Go over all the points listed and address any problems. Once that's done, you'll have a better chance of watching your home sell.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

4 Tips To Lower Homeowners Insurance For Your Home

4 Tips To Lower Homeowners Insurance For Your HomeWith the prices for everything skyrocketing these days, every penny counts. This includes your homeowner's insurance costs. If you're thinking of buying a home and need homeowner's insurance, here are a few tips on getting quality insurance for a fair price:

Tip #1: Shop Around

Ask family and friends about their homeowner's insurance. Check the Yellow Pages, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and the state insurance department. 

Other places to shop for insurance include consumer guides, insurance agents and online insurance quote services. Don't just look for lower prices, however. You need a fair price for the services you need.

Tip #2: Raise Your Deductible

The deductible is how much you have to pay before the insurance company starts to pay a claim on your home. The higher the deductible, the lower the premiums. If you live in a disaster-prone area, your policy may have a separate deductible for specific types of damages. 

Make sure, when reading the policy, you carefully go over damage-specific information.

Tip #3: Use The Same Insurer

Some companies will take five to fifteen percent off your premium if you buy more than one policy from them. If the insurer offers homeowner's, auto and liability coverage, you stand a chance of having a lower premium than if they only offer one or the other. 

The key is to make sure that the combined price is lower than the price would be if you had purchased them separately.

Tip #4: Improve Home Security

By installing a sophisticated fire sprinkler system and a fire/burglar alarm that rings the monitoring stations, some companies will cut your premium as much as fifteen or twenty percent. 

For a smoke detector, burglar alarm or deadbolt locks, you can usually get at least a five percent discount. Check with your insurer to make sure that the system you're installing will lower your premiums, though; the systems aren't cheap and not all of them qualify for a discount.

Read everything carefully before you sign, to make sure the policy covers your insurance needs without adding on hidden fees. Even a little money saved can go a long way toward making it easier to live within your budget. 

Ready to buy a home? Let me help you find the perfect home and get it at the best terms and price. Call or email your trusted real estate professional.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Wrought Iron, A Simple, Strong, And Beautiful Addition To Any Modern Home

Wrought Iron: A Simple, Strong, and Beautiful Addition to Any Modern HomeWrought iron is a classic accent that has been used to beautify homes for centuries. Its strong and simple elegance is a wonderful addition to any modern home and can be incorporated into home design in many different ways.

A Masculine Addition To Any Design

Wrought iron is considered to be masculine from a design standpoint. It is a great way to add depth and balance to a home.

It works well with both light and dark palettes, and can be incorporated into most modern home designs.

Because it is fabricated by welding, wrought iron has a strength beyond that of most construction materials. It also adds a dramatic finish to exposed beams and ceilings.

Wrought Iron Railings Are Strong And Supportive

These railings are durable and can be fabricated in many beautiful designs. They have been a popular choice in home design not only for aesthetic reasons, but also because of their strength.

Railings of all kinds can be done in wrought iron. Staircases, landings, and decks are just some of the places we are seeing more wrought iron in modern homes. Entry gates in wrought iron make a rich and dramatic statement. They are impressive, add great appeal, and are quality security features.

Showcase Natural Woods And Make Them Stand Out

There is something so striking about the combination of wood and iron. Accenting a wooden gate with large wrought iron hinges and handles gives the gate new depth and beauty.

Staircases are also an excellent place where wrought iron and wood can be combined to create eye-grabbing features in modern architecture.

Wrought iron décor items make the richness of wood stand out beautifully. A couple of small sculptural pieces on a wooden mantle or floor will bring attention to the natural beauty of the grain.

Furniture For Both Outside And Inside Of The Home

Wrought iron furniture finds a fitting home in modern architecture. It has always been a popular choice for exterior design, but is being incorporated more into interior design as well.

Wrought iron patio furniture and trellises are used as focal points in outdoor landscaping, and the same can be done inside. Wrought iron in a modern kitchen or any room is quite striking. Tables, chairs, and beds can all be found in unique wrought iron designs.

Find Functionality With Wrought Iron Fixtures

Wrought iron lighting fixtures are dramatic and beautiful. From sconces to chandeliers, lighting fixtures are a functional way to bring wrought iron into a home.

Some designers like to showcase the entry of a home with an impressive chandelier. The theme is easily carried through a home by using these lighting fixtures in the dining room, hallways, and kitchen. Impressive outdoor fixtures and light posts can light the way for visitors to your doorstep.

Wrought iron is a simple, strong, and beautiful addition to a modern home. It is a great way to add appeal and value to your house and property.

Monday, June 16, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - June 16, 2014

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week June 16 2014Last week's economic news was quiet in the housing sector, but retail sales and employment-related reports provided indications of less consumer spending and reduced consumer confidence.

On Monday, James Bullard, St. Louis Fed President, commented that inflation appears to be rising. Although not a voting member of the Fed's Open Market Committee (FOMC), inflation has been a topic of concern to the FOMC in recent years. Mr. Bullard had previously noted that inflation was stable.

His remarks set the stage for this week's FOMC meeting and press conference by Fed Chair Janet Yellen. Analysts expect the Fed to continue tapering its asset purchases as it winds down its quantitative easing program.

Labor related reports were mixed last week. Job openings in April rose to 4.46 million in April; this was the highest reading since September 2007 and exceeded the March reading of 4.17 million job openings in March.

More good news came from the U.S. Labor Department, which 4.71 million hires in April. This was the highest rate of hiring since June 2008 and represented a year-over-year increase of 6.00 percent. At the start of the recession at the end of 2007, about 5 million job openings were reported.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

Weekly jobless claims were reported at 317,000 as compared to expectations of 310,000 new jobless claims and the prior week's reading of 312,000 new jobless claims. The four-week rolling average of new jobless claims rose by 4,750 new claims for a total of 315,250. The four-week gauge of jobless claims evens out weekly volatility and is viewed by analysts as a better indicator of labor market trends.

Mortgage rates were higher according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by six basis points to 4.20 percent; discount points rose from 0.50 to 0.60 percent.

The average rate for a 15-year mortgage rose by eight basis points to 3.32 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose from last week's reading of 2.93 percent to 3.05 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.40 percent.

The Fed's quantitative easing program was implemented to control long-term interest rates, including mortgage rates. Gradual tapering of this program is allowing mortgage rates to rise. Other influences include investor concerns over recent decisions made by the European Central Bank.

Consumer sentiment slipped slightly for June according to the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index. June's reading was 81.20 as compared to an expected reading of 82.80 and May's reading of 81.50.

What's Ahead

Next week's scheduled economic news includes the NAHB Housing Market Index for June and Housing Starts for May. These readings are important indicators for housing supplies, as a lack of builder confidence can translate to fewer housing starts. Housing markets were impacted by high demand for homes against low inventories of available homes during 2013 and into 2014.

Also noteworthy is the FOMC post-meeting statement and Fed Chair Janet Yellen's press conference. The FOMC sets the Federal Reserve's monetary policy and is expected to announce further tapering of the Fed's quantitative easing program. It will be interesting to learn the Fed's perspective on inflation, which has been stuck below the Fed's target level of two percent.

Friday's release of Leading Economic Indicators for May round out this week's economic reports.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Three Easy Ways to Make Your Home More Inviting

Three Easy Ways to Make Your Home More InvitingMany home owners putting up their home for sale on the market don't have a lot of available cash to spruce it up. While staging houses is a definite plus, it can cost a fair amount of money, as do many of the other suggested "to-dos." Here are a few inexpensive and easy ways to make your home look more inviting to buyers.

Put Up Your Personal Stuff

Not every buyer looking at a home for sale appreciates the fact that someone still lives there. Putting away the your personal things can help the buyers' see themselves in the home.

You will want to put your pet's things (toys, litter box, bowls) away and out of sight. The same goes for your medications, toothbrushes and toilet accessories.

Clean up your kids' rooms and put away any toys around the house. Minimize or put away knick-knacks and personal pictures. Remember that you want the buyer to imagine themselves in the home.

Create More Space

Small, closed-in spaces are major turnoffs for buyers. Create the illusion of more space by putting up out-of-season clothes or clothes you don't wear very often to make your closets look bigger. A good way to make your bedrooms look bigger is by taking one piece of furniture out of each bedroom.

Packing up the small appliances in your kitchen is a great way to make your countertops seem larger. You can also take out all but four chairs in your dining room, as well as extra table leaves to give that illusion of space.

Touch On The Trends

Chances are that some of the buyers are paying attention to celebrity trends. Feng shui is a big one, and you can do your part with just a few touches like adding a fresh bowl of fruit to the kitchen. Put a comfortable couch or chair on the east side of your living room or den. Place a green welcome mat on your porch to symbolize opportunity. Go through your house and get rid of reds.

Whether you see or feel a difference doesn't matter. Keep in mind that you're trying to appeal to potential buyers of your home, not make the home more livable for you. If it helps, pretend that you're the buyer, seeing the house for the first time.

If you're trying to get your home ready to sell, I can help. Get in touch with me for more information.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

DIY Or Hire It Done, Renovating Real Estate Investment Properties

DIY Or Hire It Done Renovating Real Estate Investment PropertiesSometimes, when buying - or even thinking about buying real estate for investment purposes, you're faced with the need to fix up the property. 

The question then arises: Should I fix it up myself or hire it done? Unfortunately, no one can give you the right answer. However, there are a few questions that you can ask yourself to help decide the issue:

Do I Have The Time?

Time is an issue that many people forget about, but it should be one of the deciding factors. Some renovations, such as handles, hinges or kitchen hardware can take very little time to do. Others, like retiling a bathroom, can take hours, or even days to accomplish. 

If you don't have the time to do these things personally, you've already answered the question.

Do I Have The Money?

Obviously, money is as important a factor as time. Often, if you don't have the time, you do have the money to hire someone. However, if you have neither the money nor the time, you may need to reassess whether you can really afford the real estate you're thinking of buying. 

You may want to continue looking to find something that needs fewer repairs or that you can get at a lower price.

Do I Have The Know-How?

Granted, there is a lot of do-it-yourself information out on the Internet. However, if you don't have the necessary knowledge to understand what they're saying, you'll either have to research more, or hire someone. 

Being knowledgeable on what you're doing may not be so important when, say, you're painting the living room, but it's incredibly important if you need to rewire a room or want to knock down a wall.

The main key when deciding on what property to buy, what renovations need to be made and whether to do it yourself is simple: Be realistic. Be honest with yourself.

Can you really do this? Can you really afford it? Remember, if the answer is "no," it could just mean "not right now."

Don't be afraid to wait until you have everything in place before picking your investment properties. If you're careful with your time and money management, you may find yourself able to buy that dream real estate investment property.

Call your trusted real estate professional today and let them help you find the perfect real estate investment property.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Thinking About Buying An Investment Property? 6 Tips To Ensure You Don't Get Fleeced

Thinking About Buying an Investment Property? 6 Tips to Ensure You Don't Get FleecedPurchasing an investment property is one of the most important decisions that you'll ever be a part of. As such, it's a necessity to make your decisions with only the most careful of consideration.

Here are six tips that you need to heed in order to ensure that you don't get fleeced.

Find The Right Property At The Right Price

Yes, this is a whole lot easier said than done. However, it's not impossible. All it takes is some patience and research.

You have to determine what everything in your area is selling for in order to be able to spot a bargain! Further, you need to know that various property classes will outperform each other. For example, land and home units will appreciate differently.

Figure Out The Cash Flow

It's always a good idea that you know how to maintain your mortgage repayment obligations over the long term. It's recommended that you analyze the cost of servicing any loan only on an after-tax basis. By taking this approach, you have the power to calculate and put the cost into actual terms that make sense for you.

Look For A Good Property Manager

Finding a good property manager who is a professional in his or her field is vital. Your property manager's job will be to make certain that everything is in order between you and any of your tenants. A good property manager can extract the best possible value for you from your property and help to keep your tenants in line as well.

Choose The Appropriate Type Of Mortgage

There are many options available for financing the investment property that you choose, so it's best to get sound advice. Options such as a variable rate loan and a fixed rate loan are both popular choices, but your specific circumstances will dictate what's most suitable for you. Consider that variable rates often end up being cheaper over time, yet fixed rates at the right time are ideal.

Take Equity From Another Property

Leverage the equity from your residence or another investment property. Doing this is actually an ideal way to purchase your investment property. Equity can be calculated by way of calculating any difference between what you owe on your mortgage and the overall value of your property.

Comprehend Both The Market And Dynamics When Buying

It's best to analyze what other properties are available in the area when you're looking at an investment property. It's very advisable to actually talk to both local people and real estate agents in the neighborhood. They can give you hints on small, yet vital, things like which side of a street is considered more desirable.

These are the six tips to help make sure that you don't ever get fleeced when buying an investment property. They can make the difference between purchasing a great property that has a high return on investment and purchasing a lemon.

Call your trusted Real Estate professional today for more information.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Three Mobile Apps That Make Home Automation Tasks Quick And Easy

Three IPhone Apps That Make Home Automation Tasks Quick and EasyThese days, efficiency and productivity are the keys to life, which is why it's no surprise that home automation is a bigger topic than ever before.

As more and more people become tech savvy and get used to working with handheld devices, home automation becomes a natural fit for your smartphone or other handheld device.

After all, it's a true pleasure to be able to control nearly everything in your home from just one device! You have so many things to do each and every day that it could be too much of a hassle to do everything separately and to control everything independently.

Home automation solves that problem for you. Here are the three iPhone apps that will make home automation tasks much quicker and easier.

The Haiku Home Automation App For HAI

Sure, this app will cost you $50, but it's well worth it in order to have everything controlled at the tips of your fingers. You can use this app from anywhere on the planet or simply while you're plopped down on the couch... your choice entirely!

It incorporates HAI's solid home automation controls with an amazing user interface experience to deliver convenience and efficiency to users. So far the app has received excellent ratings from users. Out of 112 ratings, it's averaged a 4.5 out of 5 score on iTunes.

Try The Revolv Smart Home Automation Solution

This iOS app from Revolv Inc. allows you to unify and centrally control a slew of various, connected home devices. Examples include locks, smart lights, outlets, sensors, thermostats and even wireless music systems, just to name a few possibilities. The app taps into the iOS system to empower you to seamlessly and effortlessly complete a bunch of automated tasks.

This app lets you create several automated directives from geo-location, time and on-demand triggers and sensors. Such convenience and control is both practical and highly rewarding.

Finally: The Loxone App

The Loxone app allows you to control your residence from your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. The possibilities are endless because, with this app, you can regulate everything from your home's blinds and heating to the music that's playing in any given room. All you have to do is make a few taps on your iPhone's screen, and you're done!

This makes the Loxone app one of the most ideal and efficient home automation apps out there. It's definitely a good idea to install this app on your iPhone today. You won't regret it, and running the devices inside of your own home will be something you'll look forward to, rather than something you dread.

Thanks to these home automation apps, you're in good shape to feel in control of all of the devices in your home. Whether it's the blinds, the heating or an entertainment device like your stereo, these apps have you covered so that you can proceed efficiently and productively.

Monday, June 9, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - June 9, 2014

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 9, 2014

Last week's economic news was mixed. Construction spending grew, but fell below the expected level. CoreLogic reported that April home prices continued to rise, but did so at their slowest growth rate in more than a year. Employment reports for private sector and government jobs indicated fewer jobs, but the national unemployment rate was steady. Here are the details:

Construction Spending, Home Price Growth Slows

Construction spending reported by the Department of Commerce reached $953.5 billion annually, and increased by 0.20 percent month-to-month against expectations of an 0.80 percent increase and the March reading of 0.60 percent growth.

According to CoreLogic, the rate of home price growth slowed to 10.50 percent year-over-year in April as compared to the 11.10 year-over-year rate of increase in April 2013. Home prices increased by 2.10 percent over March; these gains in home prices were the slowest posted in more than a year, but there was good news.

No states posted a drop in home prices, and eight states posted new record highs for home prices.

CoreLogic said that although a short supply of available homes has driven home prices up, price gains lost momentum due to affordability; CoreLogic expects home prices to increase at a slower pace and projects that home price growth will reach a pace of 6.30 percent by April 2015.

Mortgage Rates Mixed

Freddie Mac reported that mortgage rates for fixed rate mortgages rose while the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage increased by two basis points to 4.14 percent; discount points fell to an average of 0.50 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage also increased by two basis points to 3.23 percent; discount points were unchanged at 0.50 percent. Rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 2.93 percent, a drop of three basis points. Average discount points rose from 0.30 to 0.40 percent.

Jobs, Unemployment Data Suggest Economic Strength

Labor markets impact consumer decisions to buy homes; several labor-related reports released last week indicated that the economy continued to gain strength as more jobs were added and fewer workers filed jobless claims.

ADP reported that 179,000 private-sector jobs were added in May as compared to 215,000 jobs added in April. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Non-farm Payrolls report for May; 217,000 jobs were added as compared to projections of 210,000 jobs added and 288,000 jobs added in April.

New weekly jobless claims were reported at 312,000 as compared to expectations of 311,000 new jobless claims and the previous week's 304,000 new claims. The four-week rolling average of weekly jobless claims fell by 2250 new claims to 310,250; this was the lowest reading since June 2007, and was 10 percent lower than the reading for the same week in April 2013 and was 17 percent lower than for the same week in 2012.

Another sign of economic growth was reported last week. Continuing jobless claims dropped to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 2.60 million for the week ended May 24; this was the lowest reading reported since October 2007.

The national unemployment rate for May matched April's reading of 6.30 percent, and was lower than projections of 6.40 percent for May. The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve (FOMC) has repeatedly cited an unemployment rate of 6.50 percent as a benchmark indication of economic recovery; it appears likely that the Fed may continue its tapering of asset purchases as it winds down its quantitative easing program.

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic news includes Retail Sales, Retail Sales without vehicle sales, and the Producer Price Index. Freddie Mac mortgage rates and Weekly Jobless Claims will be released Thursday, and the University of Michigan will release its Consumer Sentiment Index on Friday.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Green Thumb: Four Easy Ways To Get More From Your Home Garden

The Green Thumb: Four Easy Ways to Get More From Your Home GardenGrowing a home garden creates beauty, oxygen and even food for our families to enjoy. If you're looking to get more from your home garden, here are four easy ways to improve a green thumb.

A Good Foundation For Your Garden

Good soil is the foundation of a healthy garden. By using quality soil, you can give your garden the best start possible. Adding a variety of organic matter to soil will give plants a happy home to grow in.

Add two to three inches of organic matter to your garden bed at the beginning of each season. Compost, dried leaves, grass clipping and dry manure are all good organic materials to use in your garden.

Manures provides nitrogen, which is a great contributor to soil aeration and composting efforts. Being so far along in the decomposing process, the nutrients in manure are readily available for plants.

Fresh manure, however, is more likely to leach out of the soil into groundwater and streams (where the nutrients it provides can become pollutants).

Design Fundamentals To Achieve Harmony And Flow

Although landscaping your home garden is a matter of personal taste and preference, there are some fundamental principles for creating a good garden.

Balance and proportion establish the basic structure of a garden. Order is obtained through symmetry, repetition of plants, and colors or thoughtful contrast. This will create a garden space that is both balanced and proportioned.

Harmony and unity is achieved when different aspects of your garden work together as a whole. Strong focal points and a limited color palette can help with the overall look of your garden.

Prevent the eye from making sudden stops with good flow and transition in your garden. Gradual changes in height and color create the illusion of a larger space, and will make for a full and finished look in your garden.

Variety Is Important And Maintenance A Must

Have a good combination in your garden of annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees and food producing plants. Plants that require little maintenance and come back each year will take some of the pressure off when it comes to seasonal changes and garden preparation.

With more time to focus on bedding plants and vegetable gardens, you'll yield a bigger reward for your gardening efforts. Water features and other structural focal points work in much the same way; they provide your outdoor space with added beauty and appeal that is easy to maintain throughout the year.

Don't Be Bothered By Pests And Bugs

Although people have differing opinions on pests, at home a greener garden is always a healthier garden. Harsh pest control products can hurt wildlife and pollute groundwater.

You may be solving one problem, but using chemical pesticides contributes to another. There are many ways keep pests under control without chemical products.

With so many easy to make homemade pesticides to discover, gardeners can ditch the chemical alternative without sacrificing quality. There are also plants such as marigolds that can be incorporated into your garden that deter pests.

A garden is a labor of love that creates a welcoming outdoor space that your family can enjoy. Call your local real estate professional for more information on creating or finding your perfect home garden.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

3 Signs It's Time To Lower The Price On Your Real Estate

3 Signs It’s Time To Lower The Price On Your Real EstateSelling your home or property in a slow real estate market isn't easy, but it can be done. Pricing your property right is the key to selling it within a reasonable amount of time.

Sometimes this means lowering your price while it's on the market. Of course, you want to get as much money as possible, so how do you know when it's time to lower your asking price?

No One Is Looking At Your Home

If you expect your home to sell, you need to have people look inside it. Most buyers search for homes within a certain price range. If you aren't getting any showings, chances are it's because your home is overpriced compared to other homes in the area. In this case, you may need to lower your price so buyers will look at your home.

Comparable Homes Are Selling For Less

Your home will sell for whatever a buyer is willing to pay for it. If the homes around you are selling for less than your asking price, it may be time to lower it. No one is going to pay more for your home when they can get the same thing for less.

Pay attention to what homes are selling for in your community and adjust your price accordingly.

You Are Getting A Lot Of Negative Feedback

Buyers are a great source of information about other homes in your price range. After all, they're spending their free time looking at countless homes similar to yours.

Your real estate agent can find out exactly what buyers think of your home. Perhaps homes comparable to yours have updated kitchens or more attractive landscaping. With this knowledge, you can choose to either remodel or lower your price.

Call or email me if you have any questions. I can help you sell your home or property in any real estate market.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Six Easy Ways To Protect Your Home Against Burglars And Thieves

Six Easy Ways to Protect Your Home Against Burglars and ThievesBurglaries are a concern for many North Americans. Although some communities report more break ins than others, everyone should be aware of their home's safety and security. Protecting yourself and your home from thieves can contribute to a better quality of life.

Know And Connect With Your Neighbors

There is much to be said about knowing your neighbors. By establishing connections with the residents around you, you'll be better equipped to spot suspicious people. When neighbors look out for other members the community, they give thieves less opportunity to case homes unnoticed.

You may consider getting your neighbors together to exchange contact information, or even form a community watch program.

Protect Your Privacy By Locking Up

Thieves often gain entry to homes through an unlocked door or garage. Make sure that when you leave your home you lock up behind you. Give yourself an extra moment or two to walk through the house and make sure that everything is properly shut and locked.

You may also consider reinforcing ground level windows and doors with additional safety locks. Wrought iron bars can mean better security for ground level windows out of street view, as they are popular targets for burglars and thieves.

Always Know Who's Knocking

Installing a peephole on the front door works wonders for a person's peace of mind. It's important to know who is at your doorstep so you don't open your door to an intruder. Burglars have been known to knock on a target's door to see if they're home. This also gives thieves important information, such as whether you have pets, deadbolts or security systems.

Be wary of suspicious visitors that come knocking at your door, and write down their description in case you end up needing it later.

Security Systems To Protect Your Home

Monitored security systems are a great way to feel good about your home security. There are many products available at a variety of different price points. These systems are easily installed by a professional, and are monitored by a security company. The monthly cost of the service will be offset by savings on your home insurance, and is well worth the protection the systems provide.

Stop Break Ins While You're On Vacation

If you're planning on going out of town, keep your plans on a need to know basis. Don't let people know you're away on your answering machine greeting or with auto respond email. These may be suitable for the workplace, but they are not safe for your personal messaging systems.

Have a neighbor gather your mail and take out your garbage to keep your home looking lived in while you're away. You may also consider lighting and electronic timers to give the illusion that someone is home.

Spare Yourself From Burglaries

Spare keys can save the day, but can also tempt thieves. If you have a spare key hidden, make sure it's hidden well in the back of the house. If you do use it, don't return it to its hiding spot right away, and change its place from time to time. A better idea may be to leave a spare key with a neighbor or with a friend.

Security is an important component to a good quality of life. By taking simple steps to improve the security of your home, you can feel safe knowing that your house is protected from thieves.

Call me, your trusted local real estate agent, to learn more about home security.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

How To Build The Ultimate Tree House For Your Children In Just Seven Steps

How to Build the Ultimate Tree House for Your Children in Just Seven StepsBuilding a tree house is a time honored tradition for many families. One of the benefits of having a yard is the ability to build a tree fort for your children.

If you're planning to build a fun fort for your kids, here are seven steps to help you create the ultimate tree house.

The Ultimate Plan For The Perfect Playhouse

The best projects are often the most thought out. Sit down with your children and lay the plans for their tree house. Let them contribute their thoughts and ideas so they feel a part of the planning process.

Although you won't need an engineering degree to build a quality tree fort, it's important to calculate all the measurements and specifications of the build.

A Solid Foundation For Your Tree House

Prepare the location for your future tree house by trimming away any precarious branches or boughs on the tree you plan to build on. Ensure that your tree house will be well supported, and reinforce any questionable spots.

If your tree fort is being built from the ground up, make sure you're working with a level foundation.

Have The Right Tools For The Job

Make sure you have all the tools you'll need to construct your tree house. Power tools and construction equipment can be borrowed from friends and neighbors or rented from your local hardware store.

When the time comes to gather your building supplies, be creative and consider re-purposed supplies. These materials are less expensive and add character and charm. You can find recycled and salvaged items at various recycled construction supply companies and through online classifieds like Craigslist.

Construct Your Tree House With Confidence

When you're constructing your tree house, make sure it's structurally sound. Watch tutorials online – you'd be amazed at the things you can learn from watching YouTube videos!

Make sure to measure twice and cut once. Using the proper cutting tool for each cut will help you achieve cleaner, more precise cuts. Also make sure to obtain any permits that may be required for the project.

A Personalized Theme Encourages Creativity

Choose a theme that relates to your child. If they love fairies, use that as the inspiration for your design. Pirate forts and superhero lairs are perfect places to spark imaginative play and creativity.

Incorporate cannons, cupboards and ropes with pulleys to create a unique and fun space for your children to play.

A Colorful Paint Job Brightens The House

When the walls are up and the building is done, it will be time to choose paint colors. Bright colors are a great way to brighten and liven up an outdoor space.

You could even consider creating a mural. Choose something in fitting with the theme. This is something that you and your child can do together, or that you can do on your own as an added surprise.

Perfecting Your Child's Play Space

Once your tree house is built, it's time to get it ready for play. Decorate the space with fun decor, and functional items. Throw pillows and rugs can add color and personality to a child's play space. Window coverings can be made from scrap fabric or flat bed sheets.

Creating a tree fort for your child is a memorable experience and a labor or love. A unique space that sparks imagination and nurtures creativity is a wonderful gift to give a child.

Call your trusted local real estate agent today to find the perfect yard for your ultimate tree house.

Monday, June 2, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - June 2, 2014

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 1, 2014Last week's economic news was fairly quiet due to the Memorial Day holiday on Monday and no scheduled news released on Wednesday.

Home Prices Post Modest Gains, But Growth Rate of Home Prices Slows

Tuesday's release of the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index for March showed that home prices are edging up, but at a slower pace than last year. Home prices increased by 12.40 percent year-over-year as compared to February's reading of 12.90 percent year-over-year.

Analysts expected prices to fall as construction picks up and more homes are listed for sale. Lower demand due to strict mortgage lending standards and high home prices continued to keep many moderate-income and first-time home buyers on the sidelines.

FHFA Reports Home Prices Increased By Over 6 Percent

FHFA, the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also released its home price index for properties connected with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac owned or guaranteed loans. As of March, FHFA reported that home prices increased by 6.50 percent year-over-year as compared to February's year-over-year reading of 6.90 percent.

Consumer confidence rose by 1.30 percent for May with a reading of 83.0, which matched expectations.

Last Thursday's news included the weekly Jobless Claims report, which showed 22,000 fewer jobless claims than expected with a reading of 300,000 new jobless claims reported. Thursday's reading was also lower than the prior reporting period's reading of 327,000 new jobless claims filed.

The four-week rolling average of jobless claims also showed improvement with 11,250 fewer claims filed and an average reading of 311,500 new weekly jobless claims filed. This was the lowest number of jobless claims filed since August 2007. Analysts look to the four-week rolling average as more accurate than the weekly readings, which can be volatile.

U.S. jobs have increased by 200,000 jobs per month over the last three months reported.

Pending Home Sales Up for Second Consecutive Month

Pending home sales in April rose by 0.40 percent from the March reading of 97.4 to 97.8. The April reading was the highest for pending home sales since November. Pending home sales provide an estimate of future home sales.

Lower mortgage rates likely supported expanded home sales. Freddie Mac reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 4.12 percent, a drop of two basis points from last week. The rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by four basis points to 3.21 percent.

The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at 2.96 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.60 for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage and 0.50 percent for a 15 year mortgage. Discount points dropped from 0.40 to 0.30 percent for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage.

What's Ahead

In addition to construction spending for April, this week's economic news includes several reports that can provide insight about employment and consumer spending.

News events include Motor Vehicle Sales for May, The Fed's Beige Book report, and Thursday's usual release of Freddie Mac's average mortgage rates and weekly Jobless Claims. Non-farm Payrolls and the national unemployment rate for May are also scheduled for release