Friday, August 29, 2014

Experiencing 'Purchase Anxiety'? How to Calm Your Nerves Before Committing to Buy a New Home

Experiencing 'Purchase Anxiety'? How to Calm Your Nerves Before Committing to Buy a New HomeWhether this is your first big purchase, or your family is moving to a new location or looking for more space, buying a home has its share of ups and downs.

It's perfectly normal to feel anxious about whether or not you've found the right property. Here are some things you can do to make yourself feel more secure with your decision.

Do The Math

You've probably already done this, but it's okay to go over it a number of times to be sure. Factor in your household income and all the bills you expect to pay every month. Add everything up.

It sounds like a stressful activity, but when you look at the numbers and realize that buying a home is actually doable, it can be a liberating feeling.

When you know for sure you can make it as a homeowner without getting underwater, you will feel more confident.

Meet The Neighbors

If you haven't had the chance to knock on a couple of doors yet, you should spend some time saying hello to people in the neighborhood.

The more you can get to talking with families that are just like yours, the more you will be able to picture yourself as a member of the community. If you have kids, find out if there are other kids the same age nearby. That will help to ease their anxiety about moving as well.

Ask Your Agent

Don't feel like you are being overly cautious if you ask your real estate agent your lingering questions. Make sure you're getting a good price for the area, and make sure you know about any issues with the condition of the property. You should be able to trust that they're excited for your decision, not just for making the sale.

Familiarize Yourself With The Neighborhood

Take a drive and figure out which stores you're nearest to, the route you can take to get to work, and which other amenities you might take advantage of. Home buyers often underestimate how important living in a safe neighborhood with plenty of accessible businesses can be. The more you can imagine yourself living at your new address, the better you will feel.

Remember, never sign the papers on a new home unless you feel one hundred percent secure in your buying decision. If you need more answers, pick up the phone and call a real estate agent you can trust and who can walk you through every step of the process.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Case-Shiller, FHFA Report Slowing Growth in Home Prices

Case-Shiller FHFA Report Slowing Growth in Home PricesThe Case-Shiller 10 and 20-City Home Price Indices for June reported year-over-year gains of 8.10 percent while the Case-Shiller National Home Price Index covers all nine census regions and reported a year-over-year gain of 6.20 percent.

Readings for all three indices worsened as compared to May readings, and all cities tracked showed slower growth in home prices. The National Home Price Index, which is now published monthly, rose by 0.90 percent from May's reading, and both the 10 and 20-City Index posted month-to-month gains of one percent.

Five cities including Detroit, Las Vegas, New York, Phoenix and San Diego posted larger gains in June than for May.

Regional Home Price Growth: NYC Leads Cities in June

According to the Case-Shiller 20-City Index, New York City led home price growth in June with a reading of +1.60 percent. Chicago, Detroit and Las Vegas posted gains of 1.40 percent with Las Vegas posting its largest home price gain since last summer.

Year-over-year, Las Vegas posted the highest growth rate at 15.20 percent. San Francisco's home price gains slowed to a year-over-year rate of 12.90 percent. Phoenix posted its slowest home price growth since March of 2012 with its June reading of 6.90 percent.

Home Prices Rise, But Modestly

While home prices in all cities tracked by Case-Shiller rose for the third consecutive month, analysts said that the Federal Reserve may increase its target federal funds rate as soon as the first quarter of 2015. This would lead to higher mortgage rates, which could further flatten home price growth.

Home affordability became an issue for many would-be buyers after the rapid rate of home price growth seen in 2013. Lower demand for homes could also impact the rate of home price appreciation as inventories of available homes rise. With these factors and no one knowing exactly when the Fed will act to raise rates, it's unlikely that home prices will rapidly escalate in the coming months.

FHFA Reports Slower Home Price Growth in June

FHFA, the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that June home prices slowed from May's reading of 5.40 percent year-over-year to 5.20 percent year-over-year in June. FHFA reports on properties connected with mortgages owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. FHFA shared some positive trends for seasonally adjusted purchase-only home prices in its June report:

  • June's home prices rose in 40 states.

  • Home prices rose for the seventh consecutive month

  • Home prices rose for 23 of the last 24 months with the November 2013 as the exception.

  • Home prices rose in the second quarter of 2014 in 74 of 100 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) tracked by the federal government.

  • Home prices in the Pacific and Mountain census districts continued to slow in the second quarter. After rapid growth in home prices in 2013, this appears to indicate and expected adjustment rather than an unexpected crash in home prices for these regions.

While slower growth in home prices is of concern to homeowners, more affordable prices will likely encourage more would-be buyers to become actual buyers.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Real Estate Secrets: Understanding the 'Option Period' and What This Term Means for You as a Buyer

Real Estate Secrets: Understanding the 'Option Period' and What This Term Means for You as a Buyer When the sale of real estate takes place, a certain amount of time might be allotted after a contract is created but before the transaction is finalized.  During this time the buyer may decide not to follow through with the deal set forth in the contract. This 'option period' allows buyers to have a property inspected and its value ascertained without the risk of losing the property to another buyer.

What Happens When The Option Period Takes Place

Typically, a buyer must pay an option fee in order to be able to enjoy the luxury of an option period. During the option period, property inspections are typically carried out on the property in question so that the buyer can be sure that the proposed offer is appropriate.

The nonrefundable option fee that the buyer pays the seller (so that the seller agrees not to follow through on a transaction with another prospective buyer) compensates the seller for the time during which the property is off of the market.

Differences Between Various States

It is not always possible for a buyer to have an option period during which he or she can finalize plans to make a purchase on a property. Regulations and procedures between different states vary significantly.

It is worth noting that the state of Texas has a real estate market that is particularly well known for granting option periods. In Texas, the option period usually lasts between seven and 14 days and serves as a period of time during which inspections are carried out; however, other states have different ways of dealing with option periods and scheduling inspections.

Associated Expenses

The particular laws applicable where a sale takes place will often dictate how much a buyer needs to pay to the seller in option fee charges. In the state of Texas, for example, the option fee is usually no greater than 1 percent of the sale price of the home. The option fee is normally applied to the transaction at escrow closing in the event that the buyer decides to proceed with the sale.

Buyers who decide not to purchase a property after the option period has already begun will usually be responsible for paying the option fee to compensate the buyer for lost time. However, the buyer will be under no further contractual obligations.

If you have questions on the processes and regulations involved in a real estate transaction, contact an experienced real estate agent to learn more.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

DOC New Home Sales and NAR Existing Home Sales

DOC New Home Sales and NAR Existing Home SalesThe Department of Commerce reported July sales of new homes dropped by 2.40 percent over June to a four month low. Analysts noted that although July's reading of 412,000 new homes sold fell short of expectations and June's reading, the new homes sector is volatile and subject to change.

June's reading of 406,000 new homes sold was revised to 422,000 new homes sold; expectations were based on the original reading. Three of four regions posted a slower rate of growth for home prices with only the South posting a gain.

The average price of a new home in the U.S. rose to $269,800, which is 2.90 percent higher than June's average home price. Inventories of new homes increased to a six-month level based on current sales pace.

This was the highest inventory of new homes available since 2011. Strict mortgage credit requirements and an elevated national unemployment rate contributed to the lower rate of home value appreciation and higher inventories of new homes.

The good news: New home sales increased by 12.90 percent year-over-year in July.

Existing Home Sales Rise: Steady Mortgage Rates, Rising Rents Cited

The National Association of REALTORS® reported that July sales of previously-owned homes rose from June's revised figure of 5.03 million sales to 5.15 million sales and achieved the highest reading for 2014.

The existing home sales readings are calculated on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. Existing home sales were 4.30 percent lower than for July 2013, which had the highest reading for existing home sales in 2013.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NAR, said that a growing inventory of available pre-owned homes for sale and strengthening labor markets contributed to sales growth. Mr. Yun said that July's pace of sales was expected to continue based on mortgage rates holding steady and rising rents for apartments.

The inevitable rise of mortgage rates and increasing home prices were cited as factors that could cool existing home sales in coming months. With the Fed scheduled to complete its asset purchase program in October and changes to the Fed's target federal funds rate expected within months, mortgage rates are expected to rise. Affordability looms as an obstacle to sales; home prices continue to rise as wages grow at a slower pace than home prices.

The national median price for existing homes was $222,900, which was a year-over-year increase of 4.90 percent. This was the 29th consecutive month for year-over-year price gains for existing homes. The inventory of existing homes for sale increased by 3.50 percent to 2.37 million available homes and represents a 5.50 month supply. Unsold inventory of existing homes is 5.80 percent higher year-over-year. As compared to July 2013's reading of 2.24 million available pre-owned homes.

Homes sold through foreclosure or short sales have steeply declined from 36 percent of existing home sales in 2009 to approximately 9 percent in July and were down from 15 percent of existing home sales in June.

Monday, August 25, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - Aug 25, 2014

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week Aug 25 2014Last week's economic news brought several reports related to housing. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for August rose by two points to 55, which was its highest reading in seven months.

Components of the NAHB HMI include builder surveys on conditions related to upcoming sales of new homes, which rose by two points for a reading of 65. Builder sentiment concerning present sales conditions also rose by two points to 58.

Builder views on prospective buyer traffic rose from 39 to 42. Readings above 50 indicate that more builders viewed housing market conditions as positive as negative.

NAHB cited job growth and low mortgage rates as conditions driving higher builder confidence in market conditions.

Housing Starts, Building Permits Up in July

According to the Commerce Department, housing starts and building permits rose in July. Housing starts increased to 1.09 million from June's reading of 945,000 and exceeded expectations of 975,000. This reading reflects higher builder confidence and could contribute to easing demand for housing as new homes expand the inventory of available homes.

Construction of single family homes accounts for about 75 percent of new home construction. July's reading was 656,000 single family housing starts on an annual basis. Regionally, housing starts declined by 25 percent in the Midwest, but rose by 44 percent in the Northeast, 29 percent in the South and 18.60 percent in the West.

Building permits issued in July rose to an annual rate of 1.05 million, which was an increase of 8.10 percent over June's reading of 973,000 permits issued. Permits for single family homes increased by 0.90 percent to a reading of 640,000 permits annually.

July's readings for housing starts and building permits are in line with overall economic growth and suggest that housing markets may improve in coming months as the supply of new homes increases.

Let's add more icing to the cake. The National Association of REALTORS® reported that existing home sales rose to 5.15 million on a seasonally adjusted annual basis against predictions of 5.00 million existing homes sold and June's reading of 5.05 million sales of previously owned homes.

Mortgage Rates Fall, FOMC Minutes Indicate Economic Improvement

Freddie Mac's weekly survey of mortgage rates reported that average rates fell across the board: The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by two basis points to 4.10 percent with discount point lower at 0.50 percent.

The rate for a 15-year mortgage dropped by one basis point to 3.24 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.60 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by two basis points to 2.95 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve released minutes from its July meeting. Highlights included the committee's 9-1 vote in favor of continuing the slow pace of reducing economic stimulus.

The minutes indicated that the committee intends to keep the federal funds rate below normal levels for "some time." Previous FOMC statements have consistently indicated the Fed's intention to maintain very low short-term interest rates after asset purchases under QE3 end in October, but FOMC has not released a specific time frame or details of its intentions concerning the federal funds rate.

The Fed acknowledged economic improvements, but cited lingering concerns over unemployment, which remains higher than average.

More Good News: Jobless Claims Lower, Economic Indicators Up

Weekly jobless claims fell to 298,000, lower than expectations of 300,000 new jobless claims and the prior week's reading of 312,000 new claims. Leading economic indicators (LEI) rose by 0.89 percent in July after increases in May and June. Analysts interpreted this reading as a further indication of stronger economic conditions.

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic reports include New Home Sales, the Case-Shiller Home Price Index and FHFA House Price Index. General economic reports include the Consumer Confidence Index and the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index. It will be interesting to see whether consumer views of the economy are consistent with recent economic improvements.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The 5-Minute Guide To Flood Insurance: What It Is, How It Works, And Whether You Need It

The 5-Minute Guide to Flood Insurance: What It Is, How It Works, and Whether You Need ItYou've got house insurance, and assume your property is covered for any type of detrimental occurrence that can possibly take place.

However, not all homeowners are aware that home insurance policies don't necessarily cover damage related to a flood, as the risks are too great. As a result, homeowners must purchase flood insurance through a private company.

Floods are one of the most common hazards in the US, costing billions of dollars in damage to properties every year.

Since this is a common issue lately, the federal government updating these policies currently so please talk with your real estate professional or local insurance company for the most up to date information.

What Is Flood Insurance?

Flood insurance policies are typically made available to homeowners in flood-prone areas. The majority of insurance policies cover some form of water damage, from things like leaking faucets to bursting plumbing pipes.

However, such policies don't cover water damage as a result of flooding of rivers or sewers that cause water to ruin a home.

Specific flood protection is provided by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Standard flood insurance policies cover "direct physical damage" to a property resulting from floods.

A separate policy must be purchased to protect the belongings inside the home or building. Homeowners can buy up to $250,000 in coverage for the home, and up to $100,000 in coverage for possessions. Even renters are permitted to purchase flood insurance to cover their possessions.

How Does Flood Insurance Work?

Flood insurance isn't sold by FEMA directly, but rather is sold to customers through private insurance agencies. Premium rates are determined by the government, and they remain consistent from one insurer to the next.

How much a homeowner pays for their own specific flood insurance depends on a number of factors, including how prone the neighborhood is to floods and how much coverage a homeowner wants. The average annual premium is approximately $520 for $100,000 worth of coverage for a property with no basement, and approximately $615 annually for a property with a basement.

Filing A Flood Insurance Claim

The claims process is like any other insurance claim. Once the claim is filed, the damage will be analyzed by an adjustor assigned by the insurance company. A "proof of loss" form will need to filled out and submitted to the insurer within 60 days of the flood occurrence.

Do You Need Flood Insurance?

It's necessary to find out if you are eligible for flood insurance before buying it. For residents of a community to be eligible, the community needs to enforce floodplain statutes to lessen the chances of flood damage, after which FEMA ensures that such regulations are followed.

Only those who reside in a community that participates in NFIP can buy insurance - today, about 20,000 communities across the country participate in this program.

FEMA offers maps that outline what areas are at high risk for floods, and those that are at moderate-to-low risk. The law requires homeowners to have flood insurance if the properties are located in a high-risk zone and have a federally-backed mortgage. This is because properties located in these high-risk areas have a 26 percent chance of suffering flood damage during the 30 years that it would take to pay off a mortgage.

Homeowners are not required to buy flood insurance if they reside in a moderate-to-low-risk zone, though it may be a good idea to purchase it anyway. Properties outside the high-risk areas make up over 20 percent of NFIP claims. Homeowners in these areas can purchase up to $200,000 in flood insurance.

The bottom line is, even if you don't necessarily live in a high-risk zone, this doesn't mean your home won't ever get flooded. Many conditions can result in flood damage, including clogged drain systems, flash rainstorms, and damaged levees.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Saving the Best for Last: Why You Want to Save the Best Rooms in Your Home for the End of the Showing

Saving the Best for Last: Why You Want to Save the Best Rooms in Your Home for the End of the ShowingDo you remember when you were buying your first home?

You may have looked at dozens before you settled on the perfect home for your family to live and grow in. Perhaps another home came in a close second, but you ultimately settled on that house or apartment – the one you're now selling.

Chances are you don't remember anything much about most of the homes you viewed, and the things that stand out are the best (that bedroom with a fireplace!) or as bad as they can be (remember the sofa placed over the cigarette burn in the carpet?).

When you're staging your own home and giving tours to prospective buyers, it's important to give them something to remember, and saving the best for last is one way to do it.

First In, First Out

When it comes to memories, older isn't necessarily better.

In fact, research shows that the brain clears out older memories to make room for new ones. That's why what you did today is fresh in your mind, but things get hazy when you think about last week or try to remember life as a child.

If you show off the best rooms in the house toward the end of the tour, it will stick in the buyer's mind after she leaves.

Just like you make sure the first impression is good - this is known as 'curb appeal' - you'll want to end on a high note. This helps sell your home faster.

Doorway To The Mind

Entering a new room causes you to forget why you're there in the first place. Researcher Gabriel Radvansky from Notre Dame completed a year-long study about this phenomenon, which is also known as 'event boundaries.' In essence, your brain compartmentalizes data to a specific location.

When you're indoors, the walls around you literally become mental boundaries. As soon as you step through a doorway, you forget that you meant to put the phone back on the hook. For home buyers, every new doorway acts as an event boundary.

If you put the bedroom with the fireplace or the outdoor jacuzzi in the first half of your tour, buyers will walk through a lot of doorways after seeing some of the best parts of your home.

Every doorway is an opportunity for their brains to forget something that might help you when it comes to getting the sale closed. Put fewer doorways between the strongest architectural or design features and the end of the tour to make the biggest impact.

If you have further questions about staging, contact your real estate agent today for advice and strategies.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Home Buying Tips: Three Items to Watch out for in a Purchase Agreement Contract

Home Buying Tips: Three Items to Watch out for in a Purchase Agreement ContractThe purchase agreement is a vitally important document that outlines the provisions, terms and conditions for the transfer of property.

It should be read carefully and any ambiguities should be clarified prior to signing. It is a legally binding contract between the buyer and seller.

The purchase agreement may vary depending on the location. Most real estate agents use a form that has been approved by a state Realtors® Association.

The seller may have a different version that was drawn up by an attorney. It should not be assumed that they are all the same.

Typically, the purchase agreement will include an inspection period. This allows the buyer time to verify the conditions stated on the purchase agreement. Three of the most important stipulations in the contract are listed below.

All Owners Must Sign the Purchase Agreement

In most cases, the purchase agreement should be signed by the legal owner of the property.

If there is more than one owner, each owner should sign the agreement. In many states, both parties in a married couple have an interest in a property even if the title is held in one party's name alone. Therefore, the purchase agreement should be signed by both parties of a married couple.

In the event the property is being sold by a corporation, verify that the person signing the agreement is authorized to commit the corporation to the sale.

List All Fixtures to be Transferred with the Sale

The purchase agreement should list all items that are to convey with the property. "Fixtures" are considered items that are attached to the property.

Legally, they should be included with the sale, but more than a few buyers have been dismayed to find the property stripped of countertops, appliances and window coverings. Any fixtures and personal property that are part of the sale should be included in the purchase agreement.

Verify Zoning Ordinances

The purchase agreement may contain various stipulations. One should include the right to cancel the contract if zoning prohibits the use of the property as planned.

Zoning ordinances may restrict the use of buildings or land. This may prove to be an obstacle for someone who intended to include a workshop on the property. The buyer should be able to withdraw from the contract if they discover that zoning prohibits the intended use.

These agreements can be complicated, so be sure to check with a local real estate agent if you're unsure about how to proceed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Selling Tips: Four Surefire Ways to Irritate Potential Buyers and How to Avoid These Costly Mistakes

Selling Tips: Four Surefire Ways to Irritate Potential Buyers and How to Avoid These Costly MistakesIrritating any potential buyers is the last thing you want to do when selling a house because it is can be a challenging and sometimes lengthy process.

The buyer is going to have a wide array of options when deciding on a new home, so they have no problem going somewhere else if they see something they do not like.

While there are a plethora of ways for a seller to irritate a potential home buyer, these are the four most common – and most costly.

Pricing The House Too High

There is nothing worse you can do when trying to sell a home than pricing it too high. While you may think that it gives you room for the buyer to counter at a lower price, they are more likely to simply ignore your listing entirely even if the home is a good fit. The best way to keep this from happening is by pricing your home in the same price range as the rest of the neighborhood.

Not Making Home Repairs

Buyers are going to be immediately turned off if they walk into the home and see a state of disrepair. Not taking the time to make small visible fixes is going to make the buyer think that the house is going to have major issues. Taking the time to get the house in great shape before showing it at an open house will ensure the house sells faster.

Leaving Your Stuff Everywhere

Buyers want to feel like they could move into the house as soon as the purchase is finalized. They also want to envision themselves living in the home, and this is almost impossible if you have your personal items throughout the house. This is more difficult to pull off when selling a home you are currently living in, but it is best to stage the home with as few personal items as possible.

Getting Emotionally Invested

While you may have lived in your house for years, you have to drop any emotional attachment to the home the second it hits the market. You can't take it personally if the buyer wants to make a major change to the house after the purchase. Their idea of a perfect home is not going to be the same as yours. The best way to make sure you do not insult the buyer when they bring up their vision of the home is by letting your agent handle home viewings. If you have become too attached to your home or are guilty of any of the other three things on this list, then you make sure they are corrected before your next open house.

Monday, August 18, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - Aug 18, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week Aug 18 2014Last week's economic news brought little housing-related content, but several economic reports in other sectors contributed to overall perceptions of the economy.

In a speech given in Sweden, Fed Vice President Stanley Fischer noted that the economy might be in a period of "secular stagnation." This condition is expected to keep interest rates low for longer than expected.

A survey of small business owners showed that confidence increased by 0.70 in July. Job openings for June increased from 4.60 million to 4.70 million. Readings for several reports fell shy of expectations and new jobless claims were higher than expected.

Economic Readings Lower Than Expected, Weekly Jobless Claims Rise

Retail sales for July were flat and fell shy of June's reading of 0.20 percent, which was also the expected reading for July. Retail sales except autos were also lower in July with a reading of 0.10 percent against the expected reading and June's reading of 0.40 percent.

Weekly jobless claims were reported at 311,000 against expectations of 300,000 new claims and the prior week's reading of 290,000 new jobless claims. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, this was the highest reading since June.

New jobless claims were close to pre-recession levels which suggested a slower pace of layoffs. The four-week average of new jobless claims, which presents a less volatile reading than for weekly reports, rose by 2000 new jobless claims to a reading of 285,750.

Mortgage Rates Lower

Freddie Mac's weekly survey reported lower mortgage rates last week. Average rates were as follows: 30-year fixed rate mortgages had a rate of 4.12 percent and were two basis points lower than the previous week.

Discount points averaged 0.60 percent against the prior week's reading of 0.70 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.24 percent as compared to the prior week's reading of 3.27 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.60 percent.

The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by one basis point to 2.97 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent.

A couple of good news bytes from last week included an increase in small business sentiment in July. The National Federation of Independent Business Index for July increased from June's reading of 95.00 points to 95.70 points.

The federal government also reported that job openings increased from 4.60 million in May to 4.70 million in June.

What's Ahead

Several housing-related reports are set for release this week. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) will release its Home Builder Index for August, which measures builder confidence in market conditions for newly built homes.

The Department of Commerce will release Housing Starts for July, and the National Association of REALTORS® will release its Existing Home Sales report for July. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve will release the minutes of its most recent meeting on Wednesday; this could provide details concerning the Fed's recent monetary policy decisions, which include the wind-down of asset purchases under the current quantitative easing program.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Six Key Questions to Ask when Hiring a Real Estate Agent to Market and Sell Your Home

Six Key Questions to Ask when Hiring a Real Estate Agent to Market and Sell Your HomeThe work of a real estate agent can make or break how a prospective buyer feels about the property. Now that it's time to sell your home, you want to find the right agent to market it.

How do you find someone you can trust who will make you feel confident they can sell your home quickly for the best price possible? Here are the questions you should be asking.

Are They Licensed?

This one is the easy one. You should be working with a member of the National Association of Realtors®. It is also important that you check whether they have any complaints on record about their practices.

You can check with your state's real estate department as well.

Are They Successful?

A successful real estate agent is more than the number of sales they have completed. You should also find out the average difference between listing and selling prices on their most recent sales.

If an agent is closing deals at far below the original asking price consistently, that might be a red flag.

How Busy Are They?

Make sure you ask in advance how often the agent will contact you and how they will keep you informed of potential buyers. If you're going to be working with one of their associates at times, you should know.

How Familiar Are They With Your Neighborhood?

A real estate agent is not just marketing your home – they're marketing your entire community. If they have closed nearby sales before, they are familiar with the selling points of the neighborhood as well as the right price range for properties similar to yours.

How Much Commission Do They Expect?

Normally you will pay the agent about 6 percent of the sale price. If you find one that offers their services for a low percentage, you should know why. Are they just trying to stay competitive? Or do they expect you to do a large share of the marketing yourself?

Do They Have A Plan?

The real estate agent should be able to tell you exactly which marketing techniques they would use for your home and how they plan to promote the listing. They should come to the table with ideas from the very beginning.

Call me at (404) 918-2500 and let's get started today!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Considering a Major Home Addition? Why a Detached Garage Can Drastically Improve Your Resale Price

Considering a Major Home Addition? Why a Detached Garage Can Drastically Improve Your Resale PriceBefore you make a major structural change to your property, it is important to consider how this will affect your resale value. While there are many steps that you can take to improve your property, the addition of a detached garage may be beneficial to you and may drastically improve your resale price when you are ready to sell.

You can contact a trusted real estate agent today to obtain customized information about how the addition of a detached garage may affect your property's value.

Adding Square Footage to Your Home

As a property owner, you may be well aware that one of the most common ways the value of your property is determined is by the market rate for price per square foot of homes in the area.

While factors such as age of the property, condition of the property and amenities in the neighborhood may affect whether your property's price per square foot is above or below market average, the kind of the improvements has a direct impact on property value.

While adding a detached garage adds overall square footage to the property, it generally won't be considered at the same rate as finished square footage within the home.  However, outbuilding improvements do add value to your property and a real estate agent can help you to determine the true financial gain you may experience through this addition.

Increasing Appeal to Potential Buyers

Properties that are more appealing to potential buyers may sell for a higher price. When you add a detached garage to your property, you may be adding style and function to the property by adding a place to park vehicles and to store items like seasonal items and lawn equipment. You can also create a detached garage with a workshop or another functional area for added appeal.

Transforming Existing Space

Some home additions will add a detached garage to a property because a garage was never constructed on the property, but others will be added because the homeowner wants to transform the existing garage attached to the home into a more functional area. For example, a new home addition, may turn the existing garage into a living room, a bedroom or another functional area. With the addition of a detached garage, the property owner can retain the benefits of having a garage while also improving the functional use of the main area of the home.

The addition of a detached garage can benefit you and your family in a number of ways, and it can also improve the resale value of your home. By speaking with a real estate agent, you can get a better idea about how this addition will affect your property.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Scam Alert! Three Mortgage Modification Scams to Watch out for (And How to Avoid Them)

Scam Alert! Three Mortgage Modification Scams to Watch out for (And How to Avoid Them)As if homeowners who are facing foreclosure don't have enough to worry about, a multitude of loan modification scam artists have invaded the internet, public files and even foreclosure notices in newspapers in hopes of targeting their next victim. By identifying the top three modification scams and learning how to avoid them, at-risk homeowners can protect themselves (and their homes).

Never Pay For Mortgage Modification Assistance

Many desperate homeowners fall victim to scam artists who offer to provide them with assistance in the loan modification process for an exorbitant fee. Many times the scam artist who promises to provide assistance will require that the homeowner pay the fee upfront, after which they will provide very little assistance or simply take the money and run. Consumers should be aware that assistance and counseling services are offered for free through a number of reputable HUD approved counseling agencies.

Avoid Transferring The Deed

One popular scam that at-risk homeowners often face is the property deed scam in which scam artists promise to purchase the home in question, agreeing to let the desperate homeowner rent it out. They suggest that turning over the deed to a borrower with a better credit rating will offer additional financing opportunities, thus preventing the loss of the home. The scammer often promises to sell the home back to the homeowner, but in reality has no intention of doing so.

Many times the scam artist will sell the home to another buyer. In some instances, the crook will collect any processing fees, take the title to the home and any equity, and then leave the home to default. It is a good idea for consumers who are approached with a property deed scam to report it to the FTC.

Ignore Unrealistic Promises

Mortgage modification scammers often make promises to do such things as negotiate a solution to the foreclosure more quickly, process mortgage payments for the consumer while the negotiation is being worked out, or even guarantee a loan modification. Since the actual lender is the only one who can agree to a loan modification, and this solution requires additional processing time, overnight fixes are almost always scams. Additionally, consumers should never make mortgage payments to anyone other than their lender.

Monday, August 11, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - Aug 11, 2014

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week Aug 11 2014

Last week's housing related news was minimal, but a Federal Reserve survey of senior loan officers revealed that although credit standards for commercial and industrial loans as well as credit cards are easing, current mortgage credit standards are more stringent than in 2005. This could be a contributing factor to slowing housing market gains while other sectors of the economy are recovering at a faster pace.

Qualified Mortgage Rules Impact Non-Conforming Mortgages

The Senior Loan Officers survey also noted that qualified mortgage rules have slowed approval of prime jumbo mortgages and non-traditional home loans. This suggests that applicants falling outside of stringent qualified mortgage rules can expect challenges when buying or refinancing their homes.

In other housing news, Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey reported that last week's mortgage rates were mixed. Mortgage rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.14 percent with discount points of 0.70 percent against last week's reading of 4.12 percent with discount points of 0.60 percent. 15-year mortgage rates averaged 3.27 percent with discount points of 0.60 percent. This was an increase of four basis points, although discount points fell from 0.70 percent to 0.60 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was 2.98 percent, a drop of two basis points, with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent.

Fewer Jobless Claims, Service-Related Business Growth Exceeds Expectations 

The weekly Jobless Claims report brought a lower than expected reading of 289,000 new claims as compared to predictions of 305,000 new jobless claims. In other economic news, the Institute for Service Management (ISM) reported that its non-manufacturing index rose from June's reading of 56.00 percent to 58.70 percent in July. Analysts had forecasted July's reading at 56.50 percent. July's reading represented the highest growth rate for service-related businesses since 2005.

According to the Department of Commerce, June factory orders rose by 1.10 percent over May's reading of -0.60 percent against an expected reading of 0.60 percent. As business expands and factory orders increase, it's likely that jobs and hiring will also grow. Steady employment is a compelling factor for most home buyers and positive reports in labor and industrial sectors could boost housing markets as more buyers increase demand for homes.

What's Ahead

Next week's economic reports include retail sales, retail sales excluding automotive, industrial production and the weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. While there isn't much housing news expected next week, readings in other economic sectors can suggest potential trends in housing markets

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Lowballing 101: How to Avoid Insulting a Home Seller when Making a Low Offer for Their House or Condo

Lowballing 101: How to Avoid Insulting a Home Seller when Making a Low Offer for Their House or CondoBuying a home is a huge step for people who are ready to make an investment in their future. Getting a great deal on a home is just as important and knowing how much to offer could be confusing. It is important to make sure the home seller is not insulted by the lowball offer and is ready to negotiate to make sure everyone wins.

Make a List of Necessary Improvements

One of the best ways to validate a lowball offer on a home is to list improvements that need to be made to the property. If the home needs a new roof or a new heating and air conditioning system, these are reasons to offer less than the asking price. Sometimes a home may also need new flooring, paint, or matching appliances which all cost money. The buyer can make a lowball offer stating additional expenses of making sure the home is move in ready.

Explain Any Issues with the Location

Another option when considering a lowball offer is to point out problems with the location. If the home is on a busy street or close to a manufacturing district, the buyer has legitimate concerns. In the offer, list the potential problems of living too close to fast food restaurants, train tracks, or airports. A less desirable location could equal a great buy on a new home.

Provide Pricing for Comparable Homes in the Area

A knowledgeable real estate agent can help compare homes that have sold in the area. When you are writing up a lowball offer, look at the lower priced homes that have sold in the same neighborhood. A seller will quickly realize that if he wants to sell the home, he will need to accept a reasonable offer or risk letting his house sit on the market for weeks or months.

Consider the Seller's Reasons for Selling

Finally, the seller's situation can also be key in getting a good deal on a home. If the seller is desperate to sell because of a job relocation or if he has already bought a new home this can be the perfect reason to make a low offer and take the home off the seller's hands. Without insulting the seller, the buyer can make an offer for less than the asking price and agree to a quick closing.

Buying a home can be stressful and getting a good deal on the property without insulting the seller can take some negotiating. Working with a knowledgeable real estate agent will make the experience more enjoyable. Call today to make your dreams come true.

3 Reasons Why Changing Your Kitchen And Dining Room Lighting Fixtures Can Increase Your Sale Price

3 Reasons Why Changing Your Kitchen And Dining Room Lighting Fixtures Can Increase Your Sale PriceIf you are considering selling your home, you may be wondering if there are things that you can do to increase your sale price. The truth is, you could spend thousands of dollars updating your home, but most homeowners will not want to put in such a large investment without knowing how much it will add to the selling price. Fortunately, there are more affordable things that can be done.

One affordable change to your home that can increase your sale price is to change your kitchen and dining room lighting fixtures. There are a number of reasons why this can work. Here are three of them:

Buyers are Looking for Entertainment Areas in New Homes

One reason that changing your kitchen and dining room lighting fixtures can increase your sale price is because buyers are looking for areas where they can entertain. Most people who are looking for a new home will be thinking about the things they can do with the home, and one of these things is entertaining their friends and family.

Buyers are willing to pay more on homes that have these nicely decorated areas, so updating your kitchen and dining room lighting can help to bring in a bit more money.

The Kitchen and Dining Room are the Center of Family Life

Another reason that people will pay more on a home with new lighting fixtures is because the kitchen and dining room are seen as the center of family life. In this scenario, buyers know that they will be spending a lot of time in these rooms and thus, want to be sure that these areas are nicely decorated.

New Kitchen and Dining Room Light Fixtures Will Brighten Up the Home

Finally, you will want to update the lighting fixtures in your kitchen and dining room because new fixtures can brighten up your home. You might have heard real estate agents talk about how important it is to have bright lights and open window shades during open houses since it can make your home look better. New, brighter lights can also help your rooms look bigger. Sometimes it will all come down to an optical illusion.

For more information on adding new lighting fixtures to your kitchen and dining room in order to increase sales, contact a local real estate professional. They will be able to give you some tips on these rooms and offer information on how you can spruce up the rest of your home before putting it on the market.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

DIY Home Improvement: How to Spice Up That Boring Basement by Adding a New Bar

DIY Home Improvement: How to Spice Up That Boring Basement by Adding a New BarIf you live in a home with a basement, you may have already started finishing it, or you may have big plans to convert the space into something more usable and practical. When it comes to basement renovations, few projects add as much value and opportunity for entertainment as adding in a basement bar.

A bar is an easy home improvement project to complete, and you can use it for entertaining family and friends. Here’s a quick guide to installing a bar in your basement and turning that dank, dreary room into a great space for making new memories.

Preparing For The Bar Addition

First, you need to select the space that is best-suited for the bar. The ideal space will be an open area near the corner of the room or even near an entryway. The space should allow for seating for at least two or three bars stools, but you may desire a larger bar area.

Most bar areas will have water and electricity features, and it will be easier and less expensive if you choose an area of the room that has these services running through the walls. If water and electricity are easily accessible, you simply have to build a wall and add a counter top to the area. If you cannot complete this work on your own, you can hire a contractor for assistance.

Hiring Contractors For Special Tasks

A fully functional bar area may have overhead cabinetry for storage as well as a small sink to rinse out glasses and to wash hands. In addition, it may have electricity for lighting mounted under the cabinets or for display lights over the seating areas.

While some individuals may have the skills to complete this work on their own, you may consider outsourcing these special tasks to a contractor. This will ensure that the work is completed to code, and it also means the work might be completed sooner than if you tried to do it yourself.

Once you’ve built the bar and hooked up the water and electricity, you simply have to add a few bar stools, stock up on glasses and liquor, and start enjoying the space. A new bar addition will be a welcome feature in your home's basement, and you can easily get started working on this project today. For more fun and trendy basement renovation ideas, contact a real estate professional in your community today.

Five Tips for Managing Your Monthly Budget to Ensure Your Mortgage is Paid On-Time, Every Time

Five Tips for Managing Your Monthly Budget to Ensure Your Mortgage is Paid On-Time, Every TimeHomeowners who are struggling to make their monthly mortgage payments can make it easier on themselves by cutting costs in other areas. Learning how to budget effectively will likely enable homeowners to pay their mortgage payments on-time, every time. Here are five of the best budget tips:

Conserve Energy

It is advisable to be mindful of energy use in order to keep utility bills down to a minimum. Lights, televisions and other devices requiring electrical power are best to leave off in unoccupied rooms. It is also a good idea to make sure that windows and doors are properly sealed so that energy is not wasted.

Stay Committed to Couponing

All too often, coupons that arrive in newspapers or through emails are quickly discarded. Collecting coupons from various sources can give homeowners the chance to save big on groceries, entertainment and other everyday purchases. Some of the savviest consumers have been known to spend practically nothing on their purchases by simply staying committed to the art of couponing.

Watch Credit Card Usage

Having a credit card often creates a false sense of financial security. Many card holders are tempted to charge their credit cards up to their limits only to be burdened with high interest rates and inflated minimum payments. Credit cards are best to use only in times of emergencies.

Consider Alternative Transportation Methods

Fuel costs, auto repairs and other expenses associated with driving a vehicle on a frequent basis can make it much harder for homeowners to stay on top of their mortgage payments. People who have access to adequate public transportation may be able to significantly reduce their commute costs. Car sharing services give people the opportunity to use a car on an as-needed basis and often prove to be a smarter alternative to owning a vehicle.

Keep Expense Records

It can also be easier to set money aside for mortgage payments if expenses are carefully monitored with a detailed eye. It is best to closely scrutinize receipts, bank statements and other financial documents for any discrepancies. Keeping track of expenses on a spreadsheet so that all financial information is clearly displayed may be another practical idea.

Smart budgeting practices can help homeowners save the extra money they need to pay their monthly mortgage payments before each due date passes.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Former Smoker? A Quick Guide on Getting Rid of Smoke Smells and Paint Stains Before a Home Sale

Former Smoker? A Quick Guide on Getting Rid of Smoke Smells and Paint Stains Before a Home SaleAs exciting as selling a home should be, there's no denying that it can be a stressful endeavor for those interested in making their home an attractive option for buyers. Nowhere is this more evident than for homeowners who were former smokers.

While it's truly commendable to quit smoking, removing the smell of smoke from a home can feel like an impossible task. With that in mind, here are some of the most effective ways to make smoke smell and paint stain removal as effortless as possible.

Make Preparations Beforehand

Cigarette smoke has a nasty habit of permeating through every facet of a home. As such, it can be difficult to pinpoint the areas that are most problematic. Before starting the cleaning process, open all of the doors and windows throughout the home to help it air out naturally.

It's also worth mentioning that many longtime smokers have difficulty picking up the odor that they've become accustomed to. If you know someone that isn't a smoker, invite them over and ask them to point out any problem areas.

Treat Your Home Like a Quarantine Zone

Unfortunately, a home that is infested with smoke can create a cyclical effect on anything that is washed. If you want your clothing and linens to stop carrying the smell, you'll need an alternative to your own washer and dryer. Of course, you'll also need to keep them away from your home for the remaining duration of the cleaning process.

In particular, carpets have a habit of retaining smoke smells long after you've quit. With this in mind, taking care of any carpets or curtains in your home should be a top priority.

Account For Deeper Problems

Once you've given your home a steam cleaning treatment and washed all of the stained surfaces down with a mixture of water and bleach, you may still discover that some areas of the house are still affected. At this point, it's time to simply accept your losses and purchase a replacement. A nice smelling home will be far more attractive to buyers than one that inexplicably reeks of smoke.

If you're unsure of any further steps to take in preparing your home for a sale, don't hesitate to contact your real estate agent and request more information. Your home deserves a high price for all of the effort you've put into cleaning it.

Monday, August 4, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - Aug 4, 2014

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week Aug 4 2014Last week's economic news included a number of housing related reports. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, pending home sales dropped by 1.10 percent in June. The S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports for May noted that home prices are growing at a slower rate of 9.30 percent year-over-year than April's year-over-year growth rate of 10.80 percent. Construction spending was also lower in June.

The Fed's FOMC statement indicated that asset purchases connected to quantitative easing will cease in October, but that the current target federal funds rate is expected to stay in place "a considerable period" after asset purchases conclude. FOMC noted its concern over housing markets, which was based on slower home price growth and market activity.

Pending Home Sales, Home Price Growth Slower

Pending home sales dropped by 1.10 percent nationwide in June. This was the first decrease in four months. Pending home sales rose by 1.10 percent in the Midwest and 0.20 percent in the West, but dropped by 2.90 percent in the Northeast and 2.40 percent in the South. Pending sales are measured by signed purchase contracts and provide an indicator of future completed sales and mortgage loan activity.

The 20-city Case-Shiller Home Price Index for May fell by 1.50 percent to a year-over-year reading of 9.30 percent from April's 10.80 percent. No cities in the 20-city index reported declining home prices.

Construction spending fell by 1.80 percent in June against projections of an 0.30 percent increase in spending and May's reading of an 0.80 percent increase. Reasons cited for lower construction spending included builder focus on high-demand areas. Builders have also indicated concerns about rising mortgage rates and tight loan requirements that impact numbers of home buyers that can qualify for home loans.

Mortgage Rates Little Changed, Fed Continues Wind-Down of Asset Purchases

According to Freddie Mac's weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey, rates were little changed last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 4.12 percent as compared to 4.13 percent the prior week. Discount points were unchanged at an average of 0.60 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by three basis points to 3.23 percent with discount points higher by 10 basis points at 0.70 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by one basis point to 2.38 percent with average discount points of 0.40 percent unchanged.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve issued its customary post-meeting statement on Wednesday. The FOMC plans to continue reducing asset purchase under the current quantitative easing program until the purchases cease in October. Although some analysts were concerned that the Fed may consider raising its target federal funds rate based on lower than expected unemployment figures, the FOMC said it doesn't plan to raise the target federal funds "for a considerable time" after the QE purchases cease, but no specific timeline was given.

Labor Sector News

The Department of Commerce's Bureau of Labor Statistics posted a national unemployment rate of 6.20 percent for July, which was higher than expectations of a 6.00 percent national unemployment rate and June's reading of 6.10 percent. To put these readings in perspective, the Fed had established an unemployment rate of 6.50 percent as a benchmark for winding down its asset purchases and potentially raising the target federal funds rate.

Non-farm payrolls reported 209,000 jobs added in July against projections of 235,000 jobs added and June's reading of 298,000 jobs added. While July's reading was lower, analysts said that job growth suggests ongoing recovery for labor markets. Labor markets have been cited in recent months as reasons for slower demand for homes and home builder skepticism.

Next week's scheduled economic news contains no housing-related reports other than Freddie Mac's mortgage rates report.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Definitive Guide to Boosting the Number of Offers on Your Home in a Slow Sales Market

The Definitive Guide to Boosting the Number of Offers on Your Home in a Slow Sales MarketThe economy and the real estate market are finally on the upswing after the 'Great Recession'. However, in many locations, the housing market is still slow.

Homeowners who want their houses to sell need to do some homework before putting up that For Sale sign. Here are several tips to help your house sell sooner rather than later.

The Price Is Right

A house priced too high will languish on the market. Before listing your home for sale, make sure the price is appropriate.

Look at the prices of recently sold homes in your neighborhood. Focus on houses of similar size and condition to yours to find the best comparable sales prices.

Also, it may be worth having your home appraised to ensure that the list price is close to the actual market value.

Lean, Mean, Cleaning Machine

Prospective buyers want to see a pristine house. Make your home look perfect, inside and out, before you list it. Stop putting off all those repairs. Replace the cracked window, and fix that leaky faucet!

Curb appeal is a huge selling point. Your yard should be neatly trimmed and completely clean. It's time to put away the garden gnome. Consider hiring a professional landscaper to make your house stand out from the crowd.

The inside of your house should be spotless. Research home staging or hire a professional stager to prepare your home for listing. At the very least, de-clutter your house and remove all personal items. Prospective buyers want to imagine a house as their home, not yours.

Strike A Pose

Photographs accompanying a MLS listing are typically a buyer's first introduction to a house. Buyers often dismiss a house based on photographs alone, so make sure that yours are the best quality possible. Hire a professional photographer. Make sure your house is clean and well-staged. More photos are always better than less.

Agents Sell

A good real estate agent is key to selling your house quickly. Find an agent experienced in selling homes in your community and who has a well-organized marketing plan. A good agent will not only give you the above tips, but will also customize them to the demands of your neighborhood.

Pick up the phone today and chat with a real estate agent for more information while weeding the flower bed or de-cluttering the den. Soon enough, you'll be loading boxes onto a moving van as you journey onto your next adventure.