Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Autumn Home Staging: How to Set Your Home Up to Match the Warm, Rich Colors of Autumn

Autumn Home Staging: How to Set Your Home Up to Match the Warm, Rich Colors of AutumnCan you believe that autumn is already here? Autumn is not only a great time to enjoy some cooler weather, but it is also a perfect time to sell a home. If you want to sell your house this autumn, these home staging tips will have buyers pounding down your door.

Improve Your Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is easily the most important factor when it comes to selling a home, and it is even more important in the autumn. Maintaining great curb appeal can be difficult in autumn because of all the falling leaves.

Raking the leaves and planting some autumn flowers will make your home inviting to buyers. You can even add some pumpkins around the porch, if you desire.

Brighten Up The House

The shorter days of autumn make lighting more important when staging a home, because nobody wants to walk into a dark and depressing house. The best way to brighten up any house is by opening the blinds and turning on every light.

While it may not be great for the electric bill, the extra lighting will help the home sell quicker. You can even place some spotlights on the floor behind furniture to brighten up the darker rooms.

Make It Feel Comfortable

There is something about the cooling weather of autumn that makes people want to stay inside. Showing off how comfortable your home is will definitely pique buyers' interest. A great way to make your home more cozy during a showing is by playing seasonal music and handing out some fresh baked cookies - it adds a personal touch and a subtle sense of coziness.

Accent The Home With Autumn Colors

While it is impossible to change the color scheme of your home to fit the season, you can add some accent colors throughout the house. If you have a neutral colored couch, then you can easily throw some red or orange pillows on it to make it really stand out. Adding some autumn decorations to each room is also a great way to accent your home with autumn colors.

Autumn is an extremely popular time to buy or sell a house, and for good reason. Taking advantage of autumn's vibrant colors when you stage your home will give your house an irresistible appeal. For more information about how to sell your home in the autumn, or if you'd like to list your home for sale, contact an experienced real estate professional today.

Monday, September 29, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - Sept 29, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week Sept 29 2014Last week's economic news included several housing-related reports that provided mixed results with lower than expected sales of previously owned homes and higher than expected sales of new homes. The FHFA also released its House Price report for July, which noted that year-over-year home prices were lower than year-over-year prices reported in June. Here's a look at the details:

Existing Home Sales Lower, New Home Sales Higher

The National Association of REALTORS® reported August sales of existing home sales fell to 5.05 million previously owned homes sold. This was lower than the expected reading of 5.20 million existing homes sold and July's revised reading of 5.14 million previously owned homes sold on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. The consensus figure was based on the original reading of 5.15 million homes sold in July. While the sales pace of existing homes has slowed in recent months, August's reading marked the first time in five months that sales fell below the previous month's reading.

Analysts cited consumer concerns over sluggish labor markets as a deterrent to home sales, and also said that tighter mortgage credit standards are making it tough for first-time home buyers to purchase homes.

New home sales were higher in August according to the Department of Commerce. 504,000 new homes were sold and surpassed expected sales of 426,000 new homes and July's reading of 427,000 new homes sold. This surge propelled new home sales to their highest level since May 2008, and surpassed expectations of 426,000 new homes sold. The original reading for July was 412,000 new homes sold on a seasonally adjusted annual basis, but the Department of Commerce later adjusted July's reading to 427,000 new homes sold during July. Month-to-month readings for new home sales are notoriously volatile, and many analysts prefer to consider a rolling average of several months' new home sales data.

FHFA: Home Prices Rise in August, Regional Home Prices Higher Year-Over-Year

FHFA (Federal Housing Finance Agency), which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that prices of homes connected with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages grew by 0.10 percent in July; this was lower than the 0.30 percent growth in home prices reported in June. FHFA also said that prices of homes were up by 4.04 percent year over year; this again represented a slower pace in home price growth. This was the eighth consecutive monthly gain for FHFA home prices, but U.S. home prices remain approximately 6.40 percent below their peak in 2007.

Year-over-year home prices rose in all nine census divisions according to FHFA. While regional home prices ranged from -0.50 to +0.40 percent from June to July, FHFA reported that year-over-year home prices grew in all nine regions and varied between +1.60 percent in the Mid-Atlantic region to 7.20 percent in the Pacific region.

Mortgage Rates Mixed

Freddie Mac reported mixed readings for average mortgage rates last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped three basis points to 4.20 percent. 15 year mortgage rates averaged 3.36 percent, one basis point lower than the prior week's reading. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was two basis points higher at 3.08. Discount points remained steady at 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages, but dropped to 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Jobless Claims Rise, Consumer Sentiment Holds Steady

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that new jobless claims rose to 293,000 from the prior week's reading of 281,000 new jobless claims filed. The latest jobless claims reading was lower than expectations of 300,000 new jobless claims filed. Last week's economic reports were rounded out by the Consumer Sentiment Index, which held steady in September with a reading of 84.6. This reading was identical to July's reading and higher than the expected reading of 84.3.

What's Ahead

Next week's economic news will include the Case-Shiller Home Price Indices for July and Construction Spending for August.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Understanding Title Insurance and How It Impacts Your Mortgage Loan

Understanding Title Insurance and How It Impacts Your Mortgage LoanWhen you buy a home, you will be given a title to your new property. A title is a legal document that proves you own the property, and in most cases the title excludes other parties from making an ownership claim.

However, not all titles give you free and clear ownership of the property. Title insurance protects you and your lender from title disputes and other ownership issues that may arise. Here are just a few ways that title insurance can impact your mortgage.

How Title Insurance Protects A Lender

There are certain situations in which someone might put a lien on your property. New owners might see liens if the previous owner failed to pay the mortgage, if a contractor did work without the new owner's consent or if the previous owner owes unpaid property taxes.

If these liens were not disclosed prior to the sale, a buyer could face a situation where a third party is making a claim to the property. Should the title by voided in court, the insurance policy would repay the lender the outstanding balance on the mortgage. The policy is valid until the mortgage loan is paid off.

When a homeowner refinances, it may be necessary to purchase a new title loan policy, as the new loan will technically pay off the old loan.

How Title Insurance Protects A Buyer

Title loan policies do not just protect the lender. In many cases, the lender will require the buyer's title insurance to include an owner policy. This policy confirms that the buyer owns the title and that the title is free from defects.

The policy is in effect for as long as the buyer or his or her descendants own the house. Should a homeowner have his or her title challenged, the policy will cover all losses up to the amount of the original purchase price of the home.

How Much Does Title Insurance Cost?

The cost of title insurance can vary between locations. Sometimes, the purchase contract will stipulate that the seller is responsible for buying title insurance.

If this is the case, the buyer may pay nothing. However, it is common to pay on a sliding scale. Title insurance is usually a few hundred dollars for houses selling for under $500,000.

Title insurance is a great way to protect your investment in your home. It insures you against ownership disputes and liens, which means your house is truly yours. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Selling to Millennials: Three High-Tech Upgrades That Will Increase Your Home's Appeal to Young Buyers

Selling to Millennials: Three High-Tech Upgrades That Will Increase Your Home's Appeal to Young BuyersMillennials are finally starting to enter the real estate market after delaying home purchases for several years. With a completely new client base looking for homes, it is time to start making your home more appealing to these young buyers.

Millennials are used to using high-tech gadgets every day, so they are going to desire these things in their new home. While there are several high-tech upgrades you can make on your home, these three will appeal the most to young homebuyers.

Keyless Entry: Security for the New Millennium

Keyless entry doors are becoming a popular way of keeping a home secure while adding that great "wow" factor. These keyless entry systems mean there'll be no more fumbling for keys when all you want to do is get in the door. It may seem like something out of a sci-fi film, but several companies have mastered the art of keyless entry doors that you can use in your home today.

The door automatically locks when it is shut, and you will need the correct fingerprint to unlock the door. If you could show off a keyless entry system at your open house, you would immediately pique the interest of every young buyer interested in technology.

A Home Security System is a Great Practical Addition

A high-tech home security system will certainly make your home more appealing to young buyers, who may even be thinking about having children in the near future. No matter how safe your neighborhood is, everyone is always looking to feel more secure at home. Placing a few security cameras around the exterior of your home will allow you to know what is happening outside at all times, and buyers will love having that peace of mind.

Home Energy Monitor: For the Eco-Conscious Generation

Young people are extremely conscious of the environment, so they would love seeing a home energy monitor when shopping for a new home. A home energy monitor is able to track the energy use of every aspect of your home.

If you think your air conditioner is not running efficiently, a home energy monitor can tell you whether or not you're right. Since young people know about the dangers of improper energy use, they will want to make the home as efficient as possible.

Millennials are slowly entering the real estate market, and although they are starting to look at homes, you'll face a lot of competition from other homeowners looking to pass properties onto this new generation. These three upgrades will increase your home's value and make it more appealing to Millennial buyers. For more information about selling your home, contact a trusted real estate professional today.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

National Association of Realtors, Existing Home Sales Slip in August

National Association of Realtors Existing Home Sales Slip in AugustSales of previously owned homes fell in August according to the National Association of REALTORS®. This was the first decline in sales in five months. Although not welcome news to homeowners and real estate pros, there is good news. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS®, as first-time buyers and moderate income families may now have an opportunity to find and buy affordable homes.

Bidding wars and slim inventories of available homes made buying a home difficult for many prospective buyers in recent months, but Mr. Yun said that these obstacles have subsided in many markets. Other obstacles contributing to a slowdown in housing markets are labor markets, which have shown some improvement, and stringent mortgage credit requirements that became effective in January.

Analysts had expected an annual sales rate of 5.20 million existing homes in August against July's original reading of 5.15 million sales, which was later adjusted to 5.14 million sales of existing homes. August's reading was 5.05 million previously owned homes sold.

FHFA Home Sales Show Fractional Gain in July

FHFA, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, reported that July sales of homes connected with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac owned mortgages rose by a tenth of a percent in July on a seasonally-adjusted basis. On a year-over-year basis, home prices were 4.40 percent higher than in July 2013. It's important to bear in mind that FHFA reports a month behind the readings reported for existing home sales in August. Another thing to consider is that FHFA readings are based on properties connected with mortgages owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

First-Time Buyers Missing in Action

Falling home prices and sales volume may be due in part to a vortex of challenges facing first-time home buyers. The census bureau reports that homeownership rates have dropped for the 25-29 age groups; about 40.6 percent owned homes in 2007 as compared to 34.1 percent in 2013. The national unemployment rate for millennials is higher at approximately 9.00 percent as compared to the national unemployment rate for all workers at about 6.00 percent. Stricter mortgage rules and long-term under-employment are also impacting first-time buyers' ability to purchase homes. The inability of would-be first-time buyers to buy homes can impact buyers and sellers at all levels of local housing markets as most sellers rely on selling their existing home to fund down payments and closing costs for their next homes.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

House Hunting: Watch for These Five Small Signs That Can Indicate Much Bigger Problems with a Home

House Hunting: Watch for These Five Small Signs That Can Indicate Much Bigger Problems with a HomeIt’s not uncommon for homebuyers to recount horror stories about properties that appeared to be fine at first glance, but were actually hiding very expensive problems. If you fail to do your due diligence, you might find your dream house turning into a nightmare. The next time you walk through a house, pay attention for these five signs that the property might be hiding a unfortounate secret or two.

Mold, Water Spots and Water Damage

Older and newer homes alike may develop a leaky pipe or another similar plumbing issue from time to time, but any type of water issue can result in mold growth inside the walls. Water spots and warped wood indicate that the property has had a water issue in the past, and this means that the property should be more thoroughly inspected for mold growth before you make a purchase.

Doors and Windows That Stick

One of the most common signs of a foundation issue is doors and windows that stick or that are difficult to open and close. As you walk through the home, open and close the doors at leisure to identify if they are not in the frame properly. The issue should be reviewed by a structural home inspector or foundation contractor.

Small Cracks in the Walls

Some cracks in both interior and exterior walls can indicate that the home's foundation has shifted and is no longer flat and level. Significant issues may be indicated by molding or door frames that appear to have shifted after installation.

Fresh Paint on a Small Area of the Wall

Many property sellers will apply fresh paint to walls before listing a home for sale, and this is not necessarily a sign of damage to the home. However, when fresh paint is applied on one area of the wall alone, this may be a sign that the homeowner is attempting to conceal water damage or other related issues with the property. Further inspection of the property is in order.

Floors That Slant

Any time a floor slants to a level that you feel as though you are walking up or down across the home, this is a significant indicator that the foundation has shifted. Foundation issues result in the movement of the foundation that the entire home rests on, and this can result in an uneven feeling when you walk across the floor. If you notice that the floors in a property slant, you should schedule an inspection of the foundation.

These small signs are symptoms of large problems, and they should concern you. If you notice any of these problems on a walkthrough, walk away from the home and contact a real estate professional for assistance.

Monday, September 22, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - Sept 22, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week Sept 22 2014Last week's economic news largely concerned the Federal Reserve's FOMC meeting statement and a post-meeting conference given by Fed Chair Janet Yellen. The FOMC statement indicated that the Fed continued its wind-down of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities and that its purchases are expected to cease after the next FOMC meeting.

The FOMC statement said that committee members find the economy to be improving at a moderate pace and currently strong enough to further reduce the QE3 monthly asset purchases. The Fed seeks to achieve and sustain its dual mandate of maximum employment and an inflation rate of 2.00 percent. While the unemployment rate is lower than the Fed's benchmark of 6.50 percent, FOMC members cited concerns that the labor force is underutilized and that labor markets, while recovering, could use further improvement. The Fed repeated its customary statement that the Fed's monetary policies are not on a pre-determined course, and that FOMC members continually review and interpret developing financial and economic news as part of their decision-making process.

Chair Yellen explained during her press conference that it is not possible to provide a specific date when the Fed will change its target federal funds rate. Economists and media analysts expressed concerns that raising the target federal funds rate, which is currently at 0.00 to 0.250 percent, could cause overall interest rates to rise. Chair Yellen said that she expects the current target federal funds rate to remain for a “considerable time” after the QE asset purchases cease. She also said that it is impossible to provide a specific date when the Fed will change its target federal funds rate and cited multiple influences considered by FOMC when changing monetary policy.

Home Builder Confidence Grows, Housing Starts Fall

The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index rose by three points in September for a reading of 59. Analysts had predicted an index reading of 56 against August's reading of 55. September's reading was the third consecutive reading above 50. Stronger labor markets were cited as supporting the higher reading, but builders were also concerned by tight mortgage credit standards. Any reading above 50 indicates that more builders perceive market conditions for new homes as positive as those that do not.

August's housing starts were inconsistent with the Home Builders Index; according to the Department of Commerce, construction of new homes fell by 14.4 percent from July's reading to 956,000. Analysts expected 1.03 million starts against July's reading of 1.12 million homes started.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Weekly Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week. Average mortgage rates rose across the board with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage 11 basis points higher at 4.23 percent. The rate for a 15-year mortgage also rose by 11 basis points to 3.37 percent and the rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose from 2.99 to 3.06 percent. Average discount points were unchanged for all mortgage types at 0.50 percent.

New weekly jobless claims dropped to 280,000 against an expected reading of 305,000 and the prior week's adjusted reading of 316,000 new jobless claims. The original reading for the prior week was 315,000 new jobless claims. The less volatile four-week average of new jobless claim fell by 4,750 new claims to a reading of 299,500 new claims.

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic news brings multiple housing-related reports. The National Association of REALTORS® will release its Existing Home Sales report for August. Case-Shiller's monthly Housing Market Index report and the FHFA's Home Value report will bring new light to national market trends. The Department of Commerce will release its New Home Sales report, and as usual, Freddie Mac's weekly report on mortgage rates will come out on Thursday.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Federal Open Market Committee, Fed Chair: No Rush to Raise Rates

Federal Open Market Committee Fed Chair No Rush to Raise Rates Wednesday's customary post-meeting statement issued by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve provided some relief to investors and analysts concerned that the Fed may soon raise its target federal funds rate. The target federal funds rate has held steady at between 0.00 and 0.25 percent since the inception of the Fed's current quantitative easing program. The FOMC statement indicated that the committee does not expect to raise the target federal funds rate until the Fed's dual mandate of maximum employment and reaching its target inflation rate is achieved.

FOMC members don't expect the wind-down of scheduled securities purchases under the quantitative easing program to cause long-term interest rates to rise quickly. The FOMC statement indicates that the Fed expects its current holdings and acquisitions of securities to hold down long-term interest rates and help with achieving the Fed's dual mandate of achieving maximum employment and 2.00 percent inflation. As in past meetings, the FOMC statement asserted the committee's dedication to reading and researching economic and financial reports and repeated that Fed policy is not contingent on a predetermined course, but that FOMC members make decisions based on current economic trends and developing domestic and global events.

FOMC members also re-asserted their position that after employment and inflation achieve levels consistent with the Fed's dual mandate, the Fed will likely maintain the target federal funds rate at lower levels than the committee considers normal for "some time."

Fed Chair Janet Yellen provided further insight into Fed policy during a press conference given after the FOMC statement. She also said that the FOMC's view of current economic conditions has not changed over the past few months. Chair Yellen also said that the committee expects to maintain the current target federal funds rate for a "considerable time" after asset purchases under the QE 3 program cease.

Fed Chair Yellen: Gaps Between Current Data and Fed's Mandate Shrink Modestly

In a press conference given after the FOMC policy statement was released, Fed Chair Janet Yellen emphasized that the committee's discussions did not imply any near-term changes to the target federal funds rate. Chair Yellen cited gaps between current unemployment rates and the Fed's mandate of achieving maximum employment and the current inflation rate and the Fed's target inflation rate of 2.00 percent as major considerations in forming current Fed policy. She said that the respective gaps had narrowed "modestly," and again emphasized the Fed's commitment to constant review of economic and financial data as a significant factor in its decisions to change monetary policy.

Ms. Yellen cautioned media representatives and analysts to avoid making economic projections too far into the future and pointed out that longer term predictions are subject to more variables. Chair Yellen also cautioned press conference attendees not to consider anything in the FOMC statement or her press conference to a definite time frame.

Media reps continued to press for definite dates and time projections, but Chair Yellen held fast to the Fed's often-repeated position that policy changes cannot be set by a calendar and also depend on economic trends and news that influence the Fed's monetary policies.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thinking About a New Floor? Five Excellent Reasons to Choose Hardwood Flooring when Remodeling

Thinking About a New Floor? Five Excellent Reasons to Choose Hardwood Flooring when RemodelingIf you're remodeling, you should seriously consider updating your flooring. A new hardwood floor will give your home an impressive look and prevent scratches and stains. Here are five very good reasons why you should consider a hardwood floor for your next remodeling project.

Hardwood Is More Durable Than Other Materials

Hardwood is much more durable and longer lasting than many other flooring materials. If there's a lot of traffic in your home, hardwood floors are less likely to get scratches and dents than vinyl tiles or laminated floors. On weaker floors, damage is often permanent - but with hardwood floors, any imperfections can be sanded and refinished to make your floor look as good as new.

Hardwood Offers A Wide Array Of Styles

Hardwood flooring is very versatile, and it comes in a wide assortment of styles and colors. Hardwood is also available in a variety of textures to compliment any decor or color scheme. It's easy to buy small area rugs that match the flooring rather than having wall-to-wall carpeting installed that may have to be replaced when it gets worn.

It's A Good Long Term Investment

Hardwood flooring is one of the most practical investments you can make in your home. Carpeting, vinyl tile, linoleum, and laminate flooring will eventually need to be replaced. Although the initial investment of installing hardwood floors in your home is more than you'd spend on some of the alternatives, hardwood lasts much longer than other materials - so you spend less money in the long run.

Selling Your Home Is Easier

Hardwood flooring is an extremely attractive material that a lot of homeowners love. It also increases your home's value. If you put your home on the market, you're making a good investment by making your home more appealing to buyers.

You'll Experience Fewer Allergy Problems

Carpeting can cause symptoms from allergies to get worse, because dust and other allergens like pet dander can get trapped in the fibers. Doctors often recommend that patients with severe allergies get rid of the carpeting in their home and replace it with hardwood flooring. With this type of flooring, it's a simple matter to sweep or mop the floor, so allergies are no longer an issue.

Hardwood flooring is a highly popular interior design choice that is taking modern homes by storm. If you're renovating your home in the near future, consider installing hardwood flooring as a means of giving it a classic floor that you and your guests will adore. For more great design ideas that will increase your home's value, contact a local real estate agent today.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Roof Restoration 101: Preparing Your Roof for the Harsh Winter - and when to Call in Professional Help

Roof Restoration 101: Preparing Your Roof for the Harsh Winter - and when to Call in Professional HelpWhile the days may be relatively warm and sunny right now, the transition to fall and winter will soon be upon us. Winter weather can be harsh, and it can also be destructive to your property. From the snow and ice to the frigid temperatures, winter can wreak havoc on a property.

One of the best steps that you can take now while the weather is warm is to restore your roof to prepare for the harsh winter ahead. This effort today will minimize damage that the home may endure throughout the cold months of the year. Here are some steps you can take to winterize your roof before the weather gets colder.

Steps to Take Now

As a homeowner, you can easily take a few steps today to prevent your home from being damaged in the winter months. From the ground level, inspect the home for signs of roof damage. You may notice a few shingles not laying flush on the roof, or you may see that some shingles are missing.

Repair work to the roof should be completed quickly. In addition, you can trim away tree limbs and branches that hang over the roof. These can become heavy with the weight of snow and ice, and they can break entirely or hang low to cause damage to the roof.

You also should clean out your gutters now. When gutters become clogged, they are ineffective at handling snow and ice melt. Cleaning your gutters every spring and fall will ensure they are prepared to handle inclement weather.

When to Call a Professional

Some work on a roof can easily be completed by a homeowner. However, roof work can also be dangerous or difficult. This may be due to the high height of the roof, the steep incline or even the type of work that needs to be completed.

When the work is dangerous or when you believe that you do not have the equipment or skills required to complete the work right, you should call a professional to your home to assist you. You'll want to call an experienced roofer if you notice leaks or damaged gutters or soffits. These kinds of repairs are critical to properly winterizing your home, and letting a professional handle them means you get a high-quality job.

The integrity of your home's roof will impact energy efficiency of your home's heating and cooling system, its ability to resist water damage and pest infestation and more. Long before the first snow or ice arrives, it is important for homeowners to assess their roofs for damage and to make repairs as needed. Contact a roofing contractor for an inspection to ensure your roof is winter-ready.

It's Not Just for Cooking! Five Excellent Uses for Olive Oil That Don't Involve a Stove

It's Not Just for Cooking! Five Excellent Uses for Olive Oil That Don't Involve a StoveOlive oil contains heart-healthy fats, making it a great choice for those concerned about a healthy diet. However, this amazing natural oil can also be used to solve a variety of household and beauty problems.

A high-quality oil like extra-virgin olive oil tastes great for eating and cooking but for beauty and household purposes, a less expensive type will probably work fine.

Remove Stickers And Price Tags

Taking off price tags and stickers often takes time, and it can be a real challenge to remove the entire thing. Stop stressing and get out some olive oil! Dab a sticker with oil, then wait for the sticker to soak up the oil. After waiting a minute or two and both the sticker and the residue will usually wipe off easily.

Treat and Remove Head Lice

Products for removing lice can contain potentially harmful chemicals. They can be expensive and sometimes they just don't work. Try substituting olive oil for a simple – and often very effective – remedy. Simply coat the head and scalp with olive oil, then leave on for approximately an hour. Shampoo and repeat the process to get rid of the lice quickly.

Renew Leather And Wood

Breathe new life into leather or wood by applying olive oil. For wood, rub it in a teaspoon at a time, using a soft cloth. Allow time for the wood to absorb the oil, then just rub away any excess after about thirty minutes. The oil may also be used to protect wooden cutting boards, utensils and other kitchen items made of wood. Renew old leather baseball gloves, jackets and more using the same process.

Get Off Gum

Sticky situations can also be solved using olive oil. To get gum off a shoe, or out of someone's hair, soak a cloth or paper towel in olive oil. Hold it on the spot with the gum for about 10 minutes. The oil helps break down the gum, allowing it to be removed easily.

No More Squeaks

Try using olive oil to squelch a squeak. Just rub a cotton ball or cloth dipped in oil onto a noisy hinge or spring. Then all you have to do is sit back and appreciate the silence. Best of all, this solution is odor-free and non-toxic.

Olive oil keeps for as long as two years. After that time the oil starts to lose its flavor, and it may spoil. However, the oil will often still remain good for household uses. One bottle of olive oil makes a great substitute for so many different products. So give it a try to save money, save space and solve some problems, all at the same time.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Turned Down for a Mortgage? What to Do if You are Declined - and How to Get Second Opinion

Turned Down for a Mortgage? What to Do if You are Declined - and How to Get Second OpinionIf you have been declined for a mortgage, you may think that buying that new home is out of reach. However, there are ways to turn a rejection into an approval and to find a more accessible loan. Here are just a few steps you can take to learn about your loan options and get the mortgage that works for you.

Find Out Why The Mortgage Application Was Denied

The first step to getting a second opinion is to find out why your mortgage application was denied. Banks commonly deny mortgages for reasons like a low credit score, a high debt-to-income ratio, or concerns about the applicant's past and present employment status.

To qualify for a mortgage, most lenders want to see someone with a credit score of 640, a debt-to-income ratio of less than 43 percent after the mortgage is included and at least 30 days in your current position if using wage income to qualify for the loan.

Not All Lenders View An Application The Same Way

A good reason why it is worthwhile to ask for a second opinion about your ability to get a loan is because no two lenders will view an application the same way. For one lender, a credit score of 650 is insufficient for getting a loan – but another lender might be more than happy to offer you a mortgage with a score of 650. To get a second opinion, you may wish to talk to a mortgage broker who will be able to scan a variety of loan programs to find one that works for you.

There Are Ways To Find Down Payment And Closing Cost Assistance

Those who have a low credit score or other questionable metrics may be able to qualify for a loan by offering a larger down payment. While a first-time buyer may not have the cash on hand to make a larger payment, there may be programs that provide grants or low-interest loans that can be used as part of your down payment or to help pay closing costs. With this extra money, it may be possible to overcome lender objections and obtain a mortgage.

If your mortgage application has been rejected, it doesn't mean that you can't get a mortgage from another lender. If you're ready to buy a house but just need to clear the mortgage approval hurdle, there are ways to get a leg up.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Planning for 2015 Already? Here are Some Home Decor Trends to Watch Out For

Planning for 2015 Already? Here are Some Home Decor Trends to Watch Out ForYour home is your haven, your place to get away from the world at the end of a long day. That's why keeping your home decor on-trend is important: It will create an inspiring and relaxing space that you can enjoy.

Whether you are looking for changes you can make at your existing residence or you're thinking about what to look for in a new home, pay attention to what's coming in 2015. These exciting trends in home decor that are really making a splash.

It's All About Color

From exterior to interior color schemes, 2015 is the year of lavender, plum, tan, beige, and blue, with a dash of green. expect to see variations of these colors dressing new homes. You can make a refreshing change in your own home simply by applying a new coat of paint in your living space.

Start small and see what a difference it can make in one room. You can go big with new vinyl siding if you really want to make your home pop.

Transform Your Outdoor Living Space

Many homeowners are tapping into the potential of their yards. From patios to gazebos and waterscapes, there are so many ways that you can enhance your outdoor space and create an escape that is appealing and inviting.

Bring The Outdoors Inside

The latest buzz is about color schemes, fabrics, and prints that create an airy atmosphere within the home. It's like nature has been invited in to stay a while. Use water colors, soft textures and eye-catching pictures on the wall to create a fantasy that is irresistible.

Take Your Decor Back In Time

Many see a return to older, simpler times as an upcoming trend in home decor. Don't be surprised to see antique rockers on the porch, a grandfather clock in the hallway, and family photographs from bygone days to bring back a sense of yesteryear.

Give Your Space Two Green Thumbs Up

Homeowners are trying to create a natural ambiance by bringing more greenery into their yards and homes. Consider making the addition of live plants to the interior - it adds a decorative touch and improves air quality.

2015 is going to bring with it some big changes in home decor trends. Whether you're looking to sell your home or you just want to spruce it up, these great decor ideas will help you to create a livable space that has 2015 written all over it.

For more information about the latest trends, or to find out how you can use home decor to boost your home's resale value, contact your local real estate professional today.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Keeping Quiet: Five Things You Shouldn't Mention During an Open House

Keeping Quiet: Five Things You Shouldn't Mention During an Open House

An open house is an opportunity for sellers to showcase their property to a potentially large number of interested buyers, and a great way to generate buzz. While you want to be as open and honest about the property as possible, you also want to make a good impression - and that means there are some things that you don't want to say during an open house. Here are five things that you should definitely keep to yourself during your next open house.

This Is Where The Dog Did His Business

There is a good chance that the new owner of a home is going to do something about stained carpet or hardwood. At best, the honesty is providing too much information to the buyer. At worst, the honesty could turn a potential buyer off.

The Candle Is Covering Up For Last Night's Fish Dinner

A buyer wants to get a true feel for how he or she would enjoy living in the house. If a candle is covering up an unsavory scent, it could cause the buyer to ask what else a seller may be hiding.

The Neighbors Tend To Be Noisy

What one person may consider excessive noise may not bother another person. The last thing that a seller wants to do is create the impression that a home is not a peaceful place for the buyer to spend their evenings and weekends in. Let buyers judge for themselves how noisy your neighbors are.

The Schools Around Here Aren't Very Good

Having good schools in the area is a feature that boosts property values for everyone in the neighborhood, and mentioning that the schools are poor or anything less than the best could turn buyers off. If the schools aren't great or aren't up to the seller's standards, it is best to not mention them at all. Again, let your buyers decide whether or not they like the schools.

There Isn't Much To Do Around Here

Although most buyers know what kinds of attractions are nearby, there is no reason to be negative about a house located in a more rural area. The concept of "boring" is subjective. If buyers are looking at your property, they have likely already researched the community – and they like it enough to come have a look at your house.

An open house is your opportunity to create a great impression. Don't waste it by pointing out all of your home's flaws. For more advice on how to sell your home, contact a local real estate professional today.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

It's Not Just Car Storage: How to Transform Your Garage into a Brand New, Highly Usable Space

It's Not Just Car Storage: How to Transform Your Garage into a Brand New, Highly Usable SpaceIn some homes, garages are used only for car storage. They may appear to be bare and without real functional use for homeowners. However, other garages may be an envy of the neighborhood - they may have floor to ceiling shelving systems, and they may be the picture-perfect image of organization.

With a bit of planning and creativity, you can turn your garage into a much more functional space. Here's how you can make your garage the most useful space in the house.

Determine What You Need To Store

One of the most important steps to take when improving the functionality of your garage is to determine which items you need to store. The last thing you want is to invest in a shelving system or cabinets for your garage only to later realize that your belongings do not fit in the features you have purchased. Take an inventory of the items you want to put in the space as well as their sizes and dimensions, and then take stock of the space available to store these items.

Invest In Storage Features

There are numerous types of storage features that you may choose to invest in for your garage, such as cabinets, drawers, wall pegs, shelves, overhead storage features, and bins.

The best storage features for your garage are those that take into account your accessibility needs. For example, seasonal items that you may rarely need access to may be placed in overhead storage features that hang over the cars. On the other hand, screwdrivers and other tools that you may need to use more frequently should be placed in a more accessible area.

Consider The Look Of The Garage

Some homeowners truly do not care what their garage looks like, but you should keep in mind that this is a room that is revealed to the outside world each time your garage doors are raised. This can indeed affect curb appeal and others' impressions of you. Therefore, think about investing in a full garage storage system rather than piecing together different items.

If your garage looks like a war zone, you are wasting valuable storage space and compromising your property value. Investing in aesthetically pleasing and highly functional storage solutions can turn your garage into a major selling point and a great multi-use space. For more great home renovation ideas, or to find your next home in a community that suits you, contact a real estate professional today.

Monday, September 8, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - Sept 8, 2014

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week Sept 8 2014Last week's housing-related economic news was slim, likely due to the Labor Day holiday Monday. On Tuesday, the U.S. Commerce Department reported that construction spending for July increased by 1.80 percent as compared to June's revised reading of 1.0 percent and expectations of a 1.0 percent increase for July.

The Federal Reserve released its Beige Book report Wednesday; the collection of anecdotes from business contacts within the 12 Federal Reserve districts indicated that the general economy was strengthening as well as labor markets. The Fed noted a shortage of skilled workers. New construction and home sales grew modestly, but the Fed reported that fewer than half of the districts reported growth in real estate activity.

This information appears to be consistent with recent media reports of falling home sales, mortgage originations and demand for homes. Analysts say that mortgage lenders remain wary of loosening mortgage credit standards without protection from having to repurchase faulty mortgages from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Mortgage Rates Saw Little Change

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates and discount points saw little change last week. The average rates for a 30-year mortgage and a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage were unchanged at 4.10 percent and 2.97 percent respectively. Discount points were also unchanged at 0.40 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by one basis point to 3.24 percent with discount points also lower at 0.50 percent.

Non-Farm Payrolls Add 142,000 Jobs, Unemployment Rate Unchanged 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics Reported that 142,000 new jobs were added in August. Analysts had expected 228,000 new jobs added, but many analysts said that the abrupt decline in jobs added was a fluke. A couple of short-term incidents impacted retail and automotive sectors as a supermarket chain cut hours and fewer July layoffs in the automotive sector led to fewer workers called back in August. The unemployment rate remained at 6.10 percent.

Weekly jobless claims rose to 302,000 against expectations of 300,000 new jobless claims and 298,000 new jobless claims in the prior week.

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic news is also light on housing and mortgage reports. Retail spending, consumer credit, and federal budget data are some of the reports set for release.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Considering a Vacation Home? Six Tips for Buying a House or Condo for Relaxation and Vacation Use

Considering a Vacation Home? Six Tips for Buying a House or Condo for Relaxation and Vacation UseIf you've just returned from the vacation of a lifetime, you probably wish that wonderful time never had to end. When you buy a vacation home or condo, you can guarantee that you have an escape that will provide you with years of enjoyment. Before you take the plunge, though, take advantage of these six helpful tips about buying a vacation home.

Choose Someplace Versatile

When buying a vacation home, it's all about getting the most out of your investment. Consider choosing a place that you can enjoy throughout the year. Your ideal vacation home will be a haven in the summer, a beauty in the fall, a refresher during the spring, and the perfect place to celebrate the winter holidays.

Think About Convenience

When you choose your vacation home, you will want to find a relaxing getaway that fits your lifestyle. If you love to have easy access to the grocery store and other amenities, don't buy in a remote location. If instead you'd prefer something secluded, opt for a home that is hidden far from civilization.

Consider Your Neighbors

Depending on where you choose to buy a vacation home, you're likely to be surrounded by others who love the area as much as you do. You need to decide if you want to have many others who are in close proximity or if you prefer having your space to yourself.

Find Out About Taxes

If you are opting for an extremely popular location, beware of high taxes. You want to go into your purchase with your eyes wide open. If you choose a home that is off the beaten path, you could have a more favorable tax rate.

Learn About Restrictions

You may have restrictions to deal with when you buy a vacation home. From a Home Owner's Association that stipulates regulations about the care of property to restrictions in paint schemes, you may not have complete freedom with your property.

Look For Excellent Deals

Whether it is due to the strained economy or someone who has to make a property move quickly, you could find a phenomenal deal. Don't rush into any sale until you've reviewed all of your options. Buying a home that is in a community neighboring a hot spot (instead of in the hot spot itself) could make for better prices as well.

A vacation home is a great real estate investment that can make vacation planning much easier. With these tips in hand, you'll be well equipped to find the perfect vacation home for your budget. If you're ready to start the search for your dream vacation home, contact a local real estate agent today.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Buying Land to Build a New Home On? Don't Forget These Three Important Considerations

Buying Land to Build a New Home On? Don't Forget These Three Important ConsiderationsWhen most people talk about real estate, they envision buying an already-built house on already-landscaped property. However, buying vacant land and building a new home is a great way to ensure that you get the home that you want in the location that you want. It's also a major undertaking, which is why you should take these three considerations into account before you buy any land for your new home.

Location, Location, Location: It's More Important Than You Think

People often hear the phrase "location, location, location" and it's a very prudent maxim with buying land. The parcel of land that you buy should be in a good geographic location and on stable ground – which means there shouldn't be any major water sources nearby (like a swamp) and hills should be minimal. You'll also want to consider zoning regulations that influence the acreage and other regulations that influence how you can and cannot use the land.

Utility Connections Will Be Your Responsibility

New land tends to not have utilities laid out under or over the ground. If this is the case, you will need to invest in electrical, water, and possibly heat utilities for the home.

This process involves communicating between the municipal government and utility companies so that the proper infrastructure is put in place. These costs and the implementation can be quite a headache depending on how isolated the land is from municipal or regional infrastructure.

Access: Look Up Any Easements on the Land

Many homeowners may not realize how legal access to land can affect their purchase. An easement refers to the legal right of other entities to use your land even though they do not own it. Before you buy land, you and your lawyer should investigate whether or not the land has easements, and whether or not these easements may interfere with your goals for the property.

These are just a few of the major considerations you need to make when you buy land. Purchasing a plot of land is quite a bit more complicated than buying a house, and if you're not prepared, it can easily turn into a nightmare. When properly planned, though, buying land can give you a great backdrop on which to build the house of your dreams.

If you're looking for new land on which to build your home, an experienced real estate agent can help. Contact a local real estate professional today to find your new parcel of land.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

You Ask, We Answer: Understanding the Real Estate 'Short Sale' and How This Process Works

You Ask, We Answer: Understanding the Real Estate 'Short Sale' and How This Process WorksA short sale is something that occurs when a homeowner is not able to make the mortgage payments on time due to a financial hardship. Instead of foreclosing on the property after one or more missed payments, the bank may agree to allow the homeowner to turn the home over to the bank, which will sell it to as close to market value as possible.

Here's what you need to know about how short sales work and what circumstances might call for one.

Step 1: The Homeowner Provides Information To The Bank

The first step in the short sale process is for the homeowner to submit an information package to the bank. The homeowner will provide information such as the reason for the short sale, an authorization letter allowing the real estate agent to talk to the bank, and a financial statement. In addition, the seller may need to provide an HUD-1 statement as well as a list of comparable homes in the area.

Step 2: The Buyer Makes An Offer

Once the house is put on the market, a buyer can make an offer just as he or she would on any other home. The seller will then have the opportunity to accept any offer that he or she receives from a prospective buyer.

Step 3: The Bank Makes A Decision About The Offer

Once the seller accepts an offer to buy the home on short sale, the seller is responsible for sending information about the sale to the bank. Before the sale is finalized, the bank must approve the buyer's offer. It could take as little as two weeks or as long as 120 days for the bank to approve the offer.

However, not all short sales are immediately approved. The seller's bank bank might decline the buyer's offer for one reason or another. A bank may decline a short sale offer if the bank negotiator thinks the house is worth more than the buyer's offer or if the seller violates a clause in the short sale agreement – such as moving out of the property and violating a clause that states only owner-occupied properties are eligible for short sale.

Buying a home that is being sold as a short sale requires patience and an ability to move at the bank's pace. Working closely with an experienced lender or mortgage broker may make it easier to get through the process without a lot of hassle or drama. For more information about short sales, or to complete a short sale on your property, contact a local real estate agent today.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

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

Real Estate Secrets: Understanding the 'Option Period' and What This Term Means for You as a BuyerLast week's economic news included several reports related to housing. The Case-Shiller and FHFA reports for June showed a further slowing in home price growth. New home sales for July fell short of the expected reading, but pending home sales exceeded expectations. The details:

Case-Shiller, FHFA: June Home Price Growth Slows

The Case-Shiller 10 and 20-City Home Price Index for June moved from May's year-over-year reading of 9.40 percent growth to 8.10 percent in June. Home prices grew by 1.00 percent on a month-to-month basis in June as compared to May's reading of 1.20 percent.

Demand shrank due to increasing inventories of available homes and stricter mortgage standards. For the first time since 2008, each of the 20 cities tracked showed slowing growth in home prices. Home prices are about 17 percent lower than their pre-recession peak in 2006. Case-Shiller also reported that the national median home price rose by 2.90 percent year-over-year to $269,800.

Analysts said that slower gains in home prices coupled with increasing confidence among home builders signals a return to more normal housing market conditions.

FHFA reported that home prices for purchase transactions grew by 0.20 percent less than May's year-over-year reading of 5.40 percent. FHFA reports on properties connected with mortgages owned or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

New Home Sales Slip in July, Pending Home Sales Gain

The Department of Commerce reported that New Home Sales missed expectations for July with a reading of 412,000 new homes sold on seasonally adjusted annual basis. June's revised reading was 422,000 new homes sold, and analysts expected new home sales at a rate of 430,000 in July against June's original sales pace of 406,000. Three out of four regions posted slower growth rates for new home sales, with the South posted a gain in new home sales. New home sales were 12.30 percent higher than one year ago.

Analysts said that improving labor market conditions and the slower rate of home price growth are positive trends for housing markets as more home buyers can afford to buy homes. Mortgage rates are approximately one-half percent lower than last year, which also increases affordability.

Pending home sales exceeded expectations for July to an 11 month high, which may ease concerns over July's dip in new home sales. The National Association of REALTORS® Pending Home Sales Index rose to 105.9 in July as compared to June's index reading of 102.5. Homes under contract increased from a negative reading of -1.30 percent in June to July's reading of +3.30 percent. Pending home sales are considered a strong indicator of future home sales.

Mortgage Rates Mixed. Consumer Confidence Jumps

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates were little changed. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was unchanged at 4.12 percent. 15-year mortgages had an average rate of 3.25 percent which was an increase of two basis points over the previous week. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage moved from 2.95 percent to 2.97 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.50, 0.60 and 0.50 percent respectively.

Two gauges of U.S. consumer confidence indicated stronger levels of consumer confidence in the economy. The Consumer Confidence Index rose to 92.4 in August from July's reading of 91.9 and exceeded a lower expectation of 88.5. The University of Michigan's Consumer Sentiment Index rose to 82.5 against July's reading of 79.2 and the expected reading of 80.1. Increasing consumer confidence suggests that as more consumers become comfortable with current economic conditions, they may be more confident about buying homes.

What's Coming Up

Next week's economic reports include construction spending and the Fed's Beige Book Report. The Bureau of Labor Statistics will also release Non-farm Payrolls and the National Unemployment Rate for August. No activity is scheduled for Monday due to the Labor Day holiday.