Thursday, December 31, 2015

Small Home Staging: 3 Ways That You Can Stage Smaller Spaces to Make Them Pop

Small Home Staging: 3 Ways That You Can Stage Smaller Spaces to Make Them PopWhen it comes to real estate, putting your home in its best light is key when it comes to making the sale. While it may seem like you’re more limited with a home of a smaller scale, here are a few ways you can enhance what’s best and make a good impression on potential buyers.

Let There Be Ideal Light

If you’ve ever taken note of a room on a perfectly lit day or a downcast one, the difference in how lighting can impact a space is marked. When staging your small space, you’ll want to check the lighting of each room and make sure it ideally enhances the space it’s illuminating as few things can improve the look of a place like lighting. If you’re prepared to go all out, you may even want to install a swanky chandelier or lengthy light fixture in certain rooms as it can draw the eye up and lengthen the look of your space.

Brighten a Room with an Accent Wall

Homeowners often think that bright colors are a bad idea because they’re flashy and will minimize a space, but using a brilliant color on one wall of a room can actually maximize the look of your room and can serve as something memorable for viewers of your home. While you’ll want to make sure the color you choose isn’t garish and doesn’t completely overwhelm the eye, you’ll want to keep in mind that an accent wall works particularly well for enhancing a pint-sized bathroom.

Stand By a Statement Piece

It might seem like unique or off-the-wall furniture pieces will overtake the room in a small living space, but one statement piece can actually provide potential buyers of your home with a unique look that may instill an interest in your house and highlight it in a unique way. Instead of choosing multiple pieces that are bright or quirky, stick with one or two items per room that will stand out and make themselves known, but will still give off the living-style vibe that you’re going for.

Staging a small home can seem more complicated with less space, but there are great ways that you can highlight it to positive effect. While you may want to consider an accent wall or lighting that will effectively illuminate the room, if you’re interested in more tips for small home staging, you may want to contact a local real estate agent for more information.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

3 Things That Will Absolutely Kill Your Chances for a Mortgage Approval

3 Things That Will Absolutely Kill Your Chances for a Mortgage ApprovalIf you're about to seek approval for a mortgage, you'll want to ensure you have a solid credit score and clean financial records to boost your likelihood of being approved. There are certain characteristics that lenders want to see in a mortgage applicant before they agree to give a loan, and you want to prove that you're a responsible borrower. But certain behaviors can easily tank your application and crush your home ownership dreams.

Before you seek approval, make sure your finances are in order. Avoid these three mortgage-killing habits while your lender evaluates your loan and you'll quickly find yourself holding the keys to your new home.

Using Up Most Of Your Available Credit

It can be tempting to start buying furniture when your mortgage is about to be approved, but you're better off waiting on the shopping trip until after you get the green light from your lender. Using a significant amount of your available credit - or applying for new credit - will impact your debt-to-income ratio and change your credit score. You might even end up getting yourself a higher interest rate or reducing your credit score to below the qualifying range - so don't go credit-crazy until after you're approved.

Being Late On Your Monthly Bills

Payment history makes up one third of your credit score, so you'll want to make sure you pay all of your bills on time and in full if you're looking for a mortgage. A single 30-day late payment on a bill can easily knock 50 to 100 points off your credit score. Even worse, some lenders require a full year of on-time payments before they'll even consider you for a mortgage.

Co-Signing Someone Else's Loan

Co-signing on a loan is generally risky under any circumstances, but if you're trying to get approved for a mortgage, taking on liability for someone else's debt will change your debt-to-income ratio. Being on the hook for a debt you don't own makes you look like a risk to lenders - if the primary borrower on the loan you co-signed stops making payments, you'll need to pay the loan, and that could divert your cash away from your mortgage.

Getting approved for a mortgage is a critical part of the home buying process, but too many would-be homeowners torpedo their own chances of getting a mortgage by making poor decisions.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Three Things You Can Expect when Buying a Home This Winter

Three Things You Can Expect when Buying a Home This WinterWhen you're looking into purchasing a home, there are plenty of things to watch out for at any time of the year, but there are a few things that you can expect during the winter months that may be a little different than other seasons. If you happen to be on the market for a home and are thinking of buying, here are three things you may want to consider for the winter buying months.

A Little Bit Off The Top

While there is significant home buying that goes on throughout the fall, it's often the case that things slow down in winter with the often unruly weather and the busyness of the season. As a result, if you're planning on making an offer during these months, you may be able to swing the home seller a couple thousand dollars in your direction to garner a bit of a discount. Though there are no assurances, it's quite likely that the home seller will want to get their house off the market before springtime comes around.

A Speedier Approval Process

With the amount of properties being bought and sold in the winter months slightly lower than the rest of the year, you may be able to take advantage of a speedier approval process for your mortgage. Since there will be fewer client approvals to sort out, you may be in the clear shortly after you've decided on the home of your choice. This means more ease in the winter months for you, and a home you'll soon be able to call your own.

An Effective Heating System

There may be certain upgrades you'll want to make shortly after arriving in your new home, but if you decide to buy in the winter months, overhauling the heating system is not going to be one of the things you'll want to worry about. If the furnace in good working order and is maintained on a consistent basis, you should be good to go; however, if any upgrades will need to be made you'll want to clarify this with the seller before signing on the dotted line.

There are many factors in winter that can lend to a slow season for the real estate market, but there are a few things you can expect that may make buying a home in the winter months a worthwhile venture. If you're looking for more information on purchasing a home in the near future, you may want to contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Monday, December 28, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - December 28, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week December 28 2015This week's report of economic events is shortened due to the Christmas holiday. Economic news through Wednesday included Existing Home Sales, New Home Sales and Consumer Spending. The details: Existing

Home Sales Dip, New Home Sales Rise

According to the National Association of Realtors®, sales of previously owned homes dipped from October's seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.32 million sales to 4.76 million sales of pre-owned homes. This was considerably lower than analysts' expectations of 5.30 million sales. Factors seen as contributing to November's reading included pent-up demand caused by low inventories of available homes and affordability issues emerging as demand pushes home prices up. New regulations that extended the closing period for home sales were cited as causing some closings to be pushed into December.

In contrast to lower sales for pre-owned homes, November sales of new homes rose by 4.30 percent from October to November based on a revised October reading of 470,000 sales. The original October reading was 495,000 sales of new homes, which provided the basis for analyst projections of 505,000 new homes sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis.

New home sales were up by 9.10 percent year-over-year in November. New home sales account for approximately 9.30 percent of home sales. Regional reports for new home sales were mixed. The Northeast region reported a drop of 28.60 percent, while the Midwest reported a gain of 20.50 percent. New home sales rose 4.50 percent in the South and fell 8.60 percent in the West. The good news about new home sales softened concerns about cooling housing markets caused by the abrupt drop in home resales.

Last week's financial news ended on a positive note with December's reading of 92.60 for consumer sentiment rose from November's reading of 91.30 and also surpassed analysts' expected reading of 92.

What's Ahead

This week's roster of economic reports includes Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes, Pending Home Sales and Consumer Sentiment for December. No reports will be issued Friday in observance of the New Year's Day holiday.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Running out of Kitchen Space? 5 Storage Hacks That Will Help You Do More with Less

Running out of Kitchen Space? 5 Storage Hacks That Will Help You Do More with LessWith all of the things that you need to fit into the kitchen, being economical with how you use your space can be a very important part of making it work. If you're looking for some new ideas for how to use your space to maximum capacity, here are some hacks that might just make a marked difference!

Make Use of Magnets

Using magnets to hold up some kitchen essentials will not only be effective and functional, it will make for a quirky, modern space with personality. Whether you decide on a magnetized knife block for the side of the fridge or purchase some magnetized spices for easy access, this is a simple trick for storage that goes beyond the fridge.

Cue The Cutting Board Cover

One of the biggest problems with a small kitchen is the minimal counter space, but this is an easy problem to solve with a cutting board made to fit over your sink. Instead of having to move around items to make room on your counter, you'll always have a convenient place to do your chopping that will be handy when you need it.

Maximize Your Ceiling Space Pots and pans can take up a lot of cabinet space, but the purchase of an overhead rack can easily free up some of your shelves for a different use. By hanging pots, pans and even kitchen utensils from a rack, you'll have a neat modern look that will add a twist on the traditional kitchen.

Arrange Your Drawers With Inserts

Everyone is familiar with the kinds of kitchen drawers that are in shambles, full of bottomless utensils that are hard to find when they're needed. By purchasing a drawer insert, you will be able to organize your utensils according to type and utilize all of the drawer space that's available

Reconsider The Wine Rack

It's generally the case that a wine rack is filled with wine bottles, but to add a funky and useful twist to your old rack, consider keeping all kinds of bottles in it. By adding in water bottles, soda, and even certain perishables, you can save room on your shelves and create a statement piece!

It can often seem impossible to make room for everything in a small kitchen, but there are lots of hacks that will free up more space for the items that are required. If you're currently perusing kitchens on the real estate market, you may want to contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Existing Home Sales Dip More Than Expected

The 3 Golden Rules of Staging - Follow These and Sell Your Home FasterNovember sales of pre-owned homes dipped lower than expected and prior month's readings according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). Analysts expected existing home sales to slow to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.30 million sales, which was based on October's reading of 5.32 million sales. Instead, November's reading dropped to 4.76 million sales. November's drop represented a decline of 10.50 percent drop in existing home sales month-to-month; existing home sales were 3.80 percent lower year-over-year.

November's reading represented the first time since September 2014 that the year-over-year reading for sales of pre-owned homes was lower than for the previous month. November's reading was also the sharpest dip in pre-owned home sales since July 2010 and was cited as a "statistical anomaly." Such a sharp drop in sales is unusual except when housing tax credits expire and cause home sales to drop after a last minute increase in home purchases by home buyers rushing to gain a tax credit advantage.

Tight Supply of Homes, New Regulations Cited as Cause for Lower Sales

A lean supply of available homes has caused rising demand for homes in 2015; an inadequate supply of homes typically causes prices to rise and sales to fall as affordability decreases. First-time buyers accounted for 30 percent of all home buyers in November, but the first-time buyers usually account for 40 percent of buyers. The national average home price rose to $220,300 in November, which represents a year-over-year increase of 6.30 percent. Home prices are rising faster than wages, which presents a major obstacle for would-be home buyers.

There was a 5.1 month supply of existing homes for sale in November, while the average supply is six months. Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist, said that new regulations that increased the closing period for many home sales may have pushed more sales into December that otherwise would have closed in November.

Distressed property sales involving bank-owned homes and short sales increased in November, but this was due to financial institutions offering more homes for sale than in previous months. Analysts said that the increase in distressed sales did not represent an increase in mortgage default and foreclosure rates.

NAR forecasts that existing home sales will reach 5.20 million during 2016; this represents an increase of 2.90 percent. Upcoming reports on new and pending home sales will help provide a general picture of housing market trends as 2015 winds down.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The 3 Golden Rules of Staging - Follow These and Sell Your Home Faster

The 3 Golden Rules of Staging - Follow These and Sell Your Home FasterWhen it comes to staging your home to sell, it can sometimes seem like there are so many things to do that it's hard to know what will make a real difference. Since staging is such an important aspect of successfully selling your home, here are the three golden rules for how you can make it work for you!

Don't Forego The Front

Homeowners often spend so much time inside of their home that it's the first thing they think about when it comes to staging, but the first thing a potential buyer is going to notice is the exterior so it's very important to keep this in mind. Ensure that the grass is cut and any stray plants or weeds are trimmed or pulled. If you've left out any old, ugly furniture or the kids toys are strewn about the lawn, you'll want to clean these up so the house is polished and enticing right from the start. Make It Match

With Your Décor

There are no certainties that the design aesthetic you have is going to appeal to your potential buyers, but they will notice if your home is completely out of touch with its accents. If you've got a comfy, family style place, make sure you deck it out in durable but well-maintained duds that will complement the buyer you're trying to capture. On the other hand, if you've got sleek hardwood floors and a stylish accent wall, you should be able to get away with a modern decorative style that can only enhance your home's natural charms.

Keep A Handle On The Accessories

It's certainly true that a personal style that gives off the sense that you really live in your home will draw in the offers, but you'll want to keep some of it at bay so your decorating is not distracting the viewers. Instead of going for big, over-the-top pieces, stick to a style that's neat and tidy with some quaint accents that will play it up. A few brightly cultured coffee table books or a quirky light fixture can go a long way in adding interest to your living space!

It may seem like a lot is required to properly stage a home, but by using these golden rules you should be well on your way to a successful sale. If you're currently in the process of selling your home and have questions about entering the real estate market, you may want to contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Monday, December 21, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - December 21, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week December 21 2015Last week's scheduled economic reports included the NAHB Housing Market Index, Housing Starts, FOMC statement and Fed Chair Janet Yellen's press conference. In addition to weekly reports on jobless claims and mortgage rates, inflation reports were also released.

Builder Confidence Slips, Housing Starts Increase

According to the NAHB / Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for December, home builder confidence slipped by one point to a reading of 61 as compared to an expected reading of 63 and November's reading of 62. December's reading was three points higher year-over-year. Readings over 50 indicate that more builders than fewer are confident about housing market conditions. December's confidence reading remained higher than 2015's average reading of 59.

Components used in comprising the NAHB HMI also slipped in December. Builder confidence in current market conditions fell one point to a reading of 66; the six months sales outlook fell two points to 67 and the reading for buyer foot traffic in new developments also decreased by two points to a reading of 46. The reading for buyer foot traffic has consistently remained below the neutral benchmark of 50 since the housing bubble ended.

While builder confidence eased, housing starts rose in November with 1.17 million starts reported. Analysts expected a reading of 1.14 million starts based on October's reading of 1.06 million housing starts. During much of 2015, demand for homes accelerated due to slim inventories of available homes; new construction is seen as essential to easing demand.

Fed Raises Interest Rates, Mortgage Rates Higher

The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve raised its target federal funds rate from a range of 0.00 to 0.25 percent to a range of 0.25 percent to 0.50 percent. While the Fed's increase is expected to affect consumer lending rates for auto loans and credit cards more than mortgages, Freddie Mac reported that rates for fixed rate home loans rose last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by two basis points to 3.95 percent and the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage increased by three basis points to 3.22 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at 3.03 percent. Discount points were unchanged for fixed rate mortgages at 0.60 percent and 0.50 percent respectively while average points for a 5//1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped to an average of 0.40 percent.

Weekly jobless claims fell to 271,000 new claims against expectations of 275,000 new claims and the prior week's reading of 282,000 new claims.

What's Ahead

Next week's economic reports include reports on new and existing home sales, consumer spending and consumer sentiment. Weekly jobless claims and Freddie Mac's mortgage rates report will also be released as scheduled. No reports will be released on Friday due to the Christmas holiday.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Video: What Do Lenders Have To Tell You About Your Real Estate Loan?

What Do Lenders Have To Tell You About Your Real Estate Loan?

Federal "disclosure" forms define the information that creditor businesses MUST provide to consumers applying for real estate loans.

As of Oct 1, 2015 lenders must provide TWO New "TRID" disclosure forms. for the most common kinds of real estate loans First, the Loan Estimate, which covers the key features, costs and risks of a mortgage loan. For an approved loan this must be returned to the consumer within 3 business days of loan application. If the loan goes forward, the Closing Disclosure form, covering key transaction costs, must be delivered at least 3 business days before loan consummation.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Federal Reserve Raises Short-Term Interest Rates

Federal Reserve Raises Short Term Interest RatesAfter prolonged speculation by economic analysts and news media, the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve raised short-term interest rates for the first time in seven years. Committee members voted to raise the target federal funds rate to a range of 0.25 to 0.50 percent from a range of 0.00 to 0.25 percent to be effective December 17. The good news about the Fed's decision is that the Central Bank had enough confidence in improving economic conditions to warrant its decision. But how will the Fed's decision affect mortgage rates?

December's FOMC statement cited improving job markets, increased consumer spending and declining unemployment as conditions supporting the Committee's decision to raise the target federal funds rate. While inflation has not yet reached the Fed's goal of two percent, FOMC members were confident that the economy would continue to expand at a moderate pace in spite of future rate increases. The FOMC said that the Central Bank's monetary policy remained "accommodative."

Little Impact Expected on Mortgage Rates after Fed Decision

The Fed's decision to raise short-term rates likely won't affect mortgage rates in a big way. The Washington Post quoted Doug Douglas, chief economist at Fannie Mae: "This one change, will in the larger scheme of things, will be unlikely to make a dramatic impact on what consumers will feel."

Mortgage rates, which are connected to 10-year Treasury bonds, may not rise and could potentially fall. While the interest rate increase could increase yields on these bonds, analysts say that multiple factors impact 10-year Treasury bonds, so a rate increase is not set in stone for mortgage rates.

Rising Mortgage Rates Would Impact Affordability and Cost of Buying Homes

Higher mortgage rates could sideline some first-time and moderate income home buyers and would also increase the long-term cost of buying a home. Interest rates on vehicle loans and credit cards are more closely tied to the Fed rate and may rise according to current and future Fed rate hikes. Rising consumer interest rates indirectly impact housing markets as prospective home buyers face higher debt-to-income ratios caused by higher interest rates on car loans and credit card balances.

During a press conference following the Fed's announcement, Fed Chair Janet Yellen emphasized that future rate increases would be "gradual." Chair Yellen said that the Fed's decision reflects the agency's confidence in an economy that is on a path of "sustainable improvement." When questioned about inflation rates, Chair Yellen said that the Fed will closely monitor both expected and actual changes in the inflation rate.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Yes, It's True: Mortgage Closing Costs Are Down. Here's How You Can Take Advantage

Yes, It's True: Mortgage Closing Costs Are Down. Here's How You Can Take AdvantageMortgage closing costs have been coming down in recent years, which is good news for buyers. But if you're buying a home in the near future, you'll want to ensure you're prepared to take full advantage of these lower fees - after all, keeping more money in your pocket is always good. When you close on your mortgage, take these three steps and you'll find that you'll pay far less in closing fees than most buyers would.

Ask The Seller To Pay Some Of The Closing Costs

In most situations, the buyer is responsible for paying all closing costs – that's the industry standard agreement. But just because that's what generally happens most of the time, that doesn't mean you need to pay all the closing costs on your new home.

Negotiate with the sellers to see if they'd be willing to cover some of the closing costs. If you want to make a deal like this, though, you'll want to add an extra incentive for the sellers to agree to it. Tell the sellers that they can choose any closing date they wish, or offer to accept the home "as-is" rather than requesting repairs.

Use The Money You Save For An Extra Annual Payment

With lower closing costs come savings that you can either pocket or spend. One great way to leverage lower closing costs is to use the amount of money you saved with reduced closing fees as an extra mortgage payment.

Most lenders will allow you to make one extra lump sum payment per year, without penalty - and by making this extra payment every year, you'll save on interest payments. So use the money you saved in closing costs as part of an extra payment to reduce your debt load.

Reducing your closing costs and taking advantage of the lower fees is easy if you know what you're doing. A mortgage advisor can help you to understand what closing fees are negotiable and how you can budget for success. If you feel like now is the time to look at purchasing a new home, contact your trusted real estate advisor for details on how to get started.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Deck the Halls: 4 Staging Tips to Follow When Selling Your Home This Holiday Season

Deck the Halls: 4 Staging Tips to Follow When Selling Your Home This Holiday SeasonWith the busyness of the holiday season, selling your home during the winter months can often be more difficult than it is in other seasons. If you're intent on selling before the year is out and you're looking for some staging pointers, here are a few ways to convince potential buyers that your home will be the perfect place to spend Christmas!

Compliment Your Home's Colors

If the green, red and gold tones of the holiday season contrast with your home décor, it might be a good idea to bring out some less flashy pieces that will still lend to the joyous season. Instead of huge garlands all over the house or old decorations that have been passed down through the years, go for items that will complement the décor and coloring of your home to maximum effect.

Adorn It With A Wreath

A holiday wreath is often the perfect finishing touch when it comes to home decorating, but since your door will be one of the first things that potential buyers will see, it's a staging tip you might not want to go without. Since a wreath will make buyers think of the exciting season ahead, it may be much easier for them to picture themselves sipping eggnog around the fire and putting presents under the tree of their potential new home.

Bake A Holiday Batch

There are few things more enticing about the holiday season than its treats, and since it's proven that scent can go a long way in selling a home, you might want to dive into the holiday baking early. Whether you go with shortbread or gingerbread, this sweet holiday scent will likely enrapture potential buyers and may make them feel like they're already home.

Keep The Tree Simple

It goes without saying that you'll want to put out a tree for the holidays, but with all of the personal trimmings that can go into a tree, it's a good idea to keep it relatively simple. Instead of overdoing it and distracting from the rest of your home, go for an understated tree with a few bulbs and simple decorations. This will showcase your love of the season without obscuring the attention that's meant for your house.

Selling a home in the winter months can be more difficult than it is in spring or fall, but staging it for the holiday season may have a positive impact on potential buyers. If you're curious about other staging tips for the holidays and selling in the winter, you may want to contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

Monday, December 14, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - December 14, 2015

Closing Paperwork: How to Read and Understand the Truth-in-Lending Disclosure StatementLast week's scheduled economic releases included reports on job openings, retail sales and consumer confidence in addition to usual weekly releases on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. The details:

According to the U.S. Labor Department, job openings were down 2.70 percent in October to a reading of 5.38 million as compared to September's reading of 5.50 million job openings and the all-time high reading of 5.67 million job openings in July. October's reading was the third highest since the recession ended in 2009.

Analysts said that a gap between job skills sought by employers and job skills applicants bring to the table continues to affect hiring, but fewer job openings may indicate that this gap is closing. Prospective home buyers view healthy job markets as a confidence booster in their decisions to buy a home. The Fed also monitors job openings as part of its decision making on U.S. monetary policy. All eyes will be on the Fed's Federal Open Market Committee meeting set for this week, as members are expected to raise the federal funds rate. If the Fed raises rates, mortgage rates will also rise. Retail sales rose in November to 0.20 percent from October's reading of 0.10 percent growth.

Retail sales excluding the automotive sector rose by 0.40 percent against expectations of an 0.20 percent increase and October's reading of 0.10 percent. This information is consistent with typical increases in sales during the holiday shopping season

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported that mortgage rates rose across the board last week; the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose two basis points to 3.95 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by three basis points to 3.19 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose four basis points to 3.03 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.60, 0.50 and 0.50 percent respectively.

New jobless claims rose to 282,000, which exceeded expectations of 270,000 new jobless claims and the prior week's reading of 269,000 new jobless claims filed. Last week's reading was the highest since the week of July 4, but also represented the 40th week that new jobless claims were below a benchmark of 300,000 new claims.

Employment figures typically show volatility during the holiday season. Analysts researching trends in jobless claims generally prefer the four-week rolling average of new jobless claims as it evens out volatility shown week-to-week. The four-week reading for new jobless claims increased by 1500 new claims to 270,750 new claims filed

What's Ahead

Analysts' eyes and ears will closely monitor the Fed's Federal Open Market Committee statement set for this week. Fed policy makers are expected to raise the federal funds rate. If the Fed raises rates, mortgage rates will also rise. Fed Chair Janet Yellen has scheduled a press conference to be given after the FOMC statement. Other scheduled economic reports include Housing Starts, the Wells Fargo/NAHB Housing Market Index and the Consumer Price Index, which tracks inflation.  

Friday, December 11, 2015

DIY Home Decorating: How to Use Spray Paint to Spice Up Your Home and Furniture

DIY Home Decorating: How to Use Spray Paint to Spice Up Your Home and FurnitureThe idea of using spray paint to make some quick fix-ups to your home might seem uncouth, but it can be a great way to make some easy, economical upgrades that will shift the overall look of your living space. Instead of assuming that spray paint is just for graffiti, here are some simple ways to use a can of quick paint to change up your home's style.

Dress Up Your Doorknobs

An outdated doorknob can instantly age the look of your home, but what you might not know is that a simple douse of spray paint can instantly change the look of your knobs and provide a facelift. Instead of going down to the hardware store and paying hundreds of dollars to switch out each and every knob in your home, you can grab a can of paint in an appropriate shade and spray away for a result that will be long-lasting, modern and easy to complete.

Fix Up The Fixtures

Instead of just contending with the light fixtures in your home, you may want to consider replacing them altogether for a look that is up-to-date and unique. However, instead of going to the lighting store for an expensive, ornate piece, hit the thrift store or a discount home store. You should be able to find a fixture that will benefit from a quick spray of paint, and will spruce up your home nicely without all the cost of a trendy new piece.

Make An Old Piece Of Furniture Shine

There are probably certain items in your house that you've gotten sick of looking at, but whether it happens to be a basic brown coffee table or an old, over-sized chest of drawers, spray paint can make for an effective change that will entirely switch up your room. While this will help you save money since you won't have to invest in a new piece, it can also provide years and years of future use for an item that was only on its way to the dumpster.

Spray paint might seem like something that you'll never have a use for, but it can actually be a simple way to dress up your home without the associated costs of new furniture pieces and fixtures. If you're dressing up your home to put it on the market, you may want to contact your local real estate professional for more inside tips.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Buying or Selling a Home This Winter? Keep These Tax Tips in Mind!

Buying or Selling a Home This Winter? Keep These Tax Tips in Mind!With all of the expense that can go into buying and selling a home, it's good to be aware of what you can claim and how a home can benefit you come tax time. When the New Year rolls around and you're sitting down to the task of completing your taxes, here are a few things that you'll want to keep in mind.

Gaining from Capital Gains

In the event that you've made money off the sale of your home through a capital gain, it's possible that you may be able to exclude this amount from your tax filing. If you've lived in the home you just sold for at least two of the five years before the sale date, not having to report this amount on your taxes may come as a financial win.

Reporting Your Gain

If you have not lived in your home for two of the five years, you will have to report the sale of your home and the capital gain when you file your taxes. This is necessary whether or not you decide to claim the amount. If this happens to be the case for you, it's a good idea to educate yourself on 'Net Investment Income Tax' before filing your return so you can ensure your claim's accuracy.

A Two-Year Claim For Capital Gain

While there is definitely a great financial benefit in not having to report your gain in all situations, it's important to be aware that you can only exclude any gain you've received from a home sale every 2 years. So, if it happens to be the case that you've moved more than once in the last few years, you will have to report any amount that you've made from these home sales.

Selling Your Home At A Loss

The boon of a capital gain is certainly ideal if you've made some money on your home, but if you've sold your home for less than you paid, you won't be able to claim this. While the end result may be a bit disheartening, this amount cannot be deducted off of your tax return.

Beyond the benefits of buying or selling your home, there are ways that your tax filing can be more pleasant next year if you know some of these tips. If you think you may be perusing the real estate market in the near future, you may want to contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

What Happens at a Mortgage Loan Closing Meeting? Let's Take a Look

What Happens at a Mortgage Loan Closing Meeting? Let's Take a LookSo you've found the perfect home, the seller has accepted your offer, and now you're just waiting for the mortgage to close before you wrap up the sale and take possession. It's time for the closing meeting.

But what does this meeting entail? And what do you need to prepare for it? Here's what you need to know.

The Day Prior: Walking Through The Property

24 hours before the closing meeting, you'll be given an opportunity to walk through the property and do a final inspection. During this inspection, you'll be able to look for any damage that may have occurred between contract and closing, which means you can negotiate repairs with the seller.

It can be a good idea to schedule your closing date around the 20th of the month, so that if you do find any problems during the walkthrough, you can address them before you take possession.

The Closing Meeting: Title Insurance, Contracts, And More

Typically, the mortgage closing and the home sale closing happen at the same time. During your closing meeting, you'll need to sign – and bring - a variety of documents in order to take possession of the home.

You'll want to ensure that you bring your good faith estimate, proof of homeowners insurance, contract, and inspection reports to this meeting. You'll also want to bring any and all documents that you sent to your bank as part of the home buying process. At this meeting, you'll discuss the sale with the seller, the seller's agent, the representative from the title company, the closing agent, the lender, and any attorneys that may be present. By the end of the meeting, you'll receive a variety of documents, including a deed of trust or mortgage contract and a settlement statement.

You may also be required to sign a mortgage note, which is a note that states you intend to repay the mortgage loan. This note details the terms of your mortgage, including the amount of the loan and what action the lender is entitled to take if you miss payments.

A mortgage loan closing meeting doesn't have to be complicated. Although there's a lot that will happen at this meeting and there are a number of documents you'll need to bring, a qualified mortgage advisor can guide you through the process.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

$500 Renovations That Will Boost Your Home's Value and Speed Up Your Sale

$500 Renovations That Will Boost Your Home's Value and Speed Up Your SaleThe idea of home renovations when you're selling your home can be unpopular because of the cost and time that can go into sprucing up a place you're about to leave behind. However, making a few simple, economical touches can go a long way to capitalizing on your home's value and making a difference in dollars. If you're curious about cheap options for an easier sale, here are a few that may make the deal a little sweeter.

Kick Up The Kitchen A Notch

With all of the time that a family spends in the kitchen, it's unsurprising that it is fast becoming one of the most important features that go into a potential buyer's interest in a home. For less than a thousand, you may want to consider an upgraded appliance that will serve as a sparkly new selling feature or even some slightly revamped cabinet fronts that will keep the price down and the look up-to-date.

A Little Bathroom Fix-Up

With the bathroom being one of the smallest spaces in any home, it can be hard to know how to properly enhance this minimal space for maximum effect. Instead of re-doing the floor or the tub, consider the basic cost of a new light fixture and an updated mirror. Simply updating these two items will completely shift the look of an aging bathroom.

Clean Up The Carpet

With carpet making a bit of a comeback, it's certainly not going to be worth your while to replace any damage it's incurred before leaving your home. Instead of leaving things to chance, though, consider a relatively economical carpet cleaning that will drastically improve the look of your carpet and may convince potential buyers it's less worn than it is.

Lighting Is Everything

There are few things that can lend or detract from the look of a room more than the lighting you choose. While you may want to consider a new, nice fixture to change up your living room, kitchen or foyer area, a shade of light that is complimentary to the space it's illuminating will have more of an impact than anything on how your home is viewed.

Renovations may seem like unnecessary work if you're planning on selling your home in the near future, but some minor upgrades can make a huge difference on the price tag that your home sale will pull in. If you're wondering about home upgrades and other factors that will be considered in selling your home, you may want to contact your local real estate agent for more information.

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - December 07, 2015

Closing Paperwork: How to Read and Understand the Truth-in-Lending Disclosure Statement Multiple economic reports released last week indicate further improvement in economic conditions. Pending home sales, construction spending and ADP payrolls increased while Non-farm Payrolls fell and the national unemployment rate held steady. The details:

Pending Home Sales, Construction Spending Increase

According to the Commerce Department, pending home sales increased by 0.20 percent in October as compared to September's reading of -2.30 percent. Construction spending of 1.00 percent for October exceeded September's reading of 0.60 percent growth and expectations that October's reading would hold steady with a growth rate of 0.60 percent. Increased construction spending suggests that home builders may increase home building projects, which could relax tight inventories of available homes and ease demand for homes.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

Average mortgage rates fell last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for 30-year fixed rate mortgages fell by two basis points to 3.93 percent; average rates for 15-year fixed rate and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages also fell by two basis points with readings of 3.16 percent and 2.99 percent respectively. Average discount points were 0.60 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages. Average discount points for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage held steady at 0.50 percent.

New jobless claims rose last week with 269,000 new claims filed as compared to the prior week's reading of 260,000 new claims and analysts' expectations of 265,000 new claims. The level of new jobless claims neared levels not seen since 2000. The four week rolling average of new claims dropped by 1750 claims to a reading of 269,250 new claims filed. The four-week rolling average of new jobless claims is considered less volatile than weekly readings which can be impacted by holidays and other anomalies that can cause volatility.

Labor Reports Show Growth, Unemployment Rate Unchanged

Hiring increases and lower layoffs have contributed to the lowest national unemployment rate since 2007. The national unemployment rate held steady at 5.00 percent. ADP reported 217,600 new jobs in November as compared to October's reading of 196,000 new private sector jobs. Non-Farm Payrolls reported lower job growth of 211,000 jobs as compared to expectations of 200,000 jobs added and October's reading of 298,000 jobs added. Non-Farm Payrolls covers government and private-sector jobs.

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic releases include reports on job openings, retail sales and consumer sentiment. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Video: For Sale By Owner?

Most people don't know enough to sell their own house. Here's why.

1. They Can't List It!
- Only licensed brokers and agents can create a listing in the MLS sale-by-owner houses will be invisible to agents and unavailable on the Web.

2. Agents Won't Show It.
- Typically, a buyer's agent gets part of the commission paid to the seller's agent. Sale-by-owner houses don't have that commission commitment so a buyer's agent might not get paid. No agents makes the pool of buyers MUCH smaller.

3. It's Probably Overpriced.
- Most homeowners don't have enough data and emotional distance to put a market price on their own home. and overpricing is another deterrent to potential buyers.

4. Buyers Prefer Neutrality
- Buyers will spend less time in the home and be less likely to make an offer because owners aren't neutral about the transaction.

5. Legalities & Complexities.
-Real estate transactions are complicated. Most homeowners don't know enough to avoid potentially expensive liabilities Overlooking a form or required disclosure exposes the seller to lawsuits AFTER the transaction is closed.

There are buyers with enough real estate experience to sell their own home but if you haven't ever sold someone else's home you probably shouldn't try selling your own. 



Thursday, December 3, 2015

Real Estate Investing: 3 Secrets of Successful Home Buyers That You Can Use Today

Real Estate Investing: 3 Secrets of Successful Home Buyers That You Can Use TodayWhile making a real estate purchase can be a matter rife with many questions, buying to invest in a long-term property can be even more confusing. If you're looking into investing in real estate and wondering what variables to consider, here are a few tips that you'll want to keep in mind before deciding on a fruitful investment property.

Be Aware Of The Market You're Buying Into

Since you'll need to be aware of what other people are looking for in a property if you're diving into real estate to invest, you'll want to carefully consider the neighborhood and city that you're buying in and think about what the future holds. While becoming knowledgeable about home prices in the area you're thinking of buying is a must, you'll also want to think about market projections, trendy new neighborhoods and what the appeal will be to renters or buyers of the home you're contemplating

Consider A Diamond In The Rough It might seem like a home that is a little rough around the edges is going to be a high-maintenance endeavor that doesn't balance out in the end, but a fixer upper of a place may be end up being the best option. While you may need to renovate a little here and there to unearth some of its natural features, improvements to a home with a good structure in a good neighborhood can be more economical than spending more on a home that instantly appeals. It can also provide a better return on your investment in the long-term.

Stay Within Your Spending Means

When considering an investment property, it can be quite easy to get derailed and think about what you'll be making instead of the expenditure of the initial investment. However, it's important to determine beforehand that what you're choosing to afford is going to be manageable in case you have to swing it on your own. By determining whether or not it's an affordable expense, you can have a successful investment that will balance out in your favor at the end of the day without having to worry about sinking beneath the cost.

There are many questions that can come along with choosing to invest in real estate, but by carefully considering the market and keeping your purchase at a reasonable price point, you may have a long-term moneymaker on your hands. If you're interested in other tips for real estate purchasing success, you may want to contact your local real estate expert for more information.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

How to Give the Ultimate Christmas Gift: Paying Off a Family Member's Mortgage

How to Give the Ultimate Christmas Gift: Paying Off a Family Member's MortgageChristmas is just around the corner, and if you're in a position to do it, paying off a family member's mortgage is one of the biggest gifts you could give this holiday season. A mortgage can be a heavy burden on a young homeowner, which is why paying it off is the ultimate act of charity. But when it comes to paying for someone else's mortgage, the process isn't entirely straightforward.

So how do you pay off a family member's mortgage? Here's what you need to know.

Be Wary Of The Gift Tax

Under US law, you can provide a cash gift to someone else - entirely tax-free - as long as it doesn't exceed the annual limit for that calendar year (for 2015, the annual limit is $14,000). If the gift amount exceeds the annual limit, you'll need to pay tax on the difference or tap into your lifetime exclusion.

The IRS gives all citizens a unified credit/lifetime exclusion, which allows the transfer of up to $5.43 million tax-free over the course of your lifetime. If you exhaust this amount, you'll need to pay taxes on all financial gifts you give thereafter.

Make Sure You Write A Gift Letter

If you plan on paying off a family member's mortgage, you'll want to include a gift letter with the payment - otherwise, the bank and the government may believe the money is a loan. A gift letter clearly states that you are giving money to a relative to assist them with a mortgage. In your gift letter, you will need to plainly state that you have no intention of ever seeking repayment and that you claim no ownership stake in the property in question.

Remember: You Don't Get To Claim Mortgage Interest

Mortgage interest payments are usually a tax-deductible expense, if you're the homeowner. But if you're paying someone else's mortgage, you're not eligible to deduct the interest on your taxes, only the homeowner can do that. Even if you feel a personal obligation to assist the homeowner in paying the mortgage, it's not your debt to pay - and that means you can't claim interest on your taxes.

Paying off a relative's mortgage is a fantastic gift that will help your relatives to get out of debt and pursue their life goals. And although it's a fairly straightforward process, you still need to take the time and care to ensure you process the gift properly.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Moving to a New Home? Use These Websites and Apps to Research Potential Neighborhoods

Moving to a New Home? Use These Websites and Apps to Research Potential NeighborhoodsRelocating to a new city? Thinking about moving to a new neighborhood? While word of mouth from friends and family is valuable, sometimes it's necessary to get a different perspective.

With the advancement of technology, it's now possible to research new neighborhoods without getting up off the couch. Here are some websites and apps that have proven invaluable with researching new areas:

Use The Forums On City-Data For Exact Answer

While is a valuable resource for people who are looking into relocating to a different city, one of the best uses of the site is the active forums. Here, locals will answer questions about different cities to help narrow down the selection.

Track Specific Neighborhoods With Street Advisor

Once the city is narrowed down, a quick visit to will give a better overview of the different areas. The website is designed to provide visitors the opportunity to review entire communities instead of single businesses. All neighborhoods in a city are ranked based on how well the users have rated them.

Take A Look At The Numbers At Neighborhood Scout

Now that reviews have been read and questions have been answered, people can take a trip to to get a look at the numbers that define communities. Some details require a subscription, but anybody interested in the crime rate, sex offender registry or appreciation rate of property should join the site.

Get A Unique Perspective With Ratings Apps

There are plenty of apps for phones and tablets that are used to rate restaurants and businesses. Popular choices like Yelp and Foursquare can give a different perspective of what locals think about the businesses in their neighborhoods. Do the local diners get high marks or are people driving across the city for brunch? How are the parks in the area received? These questions can be answered with these apps.

While you can do a lot of preliminary research on your own, sometimes the best person to contact about new neighborhoods is a real estate professional. They will be able to tell you which areas are heating up and which areas should be avoided and help narrow down choices if you're undecided. Contact one who operates out of the neighborhood you're thinking about buying in so that you can work with a local who has experience in the area.