Thursday, March 31, 2016

Understanding Mortgage Tax Benefits and How They Save You Money in the Long Run

Understanding Mortgage Tax Benefits and How They Save You Money in the Long RunIf you're considering whether home ownership is the right decision for you, there are lots of different factors you'll want to take into account. Do you want to keep moving around, or are you ready to lay down roots in a community? Are you prepared for the additional upkeep that home ownership requires? But one of the big factors in home ownership that few potential buyers consider is the tax benefits of getting a mortgage. Although it may seem counterintuitive, getting a mortgage on a property that you own can reap lots of dividends come tax time. So how does a mortgage work for you and help you keep more of your hard-earned money? Here's what you need to know.

Mortgage Interest Deductions: How Your Mortgage Interest Saves You Money

If you're a homeowner in the United States, your mortgage interest is tax deductible. The mortgage interest tax deduction was introduced in 1913, and is one of the longest standing and most used tax deductions out there. The deduction allows you to deduct all of your mortgage interest payments from your federal taxes. But in order to deduct your interest payments, you'll need to meet certain basic eligibility requirements. Firstly, you'll need to file Form 1040 and itemize your deductions on Schedule A in order to be eligible. You'll also need to be the primary borrower named in the mortgage – you can't deduct interest on someone else's mortgage, even if you're the one making the payments. And finally, you need to (at some point) make a payment on your home. Note that rental properties are not usually eligible for a mortgage interest deduction (though there are some exceptions).

First-Time Buyer? Mortgage Credits And Other Buyer Programs Keep More Money in Your Pocket

If you're a first-time buyer (and even if you're not), you'll have access to a variety of new buyer incentives and mortgage tax credits that other buyers don't receive. Firstly, as a first-time buyer, you're able to take out $10,000 from your traditional or Roth IRA at any point during your lifetime – without paying the 10% penalty for withdrawing early. There are also several credit programs for buyers, including the Residential Energy Credit, which gives you up to $500 toward any home improvement project or equipment purchase that makes your home more energy efficient. It may seem like getting a mortgage is a great way to spend money, but it's also a great way to save money through various government tax programs and rebates. Talk with your financial advisor or accountant to learn more about the various tax credits and incentives available for home buyers.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Case-Shiller Report Shows Home Prices Rose in January

Case-Shiller Report Shows Home Prices Rose in JanuaryHome prices were 5.70 percent higher year-over-year in January according to S&P Case-Shiller's 20-City Home Price Index. Top year-over-year gains were posted by Portland, Oregon at 11.80 percent, San Francisco, California at 10.80 percent and Seattle Washington posted a year-over-year gain of 10.70 percent. Denver, Colorado, which had top gains in recent months, posted year-over-year home price growth of 10.20 percent.

Lowest year over-year gains for January were posted by Chicago, Illinois at 2.10 percent, Washington, D.C at 2.20 percent and New York, New York at 2.80 percent.

Average home prices remained about 12 percent below their summer 2006 peak, but have recovered to 2007 levels.

ising Home Prices and Short Inventory of Homes Impacts Buyers and Sellers

David M Blitzer, Managing Director and Chair of the S&P Indices Committee expressed concerns over rapidly rising home prices and the shortage of available homes. Mr. Blitzer said "would-be sellers seeking to trade up are having a hard time finding a new larger home." Analysts also noted that home prices are escalating faster than wages, which were growing at a rate of 2.20 percent annually as of February.

New construction is not keeping up with demand; the current supply of available homes is below the normal six month inventory. Mr. Blitzer said that home building is the segment of the housing sector that creates economic growth.

Rapidly rising home prices and low inventories of available homes are potentially sidelining first-time and moderate income buyers. This trend also sandwiches homeowners who want to buy larger homes between a short supply of available homes and finding qualified buyers for their current homes. Mr. Blitzer said that high amounts of education debt and consumer debt are contributing to younger buyers' inability to qualify for mortgages. Mortgage lenders have loosened mortgage qualification requirements somewhat, but Mr. Blitzer said that lenders haven't forgotten what happened 10 years ago; they remain reluctant to further ease lending requirements.

Pending Home Sales Rise in February

In related news, the National Association of Realtors reported that pending home sales rose 3.50 percent in February as compared to an expected reading of 1.80 percent and January's negative reading of -3.0 percent February's reading for pending home sales was the highest in seven months.

Analysts and real estate pros use pending home sales readings s as indications of future closings and mortgage loan activity.

NAR Chairman Lawrence Yun cited lower mortgage rates as the driving force behind February's jump in pending home sales. Mr. Yun said that building more homes is essential for boosting home sales; he cautioned that failure to increase the current supply of available homes could cause home sales to "plateau."

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The FHA Mortgage Minimum Credit Score Has Been Reduced. Here's What You Need to Know...

The FHA Mortgage Minimum Credit Score Has Been Reduced. Here's What You Need to KnowCredit is of considerable concern when it comes to buying a home, but if you're on the market for a new place in the next few months there may be some timely news that applies to you. If you haven't heard about the changes to the Federal Housing Administration's (FHA) credit score minimum, here's some information on the recent reduction and how it may impact your home purchase.

Information On The FHA

Started in 1934, the FHA is the organization responsible for insuring the loans that are available to homebuyers in the United States. These loans are not provided directly by the FHA, rather the FHA serves as the insurer for the loans that are leant by financial institutions of the United States. While there are a number of guidelines that must be met by borrowers in order to ensure the FHA will back their loan, a lowered mortgage minimum credit score means that those with a less-impressive credit profile may have a better opportunity for home ownership.

The Minimum Credit Score Reduction

The strength or weakness of your credit history has a significant impact on whether or not you will qualify for a mortgage or even pre-approval, so for those whose credit has suffered the recent drop in the minimum will be good news. Previously, the FHA required a score of 640 so that a borrower could be approved for a mortgage, but the reduction by 60 points to a credit score of 580 means greater possibility for those who might fit into a lower credit category.

A Lower Mortgage Minimum And The Market

With the opportunity for home ownership that will be opened up to potential buyers, there is a strong possibility that the market will experience a noticeable shift. Many millennials are poised to enter the real estate market this year, and with more people considering a house as a result of a reduction, there could be an increased demand in housing purchases. While the prices in rural areas have been dropping off, the housing in metropolitan areas may experience a sizeable upsurge.

With the reduction of the mortgage minimum credit score by the FHA, there are likely to be some shifts in the real estate market in the coming year that will affect demand and price. If you're on the market for a new home and are interested in a purchase that will align with your finances, you may want to contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Monday, March 28, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - March 28, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - March 28, 2016Increasing Home Prices Good For Sellers

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported lower sales of pre-owned homes in February. Would-be buyers were discouraged by rapidly rising home prices. Short supplies of available homes sidelined potential buyers as higher home prices and cash buyers squeeze out buyers who need mortgages to buy homes. Multiple offers resulting in bidding wars have also deterred buyers in high demand markets. According to NAR's February report, sales of existing homes fell 7.10 percent to their lowest level since November.

NAR has predicted that rapidly rising home prices would eventually damage housing markets. While analysts weren't certain whether February's report indicated a temporary lull due to weather and anomalies related to new closing regulations and seasonal influences, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said, "The main issue continues to be a supply and affordability problem. Finding the right property at an affordable price is burdening many potential buyers."

During the housing bubble, buyers jumped into the market as speculators or to buy before home prices increased beyond their reach. NAR surveyed renters last week and found that the percentage of renters who believed that it's currently a good time to buy a home decreased.

Respondents to Fannie Mae's February Home Purchase Sentiment Index forecasted a 1.70 percent increase in home prices year-over-year. One year ago, respondents expected home prices to increase by 2.50 percent year-over-year. This may suggest that home prices are cooling. This can be expected as the number of buyers declines as home prices become increasingly unaffordable.

New Home Sales Up in February

New home rose in February according to the Commerce Department. Based on a revised reading of 502,000 new home sales in January, February's reading was 2.00 percent higher than January's reading, but was 6.10 percent lower than for February 2015.

Builders have held back on increasing construction due to concerns about ups and downs in the economic recovery. Short supplies of labor and available land have also kept home builders from meeting current demand.

Mortgage Rates Trend Lower

According to Freddie Mac, average mortgage rates fell across the board last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 3.71 percent; the rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell three basis points to 2.96 percent and the rate for a 5/1 adjustable  rate mortgage fell four basis points to 2.89 percent.

New jobless claims rose to 265,000 from the prior week's reading of 259,000 new claims. Last week's reading matched analyst expectations.

What's Ahead This Week

This week's scheduled economic news includes reports on inflation, pending home sales, Case-Shiller's Home Price Index reports and government and private sector employment data. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims are also scheduled.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Accent Walls: 3 Easy Ways to Spice up Your Space

Accent Walls: 3 Easy Ways to Spice up Your SpaceFor those who love to decorate and are always excited to test out the latest trends in design, the accent wall is a concept that's become popular in recent years. If you're not sure how to use this feature to twist any room on its side, here's how to go about painting your very own and instantly dressing up the look of your favorite room.

Pick The Perfect Wall

When deciding on the ideal location for an accent wall, it's important to consider which space in your home will benefit from a splash of color and still be complimented by this unique look. Whether you decide on a wall in your bedroom or living room, the location of your accent wall should be somewhere it can have a positive impact on the look of your room without overpowering its natural ambiance.

Decide On A Color You Can Live With

Once you've picked the perfect place for your paint, you'll want to narrow down the list of color options to ones that will work best for the wall. It can be tempting to go from the most brilliant of colors to really indulge in accent, but think of this wall as a way to merely boost the look of a room you already enjoy. By choosing a color that is both vibrant and understated - and goes with your design aesthetic - you can use this wall to maximum, nuanced effect.

Any Additional Accents?

If you're just wading into the water with home decorating, it's entirely likely that an accent wall will be enough for now, but if you're just beginning you may want to consider some other interesting design details as well. While you could choose more than one color to brighten things up or draw a makeshift frame around the border of each wall, if you're interested in something funky you may want to use some stencils - like hearts or stars - to instantly add a whimsical effect!

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to home decorating, but if you've been considering an accent wall for a while you might want to test it out first before diving in with neon colors and funky stencils. If you're making some changes to your home because you're thinking of selling in the next few years, you may want to contact one of our local real estate professionals for more inside information.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Selling Your Half of a Jointly-owned Home? Here's What You Need to Know

Selling Your Half of a Jointly-owned Home? Here's What You Need to Know There are many factors to consider when it comes to selling your home, and if you own your home with someone else the details involved can be even more confusing. If you're wading into your co-ownership options and are curious about your next steps, here's a short list of some things to think about.

Buyout: Selling Your Half

If you own your home with a friend, family member or former partner who would like to keep the property, the first thing you'll want to do is contact an appraiser who will provide you with the market value of your home. Once you know this amount, you can discuss it with your co-owner and decide on the amount they can pay you for a buyout. While some co-owners will decide to get a loan and pay a lump sum, they may also want to schedule monthly payments until the buyout amount is completely paid off.

Partition Sale: Leave It To Legal

In the event that both you and the co-owner of your home would like to get rid of your property without any fuss, you have the option of a partition sale which means that the court will take care of your property sale for you. Once this occurs and any fees are paid, the total purchase price that is made from the home will be divided between the co-owners and the property will no longer be an issue for either party. If one owner has invested more into the home, it's possible that one party may benefit more than the other.

Voluntary Sale: Coming To An Agreement

There are many situations involving property and personal possessions where the fence cannot be mended, but in the event that you want to sell your portion of a property it is in your best interest to sell together. While a partition sale provides the opportunity to get the property off the co-owner's hands quickly, there's a good chance that some of the money earned will be caught up in legal fees. If you're able to come to an understanding, you may both reap a larger sum.

Whether you're moving on to the next chapter of your life or experiencing a settlement, there are many available options for selling a home that is co-owned. If you're considering putting your co-owned home on the market, please contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

5 Photo Shoot Tips for Amazing Listing Photos

5 Photo Shoot Tips for Amazing Listing Photos Pick The Right Light

It won't even be worth your while to pick up the camera if the lighting is off, so make sure you capture your home in the middle of the day when natural light is at its peak. Instead of morning or night, when spaces can appear dim, turn on the lights during the day, let the sunlight flow in and shoot away!

Keep It Clutter Free

While it's common sense to clean up your home before committing anything to photography, it's also important to be aware of any items that may catch the eye of the viewer and deflect interest away from your property. While there may be certain things you're used to, if they stand out in the picture it might be better to move them outside of the frame.

Don't Forget The Details

It's easy to be focused on the exterior and room shots, but a few minor details here and there can give the viewer a better feel for your home, and may enable them to remember it. If you have striking kitchen tiles or a claw foot tub, don't forget to add up-close images of these to your listing.

Capture The Exterior

The rooms and amenities of your house are definitely going to be what piques the buyer's interest, but don't forget about the exterior in all the shuffle. The outside of your home is the first thing that potential buyers will see, so catch it during the last hour of sunlight for maximum effect.

Hire A Professional

It's entirely possible that you're so busy looking for homes and getting organized that taking pictures is just another task to add to the list. Instead of taking on the photography yourself, you may want to contact a professional to do it for you who will know all the tricks of the trade.

The best impression your house will make should be in person, but it's important to have great listing photos so you can draw potential buyers in. If you're getting ready to put your home on the market, you may want to contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

3 Things You Need to Consider Before Buying That Fixer-Upper Home

3 Things You Need to Consider Before Buying That Fixer-upper Home What Will It Cost?

If you're going into a home expecting a few renovations costs, a minor detail here or there may not add up to much. However, if you're not interested in spending the big bucks on making changes, you'll want to estimate an approximate amount of how much the renovations you don't want to live without will amount to. By including all the necessary labor and materials, you'll be able to determine if the price-point of your offer will be worth it. Keep in mind that if there are any serious issues with the house, it may not be worth your while to consider the purchase at all.

Will Renovations Increase The Value?

In the event that you're buying a home for its investment value, it's going to be particularly important to consider if the renovations required will actually increase its market value. While adding another bedroom or upgrading a bathroom may not add significantly to a home's overall price, certain more inexpensive improvements like painting, refinishing and new siding can actually add a lot to the look (and worth) of your home.

How Much Are You Willing To Take On?

It's easy to think that you're prepared to do the dirty work when faced with a fixer-upper, but getting down to brass tacks may not be so simple when the time comes. Before taking on a home that needs a lot of renovation, consider how much you're willing to do so that you can determine if fixing it up will even be an economic boon after all the labor that may go into it. If you're not a DIY kind of person, you may want to avoid a house that has a long list of repairs.

A fixer-upper can be tempting for those who want to invest or save on a home purchase, but you'll want to carefully consider if it will be a good choice when it comes to selling time. If you're currently perusing the market for a home, you may want to contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

Monday, March 21, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - March 21, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - March 21, 2016Housing Starts Up in February

Shortages of available homes are a major factor in rising home prices; shortages also make it more difficult for buyers to find homes they want. Housing starts in February rose, which is good news for the peak spring and summer home buying season. Other housing related news released last week included the Fed's decision not to raise the target federal funds rate and Housing Starts and Building Permits reports issued by the Commerce Department. Consumer Sentiment was also released along with regularly scheduled releases on mortgage rates and weekly unemployment claims.

Builder Confidence Holds Steady, Real Estate Pros Call for More Construction

According to the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for March, home builder confidence held steady at a reading of 58. Analysts expected an uptick to 59 based on February's reading of 58. Any reading above 50 indicates that more builders have confidence in housing market conditions than those who do not. The overall HMI reading is based on three components including builder perception of current market conditions, market conditions within the next six months and buyer foot traffic in new home developments.

Builder confidence in current market conditions held steady at a reading of 65. Builder confidence in market conditions within the next six months dropped three points to 65. Builder confidence in buyer foot traffic increased four points to a reading of 43. Confidence in buyer foot traffic has not topped a reading of 50 since 2005.

High demand for homes coupled with a short supply of affordable suburban single family homes compelled NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun to comment, "Imbalances in supply and demand and unhealthy levels of price growth in several metro areas have made buying a home an onerous task for far too many first-time buyers and middle class families." Mr. Yun called for builders to double their focus on building single family homes.

Housing Starts Hit 9-Year High in February

Reports on housing starts and building permits issued indicate good news for the shortage of available homes.

The Commerce Department reported that housing starts rose from January's reading of 1.120 million starts to an annual level of 1.178 million starts. Analysts expected a reading of 1.153 million starts. Building permits also increased from January's reading of 1.120 million permits to 1.167million permits issued. Analysts forecasted a reading of 1.210 million in February.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Fed Holds Interest Rate Steady

The Federal Reserve announced its decision not to raise the target federal funds rate on Wednesday. The current rate is 0.250 to 0.50 percent. Policymakers cited concerns over global economic developments as a reason for their decision. This decision quickly showed an impact on Thursday. Freddie Mac reported average rates rose across the board. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose five basis points to 3.73 percent. 15-year mortgage rates averaged 2.99 percent, which was three basis points higher than the prior week's reading. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by one basis point to 2.93 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50, 0.40 and.50 respectively.

Weekly jobless claims rose to 268,000 against expectations of 268,000 new claims and the prior week's reading of 258,000 new jobless claims.

Consumer sentiment dropped to 90.00 in March against an expected reading of 92.10 and February's reading of 91.70. Consumer outlook is important to housing markets as the decision whether or not to buy a home is typically based on potential buyers' evaluations of job stability and affordability of available homes.

What's Ahead This Week?

This week's scheduled economic releases include reports on new and existing home sales as well as usual weekly releases on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Worried about Your FICO Score? 4 Easy Strategies to Fix It Up

Worried about Your FICO Score? 4 Easy Strategies to Fix It UpIf you're worried about your bad credit, you'll want to do everything in your power to improve your rating as quickly as possible - especially if you have a major purchase coming up. Improving your credit rating can give you access to better interest rates on mortgages or even help you to get that job you're after.

IMPORTANT! If you are currently involved in a home loan transaction, speak with your trusted real estate advisor before taking any action regarding your credit!

So how can you boost your FICO score quickly and easily? Here's what you need to know.

Get Your Credit Report And Dispute Any Errors

Credit reporting agencies don't always keep 100% perfect records, and there's a good chance that your credit report contains at least one error. One recent FTC study found that 25% of consumers have an error on their credit report, and that in 5% of cases, the errors were actually severe enough to impact the loan terms that borrowers were able to negotiate.

You can get your annual credit report from all three credit reporting agencies for free. Carefully read over it. If you see any errors - if your name is misspelled, if they have the wrong address on file, or if there are late or unpaid charges that you didn't make – you can dispute the items in question.

Still Overdue? Negotiate Payment Terms With Your Creditors

If you're overdue on a payment, it will weigh heavily on your credit score. As your payment history makes up a full 35% of your FICO score, this is one area where you'll want to invest a great deal of time and effort.

Contact any creditors you owe money to and ask if you can negotiate your bill. The ideal outcome for you is to have the creditor report your debt as paid in full, so see if you can secure that promise in writing in exchange for an accelerated payment schedule.

Try Maintaining A Lower Utilization Ratio

Your utilization ratio refers to the amount of credit you use at any given time. If this number goes beyond 30 percent, you'll start to see your credit score drop. Ideally, you should aim for a utilization ratio below 10 percent – this will prove to your lender that you can responsibly pay for the credit you use.

Have Recurring Bills? Automate Your Payments

Automating your monthly payments can be a great way to boost your credit score. Whether it's your mortgage, your credit card, or your student loan, a pre-authorized monthly payment will ensure that everything gets paid on time and give you a great credit history.

Your FICO score is a number that will determine your eligibility for mortgages and other loans. These are general tips to help with your credit score and improve the overall reporting of your credit.

Fed Policymakers Make Interesting Decision on Interest Rates

Fed Policymakers Make Interesting Decision on Interest RatesAccording to a press release by the Federal Reserve, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the current target federal funds rate will hold steady at  0.25 to 0.50 percent. Committee members cited positive developments in the U.S economy including jobs growth, stronger labor markets and gradually increasing inflation. In addition, stronger housing sector and household spending were also noted as positive signs for the economy. Committee members cited risks associated with global economic and financial developments as a concern.

FOMC members are guided in decision making by the Federal Reserve's dual mandate of maximum employment and price stability. Inflation remains below the committee's longer-term goal of 2.00 percent; FOMC members attributed slow inflation growth to lower energy prices. The Fed described its current monetary policy stance as "accommodative" and expects it to remain so until inflation reaches 2.00 percent.

Analysts said that the Fed has scaled back its forecast for rate increases from four increases to two increases in 2016, but any actions will depend on FOMC review of current and expected domestic and global factors. Fed Chair Janet Yellen previously cited turbulent market conditions as "significantly" tightening financial conditions due to lower stock prices.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen's Press Conference

Fed Chair Janet Yellen explained policy makers' decision not to raise the target federal funds rate in a press conference after the FOMC statement. Chair Yellen responded to media representatives' questions about FOMC's views on inflation and unemployment, zero or negative interest rates and uncertainty about China's economy.

Ms. Yellen cautioned against over-emphasis of the relationship between unemployment and inflation as employment rates only modestly impacts tracking inflation indicators as they relate to wages and prices. In her remarks about the decision not to raise the target federal funds rate, Chair Yellen cited uncertainty about China's economy as a factor in the decision not to raise the benchmark federal funds rate.

The U.S. economy is strengthening as Europe and Japanese economies wane. Chair Yellen indicated that although global economic decisions influence U.S. monetary policy, that U.S. decisions are not based solely on global economic and financial developments.

In response to a question about whether the FOMC has considered the effects of zero to negative interest rates used by Japan and other nations, Chair Yellen said that committee members were not actively considering or discussing negative interest rates in view of improving economic conditions. Ms. Yellen said that Japan incorporated negative interest rates but did not realize the desired effect of increasing inflation.

Media analysts said that a rate increase in April's FOMC meeting seems unlikely, but with world-wide economic conditions changing quickly, such, forecasts can't be cast in cement.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

4 Websites to Help You Evaluate the Safety of Your Future Neighborhood

4 Websites to Help You Evaluate the Safety of Your Future NeighborhoodWhen you're just moving into a neighborhood, it can be hard to know exactly what you're getting into. Certainly, you can see the sights for yourself and read about your new community online, but there are still things that may not be readily available. If you're looking for the cold, hard facts on the safety of your neighborhood, look no further than the following websites for the things you'll want to know.

Situation Alerts on SpotCrime

By simply typing your street address in at SpotCrime, you will get an instant report of all the criminal goings-on in your community from arson to assault. While SpotCrime is free and enables you to register so you can be alerted to situations in your community, you also have the ability to anonymously offer up information that will help others.

Crime Rates On Neighborhood Scout

A website that will give you information regarding the crime rate in a certain community, Neighborhood Scout offers much of its information free of charge to users to scope out future communities for their own interest. In addition to the per capita crime rate, you can also get a host of information about other communities around the country with similar crime profiles to your own

Registered Offenders on Family Watchdog

The tranquility of a neighborhood is something that can be easily taken for granted, but Family Watchdog enables you to be aware of what might be going on under the surface. Committed to determining the location of registered sex offenders, this website will easily inform you if there are any offenders in or near your community so you can evaluate the safety of you and your family accordingly.

Situation Updates on CrimeReports

Along with SpotCrime, CrimeReports is another website that enables you to type in your address to instantly pull up a host of information regarding recent crime that's occurred in your next neighborhood. Much like SpotCrime, it provides you with an easy to read map of crimes that have occurred and you have the option of signing up for alerts that will inform you of recent situations in your community.

There may be a lot of information about your neighborhood online, but the websites listed above can help you with the details on things that may not be commonly reported. If you're in the market for a home and are wondering about ideal communities, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

3 Psychological Hacks That Will Help You Sell Your Home Faster

3 Psychological Hacks That Will Help You Sell Your Home FasterFrom real estate agents to home buyers, there are so many tips out there on how to sell your home that it can be overwhelming to determine which tricks will boost your success rate and make the sale. If you're looking for a few sure-fire hacks for getting your home off the market quickly, the following may do a lot of the hard work for you so that selling won't remain a worry for long.

Stick To A Neutral Palette

Neutral colors like white and grey may seem like a boring approach to design, but they're actually a great way to grab a potential buyer's attention. While an especially bold color like red or dark blue can distract the viewer, neutral tones will not jar the eye and will enable the viewer to see the features that your home truly offers. Instead of a space they can't see for the color, they'll be able to pay attention to the details that really matter.

Discard The Oversized Items

Most of us have an old, bulky piece of furniture that we still haven't bothered to get rid of, but when preparing your home for viewings you may want to finally let go of this ostentatious piece. A bulky furniture item will make an undersized space look even smaller, whereas – in a large, sprawling space – it will swallow the size of the room. Instead of a large-scale item, stick to classy, medium-sized pieces that will effectively complement each other.

Keep Personal Items To A Minimum

It may seem like personalizing your home, from pictures all over the fridge to movie posters, will add to its appeal, but it can actually take away from the impression that potential buyers will get. While a home that has a few personal touches here and there can make it more memorable, too many of these little details may actually make the viewer feel out of place. Since the end goal is an offer on your home, enabling potential buyers to imagine themselves in your space is key.

There are an endless amount of tricks involved in a successful home sale, but there are a few little hacks you can do that may work wonders on the minds of potential buyers. If you're almost ready to put your home on the market and are considering your options for selling, please feel free to contact us for more information.

Monday, March 14, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - March 14, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - March 14, 2016Last week's economic news included Fannie Mae's Home Purchase Sentiment Index along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. The City of Detroit also announced a program to help would-be buyers purchase homes that do not qualify for mortgage loans due to severe damage.

Fannie Mae: Home Buyer Sentiment Index Rise

Fannie Mae's Home Buyer Sentiment Index (HBSI) gained 1.20 percent for an overall reading of 82.70 percent for February. The index reading is calculated using responses to several questions contained in Fannie Mae's National Housing Survey. HBSI components include consumer responses to questions about whether it's a good or bad time to sell or buy a home, consumer expectations concerning whether home prices and mortgage rates will rise, whether respondents expected to keep or lose their jobs, and consumer outlook for their income to significantly increase year-over-year. The HBSI is designed to assess consumer attitudes about housing markets and their decisions about buying a home.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Weekly Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates rose across the board last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose four basis points to 3.68 percent; the average rate for a 15-year mortgage rose two basis points to 2.96 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was eight basis points higher at 2.92 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. New jobless claims dropped to a five-month low last week with a reading of 259,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 275,000 new claims and the prior week's reading of 277,000 new claims. New claims readings under 300,000 new claims indicate a healthy labor market; new claims readings have held below the 300,000 benchmark for more than a year. The lowest reading of 256,000 new jobless claims occurred in October 2015.

City of Detroit Addresses Problems with Ravaged Homes

The City of Detroit announced a program designed to facilitate the purchase and rehabilitation of vacant and damaged homes that do not meet appraisal requirements for traditional home loans. While many markets have recovered from the Great Recession, housing markets such as Detroit have languished due to the lack of financing options. The program offers mortgages to cover the home purchase and second mortgages up to $75,000 for repairs and renovation. Program administrators say they plan to issue 1000 loans over the next three years. This type of program may help struggling housing markets recover while providing homeownership opportunities to those who could not otherwise afford to buy a home.

What's Ahead This Week

This week's scheduled economic events include the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, federal reports on housing starts and building permits issued. The Federal Reserve will release its usual post-meeting statement after its Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Fed Chair Janet Yellen will also hold a press conference.

Friday, March 11, 2016

3 Budget-friendly DIY Weekend Renovations to Step into Spring

3 Budget-friendly DIY Weekend Renovations to Step into Spring The springtime is often the best time of the year for cleaning up and getting rid of old items, but with its proximity to the winter months it can still be hard to commit to large-scale renovations. If you're looking for some small fixes to give your home a seasonal boost, here are a few options that won't take up a lot of time.

Freshen Up The Window Frames

Paint can instantly enhance the brightness of any room, but deciding to repaint can be a job that takes more than just a weekend. Instead of committing to everything, paint your window frames for a task that is cheap and doesn't require a huge expenditure of time. Since the eyes will naturally be drawn to the windows in any room, this will serve to improve your space without all the work that goes into sanding and taping everything.

Add An Accent With Wallpaper

A creative, striking way to upgrade the look of your home is a wallpaper accent that will be easy to install but add trendy appeal to your home's aesthetic. Instead of going for the same old, choose a wallpaper with a funky design to the area of your choice. By placing it behind a mirror or another picture, you'll add a lot of oomph without all of the effort that goes into completely repapering a wall. It's just important to ensure you use an adhesive wallpaper that can be repositioned in the event your first attempt doesn't work out.

Replace An Old Fixture

It doesn't necessarily take a lot of legwork to easily revamp a stale space, so consider a light fixture that will instantly draw the eye and can serve as a high-impact piece that really sets the tone for your chosen space. While you'll want to choose something that won't completely contrast with the style already present, the right piece can really enhance and modernize what you already have. It's just important to turn off the breakers before you start fiddling around with installation.

The idea of home renovations can make people think of large scale projects that consume a lot of time, but there are plenty of little things to be done that will make for big changes without an excess of effort. If you're making some upgrades and are preparing to put your home on the market, you may want to contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Looking to Invest or Live in an Up and Coming Neighborhood? 5 Clues to Finding The Best Ones

Looking to Invest or Live in an up and Coming Neighborhood?: 5 Clues to Finding ThemMaking a home purchase in a neighborhood that is sure to boom in the coming years can be a great real estate investment, but guessing on the next trendy locale may seem fraught with risk. If you're trying to determine which area will be up and coming down the road, here are some telltale signs that buying may be a benefit to your bank account.

Full Of Creative Energy

Many bohemian areas are popular because of their lower rental and purchase prices, but a locale with plenty of artists and cultural vibrancy is probably going to be on the upswing soon with the interest it will attract. While an investment may be economical in the short-term, it may see a significant spike in the years to come.

Community Restoration In Progress

There's a good sign, whether it's parkland or buildings, that if restorations and renovations are occurring in a community, it's going to see an increase in purchasing prices soon. With a nicer area and better amenities, it won't take long for people to flock to a revived area.

Close Proximity To Cool Locales

When development of one neighborhood has left little room for further changes, there's a good chance that prospects will move into surrounding communities to capitalize on the popularity of the area. If you're considering a neighborhood that's close to somewhere trendy, it's almost a sure thing it will see its star rise.

College Kids And Young Professionals?

Restaurants and bars tend to pop up in areas where students and young professionals abound, and as the area becomes more popular it will likely see a spike in its real estate value. With the establishment of many cool places, you can bet that an area full of young people will become the place to be.

Ask A Real Estate Agent!

There are few people that will be more informed about upcoming building projects in their city than a trusted, local real estate agent, so you may want to check in with one to determine the economic viability of an area you're considering. An agent you can trust should be able to give you an honest answer about your potential investment.

From young people to community restorations, there are many telltale signs of a community that is likely to see a real estate boom in the coming years. If you're looking to purchase in a new neighborhood and are curious about your options, you may want to contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

How to Calculate Your True Cost of Living and Determine How Much of a Home You Can Afford

How to Calculate Your True Cost of Living and Determine How Much Mortgage You Can AffordA monthly mortgage can seem like enough of a financial responsibility on its own, but there are many factors involved in home ownership that affect its fiscal feasibility. If you're in the market for a house and are wondering how your income will stack up against the rest of your expenses, here's how to determine a home cost that's reasonable for you.

Determine Your Down Payment

Before you start with anything else, you'll want to determine the amount of money you can put down so you can estimate your monthly payments. The traditional amount for a down payment is 20% of the home's purchase price, so if you don't have anything close to this amount it might be worth waiting a little longer so you can minimize your payments and the amount of interest or mortgage insurance you'll be paying in the long run. Each person's situation is different, and there may be programs available with less than 20% down. This is an excellent question to pose to your trusted mortgage advisor.

Calculate Your Monthly Budget

If your mortgage cost already seems high, it will definitely be worth carefully calculating your monthly expenditures. Instead of a wild guess, take the time to sit down and calculate what your costs are including food, utilities, transportation and any other monthly necessities. Once you do this, it's also very important to add any debt repayments you're making to the mix. The total amount of your estimated mortgage costs, debt payments and living expenses should give you a pretty good sense of if your mortgage is viable in the long term.

Don't Forget About The Extras

When it comes to purchasing a home, many people envision that they will be eating and sleeping their new home so don't pay attention to all of the additional costs that can arise with living life. A new home is certainly an exciting, worthwhile financial venture, but ensure you're realistic about what it entails. If you're planning to go back to school or have children in the future, you'll want to add a little bit of extra cushion in your budget so that you don't have to put your other dreams on hold for the sake of your ideal home.

It can be very exciting to find a home you feel good about, but it's important before making an offer to realize the amount of house you can afford so you don't find yourself in a hole down the road. If you're currently on the market for a new home, contact your trusted mortgage professional for a personal consultation.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Working from Home? Learn How to Create the Perfect Office with Any Spare Room

Working from Home? Learn How to Create the Perfect Office with Any Spare RoomWith the increasing flexibility of the modern workplace, there are many more businesses offering their employees the opportunity to work from home. While this shift in the job market has created a bevy of new options for freelance workers, it can also be a good reason to turn a spare room into a spanking new office. If you're working from home, here are some tips for a stylish transition.

Prime It With Paint

Outside of lighting, the color and upkeep of the walls is going to have a huge impact on the way your spare office will look. Before even considering placing furniture or putting up pictures, decide on the perfect shade of paint that will keep you inspired and will go with the rest of your house. This will easily brighten the room, and prep it for its future purpose.

Start With Good Lighting

There are few things that will change the ambiance of a room like light, so make sure the room your changing up has a great set of windows or the kind of fixture that will provide effective illumination. Since many people have a hard time focusing in the orange or bright light that can come in certain work settings, a well-lit place may make all of your work seem a little bit easier.

Decide On A Desk

Many people put any old clunker of a desk in their spare office since it will do the trick, but if you're making the decision to renovate your spare room for work, it will be worth it to choose a desk you'll want to work at. Before going desk shopping, measure out the length and width of your spare room so you can make a desk purchase that will work for your new office.

What's On The Wall?

Beyond the supply of pens, paper and a computer, it might seem like the extras of your office situation can be kept out of the equation, but a few pictures can add a lot. While you may want to add some photos of family and friends, it might also be helpful for your work-time diligence to put up a picture that adds a shot of color and will inspire your best work.

There are a lot of great options for a spare room, but if you work from home an office can be the ideal renovation. If you happen to be sprucing up your spare room to sell your home, you may want to contact one of your local real estate agents for more information.

Monday, March 7, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - March 7, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - March 7, 2016Week in Review

Last week's scheduled economic news included reports on pending home sales, construction spending and several jobs related readings including ADP Payrolls, the government's Non-Farm Payrolls and the national unemployment rate.

Mortgage Rates, Weekly Unemployment Claims Rise

Mortgage rates rose across the board according to Freddie Mac's weekly report. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose two basis points to 3.64 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by one basis point to 2.94 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose five basis points to 2.84 percent. Discount points were consistent at 0.50 percent for all three types of home loans.

Weekly jobless claims also rose to 278,000 new claims as compared to expectations of 270,000 new claims and the prior week's reading of $272,000 new jobless claims. While an increase in new unemployment claims may seem discouraging, new claims for unemployment remain near pre-recession lows.

The four-week rolling average of new jobless claims dropped by 1750 claims to 270,250 and reached its lowest reading in three months. Analysts view the four-week reading as more reliable than week-to-week readings that can be volatile.

Pending Home Sales and Construction Spending

In other news, pending home sales fell by 2.50 percent as compared to December's reading. Analysts expected an increase in pending sales of 0.50 percent; December's reading was 0.10 percent higher than for November. Pending home sales represent sales contracts that have not yet closed and are considered an indicator of future closings and mortgage activity.

Home sales have been impacted in recent months by a shortage of available homes; this creates a backlog of would-be buyers who can't find homes they want to buy and also causes rapidly escalating home prices in desirable areas. Bidding wars and cash sales can sideline buyers who can't pay cash or are whose offers are outbid.

Analysts say that new home construction is a key component of easing the housing shortage. Construction spending increased by 1.50 percent in January, but month-to-month spending for residential projects was flat in January. Spending for residential projects was 7.60 percent higher year-over-year.

Labor Reports Reflect Stronger Economy

Federal and private sector reports on jobs indicate that job growth continues. The Department of Commerce reported that Non-Farm Payrolls grew by 242,000 jobs in February, which was higher than expectations of 195,000 new jobs and January's reading of 172,000 new jobs. According to ADP, which tracks private sector payrolls, 214,000 new jobs were created in February as compared to expectations of 185,000 new jobs and January's reading of 193,000 new jobs.

Improving jobs markets are a positive indicator for housing markets as stable employment is important to home buyers' ability to qualify for mortgages. The National Unemployment Rate remained stable in February with a reading of 4.90 percent; the expected reading and prior month's reading were also 4.90 percent.

What's Ahead

Next week's scheduled economic reports include the NFIB Small Business Index and February's Federal Budget along with regularly scheduled weekly reports on mortgage rates and new unemployment claims.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Thinking About Buying A Waterfront Home? Check Out These Important Tips!

First Time Home Buyers: What You Really Need to Know About Buying a Beachfront HomeThe idea of an idyllic beachfront home is appealing for many people, but there are a number of factors involved in this type of home purchase that should be considered before getting serious. Whether it's a home to live in full time, or a vacation property with investment potential, there are a number of issues to take note of. So, if you're on the fence regarding waterfront property, here are some things you should keep in mind if beach life might be right for you.

The Ever-Shifting Shoreline

It goes without saying that the times are changing, and erosion of beachfront property is set to be a more pressing issue in the years ahead. If you're planning on living in a house by the beach, you'll want to research the surrounding area to ensure your investment will be sustainable over time. If significant shore erosion does occur, you could suffer a loss in regards to your most expensive asset

In The Event Of Extreme Weather

Home insurance exists to cover you in the event of theft or fire, but if you're planning on buying by the beach, it's important to purchase an insurance package that will have you covered for many of nature's calamities. Instead of leaving this to chance, double check that your home is protected against wind or water damage, as leaving this out could cost you a lot of money down the road.

Do Your Market Research

If you're buying by the water and you're looking to live there into the foreseeable future, it may not be necessary to do a lot of research, but if you plan on having renters it's important to know that someone will be able to make your investment more feasible. If the market is down and people are not flocking to the beach during the months you'll require renters, it may not be wise to invest huge amounts of money into a property.

Everybody Loves The Beach

It's important to do research before you decide to invest in a beachfront home, but you will want to keep in mind that a home by the water will probably end up being more valuable than a home in the same town that doesn't sit on a patch of sand. If you've done your research and everything looks good, this may be an investment well worth it.

Beachfront property has its own set of risks and rewards, but if you do your homework it can be an ideal investment. If you're looking for homes in your area and are interested in waterfront property, you may want to contact your local real estate agent for more information.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Thinking About Selling in 2016? 3 Reasons You'll Absolutely Need a Great Real Estate Agent

Thinking About Selling in 2016? 3 Reasons You'll Absolutely Need a Great Real Estate AgentWhether you're familiar with the market or you've never sold a home before, an effective real estate agent can be exactly the thing you need to make for a positive market experience. With the world of real estate in a constant state of flux, here are a few reasons why the right agent can successfully guide you through the muddled waters of the market.

A Skill For Communication

In the case that the real estate market makes you nervous, it's particularly important to have the kind of agent who will keep you in the loop and give you the information you need to make an informed selling decision. An agent with the powers of communication will be able to give you honest advice when it's required, like if it's time to lower the price of your house, so that you can have success in achieving the offer you're looking for.

A Willingness To Work Hard

There are many agents out there who won't be willing to put in additional effort for a client, but the kind of agent you'll want to choose should be someone who is a go-getter and will chase potential business for you. Instead of waiting around, an ideal agent should be following up with potential buyers and ensuring that they're chasing any leads that may guarantee the purchase of your home. If you have to ask them to be proactive, they're probably not the right person for the job.

A Bevy Of Client References

A real estate agent that is worth their salt should not hesitate to provide you with client references so you can make an informed, educated decision. Instead of asking for their personal references, though, request the names of their last ten clients as this should give you a pretty good grasp of what their capacities as an agent are, and how they will serve you. If they are cagey about providing references, you'll want to move on to your next potential agent.

The real estate market is rife with a lot of things to know and it can be complicated to jump into the tides, but the right agent can actually make the process of selling your home a lot less stressful. If you're currently looking for homes and are not sure where to turn, you may want to contact one of our real estate professionals for more scoop on the market.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Smart Appliances Get Smarter: Here's What We Saw at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show

Smart Appliances Get Smarter: Here's What We Saw at the 2016 Consumer Electronics ShowWith technology advancing at a mile a minute, the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show is a great place to see what's new to the market and what will be sure to turn heads in the year to come. If you couldn't make it to the show yourself but are curious about the highlights of the event, here are some of the hottest items in technology that appeared in Las Vegas this year.

Make It Molecular With A Spectrometer

Designed by Consumers Physics, the SCiO is a modern, small-sized molecular sensor that can give you volumes of information about your food that you've never had before. Instead of consulting the nutritional information, you can easily obtain all of the products contained in your food (or any other product, really) by simply pointing it at the item in question. This information will then be transferred to the product's associated app for you to review.

Forgot To Lock? Grab Your Phone!

We've all experienced the fear here and there of thinking we forgot to lock the door, but with the innovative Kwikset Premis door lock, you can easily put this former fear to rest. Instead of having to rush home with key in hand, the Kwikset allows you to easily control its locking mechanism with a PIN number using your smart phone. So, the next time you've think you've forgotten to lock the door behind you, you can instantly access your smartphone and put your mind at ease.

Wake Up To Your Favorite Scent

Waking up is often associated with the uncomfortable sensation of a beeping clock, but with the Sensorwake the first few minutes of the morning don't have to seem like such a chore. Instead of beeping, you can insert an aroma module into your Sensorwake that will release the scent you choose, whether it happens to be espresso, croissant or peppermint. If you don't think this will be enough to wake you up, you can also arrange for an audible alarm that will come on a little bit later.

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is one of the best events of the year for interesting, new technology, but if you missed it there are plenty of exciting gadgets that will soon be available on the market. If you happen to be looking for a new home that has all of the gadgets on the horizon, you may want to contact your local real estate agent for help in your search.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Dream Renovations: Upgrading Your Bathroom from 'Regular' to 'In-Home Spa'

Dream Renovations: Upgrading Your Bathroom from 'Regular' to 'In-home Spa'There are times you might long for the relaxed leisure of the spa experience, but with the cost of a manicure it's not always a pleasure one can afford. If your current bathroom set-up isn't the optimal place for rest and relaxation, here are some cues for how you can turn it from a bit of a problem to a consummate pleasure.

Install A Vintage Vanity

The look of slick steel and porcelain can certainly be classy, but if you're looking for an upscale room you'll love to spend time in, consider a vintage dresser that you can turn into your very own unique vanity. While you'll need to develop some plumbing and woodworking know-how to make this dream a reality, it will easily fancy up your bathroom and lend for an elegant, everyday experience.

Spring For A Bold Color

Part of the spa experience is often the palette of jewel-toned colors that are used on the walls, but it can often be considered a risk to take on such an intense tone in one's own bathroom. However, if you have a smaller sized bathroom and can find a brilliant color you really love that will work with your decor, it may make for a unique and singular spa-style experience.

Add An Accent With Tile

A sizeable Jacuzzi that you can really get comfortable in is a great start for an in-home spa experience, but there are some stylish ways you can add to it that will make for a particularly sophisticated look. Instead of taking out the tub, pick a colorful tile that will mesh with the other colors and textures of your bathroom to add an accent. It's not necessarily a simple fix but it will add a lot of oomph.

Work A Walk-In Shower

It goes without saying that a shower curtain does not always provide for the most sublime of bathroom experiences, so one step towards your own 'in-home Spa' may involve the addition of a walk-in shower. While this can be an expensive upgrade, it can completely change the look and feel of your bathroom, and might just mean you'll save on manicures.

The spa experience can be enticing for the relaxation and comfort it offers, but you can create a similar experience in your own bathroom with a few changes that will elegant it up. If you happen to be renovating your home because and would like to look at financing options, you may want to contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.