Tuesday, May 31, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - May 31, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - May 31, 2016Last week's economic reports included new home sales, pending home sales along with weekly mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

New Home Sales Surpass Expectations

Sales of new homes surpassed expectations and the prior month's reading. April's reading of 619,000 sales exceeded expectations of 523,000 new homes sold and 531,000 new homes sold in March.  New home sales rose by 16.60 percent on a seasonally adjusted annual basis, which was the highest increase in 24 years.

Analysts said that April's new home sales indicate that builders are increasing production of new homes to meet high demand for homes. Short inventories of available homes are credited with driving up demand and home prices. Buyers seeking family homes are contending with investor buyers and cash buyers in popular markets.

With affordability becoming limited in many cities, first time and moderate income homebuyers aren't buying as many homes as they once did. This development contributes to slowing markets, as move-up buyers generally rely on first time buyers to purchase their homes.

Shortages of available homes has pressured home builders to break ground on new home construction projects, but builders continue to cite labor shortages and a lack of buildable lots as reasons why they aren't building homes as fast as homes are needed

Pending Home Sales Numbers Suggest Peak Buying Season Returns

Pending home sales were also higher than forecast in April with a reading of 5.10 percent as compared to expectations of 0.80 percent for April and the March reading of 1.60 percent. Pending home sales gauge future closings for home sales and reached their highest level in 10 years and posted a year-over-year gain of 4.60 percent.

Three of four regional readings for pending home sales posted gains, with home sales in the Midwest posting slower growth. On a year-over-year basis, he South posted a gain of 6.80 percent and the Northeast posted a gain of 1.20 percent. The West saw a jump in pending sales with a reading of 11.40 percent after posting a negative reading in March.

April's expansion in new and pending sales suggests that the peak home buying season is back

Mortgage Rates Rise; New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was six basis points higher at 3.64 percent; the rate for a 15-year mortgage rose eight basis points to 2.89 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose seven points to 2.87 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for all mortgage types.

New jobless claims dipped last week to 268,000 as compared to an expected reading of 275,000 new claims and the prior week's reading of 278,000 new claims. Analysts said that New York school employees that were eligible for benefits boosted jobless claims earlier in May due to a non-typical law that allows some school workers to draw unemployment during school closures such as spring break or labor disputes.

What's Ahead This Week

This week's scheduled economic news includes Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, construction spending and reports on inflation, core inflation and consumer sentiment. No reports were scheduled for Monday due to the Memorial Day holiday.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Why Home Buyers Should Hire Their Own Home Inspector and How to Choose One

Why Home Buyers Should Hire Their Own Home Inspector and How to Choose OneWhen you've found the perfect home and you're preparing for all of the final details to be sorted, there are a few important things that should not be forgotten about. As a home inspection is among the last steps in the transfer of the home, here's why it's very important to find the right person for the job.

Assessing All The Elements

Purchasing a home is among the most important and expensive decisions you will ever make, and for this reason it's necessary to hire a professional that has experience with how a home should function. Because there are so many things that make a house run smoothly, the right inspector will be able to assess any major issues for you so that you're not forced to pay a high price for fix-ups when the deal is already set in stone.

What The Inspector Will Look For

There are a number of things a home inspector will look at that encompass all of the main functioning systems of a house, and this should determine if your home will be a good investment for you. There will be items that need regular or routine maintenance that will be identified, but the most important issues like a cracking home foundation or mold can be a major expense. From start to finish, a home inspector will be able to give you a written report of any minor and major issues that will help you determine the value of your investment.

How To Find The Ideal Inspector

One of the most important factors when it comes to the right inspector is experience, and no piece of paper can make up for this. While your inspector should certainly have professional certification from organizations like the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI) or the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO), they should have a number of years under their belt and have seen enough to know what to look for.

There are a lot of things to think about when buying a home, but finding the right inspector can go a long way in positively impacting your purchase. If you're currently on the market for a home and are considering your options, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

4 Tips to Staging Your Home on a Budget

4 Tips to Staging Your Home on a BudgetMany people think that staging a home effectively is a matter of money, but there are easy ways to dress it up and make it shine that don't come with a high cost. If you're looking for some economical tips that will go a long way in making a positive impression, here are a few ways to get your home prepared.

Pack Away The Personal

There are certain unique features in any house that can have a positive impact on potential homebuyers, but personal items will actually make it harder for guests to imagine themselves in your home. For a cost-free save, ensure that you pack away personal mementos and pictures so that guests aren't distracted by the details of your life.

Keep It Clutter Free

An untidy home will have an instantly negative impact on the perception of your visitors, so you may want to enlist the help of your entire family to clean it from top to bottom. Instead of keeping papers and magazines that have been sitting around for years, sift through any coffee table piles and bedroom corners and discard all the things that will catch the eye too easily.

Take Out The Toolbox

If you've been postponing a few minor fix-ups like a damaged shelf or a loose door, now is the time to head to the hardware store and get these jobs done. Potential homebuyers will be looking at every aspect of your home, and maintenance will figure heavily into how interested they are, so an inability to deal with the small details can cue them to a home they shouldn't invest in.

Do A Deep Clean

Cleaning the house, especially a sizeable one, can be the bane of many a homeowner but there's no other time that cleaning properly is more important than when you're staging it. While a dirty, dusty house may mean your guests won't pay attention to your home's best features, a newly clean home will provide visitors with a blank canvas from which to draw their conclusions.

From major overhauls to unique decorations that draw the eye, there are many great ways to stage a home, but making the small fixes and doing a deep clean are easy to do and don't require a lot of cash. If you're preparing to put your home on the market, you may want to contact one of our local real estate professionals for more information.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Peak Season Is Near: 4 Tasks to Get Your Home Ready for Sale Season

Peak Season is near 4 tasks to get your home ready for sale seasonThe spring is the most popular time of the year when it comes to real estate, and it's a good time for a few fix ups if you're putting your home on the market. While you may have a lot of different things to do before you're ready for your first showing, here are the four things to keep at the top of the list.

Complete The Forgotten-About Fixes

If you've lived in your home for a while, it's entirely possible that there's a damaged baseboard or broken door latch that you haven't gotten around to fixing; however, these are the things that a potential buyer will quickly notice. Instead of leaving it to chance, make a note of the little fixes and complete them before you set a date for a showing.

Do A Spring Clean

Packing up all of your stuff for a big move can be quite a gargantuan task, but taking advantage of spring-cleaning to clear out some old stuff will make the selling process a lot smoother. Not only will this force you to look at your home with new eyes, it means there will be little less to organize and de-clutter when it comes to staging time.

Break Out The Paint Cans

It's important to stay away from colors that are too bold, but taking your brush to the paint can bring a lot to what viewers will take away from your home. Instead of a dull coat or chip marks, potential homebuyers will see your home in its best light. As painting your home can be quite a sizeable task, make sure you take this on well in advance of putting your home up for sale.

Check Out The Exterior

There's often enough cleaning to do inside the home that the exterior is forgotten about, but this is the first thing a new visitor to your property will see. Instead of sticking to the inside, make sure that your lawn is mowed, any flowers beds are well groomed, and make sure that nothing appears out of place or disheveled.

There's a lot to be done before putting your home on the market, but by following these tips you'll be well on your way to a positive home staging. If you're almost ready to sell and are weighing your options, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

Monday, May 23, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - May 23, 2016

You Ask, We Answer: 5 Ways That You Can Proactively Build and Improve Your Credit ScoreLast week's economic news included the NAHB Housing Market Index, reports on housing starts, building reports and existing home sales. Minutes of the Federal Reserve's last FOMC meeting were also released.

Homebuilder Confidence Unchanged, Housing Starts and Building Permits Increase

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported that builder confidence held steady with a reading of 58 in May. Analysts projected a reading of 58 and April's reading was also 58. Builder confidence in market conditions could be slowing due to concerns over acquiring skilled labor and a shortage of developed lots. Demand for homes remains high, but a slim inventory of available properties and builder emphasis on higher-priced homes contributed to sidelining moderate income and first-time buyers.

Commerce Department reports for April Housing Starts and Building Permits issued suggest that tight housing inventories may receive some relief. April housing starts rose from a revised March reading of 1.099 million to 1.170 million starts. Housing starts increased by 6.60 percent in April. Housing starts have slowed as compared to the year-over-year period from April 2015 to 2016; housing starts increased by 10 percent for the same year-over-year period in 2015. While any increase in home construction is welcome, some analysts said that they did not expect a huge increase in home construction in coming months.

Construction of multifamily housing units rose by 10.70 percent, while single-family home construction increased by 3.30 percent. Rising rents and millennials delaying home purchases were seen as fueling multifamily home construction. As homes become less affordable, would-be buyers are continuing to rent, which places higher demand on rental units.

Pre-owned Home Sales Rise in April

Sales of previously owned homes rose by 1.70 percent in April to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.45 million sales. Sales increased by 12.10 percent in the Midwest, where homes are most affordable, and fell by 1.70 percent in the West, where homes are most costly. This development suggests that rapidly rising home prices have or will soon reach maximum levels in high-cost areas. Home prices in many areas rose rapidly in preceding months as short inventory and high demand created bidding wars and keen competition for available homes. A lack of affordable single family homes has caused some buyers to buy condos while others have put buying on hold.

Mortgage Rates Rise, New Jobless Claims Fall

Mortgage rates rose for 30-year fixed rate mortgages rose by one basis point to 3.58 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was unchanged at 2.82 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by two basis points to 2.80 percent. Discount points were 0.60, 0.50 and 0.50 percent respectively. Analysts are watching the Fed closely for any indication that it will raise the target federal funds rate in June, although concerns over the possibility of Great Britain leaving the European Union could cause the Fed to hold off on raising the rate. If the Fed raises the target federal funds rate, loan rates for credit cards and mortgages would also increase.

New jobless claims fell last week to 278,000 new claims against expectations of 279,000 new claims and the prior week's reading of 294,000 new claims. Analysts said that a telecommunications strike caused the prior week's raise in claims as striking workers who are replaced during a strike are eligible for jobless benefits.

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic releases include new and pending home sales along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Essentials for a Successful Open House

The Essentials for a Successful Open HouseFrom the cleaning to the organizing to the small fix-ups around the house, there can be a lot of minor details that go into staging a successful open house. However, there are a few essential items you should be sure not to forget about when you prep your home for an influx of potential buyers.

Choose The Right Time

If you happen to be selling your home in the busy season, it's important to set your open house at a time that gives potential buyers room to breathe. While weekends are a popular time for open houses, you may want to choose a day or time that is a little different from other homes in your area. This means visitors to your home will be able to take their time and really see the details that make your home distinct and worth a second look.

The Exterior Speaks Volumes

With so much cleaning and so many small maintenance duties, it can be easy to forget about the first thing that guests will see when they show up at your doorstep, the exterior. However, this will provide the initial impression so you'll want to ensure that it's a positive one. Before organizing your open house, make sure the lawn is cleared and cut, the hedges are trimmed and your doorway is well maintained.

Make The Marketing Count

If you've primed your home for your open house, it's important to ensure your marketing efforts are up to snuff and will get people through the door. While your real estate agent should feature your home and some professional photos on their website, you should also consider handing out flyers to your neighbors and advertising on social media to reach anyone who might be interested.

Engage All The Senses

It might sound strange, but a house that smells and sounds good in addition to a house that looks good can actually work wonders in swinging a buyer in the direction of your home. While having a clean, clutter-free place is ideal, you may want to consider baking beforehand or even leaving a little music on so people will feel relaxed and right at home.

There are a lot of little tricks that go into a successful open house and it's important to utilize all of them to get the best results. If you're putting your home on the market, contact your trusted local real estate professional for more information.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

How to Smartly Leverage Your Home Equity

How to Smartly Leverage Your Home EquitySo you've been a homeowner for some time. You've been faithfully paying off your mortgage for years, and you have a fair bit of equity built up in your home – and that makes you proud. But now, you're wondering what good equity is if you're not using it.

How do you actually use home equity? And how do you leverage it to get a high return for low risk? Here are just a few options you may want to consider if you're looking for something to do with your equity.

Use A Home Equity Loan Or HELOC To Pay Off High-Interest Debt

If you have a certain amount of money invested in your home, you can borrow against that investment by taking out a home equity loan or a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). A home equity loan is ideal for borrowing a large amount of money for a specific purpose, whereas a HELOC works much the same way a credit card does – you can use credit as needed, then pay back what you owe. And if you have a lot of high-interest debt, one of these vehicles could be a great way to pay off your creditors – while it may seem like borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, you actually save thousands of dollars in interest rates by paying off high-interest debt using a lower-interest HELOC or home equity loan.

Buy An Investment Property With A Home Equity Loan

If you've been looking to enter the real estate investment market but haven't had the liquid funds for a deposit, leveraging your home equity in the form of a loan can get you into the landlord game quickly and easily. This is a smart move because while you are taking on more debt, you're doing so in order to create a new income stream. Ideally, you'll want to buy a duplex or a home with a granny suite so that you can maximize your investment by renting out more than one dwelling space.

Downsize To A Smaller House And Invest The Difference

Perhaps you're living in a large house that has seen its value appreciate in recent years, and you're looking to move in the near future. Selling your large home and moving into a smaller, less expensive home is a great way to simply turn your home's equity into cash – cash that you can invest.

Leveraging your home equity can be a smart move if it's done with a larger goal and a solid strategy in mind. But when done irresponsibly, taking equity out of your home can have severe consequences. Talk to your local real estate professional today to learn more about smart options for leveraging home equity.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Holds Steady in May

Closing Paperwork: How to Read and Understand the Truth-in-Lending Disclosure StatementThe National Association of Home Builders reported that home builder confidence in the U.S. housing market conditions held steady for the fourth consecutive month in May. Builder confidence stayed at a reading of 58, which was the number expected by analysts and was also the reading for April. Analysts said that the consistency in readings signified expansion in housing markets. Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders than not are confident about market conditions.

Components of the NAHB Housing Market Index include readings on builder confidence in current market conditions which held steady at 63 and builder confidence in market conditions over the next six months, which gained three points to a reading of 54. Builder confidence in foot traffic for new home developments was unchanged at a reading of 44.

NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz said that the higher reading for future sales indicates growing builder confidence in housing market conditions. In recent months, housing markets have been fueled by low mortgage rates and high demand, but supplies of available homes are dwindling. Housing industry analysts have identified building new homes as a major solution for the shortage of homes for sale.

Analysts note that while new homes represent a small part of the residential real estate market, each new home constructed contributes an average of three jobs for a year and yields an average of $90,000 in tax revenue for each home built. Builders repeatedly cite a lack of workers and buildable lots as a concern for building more homes. An NAHB analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' report on Job Openings and Labor Turnover indicated that there were 210,000 unfilled construction jobs in March, which was the highest reading since May 2007.

Regional surveys of home builder sentiment were mixed. The reading for the Northeast fell by 3 points to 41 while readings for the Midwest and South rose by one point each with readings of 58 and 59 respectively. The reading for the West was unchanged at 67

Low Mortgage Rates: Will the Fed Raise Rates in June?

In other housing related news, analysts' predictions are mixed regarding whether or not the Federal Reserve will raise its target funds rate next month when the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meets. Uncertainties over the United Kingdom's upcoming vote about leaving the European Union and mixed economic data appear likely to nix a rate increase, but improving labor markets could be a plus for a fed rate increase. Raising the federal funds rate would cause mortgage rates to rise and is considered a further concern for the gap between growing wages and rapidly rising home prices.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Avoiding Home Buyer Remorse: 5 Tips for a Happier Homeowner

Avoiding Home Buyer Remorse: 5 Tips for a Happier HomeownerThe rush of excitement that comes with finding the home you've been looking for is ideal, but just because it seems like the perfect place, it doesn't mean there aren't other factors to consider. Instead of getting hit with buyer's remorse, here are some tips so that your home purchase doesn't become something you'll regret.

Forget About The Competition

If you're contemplating a house and happen to be dragged into a bidding war, it's important to take a step back and determine if it's really the right home for you. It can be easy to get carried away and up your offer, but make sure you determine what the home is really worth to you.

Take A Second Look

If you've been to a lot of home viewings and have finally found a place you feel good about, it can be easy to overlook the minor details. Instead of trusting your memory, make sure you visit the home a couple of times before putting in an offer so you'll be aware of any major flaws you might have missed the first time around.

Visit The Neighborhood

The instant appeal of a home that seems perfect for your family can be unexpected, but it's worth considering the neighborhood you're going to be living in to ensure it's livable. A home is one thing, but local amenities and an area your family feels comfortable will come to be equally important

Avoid A Fixer-Upper

The kind of home you can fix up might make for a fun project for the DIY person, but biting off more than you can chew in an effort to save can be a mistake. A few small renovations may not be a big issue, but a home that needs a lot of changes will likely end up being more of a burden once the deal is sealed.

Stick To Your Purchase Price

Many people get so overwhelmed when they find a unique place to settle that their price point flies out the window. However, instead of making allowances for a purchase price you can't really swing, keep what's affordable in mind and be sure you don't veer too far above it.

It can be exciting to find the kind of home you're looking for in a center you love, but it's important to pay a price that's affordable and get the home you really want. If you're currently looking for real estate options in your area, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Monday, May 16, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - May 16, 2016

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week December 21 2015Last week's economic news included reports on retail sales and consumer sentiment along with weekly releases on new jobless claims and mortgage rates.

Retail sales jumped 1.30 percent in April as compared to the March reading of 0.30 percent. Retail sales excluding the automotive sector rose from 0.40 percent growth in March to 0.80 percent growth in April. Both retail sales reports exceeded expectations. Growth in consumer spending suggests higher confidence in economic conditions and may lead potential homebuyers to consider buying rather than renting their homes.

Consumer sentiment jumped in May to a reading of 95.8 as compared to an expected reading of 89.5 and April's reading of 89.0. This reading further supports easing of consumer concerns over current economic conditions and could bode well for housing markets as the peak sales season continues. May's reading was the highest in nearly a year according to the University of Michigan, which conducts the Consumer Sentiment Survey.

Mortgage Rates Fall, New Jobless Claims Rise

Housing markets received a boost as average mortgage rates reported by Freddie Mac fell. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by four basis points to 3.57 percent; the rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was five points lower at 2.81 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was two basis points lower at 2.78 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for all three types of mortgages.

In spite of good economic news, lower mortgage rates and higher consumer sentiment, new jobless claims jumped to a 14-month high of 294,000 new claims from the prior week's reading of 274,000 new claims and expectations of 270,000 new claims. Analysts said this increase could indicate softening of labor markets. Putting last week's urge in claims in perspective, new claims remained below the benchmark reading of 300,000 new claims for 62 consecutive weeks, which is the longest period since 1973.

Labor laws in New York State likely influenced the jump in claims as certain school workers are allowed to file for unemployment benefits during spring break. A strike by some telecommunications workers likely contributed to the abrupt rise in new jobless claims. Analysts noted that New York allows striking employees replaced by their employers while on strike to collect unemployment benefits, and that new claims were near historically low levels in all other states.

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic reports include the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index and Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued. Monthly reports on inflation are also expected.The National Association of Realtors® will release its report on existing home sales. Weekly reports on new jobless claims and mortgage rates will also be released.

Friday, May 13, 2016

3 Ikea Hacks That Can Be Done in a Weekend's Time

3 Ikea Hacks That Can Be Done in a Weekend's TimeWhether you're moving into your first apartment or preparing to purchase a second home, Ikea is a favorite for those trying to economically fill up the extra space in their home. While Ikea may have plenty of inexpensive options that you might not think can be dressed up, there are actually a lot of simple pieces that you can add to for a stylish, DIY look that will take no time at all.

Cue The Cocktails

The popularity of the bar cart has seen a resurgence, but many of these decorative pieces can be quite pricey for the person who isn't sure they want to commit to the cost. Instead of shelling out of for this overpriced piece, purchase the BYGEL utility cart from Ikea for less than $50 dollars and spray paint it in the color of your choice. While this will serve as a basic bar cart, it will easily look the part with some glasses, liquor bottles and an ice bucket.

Bring On The Board Game

With its four square legs and flattop, the LACK table is one of the plainest items in IKEA, but this inexpensive table can be fixed up as part of a fun activity with your kids. Once you've purchased your own brightly colored table, pick up some paint and using stencils paint the family's favorite board game right onto its surface. Whether it happens to be backgammon, chess or Monopoly, this will add a lot of personality to the family room.

Create Your Own Sitting Table

The EXBY ALEX shelf is a relatively simple shelving unit that attaches to a wall for extra storage space, but it can also serve as a perfect starting point for an item that's completely different. Instead of attaching this shelf to the wall, add a set of legs so the unit will serve as a cabinet without any need for wall mounting. While this will still serve as an understated piece, it can say a lot more about your room than the average wall cabinet.

Many people head to IKEA for the economical furniture options, but it's also a great place for coming up with your own home DIY projects that are sure to make for a unique look. If you're planning on purchasing a home and are looking for interesting furniture to fill it with, you may want to contact your trusted local real estate professional for more information.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Refinancing to Pay for Renovations? Consider the VA's Energy Efficient Mortgage Program

Refinancing to Pay for Renovations? Consider the VA's Energy Efficient Mortgage ProgramMaking renovations that are energy efficient is not just a great way to reduce energy output, but it's also an effective way of decreasing monthly utility costs. It serves as a one-time investment that will save money in the long run.

However, renovations are costly and not everybody has the extra finances required to make energy efficient changes. This is where the VA's energy efficient mortgage (or EEM) program comes into play.

The program is designed to allow veterans to apply for a new mortgage or refinance an existing one with extra funds to renovate the home to be up to energy efficient standards.

The Three Tiers Under The VA's Energy Efficient Mortgage Program

The VA has three tiers for the cost of renovations to be done under the EEM program. The lowest, and easiest to be accepted for, is for improvements that will total under $3,000. A list of costs or a contractor's quote may be required in the application process.

The second tier is for renovations that will cost between $3,001 and $6,000. This will require the homeowner or homebuyer to get a Home Energy Rating System report to detail how efficient a home is currently and what can be done to decrease its HERS rating.

The final tier is for any improvements to the home that will cost over $6,000. This is the most difficult tier to receive acceptance for as both the Department of Veterans Affairs and the private lender will need to approve the renovations.

Types Of Improvements Under The EEM Program

The program covers a variety of renovations for the home. These include: new insulation to walls, floors and ceilings, solar powered heating and cooling systems, thermal doors, thermal windows and new caulking and weather stripping.

There are also items that will not be covered by the program, including new roofing, vinyl siding and air conditioning units.

Using The EEM Program To Receive A Larger Loan

Any veteran or currently active military member looking to buy a brand new home can still benefit greatly from the energy efficient mortgage program. If a new home undergoes a HERS report and passes as being energy efficient, this can be applied to a VA mortgage to receive as much as $6,000 extra on the loan.

Speak with your local mortgage professional to go into more detail on the intricacies of refinancing under the EEM program and whether or not your home will qualify.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

5 Great Ways A Real Estate Professional Can Market Your Home Online

5 Great Ways A Real Estate Professional Can Market Your Home OnlineIf you have a great house at the perfect price point, you're already on the right path to selling your home successfully. However, there are still many tricks of the trade you can utilize to bring potential homebuyers to you. If you're working with a real estate agent and are looking for great ways to grab attention, here are a few that may garner added interest.

Create A Video Tour

Open houses are great for giving potential homebuyers a look at your place, but posting a video of your home online can bring in a few more interested candidates than the typical staging. Find a professional who will be able to adequately highlight your space so those who can't visit in person will get a sense of its special features up close.

Give Your Home A Website

With so many people hitting the Internet first to search for homes, having your own personal page on which your home is featured can be a great way to drum up interest. Whether it exists at its own web address or on your real estate agent's page, this kind of spotlight can get people in the door.

Utilize Email Marketing

Many real estate professionals are using email marketing to share tips and bolster their business, but these emails can also be a great place to feature client homes. Instead of having to hand out flyers or rely on passive listings, your home featured in an email blast will easily reach a broad range of potential homebuyers.

Invest In Professional Photography

Lighting has a lot to do with the way your home will appear in an image, so hiring someone that can highlight its best features is key. While subpar photos on a website are not going to captivate anyone's interest, some well-lit photos with a focus on unique details can work wonders.

Post On Social Media

There's a good chance that your real estate agent has a Facebook page or Twitter account, and these can be ideal forums for marketing your home and finding unexpected leads. The power and prominence of social media means a wider audience and an even better opportunity for the right buyer.

With so many homebuyers flocking to the Internet to find their next home, it's a great opportunity for real estate agents everywhere to harness its power and market online. If you're preparing to list your home, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

How Offering Buyer Incentives Will Get Your House Sold Faster

How Offering Buyer Incentives Will Get Your House Sold Faster Why The Added Incentive?

It may seem like keeping your home in good condition and pricing it according to its market value is good enough, but in more difficult market times many people have opted for extras that may boost the appeal of their home. While the wrong incentive strategy can make it look like you have a home that is not worth the asking price, there are classy ways value can be added that can still engage the right buyer.

Determine Your Ideal Buyer

If you've already decided that your ideal offer is a perfectly fair deal, you'll want to consider what kind of incentives will successfully attract the buyer you're looking for. Instead of merely dreaming up something that will be ineffective, determine a profile for who they are whether it's young or old, single or family oriented so that you can offer benefits that will be marketed to them. By using incentives that are linked to their interests and lifestyle, you may be able to pique their curiosity enough that they'll make a visit.

A Few Incentives To Consider

There are a lot of great opportunities for snagging new interested parties with an incentive, the bonus being that you won't need to offer it up until the time you sell your home. If you're located close to a beach resort, you may want to give away a surfboard or kayak; providing a gift card for a local restaurant or a golf membership can also be a great idea. While most people will not want to go to the extreme of giving away their transportation, some have gifted their luxury car in order to seal the deal.

A home in good condition and at the right price can often snag a purchasing offer, but if your home is lingering on the market, incentives can go a long way too. If you're still trying to sell your home and are considering your options, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Monday, May 9, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - May 9, 2016

Closing Paperwork: How to Read and Understand the Truth-in-Lending Disclosure Statement Mortgage rates fell across the board last week according to Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey. Other economic news included reports on construction spending, public and private sector employment and national unemployment.

Construction Spending Grows in March

The Commerce Department reported that the growth rate for construction spending fell in March to 0.30 percent/Analysts expected a reading of 0.70 percent based on February's upwardly revised growth rate of 1.0 percent. Construction spending was propelled by a 1.50 percent increase in residential construction spending; this is good news for would-be home buyers who've been shut out of the market due to high demand and low inventories of available homes.

Housing market analysts have repeatedly said that new home construction is the answer to short supplies of homes and high buyer demand. Year-over-year, construction spending is up 8.0 percent overall; residential construction spending grew by 7.60 percent year-over-year.

Mortgage Rates Dip

Average mortgage rates were lower last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by five basis points to 3.61 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was three basis points lower at 2.86 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped six basis points to an average of 2.80 percent.

While any drop in mortgage rates is welcomed by home buyers, the high demand for homes continues to drive prices up and has raised concerns about affordability of single-family homes in many communities.

Jobs Growth Slows

The national unemployment rate held steady at 5.0 percent in April, but job growth slowed in public and private sectors. ADP reported private sector jobs increased by 156,000 jobs as compared to 194,000 jobs added in March. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Non-Farm Payrolls increased by 160.000 jobs as compared to expectations of 203,000 jobs added and March's reading of 208,000 jobs added. Non-Farm payrolls measure public and private sector job growth.

New jobless claims rose by 17,000 to 274,000 new claims, but remained below the benchmark of 300,000 new claims for 61 consecutive weeks. Analysts projected that new claims would grow by 265,000 new claims based on the prior week's reading of 257,000 new claims. The less volatile four-week rolling average of new jobless claims indicated that 258,000 new claims were filed. The labor force participation rate dropped from 65 percent to 63 percent in March. Retiring baby boomers contributed to some but not all of this workforce decline.

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic news includes weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims along with a report on consumer sentiment.

Friday, May 6, 2016

4 Neglected Home Maintenance Tasks That Are a Must

4 Neglected Home Maintenance Tasks That Are a MustThere are a number of home maintenance tasks that are easy to forget about in favor of more obvious renovations, but forgetting to do some of them can end up costing you a lot down the road. If you're hoping to keep your home in tip-top shape, here are a few tasks that you shouldn't forget about.

Sealing Off Access Points

Small rodents and insects can wreak havoc on your home if they gain access, so ensure that you maintain the foundation of your home and seal off any areas where these pests might get inside. Check all the windows and doors, and survey the foundation of your home, making sure to patch up any areas where sealant or mortar has come loose.

Cleaning The Shingles

The reality of algae eating away at your roof shingles can be an unpleasant, expensive renovation, so clean your roof on a regular basis before any black streaks can take your shingles with them. Simply mix together hot water, bleach and detergent and spray this from your garden hose on a cooler day so you can save your roof from rot. This will also save you the cost of having to hire a professional

Maintaining Your Wood Deck

There are few things that will age your yard like a poorly maintained deck, so take the time to re-stain and seal your deck so it doesn't quickly see the effects of time and weather. While harsh weather can have an ill effect on your deck's appearance, properly maintaining it will mean you can avoid the high cost of replacement that will be required.

Keeping It Clutter Free

Many homeowners get pretty comfortable in their home, and this can often mean that many boxes of unused items get stored away. Instead of keeping old items though, do a clean out once every 6-12 months to get rid of the things you don't use. By having a clean basement and garage, you'll also have the ability to notice many other maintenance issues that might not be visible with all the extra stuff.

There are a number of maintenance tasks around the home that people often forget, but neglecting to complete them can often times cost a pretty penny down the road. If you're doing a few home renovations before putting your house on the market, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

How to Determine the Price of Your Home for Sale

How to Determine the Price of Your Home for SaleMany people rely on the price they paid for their home as a starting point for selling, but with the ever-shifting tides of the real estate market, the price paid is not always the best metric to go by. If you're putting your home up for sale and are looking for the ideal price point, here are some ways you can arrive at a number that will keep potential buyers interested.

Check Out Your Neighborhood

Your house may have a lot of different features than the homes of your neighbors, but checking out what real estate in your area is selling for can still be a good means of determining the price you'll be able to ask for. Instead of just perusing the pricing, ensure you're looking at the listings for what's been successfully sold in your neighborhood as only this will allow you to determine the conditions of the market and what people will be prepared to offer.

Complete A Home Inspection

Instead of being surprised by repairs that need to be completed after an offer price has been accepted, organizing a home inspection before your home is sold can make a difference in the price you're able to ask for. Not only will this provide you with a determination of what needs to be repaired or overhauled, it can be a boon to potential buyers who won't have to worry about your inspection revealing any hidden flaws.

Utilize Your Agent's Advice

Even if you've done your research and carefully considered the value of your home, it can still be complicated to come up with the right price, so be sure to enlist an agent who will be able to determine a fair amount with you. Since your agent has no attachment to your home, they'll be able to objectively strike the right balance between what won't sell and what's too low. The right price, after all, may mean you'll get to spend a lot less time selling it.

There are a lot of factors that go into arriving at the proper asking price for your home, but by organizing a home inspection and being aware of what's going on in the market, you should be able to arrive at a reasonable sum. If you're planning on putting your home on the market soon, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Thinking about Renovations?: 5 Considerations Before Hiring a Home Improvements Contractor

Thinking about Renovations?: 5 Considerations Before Hiring a Home Improvements ContractorWith the pre-summer enthusiasm and the milder weather, springtime can be one of the best times of the year to take on home renovations that aren't as easy in other months. If you happen to have some projects in mind and are considering taking the work on yourself, here are a few questions you'll need to ask.

What Can You Take On?

If you have specific renovations in mind for the coming months, it's very important to decide what you can reasonably take on and what you could pass on to a contractor. While some projects and fix-ups may be easier to complete on your own, some will require a greater degree of expertise.

What's Your Skill Level?

You may have something that you think you can take on yourself, but if you're new to renovating, it may be worth hiring a contractor who will be able to complete the job without incident. It can be a great learning experience to do many fix-ups on your own, but this can take a lot of time and energy too if you don't know the details.

What's Your Price Point?

Before deciding to hire a contractor, it's important that you've thought about the potential costs associated with what you want to do. It can be pricey to hire someone if you have a lot that needs to be done, but someone else's expertise can also end up being worth the money spent.

Do You Have A Timeline?

Many people renovate in the spring and summer months, and this means that your ideal contractor may not have a lot of time available. While this may end up working out for you, you'll want to consider when you want it done so your expectations are not unreasonable.

Is A Second Opinion Helpful?

It's great if you can handle all your home renovations on your own, but no one will be able to offer you the knowledgeable opinion that a contractor will. While a professional will undoubtedly be able to complete the work you're requesting, they may also have helpful suggestions for you that may make for an even better home improvement.

Spring is an ideal season for home renovations, but before taking anything on you'll want to carefully consider whether or not you'll need to hire someone. If you're renovating to put your home on the market, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

'Free Pizza for Life' and Other Crazy Home Sales Gimmicks from Across the Nation

'Free Pizza for Life' and Other Crazy Home Sales Gimmicks from Across the NationWith the real estate market going through constant fluctuations, it can sometimes be a matter of strife to sell a home. Some will take the familiar road of staging and hope the offers come in, while others will do some crazy things to prove their home is worth buying. While you may not want to take the risk of making these bold moves yourself, here are the unusual things that some people did in hopes of getting their home off the market a little sooner.

The Perk Of Added Incentives

While there are a variety of goods that can be an added incentive to purchasing a home, one homeowner in Virginia Beach offered a 42-inch flat screen television to the lucky person who would make them an offer that couldn't be refused. While this owner managed to sell in just a couple of weeks, other offers like expensive cars and gift certificates have long been attached to houses in the hopes of getting a more spontaneous sale.

A Real Ingenious Raffle

In the state of Maryland, log cabin owners Tom and Diane Walter opted to host a raffle so they could raise enough money to pay off the loan on their home. While the winning raffle ticket buyer would go away with a new home for only $50.00, the profits from the raffle would go to a local non-profit and the Walters loan fund. With the toughness of the real estate market, it's a tactic that has gained popularity given the excitement of getting a house at a very economical price.

Testing Out The New Home

It's certainly the case that being able to test something out might lead to more sale success, but a local builder in Portland, Oregon took it a little bit further than usual. Instead of offering up a staged suite, potential buyers were provided with a stay in a home at Atwater Place that was free of charge and included restaurant gift certificates, a gym pass and a lovely view of Mount Hood.

Staging a nice home at a reasonable price is always a great way to achieve selling success, but some have gone out on a limb to offer things that went well beyond the benefits of a new home. If you're interested in things you can do to increase your chance of selling success in the market, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Monday, May 2, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - May 2, 2016

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates Last week's economic news included Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, along with new and pending home sales readings. The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve met analyst's expectations and did not raise the target federal funds rate, which remains at 0.25 to 0.50 percent. Freddie Mac's mortgage rates survey and the Labor Department's weekly jobless claims report were also released.

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Slows in Februar

Average home prices growth slowed in February according to the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index. Home prices fell from January's year-over-year reading of 5.70 percent to 5.40 percent. 13 of 20 cities included in the index showed slower growth in home prices. Portland, Oregon showed the highest year-over-year price gain at 11.90 percent followed by Seattle, Washington at 11.00 percent and Denver, Colorado at 9.70 percent.

Washington, DC had the slowest year-over-year growth rate of 1.40 percent; Chicago, Illinois and New York, New York where home prices grew 1.80 percent and 2.10 percent respectively. S&P Index Chairman David Blitzer said that tight inventories of available homes continued to drive home prices. Analysts are concerned with shrinking affordability, which keeps first-time and moderate income buyers from buying homes. Analysts caution that first-time and moderate-income buyers are the "bread and butter" of housing markets. Without their participation, current homeowners cannot sell and move up to larger homes.

New Home Sales Lower after February Reading Revised

New home sales dipped in March to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 511,000 after February's reading was revised upward to 519,000 sales. Regional results for new home sales were mixed. The Northeast posted flat sales in March; The Midwest posted the highest year-over-year growth in home prices at 18.50 percent followed by the South with a year-over-year gain of 5.00 percent. New home sales fell by 23.60 percent in the West, which was likely due to rapidly escalating home prices in high-cost metro areas.

Pending home sales for March grew by 1.40 percent for a second consecutive monthly increase. Analysts viewed March's reading as positive for a healthy spring season for home sales. Pending home sales forecast future closings and mortgage lending.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week with the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage seven basis points higher at 3.66 percent. 15-year fixed mortgage rates were four basis points higher at 2.89 percent; the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was five basis points higher at 2.86 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60, 0.50 and 0.50 percent respectively.

New jobless claims also rose last week with 257,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 260,000 new claims and the prior week's reading of 248,000 new claims filed. Analysts said that fewer layoffs suggest strengthening job market. Last week's four-week average of new jobless claims was 256,000 new claims, which was the lowest reading since December 1973. Improving labor markets can encourage would-be home buyers to become active buyers.

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic news includes reports on construction spending, private sector employment, non-farm payrolls and the national unemployment rate. Weekly reports on new jobless claims and mortgage rates will be released as usual.