Friday, September 30, 2016

Home Showing Tips: How to Stress the Positives Without Sounding like a Used Car Salesperson

Home Showing Tips: How to Stress the Positives Without Sounding like a Used Car SalespersonSelling a home is a difficult enough task as it is, but the longer a home stays on the market the easier it is to fall into the trap of sounding like a used car salesperson and accidentally pushing people away.

There are ways to make sure potential buyers see the positive aspects of the home without coming on too strong and leaving them skeptical.

Proper Staging Will Show Off The Best Parts Of A Home

Many sellers rely on the imagination of the buyer to sell aspects of a home. Why tell somebody to imagine all the things they could do with the back yard when proper staging can show them?

An empty deck will never look as appealing as one with beautiful patio furniture and a bland living room will never seem as inviting as one that has been properly staged. Allowing buyers to see the rooms at their best will give the seller a chance to step back and not have to push the rooms on them.

Avoid Being Too Personal

One rule of thumb when showing a home is to de-personalize as much as possible. The goal is to have potential buyers image themselves and their family living in the space, which can be hard to do when there are reminders of the family currently residing there.

It's easy to become caught up in the moment when talking about personal lives and telling stories, so when a seller tells stories about their own upbringing in the home or how they raised a family there it can seem pushy and put people off.

Guide The Flow Of Traffic

Placing furniture in a certain way can actually dictate the flow of traffic through the rooms of a home. By clearing out bulky pieces of furniture or decorations that hinder foot traffic from flowing properly, a seller can help guide people through the space.

If there is a particular area that a seller wants people to spend more time in, they can accomplish this by giving that room a more open floor plan when compared to previous rooms. This acts as a traffic stop for people who have been naturally flowing towards that particular selling point.

Have you been having problems when showing your home? Reach out to your local real estate professional today.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Investing in a Vacation Property? Learn What You'll Need to Have to Get A Mortgage Approved

Investing in a Vacation Property? Learn What You'll Need to Have to Get A Mortgage ApprovedWith approximately one million people having purchased vacation homes in the last year, this type of residence is gaining popularity for those who are interested in a home in a beach setting or a vacation hot spot. However, while a second home can seem like a great purchase and solid investment opportunity, there are different requirements that go into this type of purchase. If you're considering a vacation home, you may want to be aware of the following financial factors.

The Down Payment Amount

If you currently have a primary residence, you may be aware that you don't need to put down 20% or even 10% in order to make a home purchase, but things are different when it comes to a vacation home. Because you will be taking on an additional mortgage, there is greater risk involved, and this means you will likely have to put in at least 10 percent. Because of this, many homebuyers utilize the equity they have in their first home to make up the down payment.

About The Credit Score

Most people that have a credit score of more than 500 have the ability to use a mortgage product and purchase a home, but if you're buying a second property, you'll need a higher credit score in order to facilitate the purchase. Because there is more risk involved, lenders will want to make sure you're a good bet. In addition, if you do have a lower credit score, lenders like Fannie Mae may also expect you to put more down to decrease the risk involved for them.

The Income Required

Since you've been through the mortgage process for your first home, you're probably aware that you debt-to-income (DTI) ratio needs to be a certain amount in order to qualify for a mortgage. While your DTI for a primary residence may be a little bit higher since it's your only payment, this ratio will be lower for your vacation home since it's higher risk. This means you'll require a slightly higher income than for your primary residence in order to get approved.

Deciding to purchase a vacation home can be a very exciting concept for many people, but there are a number of different financial requirements that go along with buying another residence. If you're in the market for a vacation property and are curious about what's involved, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Pros and Cons of Mortgage Rate Locks

The Pros and Cons of Mortgage Rate LocksIf you're just jumping into the game of home purchasing, you are likely considering all of your loan options and may even have heard the term mortgage rate lock. For those who don't like to gamble, a mortgage rate lock can offer a bit of reassurance, but there are also some downsides to this type of protection. Before signing off on this, here are the details on rate locks so you can make an informed decision.

What Is A Rate Lock?

For many people who are buying a home in such a tumultuous market, the idea of interest rates can make the heart race a little faster, but this is the purpose of rate locks which offer consistency in a market in flux.

Instead of having to deal with day-to-day fluctuations of the rate which increases or decreases what you owe a rate lock is a lender promise that you will be held to a specific rate or your rate will not rise above a certain number.

Easy Balancing Of The Budget

The easy thing about utilizing the rate lock, especially for a buyer who is less familiar with the market, is that it will enable you to instantly determine your monthly payments based on that rate. Instead of having to pay more per month, you'll be able to estimate exactly what your payment will be and it won't rise above the limit you've set for yourself. While daily fluctuations can be a drag, a mortgage lock takes the guesswork out of the day-to-day.

The Added Cost Of Security

It might seem like a rate lock is an option that everyone would utilize, given the stability, but lenders charge for this type of offer because of the risk factor. While lenders can certainly stand to gain if your rate lock is higher than the interest rates, in the event that they rise beyond this point, they will end up losing money. So, while a 30-day rate lock may not end up costing you, this type of lock stretched over a longer period may actually end up costing you more than fluctuating rates.

If you're not familiar with the world of investing and interest rates, a mortgage rate lock can sound like a great idea; however, there are downsides to this offer and they're worth considering before getting locked in. If you are currently on the hunt for a home, contact your local real estate professionals for more information.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Understanding 'Disposable Income' and How This Will Impact Your Mortgage Approval

Understanding 'Disposable Income' and How This Will Impact Your Mortgage ApprovalThere are few things more exciting than finding your ideal home, but with the rising cost of housing, a person's dream home can often come with a very high purchase price. If you're wondering how much home you can truly afford and how your cost of living will fare for your mortgage approval, here are some of the details on what you can expect when it comes to finding a home at an affordable price.

What Is Your Debt-to-Income Ratio?

Before deciding if a home is right for you, it's important to calculate what your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is to determine how much house you can afford. The debt amount will include any credit cards, existing mortgages and other loan payments that you pay down each month. To determine your maximum monthly payment, multiply your gross income by 0.36 and divide it by 12. This will give you the expenditure of debt, including your housing payment, that you should not exceed each month.

Determining Your Down Payment

There's a lot of talk around the ideal amount you should put forward for a down payment, but this percentage can directly impact the amount of the house you can afford. If you are able to put down 20% of the purchase price of your home, this means your monthly mortgage payments will be minimized and this will decrease your DTI ratio. While a home may be out of your reach if you can only put 10 or 15% down, 20% down will ensure a higher amount of disposable income on a monthly basis, making your application more feasible.

Determine Your Lifestyle

While a lender may not reject your application outright if your debt-to-income ratio is higher than suggested, it's important to know what kind of spending choices make sense for you so that you can make your monthly payments. If you have limited expenses above your mortgage and enjoy a Spartan lifestyle, it's entirely possible that you'll be able to manage a higher monthly amount. However, if you don't have stable employment and are struggling each month, it may be a good idea to consider a less expensive property.

The monthly mortgage payment for your dream home may look like it's manageable on the surface, but if your DTI ratio exceeds what is suggested, there may be issues with acceptance of your application. If you're currently in the market for a new home, contact your local real estate professionals for more information.

Monday, September 26, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - September 26, 2016

Last week's economic news was abundant with releases on home builder sentiment, housing starts, building permits, sales of previously owned homes. The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve released its customary statement at the conclusion of its meeting; Fed Chair Janet Yellen also gave a press conference. Weekly readings on new jobless claims and mortgage rates were released as usual.

NAHB: Builder Sentiment Increases in September

Home builder confidence in housing market conditions increased in September according to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index. Builder confidence rose five points to 65; analysts expected a reading of 60 based on August's reading of 59. NAHB said that September's reading was boosted by more "serious" buyers entering housing markets.

Components used to determine NAHB HMI readings were also higher. Builder confidence in current market conditions rose six points to 71; builder confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months rose by five points to 71. Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new housing developments rose four points to 48. Buyer traffic readings have not reached 50 since 2005; 50 is a neutral benchmark for NAHB HMI readings.

Home prices continue rising at a higher pace than wages; this is pressuring first-time and moderate income buyers out of the market. An ongoing shortage of available homes is pressing prices higher as demand increases. Analysts pay close attention to the NAHB HMI as building more new homes is a key factor in easing the shortage of homes for sale.

Housing Starts, Building Permits Lower

Commerce Department readings on housing starts and permits issued were lower for August Housing starts were lower in August at 1.142 million starts on a seasonally-adjusted annual pace. Analysts expected 1.182 million housing starts based on July's reading of 1.212 million starts. Regional readings showed a dip in starts in the South. Severe flooding in Louisiana contributed to the lower reading for housing starts. August's reading for housing starts was 5.80 percent lower than July's reading and 0.90 percent lower than for July 2015.

Building permits issued were nearly flat in August; this was likely due to the prime building season winding down 1.139 million permits were issued as compared to 1.144 million permits issued in July. Single-family starts were six percent lower than for July and were 1.20 percent lower year-over-year.

Existing Home Sales Dip: High Demand, Low Supply Cited

Sales of pre-owned homes fell by 0.90 percent in August to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.33 million sales. Analysts expected a reading of 5.48 million sales; July's reading for sales of pre-owned homes was 5.38 million sales.

Low inventory of available homes continues to impact housing markets as demand for homes increased and prices rose; the national average home price was $240,000 in August. Rising home prices continued to be driven by high demand and low supplies. These conditions also impacted first-time and moderate income home buyers who were pressured to keep up with rapidly rising home prices.

While mortgage rates remain relatively low, higher home prices and tight mortgage credit requirements remain obstacles for first-time buyers.

Mortgage Rates, Weekly Jobless Claims Lower

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 3.48 percent; the average rate for a15-year fixed rate mortgage fell on one basis point to 2.76 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was lower by two basis points at 2.80 percent.

Analysts expected new jobless claims to remain flat at the prior week's reading of 260,000 new claims, but 252,000 new claims were filed for the lowest reading since July. The four-week rolling average of new jobless claims fell by 22250 claims to 258,500. The four-week reading is considered a less volatile reading than week-to-week readings.

Federal Reserve: No Increase in Fed Rate

The Federal Open Market Committee said in its post-meeting statement that the target federal funds rate would not be raised. In a press conference given after the FOMC statement, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said that although the economy continued to improve, the Fed had concerns over the labor market and decided not to raise rates. Any increase in Federal Reserve rates triggers increases in consumer lending rates.

What's Ahead

This week's readings include Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, readings on new and pending home sales and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Understanding Home Seller Disclosures and What Information You Need to Share When You Sell

Understanding Home Seller Disclosures and What Information You Need to Share When You SellWhen people buy a new home they have a right to be informed of the problems that they may face on the property and any issues that the home previously experienced.

However, as a seller it can be difficult to know whether the required information is being disclosed. Nobody wants to appear misleading, especially when it can impact a sale, and making sure all the proper information is finding its way to the buyer is imperative to make the deal go through.

What Needs To Be Disclosed?

Disclosures are not handled at the Federal level except for the Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act, which requires all sellers to have their home inspected for lead paint if it was constructed before 1978.

Other possible disclosures include any legal issues with the property title, mold and water leaks, problems with the plumbing or sewage on the property, and issues with the roofing, air conditioning and heating systems.

Disclosure Laws Differ From State To State

While it is best to err on the side of caution when dealing with home seller disclosures, every state's laws are different and some are more stringent than others. A seller may believe they are disclosing everything that is required and still find themselves on the wrong side of a lawsuit.

When deciding what to disclose to a buyer it's best to always consult a local real estate agent. Any professional will know the specific laws to their area and will be sure to let you know if you have left something vital off the list.

When Disclosing Can Be A Positive

All disclosures are not created equal and in some situations they can even work in the favor of the seller. When the seller tells the buyer about an issue from the home's past that has been repaired it can be a huge benefit.

Not only is the buyer being informed about the home's history, they are being shown that the seller was a responsible home owner who took care of the property and fixed the issues as they came up. This can give them a sense of security and confidence that the home was well maintained.

If you are in the process of selling your home but can't figure out what you need to disclosure legally and what you should disclose morally, speak with your local real estate agent. They will be able to walk you through the process so nothing is left off the list.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Mortgage Myths: Here's Why You Don't Need a Full 20 Percent Down Payment

Mortgage Myths: Here's Why You Don't Need a Full 20 Percent Down Payment If you're just getting into the real estate market, you may have heard that 20% down is the ideal percentage in order to lower your monthly payments and get your mortgage application approved. However, while 20% is often suggested, many people struggle to come up with this amount of money. If you're staving off home ownership, here are some reasons you may not need to hold off as you long as you thought.

Minimizing Your Insurance Costs

Putting down 20% of the total purchase price of your home is often suggested, but it doesn't definitively mean that your application won't be approved if you don't. If you have a good credit score and are in good financial standing, putting less than 20% down means you'll have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI); however, it can be worth paying the extra funds in order to get into the real estate market sooner and start paying into your most significant investment.

Mortgage Programs For Less Than 20%

It may seem less possible to buy a home if you only have 5 or 7% of the purchase price, but there are many programs in the United States that enable those with limited funds to apply for a mortgage. From the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, there are many lenders that can offer you mortgage programs that will work for your situation. While higher rates come in tandem with a lower down payment, there are options out there for those who haven't saved quite enough.

Why Put Down 20%?

Putting down 20% is not a necessity for mortgage approval or purchasing a home, but it can be a great means of saving money in the long run and reducing your interest rates. If you're raring to get into the real estate market and don't want to wait for the bills to stack up, that's OK, but if you want to hold off and save up additional funds before diving in, this can mean more money and a more solid investment in the future.

20% is often the magic number when it comes to a down payment on a home, but you don't require this percentage of your home's price in order to get approved for a mortgage. If you're currently considering diving into home ownership and would like to know more about the opportunities in your area, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What Types of Coverage Are Included in Standard Home Insurance Policies? Let's Take a Look

What Types of Coverage Are Included in Standard Home Insurance Policies? Let's Take a LookEvery insurance policy is different and can provide certain levels of protection tailored towards the needs of the policy holder. However, there are some standard types of coverage that are included in most basic home insurance policies.

Basic Levels Of Protection

Most homeowner insurance policies will include some basic levels of protection and coverage. The main dwelling will be protected from many forms of damage and the insurance company will pay to repair the damaged dwelling. This will extend to other smaller structures on the property, like sheds and separate garages, but the level of coverage will differ.

Damage is one important aspect of insurance, but protection for personal belongings is equally important and is also included in a standard home insurance policy. The monetary value of items in the home will be covered in case of damage or theft, so it's a good idea to keep track of valuables. Every insurance company will have a different limit on the amount covered, so it's wise to compare the value of belongings against the level of coverage.

The third aspect of home insurance policies is liability protection. This will cover any personal injuries that are incurred on the property by people who do not live there. It may seem silly, but having protection in case of a lawsuit can go a long way to saving a family financially as attorney fees and medical bills add up.

What Is Not Included?

Although each insurance company has different policies that cover different parts of the home, almost all of them do not include one important aspect in their policies. Damage caused by floods, earthquakes and war will not be included in most standard home insurance policies and may be important depending on the geography of the area.

Another important note is that flood damage does not just apply to natural flooding in the region, but will also include water damage from broken pipes or backed up sewage lines. It's an important distinction because many first-time home owners assume this water damage will be covered under their basic insurance policy.

The right insurance policy can be difficult to figure out for first-time home owners. There are many questions to ask about the property to determine the right policy and it's a good idea to consult your local real estate agent to get their insight into what additions may be needed.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

5 Mistakes That Will Instantly Turn a Home Buyer Away - and How to Avoid Making Them

5 Mistakes That Will Instantly Turn a Home Buyer Away - and How to Avoid Making ThemIf you're preparing to sell your home you've likely heard many tips and tricks to help close quickly, however few people will ever tell you what you're doing wrong.

Don't be your own roadblock to success! Avoid these common seller-mistakes to ensure that your home leaves a lasting impression on buyers, instead of sending them running for the hills.

1) Dirt: It's A Don't

Perhaps one of the biggest turn-offs in real estate, dirt gives the impression that your property is not well maintained. A dirty home is simply not aesthetically appealing and can often be the root cause of other turn-offs, such as bad odors. Keeping a clean, clutter-free home will show potential buyers that your property is a beautiful, healthy place where they can live comfortably without any foul surprises.

2) It's Nothing Personal

While you may love looking at family photos, funky trinkets from travelling, or your colorful assortment of bath products, personal items such as these should be stored away during an open house. Showings are for buyers to see if they can see themselves living in your home, which is difficult to imagine when there are someone else's belongings scattered throughout the house. If you're serious about selling, pack away any items that send the message that this is your space.

3) Old News

Most often when people are looking for a new home they're looking for just that: a NEW home! Having old, dated fixtures in your house tells prospective buyers that your property is stuck in the past, rather than prepared for the future. Make your property a place that anyone can move forward in.

4) Street Style

You may have spent so much time and effort making the inside of your home immaculate for a sale that you've completely forgotten that the outside is equally as important. Curb appeal is the very first impression that your home will have on buyers, and it's essential that your property looks just as nice from the street as it does inside.

5) Snoopy Seller

You know your home better than anyone else, and you want to sell it to someone who genuinely cares about your property. While this statement may be true, it is counterproductive for you to participate in showings, pointing out all the great features of your home to interested buyers and grilling them on their intentions for when they purchase it. Give buyers space they need to see if your home is the right fit for them, and you'll be selling it in no time.

Interested in receiving more advice on selling your home? Contact your trusted real estate professional today.

Monday, September 19, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - September 19, 2016

Last week's economic news included reports on retail sales, inflation, and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Retail Sales Slip as Consumer Prices Inch Up

Retail sales dipped into negative territory in August with a reading of -0.30 percent as compared to expectations of -0.10 percent and July's reading of +0.10 percent. Retail sales excluding auto sales were better at +0.30 percent. Analysts expected a reading of +0.20 percent based on July's reading of -0.40 percent. August's negative reading for retail sales was the first negative report since March.

Inflation fared better than retail sales with August's Consumer Price Index reading at 0.20 percent. Analysts expected a reading of 0.10 percent; July's reading was flat. Core Consumer Price Index readings for August are less volatile, as the Core CPI does not include readings for food and energy costs. August's Core CPI reading was 0.30 percent. A reading of 0.20 percent was expected; July's reading was 0.10 percent. It appears that inflation is creeping upward, but remains well below the Fed's target reading of 2.0 percent.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates across the board last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose six basis points to 3.50 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose one basis point to 2.76 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose one basis point to an average of 2.82 percent. Average discount points were 0.50 for 30 and 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Low mortgage rates have helped home buyers, especially first-time and moderate income buyers, meet affordability challenges. Home prices have risen due to low numbers of available homes and high demand for homes. If mortgage rates continue to rise, fewer buyers will be able to qualify for mortgages and or afford asking prices for available homes.

Next week's meeting of the Fed's Federal Open Market Committee is expected to bring news of a Fed decision on raising the target federal funds rate. If the Fed raises its rate, consumer interest rates for mortgages, vehicles and other goods can be expected to increase as well.

What's Ahead

This week's economic news includes the NAHB Housing Market Index, Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued and a Fed Statement at the conclusion of its Federal Open Market Committee meeting on Wednesday. Fed Chair Janet Yellen is also slated to give a press conference after the FOMC statement. The National Association of Realtors will also release a report on sales of previously owned homes.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Moving with Children? Here's How to Quickly Assess Whether a Community Is Family Friendly

Moving with Children? Here's How to Quickly Assess Whether a Community Is Family FriendlyIf you're looking for a home that's in a family-friendly neighborhood, there are a few key things you can look for to make sure your new house is a good fit for both you and your children.

Quality Public or Private Schools

Are there good public schools nearby? If so, do they span from kindergarten all the way to high school? Finding a home in an area with a great elementary school can be a good fit for several years, but if you're looking for a home that will be convenient in the long-term it's important to consider your proximity to both primary and secondary schools.

Parks And Other Relaxing Green Spaces

If you're looking for a family-friendly neighborhood with free sources of entertainment, make sure that there is at least one park or playground nearby. Playgrounds can provide endless amusement for younger children, whereas a park can offer entertainment for kids of any age. Either way, have a park in the area will help boost the quality of your family's leisure time.

Recreation Facilities And Other Amenities

For even more great leisure opportunities, check out the local recreational facilities. Public swimming pools, community centers, and recreation centers often offer a wide variety extracurricular activities and programs. These can be a great support when it comes to supplementing what your kids' education with skills that are learned outside of school, and can encourage a healthy lifestyle as well.

Shopping & Services

If you're looking for a convenient lifestyle, perhaps one of the most important factors to consider is what stores and businesses are located nearby. Is there a grocery store, doctor's office, cafe, drug store, gas station, or other essential businesses nearby? Make your life easy! If there are stores nearby that meet your needs it will help boost your neighborhood satisfaction for years to come.

A Short (Or At Least Tolerable) Commute

If you commute to work, it is also valuable to consider how long of a drive it is between your place of employment and potential new home. The less time you have to spend on the road, the more time you'll have with your family.

Neighbors You Will Enjoy Associating With

Finally, it is important to consider who else lives in the area. Is the neighborhood you're looking at full of other young families? Are there other children for your kids to play with? Does it seem like a close-knit community?

Although you can't predict how relationships will blossom in a new home, you'll set yourself up for success if there are people with similar interests and lifestyles as you. If the people seem great, chances are the neighborhood is, too!

Ready to find the perfect home to raise your family in? Contact your trusted real estate professional today.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Selling Your Home This Autumn? Try Boosting Your Curb Appeal with These Inexpensive Upgrades

Selling Your Home This Autumn? Try Boosting Your Curb Appeal with These Inexpensive UpgradesCurb appeal is the first impression that your home will have on potential buyers, so it's important to make it a good one. Try these simple budget upgrades to give your home the "WOW" factor that buyers are looking for!

Crystal Clean

As simple as it sounds, it is extremely important to make sure that your house is nice and clean on the outside. This is overlooked by sellers more than you'd think as they become so focused on perfecting the inside of their home that they forget about the exterior!

Dirt streaks running down stucco or siding give the impression that your home isn't well kept, and smudges on windows will prevent them from sparkling in the sun. Remember: you want your home to be their dream home. Spruce up the outside to impress buyers before they even set foot in the door.

Knock Knock

Another important design feature of your outer home is the front door as it is one of the only features of the exterior that buyers will be forced to look at up-close. A new door will not only look great from the curb, the details of its quality will inevitably be seen by anyone who enters the home. Make sure your door is in tip top shape before you start your showings!

Raise The Roof!

If your roof isn't in good condition;or looks like it isn't in good condition, then upgrading it is an absolute must. Most buyers are quickly turned off when they see a roof that's in poor condition because it can be an expensive fix. It's important that when buyers first see your home they don't see more dollar signs than they expected.

Fantastic Furniture

Patio furniture is an easy and inexpensive way to differentiate your home from the rest! Add a pop of color to a neutral-colored house by placing vibrant chairs and planters on the front porch as featured pieces, or add a cute table and chairs to your lawn to show how useful the space can be.

That being said, be careful not to overdo it, as too much patio furniture or potted plants may give the illusion that your home is cluttered, which is a major no-no in the real estate world.

Need more advice on how to better prepare your home for a sale? Contact your local trusted real estate professional today.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Growing Your Wealth: 3 Reasons Why Real Estate Is the Ultimate Long-Term Investment

Growing Your Wealth: 3 Reasons Why Real Estate Is the Ultimate Long-Term InvestmentWhile many people may be hesitant to consider real estate as a viable long-term investment, owning property has a steady historical track record and isn't as volatile as other investment markets can be.

Any investor who hasn't seriously considered it as an option should take a closer look at the benefits of owning real estate and why it is the ultimate long-term investment strategy.

It Becomes A Consistent Source Of Income

Investing in rental property has the added benefit of being able to show regular returns in the form of rental income. Unlike other long-term investments that require a level of patience in order to profit, real estate can provide a large sum return in the future while still providing financial benefits on a monthly basis.

An Investment That Anybody Can Participate In

Many forms of investment require a level of skill or familiarity in order for first timers to jump straight into it with any level of confidence. Real estate is one investment that anybody can enjoy, thanks in part to the insight that can be gained from family and friends who have gone through the same process.

The level of knowledge that's required to invest can be gained with some simple investigating to learn more about local areas that have increased in value and the kinds of homes that are popular. A real estate professional can take that information and add to it, providing invaluable expertise to the process.

Consider It To Be A Guaranteed Retirement Plan

Saving for retirement has become harder to commit to as each year goes by. Money being left in a savings account or an easy to sell investment can be dipped into at any point, leaving very little when retirement starts to roll around.

Using property as a long-term retirement plan requires a level of commitment to the investment and upkeep to the property that guarantees there will be something tangible to bank on later in life.

While investing in real estate may seem simple, especially when compared to other investment markets, it's still recommended to consult with a professional before making any decisions. A local real estate professional will have a level of knowledge about which areas will be the wisest to invest in depending on how long in the future you are looking to sell. If you are interested, contact a local real estate professional in your area today for more information.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Feeling the Squeeze of Rising Rents? Here Are 3 Reasons You Should Consider Buying a Starter Home

Feeling the Squeeze of Rising Rents? Here Are 3 Reasons You Should Consider Buying a Starter HomeWith real estate becoming more affordable, new homes being sold in a range of prices and the cost of rent going up, there has never been a better time to consider buying a starter home.

Put That Rent Money Into Your Own Property

People who live in areas that have become trendy know the pain of rising rent rates. At what point is the amount of money being spent on rent more advantageous to put into a new home?

Starter homes are not the crazy investment they used to be. With the increase in condo developments and the lower entry price for smaller homes, it's never been easier and less expensive to put a down payment on a new home and put that rent money into a place that you actually have a financial stake in.

A Starter Home Is Not A Fixer Upper

There was a point in time when starter homes were considered to be houses that required a lot of work to renovate them to a point where they could be sold for a profit. This was before really affordable condo developments started to spring up in every city and began to provide younger people the opportunity to own a home.

Some people still think of a starter home as a fixer upper, an old house that will require a substantial investment and time, something that most first-time home owners do not have an abundance of. In today's market, starter homes can be brand new and will be in the best condition imaginable.

It Can Act As A Source Of Income

Some homeowners find that when it's time to finally make the move from their starter home into their forever home, they no longer need to sell. In some cases they prefer to hold onto it and use it as a rental property to bring in a second source of income to help with the new house.

This is more common with condos in neighborhoods that have experienced tremendous growth around them in the years after the purchase. When the price of rent skyrockets in these areas, the investment actually has more value as a rental property until the time is right to sell.

There are many reasons to invest in a starter home and the area you want to buy will change depending on your own reasons. Contact your local real estate agent so you can pinpoint what you want out of a starter home and receive some valuable insight into the kinds of homes you should be considering.

Monday, September 12, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - September 12, 2016

Few economic reports were released last week due to the Labor Day Holiday. The Federal Reserve released its Beige Book Report, which documents anecdotes shared with the Fed by its regional business contacts. A job openings report, weekly jobless claims and Freddie Mac's survey of mortgage rates was also released.

Fed's Beige Book: Approaching Election Dampens Business Growth

According to the Federal Reserve's survey of business contacts within its 12 districts, November's election is causing business owners to take a "wait and see" position regarding expansion plans. Commercial real estate contacts in several Fed districts cited modest projections for sales and construction for the second half of 2016. The Bank of Canada supported Fed contacts' view of modest growth; it characterized U.S. business growth as "less certain."

Analysts review the Beige Book report for indications of how the Fed may adjust its monetary policy including whether or not to raise the target federal funds rate. The Beige Book report did not reveal any compelling evidence for the Fed to raise rates before year-end, but Fed Chair Janet Yellen said in a recent statement that economic conditions were strengthening and favored a rate hike before year-end.

November's election will likely delay any rate hike until December. Fed policymakers have repeatedly said that a combination of economic trends, current readings and news reports contribute to decisions relating to interest rates and other monetary policy issues.

Job Openings Rise, New Jobless Claims Drop

July job openings rose from June's reading of 5.60 million openings to 5.90 million openings to hit an all-time high.  New jobless claims fell from 263,000 new claims to 259,000 new claims. The Labor Department also reported that hires increased from 5.17 million to 5.23 million in June. These readings are further indications of strengthening job markets and general economic growth

Mortgage Rates Lower Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week; the average rate for a 30-year mortgage was two basis points lower at 3.44 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was one basis point lower at 2.76 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was two basis points lower at 2.81 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60, 0.50 and 0.40 percent respectively.

What's Ahead

Next week's scheduled economic reports include readings on retail sales, national inflation and consumer sentiment.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Can You Use a Reverse Mortgage to Buy Your Next Home? Yes, and Here's How

Can You Use a Reverse Mortgage to Buy Your Next Home? Yes, and Here's HowMost people who have been on the market for a home are familiar with what the term 'mortgage' means, but many have not heard of a reverse mortgage and aren't aware of how this product can benefit them. If you're nearing retirement and are contemplating a new home or even relocation to another community, here are the details on a reverse mortgage and how this option may benefit you.

What Is A Reverse Mortgage?

While many homeowners may not have the net worth to be able to buy another home without selling their current one, a reverse mortgage enables the buyer to borrow money against the value of their home. Created in 2009 as the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for Purchase (HECM), this type of mortgage can enable those older than 62 to relocate to a new house or move closer to their family without having to sacrifice the money they've saved or their fixed monthly income.

What Are The Requirements?

Beyond the minimum age requirement of 62 years of age, those who would like to utilize a reverse mortgage must either own the current property they are living in or have a high amount of equity in the property. They must be able to pay all of the costs associated with ownership of the home and the property they are purchasing must be able to pass the standards held by the Federal House Administration (FHA). In addition, applicants will have to go through a financial assessment to ensure they can make insurance and property tax payments.

The Benefits And Drawbacks Of Reverse Mortgages

A reverse mortgage can be a great benefit in that it enables those who are in their senior years to purchase a new home without having to utilize a portion of their fixed monthly income. However, because a reverse mortgage includes this benefit, it also comes in tandem with a higher loan balance and this higher balance means that interest will accrue more quickly. Dependent on this amount, this can actually diminish the equity in the home.

While the opportunity for a reverse mortgage has been around for a number of years, this alternative for purchasing a home has not been utilized by many homeowners since its inception in 2009. If you're approaching your senior years and are considering the benefits of purchasing a new home, you may want to contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Don't Even Think about Selling Your Apartment or Condo Without These Key Renovations

Don't Even Think about Selling Your Apartment or Condo Without These Key RenovationsFail to complete these renovations before selling your condo and you may be missing out on huge profit gain! Don't sell yourself short, tackle these reno projects before your home hits the market to maximize offers.

#1: Is It Time To Paint?

Painting is one of the most cost effective ways to make a property look newer, bigger, and brighter. Scuff marks and scratches are one of the most common types of wear-and-tear, but they're also a huge turn-off to buyers, which makes this easy renovation is a no-brainer. Choose paint colors that are neutral to ensure that they're adaptable to the wide variety of interior design preferences that your potential buyers will have.

#2: Let There Be Light(ing)!

Old light fixtures can not only bring down the aesthetic appeal of your condo, they can also give it a gloomy vibe. Adding new light fixtures to your home will brighten the space and provide it with more vibrant energy while also increasing the modernity of its design. Now that's a bright idea!

#3: How Is Your Flooring?

Flooring is another design element that can easily make an old unit look more modern, especially if your condo is carpeted. By replacing the floors you can also avoid the possibility of a buyer trying to deduct the cost of floor replacement from your sale price, which would most likely outweigh the cost of doing your own reno in advance.

#4: Spruce Up The Kitchen With New Counters

Changing kitchen countertops is one of the effective ways to spruce up an outdated kitchen. Since countertops are so large the eye is drawn to them immediately, making them a key design factor. Many modern buyers prefer high quality stone such as granite or marble, though there are many stylish options to choose from if visual appeal is what you're after. Add new countertops to give your condo that "WOW" factor and you'll instantly tack on extra value to your property.

#5: Don't Forget Your Balcony!

Balconies are often overlooked when it comes to condo showings, so if you choose to pay attention to this significant detail you'll not only stand out from the competition but will also showcase an important selling feature of your home. Dress the balcony to show its functionality: does it fit a BBQ, table and chairs, lounge chair, planter? Adding some furniture will show the possible uses of the space, making it more valuable to potential buyers.

Ready for a successful condo sale? Contact your trusted real estate professional today for further advice.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Trying to Decide Whether or Not to Sell Your Home? Here Are 5 Key Questions to Ask Yourself

Trying to Decide Whether or Not to Sell Your Home? Here Are 5 Key Questions to Ask YourselfSelling a home, especially one with sentimental value, is never an easy decision to make. There are many factors that go into determining if the home is ready to be listed and if the seller is actually ready to part with it.

Answering some simple questions can go a long way to help an owner decide whether or not it's time to try and sell.

How Much Work Does The Home Require?

Some houses and condos are ready to hit the market immediately, but others have serious problems that would need to be disclosed to interested parties. It may not be wise to try and sell until all major issues are repaired.

What Is The Market Like In The Area?

Have similar homes in the neighborhood been selling quickly for a lot of money or have they been sitting on the market for years with no buyers? Any seller should look into the current market trends in their community to determine how much they would be able to sell for so they don't lose money on the transaction.

When Is The Best Time To Sell?

Every city is different and the time of year can have a major impact on the market. A local real estate agent will have a strong comprehension of the best time of year to list the home, which could provide some valuable time to get it ready.

Will You Be Happier In A New Home?

Sometimes deciding to sell a home can become so overwhelming that people forget to ask themselves whether or not they will be happier in a new home. If the answer is a resounding 'yes' then there should be no question about selling.

Should A Real Estate Agent Be Involved?

It may seem easier for sellers to eschew the services of an agent to save a little money, but the nightmare that can follow without the assistance of somebody who has the time and experience to show and promote the home may not be worth it. Talk to local real estate professionals to see if there are any that feel like a good fit.

If you have been debating selling your home but still aren't sure whether or not it's the right time, speak with a local real estate agent. They will be able to walk you through the process and provide some insight about what you should expect.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - September 6, 2016

Last week's economic reports included readings on pending home sales, construction spending and consumer sentiment. Case-Shiller Home Price Indices for June were released, along with several labor-related reports including national unemployment, ADP Payrolls and Non-Farm Payrolls were also released along with weekly readings on new jobless claims and Freddie Mac's survey of average mortgage rates.

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Holds Steady in June

According to the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index for June, average national home prices held steady with a seasonally adjusted annual growth rate of 5.10 percent in June. The top three cities for home price growth were Portland, Oregon with a reading of 12.60 percent; Seattle, Washington followed with a reading of 11.00 percent. Denver, Colorado home prices grew by 9.20 percent year-over-year.

San Francisco, California, which had posted highest year-over-year price gains in recent months slipped with a reading of 6.40 percent year-over-year in June. This could signify a cooling of rapid price gains in high demand metro areas where home prices have become unaffordable for many buyers.

Construction Spending Flat in July, Pending Home Sales Increase

While builder sentiment has been strong, construction spending was flat in July as compared to an expected reading of 0.60 percent and June's reading of an 0.90 percent increase in construction spending. The Commerce Department reported that pending home sales increased 1.30 percent in July, which exceeded expectations of 0.90 percent growth and June's negative reading of -0.80 percent. July's reading appeared to even out June's unexpected slump in pending sales, which are considered an indicator for future closings and home loan volume.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

Mortgage rates rose for all three loan types reported by Freddie Mac. The rate for a 30-year mortgage rate rose three basis points to 3.46 percent; the average rate for a 15-year mortgage also rose three basis points to 2.77 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage jumped by eight basis points to 2.83 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent, 0.50 percent and 0.40 percent respectively. Mortgage rates rose after the yield on 10-year Treasury Notes increased in response to a speech given by Fed Chair Janet Yellen that indicated that the target federal funds rate could be raised in December.

263,000 new jobless claims were filed as compared to expectations of 265,000 new claims and the prior week's reading of 261,000 new claims. Job growth slowed in August; the Commerce Department reported a reading of 151,000 new jobs in its Non-Farm Payrolls report. Analysts expected 170,000 new jobs, which fell significantly short of July's reading of 275,000 jobs created. Non-Farm Payrolls includes data for public and private sector jobs.

Labor Reports: Job Growth Slows, National Unemployment Holds Steady

ADP Payrolls also reported fewer private sector jobs created in August with a reading of 177,000 new jobs as compared to 194,000 private sector jobs created in July. Analysts characterized August jobs reports as "fickle" due to high numbers of summer vacations and company-wide summer holiday closures.

August's reading for national unemployment held steady at 4.90 percent.

While slower growth in home prices and job creation could signal an economic slowdown, there was good news as consumer confidence rose to 101.7 in August; this reading surpassed the expected reading of 97.0 and July's reading of 96.7.

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic news is lean due to the Labor Day holiday on Monday. In addition to weekly reports on new jobless claims and mortgage rates, reports on job openings and the Federal Reserve's Beige Book report will be released.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Real Estate Investing: 3 Insider Tips to Winning House, Land or Foreclosure Auctions

Real Estate Investing: 3 Insider Tips to Winning House, Land or Foreclosure AuctionsHouse, land and foreclosure auctions can be one of the most nerve-wracking ways to buy a property. However, if you prepare yourself with proven bidding tactics, auctions can be a great way to purchase your dream home at a competitive price.

If you're in-it-to-win-it, familiarize yourself with these top three tips and tricks before attending a real estate auction.

Give The Right Impression

While you may not have control over what other bidders are willing to pay for a property, you do have some control over their perception of whether or not bidding against you is worthwhile. Come well-dressed and maintain a confident demeanour to give the appearance that you are a serious buyer, one whom 'the other guy' likely can't out-bid.

To enhance this appearance, do not make an offer right away. Wait until the bids have reached approximate 80% of your maximum price and then join in, as it will knock out the bargain hunters. A big first bid can be intimidating to others, making them question whether they stand a chance against you. Following bids should be made quickly and confidently to send the message that you are the person who will be closing this deal.

If you are extremely anxious to place bids, consider hiring a professional bidder to do the work for you. A seasoned pro will be able to maintain their cool while placing bids strategically to maximize your chances of getting the property you want at the price you want.

Know Your Limit

Never go into an auction without knowing your absolute limit. If you are emotionally invested in the property it is best to write your limit somewhere on the inside of your hand, so that you are forced to remember it when you're tempted to exceed it.

In terms of setting a limit, pick a figure that isn't rounded. Many buyers will set limits such as $500k or $1.2 million, and will drop out after these round figures have been reached. If your limit is $515k or $1.25 million, you will have an extra cushion than may just barely outbid your rivals - and that's all you need to win.

Ask The Hard Questions

Do your research beforehand and ask the auctioneer about the property's flaws. Questioning whether the deck is up to code or whether there is still a possibility of road widening could make other bidders second guess the property and drop out before bidding has even begun.

Ready to blow the competition out of the water? Make sure you are completely prepared for an auction, contact your trusted real estate professional today.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Buying for Retirement: 3 Reasons Why You'll Want to Buy Your Retirement Home Before You Retire

Buying for Retirement: 3 Reasons Why You'll Want to Buy Your Retirement Home Before You RetireMany people dream of buying their ideal retirement home after their career has come to a conclusion - with all that extra free time it seems like it'd be the most logical time to shop around.

However, many real estate professionals strongly recommend that their clients find a retirement property before they're off the payroll. While it may seem like a big time commitment to find a new home while you're still busy with your work there are several significant financial benefits to purchasing your retirement home before you actually do retire. Here are our top reasons why.

It Makes Your Mortgage Easy

When you are employed it is easier to get approved for a mortgage. If you wait until after you retire to buy your retirement home, you may not have the income require to qualify for the mortgage that you need. Don't limit yourself! Buy while you're still employed to keep your options open.

It Leaves You With More Spending Money

Buying a new home while you have an income provides you with more security with your expenses, such as mortgage payments and planned upgrades or renovations. Having an income can also mitigate financial stress should you run into any unexpected expenses after closing.

It Leaves You Ready For Reality

You may think you can accurately predict the expenses of your new home, but if you buy the property before retiring it gives you time to get to know the true amounts of your monthly payments. This can help ensure that you have enough saved to retire and live comfortably in your new property, with no surprises for your budget. You'll be in a better position to create a financial plan once you know the reality of owning your new home.

An Added Bonus: It Can Be An Income Property

If you decide to purchase your retirement home before you retire you don't have to move into it right away. You can rent it out as an income property until you're ready to settle in, which will not only help cover mortgage payments but will also allow you to see first-hand what the monthly expenses are for the property.

This will also prevent you from having to deal with a move while working; you can wait until you do finally retire before packing up your current home and moving into your new one.

Ready to find the perfect retirement property? Contact your trusted real estate professional today for more advice to set yourself up for the future.