Wednesday, November 30, 2016

First-time Home Buyers: Here's a Quick and Easy Guide to Your First Mortgage

First-time Home Buyers: Here's a Quick and Easy Guide to Your First MortgageDelving into the real estate market for the first time can be a very intimidating thing with all of the mortgage and housing options available. Whether it's market conditions or the amount you should be spending, there are a number of factors you'll need to be aware of. If you're just starting out and not sure where to begin, here are some points to consider that will set you on the right path.

Is It The Right Time To Buy?

Many people try to time the market, but the right time to buy a home is when it works for you. If you have a solid down payment and you're truly prepared for home ownership, it's probably the right time to start looking. While a good home and low interest rates can certainly push you in this direction, if it's not quite the right time, hold off until it's right for you.

What's Your Payment Plan?

It's easy for a first-time buyer to be taken in by their dream home, but it's important to be clear on all the costs associated with home ownership like property tax, insurance, maintenance and other fees that will bump up the monthly payment. If you can formulate a budget that includes all of your monthly costs and is feasible in the long term, you're good to go.

What Documentation Is Required?

Having your personal documentation in order and available will be one of the most important steps in your application, but there are a number of things you'll need. Beyond recent pay-stubs, tax returns and bank statements, you'll also need your credit report, so take a look over it to ensure that it's correct and displays your financial history in a positive light.

Starting the Search

You may be ready to move as soon as you start looking, but buying your first home can be a rather lengthy process. Instead of being sucked in by too much house or taking the first home that appeals to you, ensure that you have a good sense of the size, neighborhood and style of house you want so you can get out there and find the home that works for you.

There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to buying your first home, but by being ready to invest and having your finances in order you'll be well on your way. If you're currently in the market for a home, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - November 29, 2016

Last week's economic reports included new and pre-owned home sales, new jobless claims and Freddie Mac's weekly mortgage rates survey.

Home Sales Mixed in October

According to the National Association of Realtors®, sales of previously owned homes reached a seasonally adjusted annual level of 5.60 million sales, which exceeded expectations and October's reading of 5.49 million sales. Analysts had expected a rate of 5.44 million sales.

October sales of preowned homes rose 2 percent over September's reading and were 5.90 percent higher year-over-year. This was the highest reading for sales of pre-owned homes since February 2007. High demand for homes is driving housing markets in spite of obstacles including rising mortgage rates and tight mortgage approval requirements.

Sales of new homes were lower in October, which indicated continued ups and downs in the economic recovery. October's reading of 563,000 sales on a seasonally adjusted annual basis was lower than expectations of 595,000 sales and September's downwardly revised reading of 574,000 new homes sold.

New home sales were 17.80 percent higher year-over year and 12.60 percent higher year to date, but analysts said that housing markets continue to be constrained by a short supply of available homes. Inventories of available homes are slowly increasing, which is expected to help curtail rapidly rising home prices caused by pent-up demand.

The median price of a new home was $304,500 in October as compared to September's median price of $314,100 and October 2015's median price of $298,700. There were 246,000 new homes for sale in October, which was the highest quantity of new homes on the market since September of 2009.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

Mortgage rates jumped last week in response to an increase in the 10-year Treasury note rate. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose nine basis points to 4.03 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 11 basis points higher at 3.25 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was five basis points higher at 3.12 percent. Last week's readings were the first time in 2016 that mortgage rates exceeded four percent.

New jobless claims were also higher last week with 251,000 claims filed as compared to expectations 248,000 new claims and the prior week's reading of 233,000 new claims filed. Last week's reading marked the 90th consecutive week of new jobless claims less than the benchmark of 300,000 new claims, an event that hasn't occurred since 1970.

What's Ahead

Economic reports scheduled this week include Case-Shiller Housing Market Indexes, pending home sales and construction spending. Readings on inflation and labor will also be released along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Hosting an Open House? Use These Staging Tips to Make Your House Feel Like a Model Home

Hosting an Open House? Use These Staging Tips to Make Your House Feel Like a Model HomeAre you selling your home? If so, you're going to have to host an open house at some point. In today's blog post we'll explore a few staging tips that make your house feel like a model home.

Make A Solid First Impression

Start with the front of the home and give a great first impression. Have the sidewalk, driveway and walkways power washed. Ensure that the lawn, plants and landscaping are healthy and look great. Clean the windows and address any external paint issues that may have come up over the years.

The goal is to ensure that your guests think "WOW" when they drive up. Keep staging the front of your home until the neighbors are jealous.

Clean, Clean And Clean Some More

Even if you think your home is 'clean enough', it's likely not. You've lived in your home for years, which means that your brain has learned to un-see certain aspects of it. Even if you're sure you've cleaned it as much as possible, you may have missed a few spots.

Here's a helpful exercise. Imagine that the President, Vice-President and Secretary of State are coming over for dinner. And that they'll be touring through every room in your home to see how you live. That's how clean your home needs to be for your open house.

Appeal To Your Target Buyers

Do you know what age range your expected open house guests are in? Are they first-time home buyers, young families or single professionals? If at all possible, try to stage your home to appeal to your guests. If they are younger, then you can stage the basement more as a media or entertainment room. If they have children, that might become storage and a play area. You get the idea.

Lighten Things Up A Bit

Regardless of what time of day you host an open house, you'll want there to be a lot of light. Open up all the drapes and blinds to let in as much natural light as possible. If you have to use artificial light, invest in high-quality LED bulbs. There are models that can produce light that is close to sunlight in quality. The more light you have, the better your spotless home will look.

The More (Room), The Merrier

Finally, do your best to open up your space. Remove all clutter and store it. Arrange your furniture to maximize the walking areas. But try not to overdo it. You want your staged home to feel livable -- and not like a series of large, empty caves.

There you have it -- five great staging tips that will boost your next open house. Remember, the fastest way to sell your home is with the help of an experienced real estate agent. Contact us to learn more about open houses, staging and closing a quick sale!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Five Unique Renovations That Can Make Small Living Spaces Feel Bigger

Five Unique Renovations That Can Make Small Living Spaces Feel BiggerJust because you live in a small space doesn't mean your home needs to feel cramped. There are several renovations that are popular among interior designers to make a space feel larger. Incorporate them into your own home to give it a more open, spacious feel.

1. Crystal Clear

Glass is an absolutely phenomenal way to make a small space feel larger as it removes visual barriers to show off additional square footage, making it seem as though it's part of the room. Whether you choose a glass railing for a staircases or room divider or incorporate a glass shower into a small bathroom, glass can help your home feel more spacious.

2. Make The Most Of Mirrors

Similar to glass, mirrors can make a small space feel big as they add an illusion of depth to a room. Try installing a large mirror on a wall in lieu of paintings or other decor if you'd like to make a room seem larger than it is.

3. Goodbye Island

If it's your kitchen that's feeling cramped, consider removing the island. Islands can add value to a home, but if your kitchen is small enough that it shouldn't have been there in the first place then getting rid of it will create a much more functional space. Consider whether you'd still have ample counter space and storage without your island, and if the answer is yes it may be time to say goodbye to your island.

4. Tear Down The Walls

Creating an open concept floor plan is a fantastic renovation for a small home as it removes barriers between several small spaces to create one larger open space. Do you really need a wall between your kitchen and dining room? How about between your dining room and living room? If there's a wall that simply isn't necessary, it may be time to tear it down.

5. Keep It Light

A very quick and easy renovation to help open up a small space is to paint the walls in a light color as it will reflect more light than a darker shade, making the room feel airy rather than cozy. If you're considering re-doing the floors, choosing a lighter color can further contribute to the feeling of a larger space.

Small spaces don't have to cramp your style. In fact, they offer unique design opportunities and can make wonderful living spaces. If you're looking for more homeowner advice, get in touch with your local real estate professional today.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Let's Talk Basements: How to Finish Your Basement so It Adds Value to Your Home

Let's Talk Basements: How to Finish Your Basement so It Adds Value to Your HomeAre you on the hunt for home renovations that will boost usability and value? Look no further than that unfinished basement. In this article, we'll show you how to turn that dusty cave into an amazing new living space.

Note: finishing a basement isn't the easiest job. For most basements, it's a lot more than a weekend do-it-yourself project. If you're not comfortable with construction be sure to enlist the help of a professional.

Step 1: Plan Everything Out

The first step is to plan out how you're going to use the space. Are you going to make an office? A full suite? Is there any plumbing or wiring involved? Will you need to create full walls? Map out how you plan to use the available space so you have an idea of what you'll need.

Step 2: Measure And Deal With The Floor

Once you figure out how you'll use the space, you'll need to measure everything out. Height can be an issue -- especially in basements not designed as a living space. You can solve height problems by digging out the concrete slab. Once you get down deep enough, you pour a new slab.

Step 3: Frame Everything In

Is the basement at a good height? Next you'll need to start framing everything in. Depending on how you have your walls mapped out, this might take a while. You may also need permits or to enlist licensed tradespeople, such as an electrician. If you're just framing in a single room to add walls, it will be easier.

Step 4: Insulate And Install The Walls

After the framing process, you'll insulate everything before installing the walls. Adding insulation can drive energy and heating costs down by a lot. So much so that in colder areas of the country, new homes must have insulated basements. After the insulation is in place, you'll install the drywall and ready the walls for painting.

Step 5: Paint, Carpet And Finish Up

The final step is to get everything painted and finished. If you chose to go with a carpeted floor, you'll want to save this for last. Once the painting is complete, install the carpets, baseboard and trim. Touch up any final areas and you're all set.

Finishing your basement into a usable space is an excellent way to add value to your home. To learn more about building your home's equity, give us a call.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Do You Own an Income Property? Here Are Four Tips for Finding Great Tenants

Do You Own an Income Property? Here Are Four Tips for Finding Great TenantsTrusting another individual with your property can be nerve-wracking because it's difficult to gauge how well they'll care for their home from a viewing and rental application alone. However, there are several steps you can take to help ensure that you select responsible tenants that will take good care for your property while they live there.

1. Make Your Home Desirable

When creating your rental listing, show your property at its absolute best and list its attractive features. The listing should be well written with proper capitalization and full sentences, even if it's only going on Craigslist. Include plenty of photos that are staged nicely to show the full potential of the home both inside and out.

If you want the best applicants, strive to be the best property! You need to attract tenants who are looking for a home rather than a crash pad.

2. Have A Thorough Application Process

Don't be afraid to ask for in-depth information from your applicants. The more you know about them the more you can assess what kind of a tenant they'll be. An application should ask for:

- full name
- the applicant's job & their supervisor
- their income
- current address
- government identification (i.e. a photocopy of their driver's license)
- next of kin or an emergency contact
- previous landlord references
- any additional info you think is necessary

3. Check References

One of the most important things you can do when choosing a tenant is check their references. At least one reference should be a past landlord, and it's great to contact a current employer as well. Favor applicants who can prove they've been a good renter in the past and who seem to have reliable employment.

When calling references have a prepared list of questions. For past landlords you'll want to ask about their cleanliness, if there was any damage to the property, noise complaints, or missed rent. When speaking to an employer, make sure to ask how long they've been working there, whether they're a reliable worker, whether they're respectful, and if they can see them continuing to work there for the long-term.

4. Meet Them!

Always meet potential tenants in person. See if they have a pleasant demeanor, if they're easy to talk to and are polite to you, and whether they seem to take care of themselves. Trust your gut, if you have a bad feeling about someone then it may be best to keep looking.

Need more advice on income properties? Contact a your trusted real estate professional today.

Monday, November 21, 2016

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

Last week's economic reports included readings on the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, Commerce Department releases on Housing Starts and Building Permits issued and weekly reports on new jobless claims and mortgage rates.

Builder Sentiment Holds Steady, Demand for Homes Pushes Builders

November's reading for the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index held steady with a reading of 65. Any reading above 50 indicates that a majority of home builders surveyed has a positive view of current and future housing market conditions. Tight supplies of available homes, steep competition for homes in desirable metro areas and rising home prices pressure home builders to produce more homes, but builder sentiment and housing starts are not always aligned, but data released by the Commerce Department indicates that builders are ramping up construction.

The Commerce Department reported that October's reading of 1.323 housing starts exceeded September's reading of 1.054 million starts and also surpassed the expected reading of 1.170 million starts. This suggests that builders are ramping up construction to quench ongoing demand for homes. October's reading was 25.50 percent higher than September's reading, which was the highest number of housing starts posted since 2007. Starts for multi-family homes of five units or more jumped 75 percent and starts for single family homes of four units or less increased by 11 percent.

Building permits issued in October rose to 1.229 million as compared to September's reading of 1.225 million permits issued. Approaching winter weather and holidays typically cause slowing of construction.

Mortgage Rates Rise after Election

Last week's survey of mortgage rates was mostly completed by the time presidential election results were released; this week's readings showed higher rates for all types of mortgages. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage increased from 3.57 percent to 3.94 percent; rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose from 2.88 to 3.14 percent and the average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages was also higher at 3.07 percent as compared to the prior week's reading of 2.88 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. Low mortgage rates have helped home buyers qualify for financing they need to buy homes; if rates continue to trend upward, demand for homes is likely to ease.

New jobless claims reached a 43-year low last week. 235,000 claims were filed as compared to expectations of 255,000 new claims and the prior week's reading of 254,000 new jobless claims. Low layoff rates point to stronger economic conditions; job stability can encourage first-time home buyers to enter the market and existing home owners to buy larger homes.

What's Ahead

Readings on new and pre-owned home sales, the Federal Reserve's post meeting FOMC statement and reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released this week.

Friday, November 18, 2016

3 Ways That You Can Leverage Mortgage Financing to Build a Real Estate Investment Portfolio

3 Ways That You Can Leverage Mortgage Financing to Build a Real Estate Investment PortfolioReal estate may be one of the most important things that you will ever invest in, but it can also be a useful means of increasing your financial well-being. If you're getting into the real estate game and are wondering how you can make use of investing in homes to improve your net worth, here are three ways you can successfully work towards a real estate investment portfolio that will make you proud.

Home Equity Line of Credit Loan

Also known as HELOC, this is the type of loan where a homebuyer taps into the equity of their home while they are still paying off their mortgage. As the equity that has been paid into the home is available without the homebuyer having to apply for it, this allows those who invest in real estate to borrow against equity to renovate the property or pay for a
deposit on another property.

Pick Properties That Will Appreciate

It goes without saying that most people want to invest in a property that will increase in value, so as an investor you need to be especially careful about what you invest in. Since you may have problems paying all your property fees if the value of one decreases, try and be aware of future market trends and neighborhood hotspots. This means diversifying the properties you invest in and including a buffer in your payment plan so that, even if the market takes a turn, you can still pay off your amount owing.

Investing In Under Market Value

There are few better ways to improve the financial feasibility of your investment portfolio than investing in a property that is under market value. Not only will you have an automatic gain with the purchase price, you will be able to invest that money into improvements in order to bump up the market price even more. While finding this type of property can be difficult for the newcomer, looking for neighborhoods with potential or properties that require little maintenance can be a good place to begin.

There are few better things to invest in than real estate, but it can be hard to know where to put your money in the beginning. Whether through a home loan or purchasing a property under market value, there are plenty of ways to bump up your net worth. If you're currently considering an investment in real estate, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Home Builder Sentiment Unchanged in November

According to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index for November, builder sentiment was unchanged at a reading of 63. Readings above 50 indicate that a majority of builders are confident about housing market conditions. Readings for three sub-indexes used to calculate the Housing Market Index Readings for builder confidence in current market conditions and market conditions within the next six months were posted at 69. The reading for buyer foot traffic in housing developments was 47. Buyer traffic has not reached the benchmark reading of 50 since the peak of the housing bubble approximately 10 years ago.

NAHB Chair Ed Brady noted that survey information provided by most participating builders was gathered prior to the presidential election. Mr. Brady also noted that Housing Market Index readings have exceeded 60 for the past three months, which indicates slow but steady growth in housing markets.

Analysts: Builder Sentiment and Building Activity Inconsistent

While positive builder sentiment readings seem to contribute to stronger housing markets, analysts pointed out that housing starts are not consistent with high builder sentiment levels. Reasons for fewer home starts than the Housing Market Index suggests include approaching winter weather and ongoing shortages of labor and buildable lots.

Real estate pros count on building more homes (and building them faster) as the only solution to tight supplies of available homes and rising demand. These conditions create highly competitive markets that present obstacles to moderate income and first time home buyers. NAHB said that rising incomes, expanding labor markets and relatively low mortgage rates are fueling demand for homes. While mortgage rates have remained near historic lows, home prices have risen quickly in high-demand areas. This creates affordability challenges for home buyers, who also face strict home loan approval requirements.

3 Month Rolling Averages Show Regional Confidence Readings

NAHB reported its three-month rolling averages according to four regions included in Housing Market Index readings. The Northeast reading was 45; the Midwest region's confidence reading was 58 and the Southern region reported a reading of 66. The West, which includes high-demand metro areas such as Portland, Oregon and San Francisco, California, had a November builder confidence reading of 77.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Reduce Your Home's Carbon Footprint With These Energy-Saving Tips

Reduce Your Home's Carbon Footprint With These Energy-Saving TipsDo you believe that humans are changing the climate? As of today, the debate over carbon dioxide and climate change continues to rage. But regardless of your political standpoint, there's always a case for reducing electricity use. Because who doesn't like saving money, right?

Let's explore a few ways that you can save energy while reducing your home's carbon footprint.

Leverage The Power Of Automation

The technology behind home automation is improving at an amazing rate. Thermostats from companies like Nest make home heating and cooling simple. They learn from your use to automatically set temperatures up and down as needed. Going to be home late from work? No problem -- you can use your smartphone to ensure your heat doesn't come on until later.

Wash Cold, Hang Dry

You might not be aware of this, but cold water washing makes sense. Most washing machines and detergents are just as efficient with cold water as hot. So it makes sense to switch to washing in cold, especially if you have a newer washing machine.

To cut back even more, hang your clothes to dry instead of using the dryer. The technology behind clothes dryers hasn't improved much over time. They still rely on warm air, forced ventilation and spinning around. All of which use a lot of energy.

Note: if you have to use your dryer, add a clean, dry towel to each load. Adding a towel will help your clothes to dry faster, thus saving you both time and money.

Modernize Your Home Lighting

Have you made the switch to power-efficient LED light bulbs yet? This one change can save an immense amount of electricity depending on the size of your home. And you can take things a step further by automating your home lighting as well. Systems from companies like Philips allow you to turn lights up, down and off as needed. You can also control these from your smartphone.

Kill Off The Vampires

Finally, watch for appliances and accessories that draw power when they're not in use. 'Electricity vampires' like smartphone chargers, laptops and televisions can draw power 24/7. It's a bit of a pain to have to unplug everything all the time. Instead, consider having these appliances plugged in to power bars. When you're finished using them, you can switch the power bar off and go on with your day.

The above are just a few ways that you can reduce your home's carbon footprint. If you're interested in upgrading to a power-smart home, talk to me, your local real estate agent, today.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

7 Easy, Inexpensive Home Storage Hacks That Will Free Up Your Space

7 Easy, Inexpensive Home Storage Hacks That Will Free Up Your SpaceEven small spaces can feel spacious when the art of storage is mastered. Here are 7 inexpensive storage hacks to free up space in your home.

1. Racks On Racks On Racks It's often the first mess you see when walking into someone's home a clutter of shoes sprawled out by the entrance. Take care of this mess with a shoe rack, which will only take up a few feet of space but allow you to store numerous pairs of kicks.

2. Fold & Hang

Not your clothes, your chairs! If you don't use chairs often or rarely eat at the table, consider buying folding chairs instead as they can easily be put away when not in use. Attach a few hooks to a nondescript area of your home and hang the chairs to store them.

3. Slide Into An Island

Need more counter space but can't sacrifice your kitchen table? Well now you can have both (without renovating!). Install a small island that has a slide-in table: you can slide out the table during meals and slide it back in when finished. Perfect when paired with folding chairs.

4. Make The Most Of Your Cupboards

Install small storage solutions inside of your cupboards to make the most of their space. Hooks can hang mugs from the tops of shelves, and towel racks placed on the inside of a cupboard door can fit pot lids. For a large cupboard, consider a hanging shoe rack for compartmentalized storage space from top to bottom.

5. Multi-Purpose Furniture

When trying to maximize space, choose furniture that also offers storage, such as a bed frame with pullout drawers underneath it, or an ottoman that opens up to store remotes, books, or toys. There are countless pieces designed for small spaces, so find ones that meet your own unique needs.

6. Build Me Up Buttercup

When floor space is limited, you have no choice but to build upwards. Shelves allow you to make the most of vertical space, and can fit into almost any area. Corner shelves can help you take advantage of otherwise dead space, and tall shelving units can act as a room divider which is perfect for a studio. If you want to create a more open concept, choose wall-mounted shelves as they have minimal design impact.

7. Hang It Up

Along with every door comes a fantastic storage opportunity! Choose a door-mounted hanging storage system to keep clothes, robes, towels, or shoes off of the floor. Feel free to be creative you can use them to store whatever you like.

Want more tips on small space living? Contact me, your trusted real estate professional, today.

Monday, November 14, 2016

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

Last week's economic news included readings on job openings, consumer sentiment and the Federal Reserve's monthly survey of senior loan officers. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released. Freddie Mac noted that last week's primary mortgage market survey did not include post-election readings as the survey information was gathered prior to election results.

Loan Officers Survey: High Demand for Home Loans, Commercial Lenders Raise Standards

As demand for mortgage financing and homes increase, the Federal Reserve reported last week that banks are tightening the screws on commercial lending requirements. This could present challenges to home builders; they've been consistently pressured to build more homes at a faster pace. Less availability of commercial financing may impact home builders and their suppliers. The survey indicated that demand for home and consumer loans also increased.

Mortgage Rates Rise, New Jobless Claims Fall

Mortgage rates rose across the board on average. Freddie Mac reported the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose three basis points to 3.57 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage increased four basis points to 2.88 percent, which equaled the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage. Average discount points were unchanged at 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims fell to 254,000, which was lower than the expected reading of 260,000 new claims. Last week's reading was also lower than 265,000 new claims filed the prior week. Job openings held steady at 5.50 million in September.

According to the University of Michigan's monthly consumer sentiment index, November's reading rose 91.60 in November as compared to an expected index reading of 88.00 and October's reading of 87.20. This reading falls in line with strengthening labor markets. Improving economic conditions can influence consumers who want to buy homes.

What's Ahead

Next week's economic reports include releases from the National Association of Home Builders, Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued and weekly releases on new jobless claims and mortgage rates.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Mythbusting: Understanding Mortgage Myths and Why They Shouldn't Hold You Back

Mythbusting: Understanding Mortgage Myths and Why They Shouldn't Hold You BackWith the fluctuations in real estate and the increasing cost of home ownership, many people are entering the market with more trepidation these days. Fortunately, there are a number of myths associated with buying a home that may not adversely affect potential homebuyers. If you're interested in purchasing a home but are unsure about whether it will get approved, here are a few things you may want to dispel.

No Approval With Less Than 20 Percent

While putting 20 percent down can help you avoid having to pay private mortgage insurance, this down payment percentage is still just a suggestion when it comes to mortgages. It's necessary to put a certain percentage down and be able to drum up the money on your own, but if getting into the market is your priority, buying now may be worth the investment over time. It's just important to remember that the cost of your monthly payment should be affordable for the long term.

Home Ownership Is Too Expensive

It's certainly the case that the real estate market is always fluctuating and prices can go up or down, but generally speaking, a home will increase in value over time and that means your monthly payment will be something you can consider an investment. While monthly rent disappears as soon as the calendar month is over, the money you invest into a home month after month builds up your equity and ensures greater stability for your financial future.

You Must Have A Good Credit Report

While it will definitely help your mortgage application if you possess good credit, it's not necessarily a deal breaker if you don't. Each mortgage is assessed based on a combination of factors that can include your down payment amount and your debt-to-income ratio, so this means that if you have a higher down payment and a less impressive credit report, you can still be approved. It's a good idea to pay your bills on time and get your debt down if you're applying for a mortgage, but there are opportunities for potential buyers who have experienced credit issues.

Home ownership is an important dream for many people, and as a result, there are many myths associated with the mortgage process. However, even if you don't have 20 percent down or perfect credit, there are still opportunities for improving your financial well-being and investing in a home. If you're currently looking for a new home, contact me for more information.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

3 Key Reasons Why Buying Your First Home Is Like Planning a Wedding

3 Key Reasons Why Buying Your First Home Is Like Planning a WeddingYou may not see the connection right away, but buying a home and planning a wedding are two experiences that require certain skills and challenge you in similar ways. Check out the three key similarities below!

1. Budget

Whether you're buying your first home or planning a wedding, you are likely facing one of the biggest financial obligations of your life. That's why, in both cases, it is essential that you pick a realistic budget and stay within it.

Sounds simple, but in either case it can be difficult! Unexpected obstacles may force you to spend more than you planned, or you may find yourself wanting to overspend as you find things that would be "just perfect" additions even though they don't fit your budget. These temptations can be expected, but it's important to remember the big picture. When it comes to your budget, pick it and stick it.

2. Details

When it comes to a home purchase or a wedding, there are countless details to consider. It's not a simple, pre-packaged purchase, there will always be big decisions that you have to make and if you overlook something you may regret it later on.

Some decisions that you face will be similar in both experiences: Does the location work for you? Does it work for your friends and family? What is the parking situation? Is it appropriate for the climate? Will you be satisfied with your decision in the long-term?

Other details will be more unique to the situation: Do you need a cocktail hour? Do you need a walk-in closet? What style of photography would you like? Is there too much traffic noise?

Either way you'll have lots to think about, and you'll become acutely aware of 'the little things.'

3. You've Got Style

Both your wedding and your home say something about you, they're a reflection of your personal style. When being presented with so many choices that are particularly catered towards your personal taste, you'll learn what you like and what you don't. However, you'll also learn what it is that you absolutely need, and what you're willing to budge on.

Whether you're choosing a wedding dress that is both gorgeous and functional for your ceremony or deciding whether or not you need an extra bedroom in your home, you'll learn what it is that you'd want in a perfect world, and what is absolutely necessary for your current situation.

If you're ready to start looking for your first home, make sure to contact me, your trusted real estate professional. Contact me today!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Selling Your Home? Don't Skip These 3 Essential Steps or Your Sale Will Suffer

Selling Your Home? Don't Skip These 3 Essential Steps or Your Sale Will SufferIf you want to sell your home quickly — and for the most profit — you can't just list it and cross your fingers. Successful sales are well-planned sales, and there are several ways in which you can make sure your own home sale turns out as you'd like it to.

1. Know Your Target Market

What kind of people are buying homes in your area? Is your neighborhood popular among new families, retirees, young singles? Do a little research to see what type of buyers are typically attracted to the area, and figure out how your home caters to their lifestyle. Marketing is one of the most important aspects when it comes to a successful home sale, and knowing who to target is the first step.

Once you have learned a bit about your potential buyers and what they're looking for, use that information to guide the rest of your sale preparations. Consider what you've learned about their wants and needs and carry that into any renovations you do, your listing, and your open houses. Make your home one that your buyers really want to live, and you just might find yourself in the midst of a bidding war!

2. Call In The Pros

When you sell your home without enlisting in the help of a professional, you open the door for significant mistakes to be made. Real estate professionals have the expert knowledge and experience that is needed to steer your home sale towards the best possible outcome. They can offer advice on listing price, marketing materials, open houses, offers received, and can take care of paperwork.

Attempting to do everything yourself may sound feasible, but you could sell yourself short by accidentally pricing your home too low, or you may be on the market forever if you price it too high. Mistakes in contractual paperwork could land you in hot water, and overall you're more likely to experience stress during your home sale if you try to do it all yourself. Find a real estate agent that you're comfortable with, and you'll be more likely to get what your home is worth without the extra stress.

3. Fix It Up

Making sure that key renovations are up-to-date before selling your home is another crucial factor if you want to sell it quickly and profitably. Important things to consider include your kitchen, bathrooms, and roof, as buyers tend to scrutinize those areas the most during a walk-through. Make sure that everything is in good condition and looks presentable before listing — you don't want potential buyers to see any red flags when looking at your property.

Ready to sell your home? Contact me, your local, experienced real estate professional, today to make the most of your sale.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Six Reasons Why You'll Need a Licensed Real Estate Agent When You Buy or Sell a House

Six Reasons Why You'll Need a Licensed Real Estate Agent When You Buy or Sell a HouseAre you in the market to buy or sell a home? If so, you may be wondering whether to work with a real estate agent or not. While saving on the commission might sound tempting, it can cost you later.

Here are six reasons to choose a real estate agent the next time you buy or sell a home.

#1: Agents Get The Best Price

If you're trying to buy or sell on your own, it's going to cost you. When buying, real estate agents are able to tap into market data to know the best price to bid. When selling, they can use this same data to ensure you ask for the highest reasonable price.

#2: Agents Know The Market

Is now the best time to buy or sell? You might not be sure, but a real estate agent will know. They have daily access to local market trends that outsiders can't see. And since they're working in your market each day, they can get a sense for what's coming.

#3: Agents Know How To Negotiate

Are you a strong negotiator? If not, you'll want to let your real estate agent take care of the negotiations. Remember, the other party in the transaction is likely to have an agent. So, without one of your own, you'll be up against a skilled negotiator with no backup.

#4: Agents Have The Time And You Don't

Let's face it: you're busy. Unless you're going to take a vacation to deal with your real estate transaction, you don't have the time. Real estate agents spend all their time working on their client properties. They make the time to handle inspections, negotiations and other activities.

#5: Agents Know What To Look For

If you're buying or selling for the first time, you'll definitely want to contract an agent. They know how to spot deficiencies in the house or property. Their experience allows them to see problems that you might not spot on your own. And they'll know what needs to be fixed and what can wait until later.

#6: Agents Can Deal With The Paperwork

Do you love dealing with contracts, legal forms and other paperwork? If not, this might be reason enough to work with a real estate agent. They will take care of all the necessary paperwork for your purchase or sale. And if you've ever participated in a real estate transaction before, you know there's a LOT to deal with. Leave this to your agent so you can focus on more fun activities.

The above are just six of the (many) reasons to work with a real estate professional. If you're thinking about buying or selling a home, contact your local trusted real estate professional today.

Monday, November 7, 2016

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

Last week's economic news included reports on inflation, construction spending, the Federal Reserve's announcement regarding interest rates and several labor and employment related releases. Weekly reports on new jobless claims and Freddie Mac's survey of interest rates were also released.

Construction Spending Rises, Fed Holds Steady on Interest Rates, Suggests December Increas

Construction spending remained in negative territory for September according to the Commerce Department. The month-to-month reading decreased by 0.40 percent against the expected reading of +0.40 percent and August's reading of -0.50 percent. Approaching winter weather is a likely reason for less spending, but ongoing challenges with shortages of buildable lots and labor are also factors. Spending on residential construction rose 0.50 percent, which is good news in terms of a persistent shortage of available homes.

The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve announced that it would hold federal interest rates in the target range of 0.25 percent to 0.50 percent. Analysts have been monitoring Fed policymaker pronouncements in anticipation of a rate increase. With strengthening labor markets and other economic indicators, policy makers hinted at raising the Fed target rate in December.

Labor Data: Slower Job Creation, Lower Unemployment

ADP payrolls showed that only private-sector jobs 147,000 jobs were created in October as compared to September's reading of 202,000 jobs created. The Labor Department reported 161,000 government and private-sector jobs were added in October as compared to an expected reading of 175,000 jobs added and September's reading of 191,000 jobs created. Healthcare, professional jobs and financial sector jobs showed the highest job gains.

National Unemployment met expectations with an October reading of 4.90 percent. September's reading was 5.00 percent Unemployment readings are reported as a percentage of workers seeking work and do not include workers who've left the workforce. New jobless claims rose last week to 265,000 as compared to expectations for 258,000 new jobless claims and the prior week's reading of 258,000 new jobless claims.

Mortgage Rates Rise

Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week. 30-year fixed rate loans had an average rate of 3.54 percent, an increase of seven basis points. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose six basis points to 2.84 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was three basis points higher at 2.87 percent. Discount points for fixed rate mortgages averaged 0.50 percent; discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages held steady at 0.40 percent.

Low mortgage rates have helped to offset the effects of high demand for homes and rapidly rising prices; if mortgage and refinance rates continue to rise, affordability and mortgage qualification issues are likely to arise for some home buyers.

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic reports include job openings, consumer sentiment and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Friday, November 4, 2016

3 Common Mistakes That First-time Mortgage Borrowers Make and How to Easily Avoid Them

3 Common Mistakes That First-time Mortgage Borrowers Make and How to Easily Avoid ThemDeciding to purchase a home will be one of the biggest investment decisions you'll make in your life, but it can be confusing for the first-time home buyer to know all the ins and outs of buying a home. If you're wondering what things first-time buyers often forget about before purchasing a home, here are three important things that you'll want to keep in mind.

Ignoring Their Credit History

If you have a high debt load or you haven't been making your minimum payments, it can be pretty frightening to consider looking at your credit report, but it's very important to do this before applying for a mortgage. A lender will be taking a look at your credit history and reviewing it carefully before approving your application, so it's important for you to be aware of what your credit history says about you and how it might impact your mortgage.

Buying Too Much Home

It's easier than you might think to be swayed into purchasing your dream home, but it's necessary to keep a cool head and make an informed decision so that your home investment can be financially beneficial for you. The amount you should be paying for a home on a monthly basis will leave you with enough that you can pay for the necessities, any existing debts and any extras while still having wiggle room in case of emergency. While you may want to spend a little more, this can end up being a mistake if things don't go as planned.

Forgetting The Documentation

This may be among the easiest of steps, but not having the appropriate documentation can push back your home purchase, so ensure you have all the necessary paperwork for when you need it. Beyond the Verification of Rent you'll need from your previous landlord, it's also important to make sure that you have liquid assets not just investments and RRSPs as this will prove to the lender that you can handle a financial hurdle in the event that it arises.

There are so many things involved in obtaining a mortgage that it can be easy to forget some very important aspects of approval. By being aware of your credit history and keeping your payment price within your means, you'll be well on your way to a sound purchase. If you're currently looking at homes, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Luxury Selling: How to Qualify Potential Buyers to Ensure They Can Afford Your Home

Luxury Selling: How to Qualify Potential Buyers to Ensure They Can Afford Your HomeLuxury estates can be a challenge to sell. The more expensive a home is, the less potential buyers there are. The biggest hassle is going through the process with people who can't actually afford the home, only to have it fall apart at the last minute.

Here are some ways to make sure the property is only being viewed by qualified buyers.

Only Accept Offers From Buyers Who Are Pre-Qualified From A Lender

One of the only ways to guarantee a buyer will be able to afford a luxury home is to let the bank do the work on your behalf. By only accepting offers from people who have been pre-qualified by a lender, it allows the seller the peace of mind of knowing that every offer is a legitimate one.

Luxury Agents Will Have Vetted Their Clients

Working with a real estate agent with a specialty in luxury properties is one way to make sure the vetting process is handled effectively and legally. These agents do not have time to waste with people who can't afford a home in this price range and they will have a roster of clients who are not only looking for a new luxury house, but can afford one. Talk to the neighbors and see who their buying agent was. This will give an idea of which professionals are working with clients who can afford the neighborhood.

Use Broker Open Houses Over The Traditional Open House

Hosting an open house in a luxury home is a dangerous prospect. There is no way of knowing how many visitors can actually afford the home and how many just want to look around to see how the other half lives. On top of that, it's a serious safety risk as luxury open houses bring out potential thieves to case the place and see what the security is like.

For luxury sellers a broker open house is the best course of action. These open houses are closed to the public and only available to brokers who have clients that are looking for a luxury home.

There are more luxury homes on the market than buyers and standing out is important if you want to sell quickly. Trying to sell a home like this on your own is a disaster waiting to happen. Make sure to talk to real estate agents in the area who deal with luxury properties until you find one you are comfortable with. Contact your local real estate professional today for more information.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Major Keys to Understanding When It's Time to Refinance Your Mortgage

The Major Keys to Understanding When It's Time to Refinance Your MortgageAs a homeowner, you may have heard the term re-financing without being aware of exactly what it means, but there are a lot of pros and cons associated with what it can do for your financial situation. While getting a different new loan for your mortgage can be a good financial decision in certain situations, here are some things you should consider before you decide that this is the right choice for you.

Getting A Lower Rate

One of the main reasons that re-financing can be a popular option for many homeowners is that it can provide the opportunity for considerable money savings. Since you will be acquiring a new loan with a lower interest rate, this will be an opportunity to reduce your monthly payments, increase your equity at a faster rate and invest the extra funds into something else. While a lower rate can definitely mean money savings, it's important to consult with a mortgage professional so you're aware of any associated fees and can make a decision that will be financially beneficial.

Consolidating Your Debt

It is often the case that people will choose to refinance their mortgage with a lower-interest rate in the hopes of paying off the debt they've accumulated, but with the cost of refinancing this is not necessarily the best financial decision. While consolidating debt can be great if you go into it with a budget that you plan on sticking too, if you're leaning too much on the idea of a lower interest rate meaning instant savings, it may be a good idea to take a look at the numbers.

Investing In Your Home

For many people, re-financing their mortgage is a good opportunity to renovate their home and increase its value. However, while renovating your home can be a good idea for resale, there are many home renovations that will not necessarily increase the value of your home and make up for the amount you've invested. If you're making forward-thinking renovations, refinancing is one thing, but ensure you've seriously considered what will add value.

There can be a number of financial benefits when it comes to refinancing your mortgage, but it's important to work out your tentative budget and crunch the numbers before you make a final decision. If you're currently looking into re-financing your home and are curious about what it entails, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Staging Tips: 5 Interior Paint Colors That Will Help You Sell Your Home Faster

Staging Tips: 5 Interior Paint Colors That Will Help You Sell Your Home FasterIt's important to remember that when a home is put up for sale it should appeal to as many people as possible. Sometimes those flashy paint colors the owners grew up with will not charm new buyers.

Here are five ideas for paint colors that will help any home sell quickly.

Keep It Neutral For A Reason

The first thing everybody hears when they try and sell their home is to paint in neutral colors. There is a good reason for this. Every person who walks through the front door should be able to picture living in the home and not think about the people who had lived there before. Neutral colors provide a blank canvas for buyers to paint their future on

Creams Photograph Better Than Almost Any Shade

Neutral colors are not just the standard beiges everyone is used to. Rooms painted in creams tend to look better in pictures, which helps out tremendously when listing the house online. Since most people's first impression of a home is the online photographs, this technique helps a house stand out from the very beginning.

Using Gray To Expand The Space

Making rooms appear larger is one technique to help sell a home quicker. A light gray can help make large, clean rooms appear even larger to visitors. This works on rooms that are clutter free and do not have much furniture in them. As an added technique, try painting the moldings the same color of gray so that the walls appear higher.

Accent Natural Surroundings With Earth Tones

Anybody who owns a house that has a lot of brick, stone or wood should take a moment to browse through some earth tones to accent the room. These colors, while still neutral, are found in nature and accent the natural surroundings of the room. Sienna and umber are two popular choices.

Give A Splash Of Green In A Sunny Room

When the rest of the home is in neutral tone, it provides the opportunity to spring a room to life with a dash of color. A light green is perfect for an indoor patio or den that overlooks a garden. This is one way to give a natural and earthy feel to a room that has plenty of sunlight.

Before painting, talk to your local real estate agent to walk through your home with you and give you some pointers on which colors they think will work and which ones may be problematic.