Friday, November 24, 2017

Appliance Therapy: What to Do If Your Dishwasher Is Terrible at Cleaning Your Dishes

Appliance Therapy: What to Do If Your Dishwasher Is Terrible at Cleaning Your DishesAs kitchen appliances go, there are few loved more than the dishwasher. They can be a major time saver – that is, if your dishes are coming out clean. Let's take a quick look at a few steps you can take if your dishwasher is not doing its job.

Give It A Good Cleaning

It may seem a bit strange to think about having to clean the dishwasher, but they do require maintenance from time to time. Grease, bits of food and leftover detergent can all build up, leading to reduced performance. Here's one cleaning recipe to try. On the top rack of the dishwasher, place a cup of white vinegar in a dishwasher-safe container and run a cleaning cycle. Once it has finished, sprinkle a cup of baking soda around the bottom of the dishwasher, and run it again.

Check That You're Loading It Correctly

You might be surprised to learn that there are 'right' and 'wrong' ways to load a dishwasher. And that loading instructions vary between different models. If your dishes are not coming out sparkling clean, see if you can track down the operator's manual. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for how to load the dishes in the dish racks. This is a simple step that might fix the problem.

Check That The Drainage Is Clear

Although you can't see anything clogging the inside of the drain filter, that does not mean that the drain itself is clear. Most dishwasher models allow you to take the internal drain assembly off so that you can get at the drain without having to pull out the dishwasher. If yours does, it is worth taking some time to get in there and clean out the gunk. A partially-blocked drain will lead to dirty dishes. A fully-blocked drain can lead to a messy catastrophe.

Still Not Working? Make The Call

If you have exhausted the list above and your dishwasher still isn't working correctly, it is time to call in an appliance repair professional. If you continue to use the dishwasher, it may end up failing and causing water damage to your kitchen flooring. If the dishwasher is still under warranty, contact the manufacturer as they will likely have a contract with a local repair shop. If you're in the market to buy a home with a fabulous dishwasher, contact us today. Our professional team is happy to help.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

'Pine'-ing for a New Look? 3 Ways You Can Use Wood Features to 'Spruce' up Your Home

'Pine'-ing for a New Look? 3 Ways You Can Use Wood Features to 'Spruce' up Your HomeWhether you are renovating an older home or putting the finishing touches on a new one, you would be amiss if you did not consider how to include furniture and other items made of wood. With a diverse range of colors and textures, wooden features are a must-have for any modern home design. Let's take a look at three ways that you can use wood to add a little spice to your home decor.

Try A Visually Striking Wood Wall

If you are looking to add some 'pop' to a room, consider an offset or patterned wall made of wood. Your options are limitless when it comes to adding wood to a wall. Consider horizontal slats with a lighter wood like pine for a warm, modern feel. Alternatively, try a flat wall made of hardwood boards of a darker color than the room's paint.

Go Rustic With A Farmhouse Dining Table

Does your dining room feel a little boring with your standard table and chairs? A rustic farmhouse dining table is an excellent way to breathe some life into your dining area. In addition, hardwood tables like these are sturdy and can suffer a lot of punishment. They are the perfect choice for families that are used to hosting large dinners or having company over.

If you are so inclined, you can build a table like this in just a few hours. Search around online for plans and head down to your local hardware store to get things started.

Reclaim And Refinish For Timeless Beauty

Finally, give some thought as to how you can use reclaimed wood in your home. Consider replacing tile or linoleum with a some "rip and refinish" hardwood flooring reclaimed from another house. Or if you would rather have wooden furniture, you can get chairs or side tables that are made of reclaimed wood. If you are located near the coast or beach, look around for large pieces of driftwood that can be turned into furniture by a local tradesman.

While we cannot help you choose your wooden furnishings, we can help you find the best new home to put them in. When you're ready to buy or sell your home, contact your local professional real estate agent.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Buying in 2018? Get Your Down Payment Ready Now by Tapping These Helpful Sources

Buying in 2018? Get Your Down Payment Ready Now by Tapping These Helpful SourcesAre you in the market for a new house or condo in 2018? With the new year just around the corner, now is the time to get all of your financial details in order. As you may know, buying a home is a significant financial transaction. But it all starts with your down payment, which is the lump sum that you invest in order to purchase the home. In today's blog post we will share a few sources of funds that you can tap into for help saving up your down payment

Peer Into Your Financial Future

A helpful first step is to map out your financial future. Do you have any lump-sum payments such as an annual bonus or a tax return coming up? If so, those are excellent sources of funds to help build up your down payment.

Put A Stop To Unnecessary Spending

Any time you want to save money, an obvious step is to cut as much unnecessary spending as you can. Invest the time in creating a strict monthly budget which includes setting money aside for your down payment. Be sure to watch for any daily habits that are eating away at your savings, such as high-priced specialty coffees or eating out regularly.

Research Local Homebuyer Assistance Programs

Don't forget that you're not alone in your quest for home ownership. There are numerous federal, state and municipal homebuyer assistance programs that offer financial help when buying a home. Your local real estate professional will be happy to share some insight.

Check In With Your Employer

Finally, don't forget to check in with your employer to see if there are any home ownership grants or subsidies. Down payment and home-buying assistance programs are becoming more popular with companies as an extra perk to offer employees. Send a quick email or stop by the human resources department to let them know you're in the market for a home and to see if any programs are on offer. If your workplace does have a program like this, it's the perfect time to take advantage.

Having your down payment funds ready will make the buying process faster and show your mortgage lender that you're prepared for home ownership. For more information about local real estate opportunities, contact your local real estate professional. We're happy to share some amazing listings that perfectly suit your needs.

Monday, November 20, 2017

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - November 20, 2017

Last week's economic news included remarks by Fed Chair Janet Yellen about the diversity of opinions in the Federal Open Market Committee, readings on inflation, and the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index. The Commerce Department issued reports on housing starts and building permits issued; Freddie Mac and the Commerce Department issued weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. Fed Chair Discusses Pros and Cons of Diverse Opinions Among Policymakers During a panel presentation of global economic leaders, outgoing Fed Chair Janet Yellen discussed the pros and cons of having 19 members on the Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee, which is responsible for the Fed's policymaking decisions. Chair Yellen said that it was "challenging" in terms of expressing diverse member opinions into a pat statement of Fed policy. She noted that multiple opinions on any aspect of the Fed's decisions could be confusing for the public. She also said that individual and varied opinions were essential in considering all aspects of the Fed's policy decisions: "The most important strength is that we avoid 'group-think,' which is a real pitfall for policy committees." NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Hits Eight-Month High The National Association of Home Builders reported its highest housing market index reading in eight months. The monthly survey of home builders consists of readings on builder confidence in present housing market conditions, market conditions within the next six months and the volume of buyer traffic in new housing developments. Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders are confident about housing market conditions. November's reading of 70 was two points higher than in October; analysts expected a one-point decline to 67. Concerns over tax reforms potentially impacting homeowner tax deductions for mortgage interest were expected to impact builder confidence, but NAHB did not mention tax reform in their summation of builder confidence readings for November. Component readings used to comprise the HMI reading were mixed. Builder sentiment increased two points to 77 for current housing market conditions. Builder confidence in market conditions over the next six months dipped by one point to 77 and builder confidence in buyer traffic in new home developments rose two points to an index reading of 50. Builders have repeatedly cited concerns about shortages of lots and labor as well as increasing costs for building materials. NAHB said in a statement that November's Housing Market Index reading was a "strong indicator that the housing market continues to grow steadily." According to the Commerce Department, October housing starts rose to 1.29 million on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis; analysts expected 1.20 million starts based on September's reading of 1.14 million starts. 5.30 percent of housing starts were single-family construction. Builders also took out more building permits in October; 1.30 million permits were issued against 1.23 million permits issued in September. The increased volume of building permits was partially attributed to reconstruction after hurricanes in Florida and Texas, but in the Northeast, building permits rose by 42 percent. The Northeast region is the smallest reported, but warm weather was cited as boosting permits issued. Builder sentiment has been strong all year and was propelled by healthy job markets and lower mortgage rates. Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise Fixed mortgage rates rose last week with the average rate for an average 30-year fixed rate of 3.95 percent; the average 15-year mortgage rate rose seven basis points to an average of 3.31 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dipped one basis point to 3.21 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. New jobless claims rose to 249,000 last week as compared to estimates of 235,000 new claims and the prior week's reading of 239,000 new jobless claims. Jobs lost and a backlog of first-time claims due to recent hurricanes were cited as the primary cause for the rise in new jobless claims. What's Ahead This week's scheduled economic news includes readings on previously-owned home sales, minutes from the Fed's last Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims are also scheduled.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Are You Ready for Home Ownership? Find Out by Answering These 4 Questions

Are You Ready for Home Ownership? Find Out by Answering These 4 QuestionsHave you been dreaming about a larger, roomier or more luxurious living space? Or perhaps just want to experience the joy of owning your own home and building your net worth instead of renting? Let's explore a few questions that can help to answer whether or not you're ready for a new lifestyle as a homeowner.

Can You Realistically Afford To Buy A Home?

The first consideration to make is a financial one: can you afford it? Buying in a home is a significant financial investment. In most cases you'll need to manage monthly mortgage payments for many years. The good news: owning a home is a more affordable than you might think. If you're already a stable renter then you're most of the way there.

Do You Have Your Down Payment Saved Up?

If you're confident that monthly payments are no problem, then the next step is saving up enough to cover your down payment. This is a lump-sum investment that you make when you buy the home. Typically your down payment is around 20 percent of the home's cost, but there are assistance programs which can reduce this further.

Do You Know What Type Of Home You Need?

Once you've cleared all of the financial hurdles, you will next need to decide exactly what kind of home you need. If you're a single young professional, a condo or apartment might be the perfect starter home from which you can upgrade later. Or you might prefer something more rural which comes with more yard space, perfect for pets.

Are You Ready To Set Down Some Roots?

Finally, it's worth taking some time to decide whether or not you're ready to emotionally and physically invest in your local community. Is your career stable enough that you won't be moving for at least a few years? What about that of your partner or spouse? If you don't already, do you envision having children in the future? All of these are considerations that will help you choose the right neighborhood.

When you are ready, our professional real estate team is here to help you find the home of your dreams. To learn more about buying a home and to view homes that are perfect for first-time buyers, contact us today.

Should You Get a Home Inspection Before Selling Your Home? Let’s Take a Look

Should You Get a Home Inspection Before Selling Your Home? Let's Take a LookIs it time to upgrade or move on to a new home? If you are planning on listing your home for sale in the near future, you will have a few key considerations to make. Do we paint? Finish the basement into a suite? Renovate the bathroom, or leave it?

However, before you start worrying about renovations it can be helpful to understand how your home has stood the test of time. Let's have a quick look at a few reasons why you may want to consider investing in a professional home inspection before selling your home.

Assessing Your Home's Current Condition

Give some thought to your home's current condition. How old is it? When was its last professional inspection? Has your home suffered any significant weather or other kinds of damage? Take a walk around and look at the key structural areas. Do you see any issues with the roof? How do the walls or siding look? Are there visible cracks in the home's foundation? If there are obvious issues, it is time for an inspection.

Do You Need A Speedy Sale?

Another excellent reason to get your home inspected early in the selling process is that it's likely to speed things along. If there are any repairs required, you can have them taken care of before you start staging your home, having professional photos taken and hosting open houses.

A recent inspection can also give you a competitive edge over nearby or similar homes that are for sale. It signals to potential buyers that you have done some of the heavy lifting in the process and that they are unlikely to uncover any major issues when they have their own inspection done.

Take Care Of 'Deal Breaker' Problems

Finally, a home inspection ensures that you will be able to take care of any potential deal-breaking issues that could ruin a sale. Even if you decide to skip repairing some of the minor issues, taking care of things like cracks in your foundation, mold problems or old electrical wiring will all help with keeping your sale on track.

These are just a few of the great reasons to invest in a professional home inspection before listing your home for sale. To learn more about the home selling process or to get started, contact your local real estate professionals.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

4 Mistakes That Plague First-Time Home Sellers and How to Avoid Making Them


4 Mistakes That Plague First-Time Home Sellers and How to Avoid Making ThemAre you thinking about selling your home? If this is your first time going through the selling process, you may be wondering just how well things are going to go. Selling a home is usually a smooth process – there are thousands sold each day – but issues can arise if you're not careful. Let's explore four mistakes that are commonly made by first-time home sellers and how you can avoid them.

Trying To Sell Without Experienced Representation

The first and most significant mistake that some first-time sellers make is to try to go it alone. Selling a house is a major financial and legal transaction and one where experience is crucial in getting things right. Invest in an agent who has a track record of quick, efficient sales and you're going to have an advantage.

Choosing Emotion Over Reason

Next, you'll want to avoid letting your emotions control how you react or respond during the selling process. Many homeowners become emotionally attached to their homes, which is fine while you're living there but can be a problem when you're selling. It's important to let logic and reason guide the sale. Don't let yourself get caught up emotionally or you may make a critical mistake.

Pricing Outside Of A Realistic Range

Asking too much – or too little! – for their home is another common mistake made by first-time home sellers. It's critical to understand that the local real estate market has a lot of influence on the correct asking price for your home. Current listings and recent sales of similar homes in the area tend to set a price range in the minds of buyers so these will need to be observed. Your real estate agent will be a big help in choosing the right sale price.

Selling At The Wrong Time

The final mistake we'll cover today is listing your home for sale in the wrong environment. The local real estate market is in a constant state of change due to a variety of factors. The seasons, other local home listings, interest rates, new home construction, local municipal zoning changes and all sorts of other factors can influence your sale. Unless you are under a time constraint, it's best to let your agent advise you when it's a good time to list your home.

Selling your first home can be a daunting experience, but with the right frame of mind and professional representation, it will go smoothly. To learn more about the home selling process or to list your home for sale, contact us today. We are happy to assist you.

Win the Bidding War With Our 5 Minute Guide to Making an Offer the Seller Won't Refuse


Win the Bidding War With Our 5 Minute Guide to Making an Offer the Seller Won't RefuseAsk any experienced homeowner and you'll learn that buying in a 'hot' real estate market can be challenging. A high supply of buyers competing for a low stock of available homes is a combination that can lead to bidding wars, price inflation, and other headaches. The good news: with some careful preparation and the right mindset, a bidding war is one that you can win. Read on to learn how you can beat out other bidders by making an irresistible offer.

Start With Strong Representation

Answer this question honestly: are you an experienced negotiator? Unless you have made a career out of buying and selling homes, you may find that your skills are lacking. The middle of a bidding war is a poor time to have this realization, so it's best to start the process with strong professional representation. Invest the time in securing the services of an experienced real estate agent who has a history of successful home purchases and happy clients. For extra assurance, ask them for recent testimonials so you can hear how they helped other buyers.

Get Pre-Approved For Your Mortgage Financing

Now that you have a good real estate agent on your side, you'll want to move to the next step: meeting with a mortgage lender. Your goal is to secure pre-approval for your mortgage financing, which will show the seller that you're both prepared and serious about buying their home. Gather up recent financial information like pay stubs, tax returns, and bank statements before meeting with a mortgage professional. Being prepared will make the approval process a bit easier.

Have The Appraisal And Inspection Team Ready

Once you have found your dream home, you will need to move quickly to have it appraised and inspected. As with your other professionals, it's best to pre-book these companies ahead of time so they're ready to go. Ask your friends and family for referrals now so you can chat with potential appraisers and inspectors.

Be Serious About A Quick Closing Process

Finally, if it isn't already obvious to them, make it clear to the seller that you're interested in closing quickly. Every home seller is interested in a fast, efficient close so they can move on. Pushing the pace a bit will demonstrate that you're not going to reverse course.

When you are ready to buy your dream home, our professional real estate team is here to help. Contact us today and we'll share how we have helped other locals buy some amazing properties. We look forward to meeting you!

Monday, November 13, 2017

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - November 13, 2017

Last week's economic news included a survey of senior loan officers, Freddie Mac's average mortgage rates, and new jobless claims. An index reading for consumer sentiment was also reported.

Loan Officers: Standards for Residential Real Estate Loans Eased or Unchanged

According to the Federal Reserve's Survey of Senior Loan Officers,72 institutions surveyed reported that all types of residential real estate loans saw easing of lending standards or no change in lending requirements. Demand for real estate loans eased, which likely influenced financial institutions decision not to tighten lending criteria for home loans. In contrast, banks surveyed indicated tighter lending requirements for auto loans and credit cards.

Mortgage Rates Fall, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week.30-year fixed rates averaged 3.90 percent; 15-year fixed rates averaged 3.24 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rates averaged 3.22 percent. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. Lower mortgage rates were good news for home buyers who continue to face high home prices coupled with competition by cash buyers.

First-time jobless claims increased by 10,000 new claims to 239,000 new claims. Analysts expected a reading of 231,000 new claims based on the prior week. The week-to-week reading, which can be volatile, was eclipsed by the four-week rolling average of new claims, which hit its lowest reading since March 1973.

The bump in weekly first-time jobless claims was caused by a backlog in jobless claims filed in Puerto Rico. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Computer and infrastructure problems caused delays in claim filing.

Consumer sentiment dipped in November to an index reading of 97.8 as compared to an expected reading of 100.7 and October's reading, also 100.7; Indicators of rising inflation concerned consumers, according to the University of Michigan, which conducts the survey.

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic news includes the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, housing starts, building permits issued and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. Monthly readings on inflation and retail sales will also be released.

Friday, November 10, 2017

What Are the True Costs of Selling a Home? Let's Take a Look


What Are the True Costs of Selling a Home? Let's Take a LookAre you thinking about selling your house? Before you decide to list your home up for sale, it is helpful to get a clear picture of how much it's going to cost. Whether you are sprucing things up with a fresh coat of paint, replacing the roof membrane or just covering your taxes, there will be a few bills to pay. Let's take a quick look at some of the true costs that you'll incur when selling your home.

Is Your Home Ready To Sell?

The first question you will need to answer is whether or not your home is ready to sell. Unless your house is relatively new, it will likely need repairs and maintenance. Depending on the age and condition of your home, you may also decide to invest in a full home inspection. Having a professional inspector look things over is a good investment – especially if they find problem areas that require immediate attention.

Invest In A Good Real Estate Agent (And Their Commission)

To get the best price for your home, you will need to be represented by a great real estate agent. Of course, they are not going to work for free. Once the home sells, the agent is compensated with a percentage of the sale price, which is known as a commission. In some cases, the home seller also pays the commission for the buyer's real estate agent as well.

Factor In Costs During The Sales Process

The selling process will also have its costs. From lawyers' fees to excise taxes, there is no shortage of small costs that can start to add up. You may decide to invest a bit in your open houses in order to make them more welcoming. Or you might need to close out your mortgage. Whatever the case, be sure to leave some space in your budget for these costs.

Moving Out Will Cost You Too

Finally, don't forget to factor in the cost of moving to your new home. Many families fail to budget for moving expenses, which can be significant if you are moving out of a large home with a lot of furniture.

As you can see, selling a home is a major financial transaction and one that should be led by an experienced professional. When you are ready to begin the process of selling your home, give us a call. Your trusted real estate professional can advise you of local market conditions and ensure that you receive top dollar when you sell.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Is 'Curb Appeal' Really That Important When Selling Your Home? Yes - Here's Why


Is 'Curb Appeal' Really That Important When Selling Your Home? Yes - Here's WhyDo you remember the first time you shopped for or purchased a home? If so, think back to that moment. What did you first notice? Do you remember certain aspects of the home's appearance, or perhaps some unique landscape feature? Was it the bright color of the freshly-painted door or the glossy sheen from the clean windows?

The concept of 'curb appeal' – that is, how your home appears when viewing from the curb – is an important one, especially when selling your home.

Give A Strong First Impression

The first impression that your home gives is one that will last. If your paint is fading or chipped, your siding is damaged, your roof is in disrepair or your gutters are hanging loose, what do you expect a potential buyer to think? It's safe to assume that if you can't be bothered to pull the weeds in the garden or rake up the leaves that there may be other maintenance issues lurking.

Remember, your goal is to sell your home as quickly as possible and for the best price. If your house looks like it's in perfect shape from the outside, potential buyers will want to explore further.

Appeal To The Drive-By Buyers

You may not be aware, but many potential home buyers won't bother connecting with your real estate agent or showing up to your open house events. Instead, they'll drive by to get a feel for how the house and property look from the outside. Some might peer into your backyard or take a quick look around the lot as well. It's critical that your home appears in peak condition at all times during the sales process. If your curb appeal declines, you may end up losing out on a potential sale.

Set Your Home Apart From The Neighbors

Contrast is another reason why focusing on your home's curb appeal is important. Potential home buyers will be comparing your house with others on the same street and across the neighborhood. If your house is the best looking one on the block, it's more likely to sell for a high price than if it's the runt of the litter.

When you're ready to list your home for sale, our professional real estate team will be happy to share some more curb appeal tips. Give us a call at your convenience – we look forward to connecting with you.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Considering a New Home Next Year? Start Now and Get a Jump on Improving Your Credit Score

Considering a New Home Next Year? Start Now and Get a Jump on Improving Your Credit ScoreIn the market for a new home in 2018? With the new year just a few short weeks away, that leaves you with precious little time to get your finances in order. Let's explore a few tips that will help you get a jump on improving your credit score before the end of the year.

Grab A Fresh Copy The first step is to order a fresh copy of your credit report from one of the major agencies. The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows you to access a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months. So, if you have not ordered a copy recently, it is time to do so. You can access this free service through AnnualCreditReport.com, which is a website recommended by the Federal Trade Commission.

Clean Up Anything Outstanding

Now that you have a copy of your credit report, it's time to go through it, line-by-line. You should recognize every current and outstanding account in the report. Any balances owing should be in order and reflect how much you owe. It's critical that you flag any mistakes or old debts that you have already paid in full. If you come across anything that shouldn't be on your credit report, call the reporting agency to let them know. If necessary, they will assist you with challenging the issue.

Pay Down Those High-Interest Debts

The final tip in today's guide is to prioritize your outstanding debts so that you can pay them off more efficiently. The essential debt payments are your mandatory minimums, which you need to pay to avoid being sent to a collection agency. From there, try to pay off your debts with the highest interest rates first. Getting these paid off faster means that over time, you're spending less on interest payments. Moreover, you can use that extra cash to pay your debts down further.

The above are just a few of the action steps that you can take today to start improving your credit score. When you're ready to begin searching for your new home, contact your local real estate professionals.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Buying a New Home? Make Your Move Easier With These Three Purging Tips


Buying a New Home? Make Your Move Easier With These Three Purging TipsAre you thinking about buying a new house or apartment? While the prospect of a new home is undoubtedly exciting, you may be dreading the thought at having to pack everything up and move. In today's blog post we will explore three tips for purging old, unwanted or forgotten items before making a move into a new home.

Sort Everything That You Don't Need

The first step you will want to take is to sort everything in your home. Many families go through the house, room-by-room, separating their must-have items from everything else. At first, this process is quick as there are many items just sitting around waiting to be thrown out. However, you are bound to find some older keepsakes that are much harder to let go. In the end, you'll want to ensure that you only keep those goods that are important to you. Everything else should go.

Host A (Virtual) Yard Sale And Consider Consignment

Now that you have everything in your home sorted, it's time to host a yard sale. If you are so inclined, you can run a traditional sale where you place everything out on the lawn on a Saturday morning and put up signs to let the neighborhood know. Alternatively, you can run a virtual yard sale through the web and app-based classifieds like Craigslist.

You may also want to consider calling up local consignment shops to see if they'll take some of your unwanted goods. A consignment store will sell your items for you and keep a portion of the sale price as a fee. This can be a useful option if you have antiques or other goods that are more popular with an older crowd.

Donate Everything Else

Is there anything left in your home? If so, it's time to hand over this last bit of unwanted clothing, furniture or appliances to your local charity. Many charitable organizations will come and pick up your unwanted items, which saves you from having to drive a load of stuff over somewhere to drop it off. Call up your charity of choice and see if they accept donations. If not, they will be able to refer you to other local organizations that are interested.

Purging your older or unwanted items is a surefire way to make your move easier. If you're in the market for a new home, or for more information about real estate opportunities in the local area, contact us today. Our professional team is happy to show you around.

Monday, November 6, 2017

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - November 6, 2017


Last week's economic news included readings on Case-Shiller home prices, construction spending, and consumer sentiment. Labor sector readings on private and public employment and the national unemployment rate were also released. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Approaches Record

Home price growth approached a record set in 2006 in August, but analysts said that affordability and the shortage of homes for sale could signal slower growth ahead. David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the S&P Index Committee, said that while home prices appeared to be "unstoppable," signs of slowing momentum could signal the end of rapid home price growth.

Case-Shiller's national home price index reported a seasonally-adjusted annual growth rate of 6.10 percent as compared to July's corresponding reading of 5.90 percent. The 20-City Index reading was 1.80 percent short of the record set in 2006. Seattle, Washington led home price growth with a reading of 13.20 percent year-over-year. Las Vegas, Nevada held second place with a seasonally-adjusted annual growth rate of 8.60 percent and San Diego, California held third place in the 20-City Index with a reading of 7.80 percent.

While the West continued to post highest home price gains, some home price gains are leveling out. San Francisco, California, which posted double digit home price growth in recent years, posted 6.10 percent growth year-over-year and a negative reading of -0.10 percent in August as compared to July.

September construction spending rose due to public works projects and housing construction. This was good news as a shortage of available homes has daunted real estate sales in past months. Building more homes is the only solution to the ongoing shortage of homes for sale. Construction spending 4ose0.30 percent in September as compared to an expected reading of no change, which was based on August's reading of 0.10 percent.

Mortgage Rates Little Changed, New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported no change in the average rate of 3.94 percent. Average rates for a 15-year mortgage and a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage were each two basis points higher at 3.27 percent and 3.23 percent respectively. Average discount points were 0.50 percent for all three mortgage types. The President is expected to announce the appointment of a new Federal Reserve Chair this week, which could impact interest rates either way.

First-time jobless claims were lower last week with 229,000 claims filed as compared to expectations of 235,000 new claims filed and the prior week's reading of 234,000 new jobless claims. Private-sector employment grew by 235,000 jobs in October as compared to September's reading of 110,000 new private-sector jobs.

The Commerce Department reported 261,000 new public and private-sector jobs in October. Analysts expected 325,000 new jobs, but September's reading was adjusted to 18,000 new public and private sector jobs added. The national unemployment rate dipped to 4.10 percent as compared to an expected reading of 4.10 percent and September's reading of 4.20 percent.

Consumer confidence grew to an index reading of 125.9 in October as compared to analysts' expected reading of 121.3 and the prior month's reading of 119.5.

Friday, November 3, 2017

3 Key Ways That Driverless Cars Are Going to Reshape How We Design and Use Our Homes

3 Key Ways That Driverless Cars Are Going to Reshape How We Design and Use Our HomesAre you ready for the coming shift to driverless cars? While it might seem like some sort of futuristic vision, the truth is that driverless vehicles will be on the road within a few short years. Let's explore three key ways that driverless cars are going to help to shape how we think about our homes in the very near future.

#1: Goodbye, Garages

It might seem a bit strange to think about now, but many people are likely to get rid of their cars entirely. Car ownership is expected to shift to entrepreneurs and services who offer vehicles for on-demand use. We are already starting to see this transition take place, especially with city dwellers who are becoming familiar with Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing services. So, if you do not own a car, having a garage attached to your house does not make much sense.

Consider the many uses that a family can get from the space currently occupied by a garage full of cars. Your house footprint can be that much bigger, or you can convert that area into more yard space.

#2: Get Used To Smaller Streets And More Efficient Land Use

The second significant change you are going to see is a complete re-imagining of how we design and use our streets. Fewer people will own cars that need to be parked along the side of the street. Also, self-driving cars can move elsewhere for storage when they're not needed. This combination will allow city planners to thin streets, freeing up land use for bike lanes, boulevards or larger yard areas. If you are the type that enjoys having a beautiful big front lawn, the coming shift to driverless cars will benefit you.

#3: More Space Means More Green Space

Finally, expect to see a lot more green space around your house in the future. You will have more space for landscaping, flower beds, gardens, trees and other yard fixtures. Even if you do end up owning a driverless car in the future, it's likely to be electric. The most substantial commitment you will need to make is either a charging plug and wall fixture or a large ground pad that the car sits on when it needs to top off the batteries.

There are few who doubt that driverless cars are going to cause a major shift in how we live, work and move from place to place. If you're looking to take advantage of this shift when you buy your next home, contact us. Our team of real estate professionals will be happy to share excellent home listings that will be perfect for those looking to change how they use their car.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Real Estate 101: What Is a "Short Sale" And How Does It Work? Let's Take a Look


Real Estate 101: What Is a Are you on the hunt for great deals on a local home? If so, you have probably heard about "short sale" homes, although it can take a bit of searching to find one. Let's take a closer look at real estate short sales to learn how they work and when you might want to take advantage.

What Is A Real Estate Short Sale?

A real estate short sale takes place when a homeowner sells their home for less than they owe on it. This tends to take place in volatile real estate markets where a substantial price increase took place with a rapid price decrease following after.

Whatever the case, the homeowner is now facing a home with less value than their mortgage. They may approach their lender about a short sale, or the lender may force it on them. A short sale can take place even if a homeowner is still making their monthly mortgage payments on time, although that is somewhat rare.

Stick With The Pros When Buying A Short Sale

Without question, if you are considering buying a short sale home you will want to work with an experienced real estate agent. Short sales take place due to a variety of circumstances, few of which are positive. You will want a real estate professional who knows the ins-and-outs of the short sale process and will protect your interests. They can also help you understand what happens with the outstanding debt on the property.

Mistakes To Avoid When Buying A Short Sale Home

Unfortunately, there is no shortage of stories about short sale buyers who made a poor decision when trying to score a great deal. First, ensure that all of the necessary research is done on the home, its title and any liens against it. A home inspection is also critical as there may be structural or other issues which led to the decline in value. Finally, be sure to leave enough time for the closing process as it can take longer than with a traditional home purchase.

As you can see, short sales have their pros and cons. If you are the one selling the home, you have likely been forced into a short sale due to your circumstances. If you are the one buying the home, you may be able to swing a great deal on it. Again, due to the circumstances. Regardless, understanding how short sales work is a good idea. To learn more about local real estate short sales, give us a call today and we'll be happy to help.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Near All-Time High in August



Case-Shiller's National Home Price Index rose to a year-over-year home price increase of 6.10 percent as compared to July's reading of 5.90 percent. The 20-City Home Price Index rose to a year-over-year reading of 5.90 percent over July's reading of 5.80 percent.

Home Prices Nearing Their Peak? 

Some cities that previously had high home price increases saw lower paces of growth. San Francisco, California, which reported double-digit home price growth rates in recent years, reported -0.10 percent growth rate month-to-month and a year-over-year home price growth rate of 6.10 percent. Home prices grew at a faster rate in nine cities as compared to year-over-year home price growth rates reported for July 2016 to July 2017.

David M. Blitzer, Operating Manager and Chairman of the S&P Index Committee said, "Price increases appear to be unstoppable, but rapid increases can't continue forever. Measures of affordability are beginning to slide, indicating that the pool of buyers is shrinking."

Factors pressuring home buyers include slim supplies of homes for sale, high competition for homes and affordability as demand increases and supplies of homes for sale decrease First-time and moderate-income buyers face additional challenges including the ability to meet mortgage qualification requirements and increasing amounts required for down payments.

Role of Non-Resident Foreign Buyers Minimal

Non-resident foreign buyers who buy U.S. homes on speculation and leave them vacant may contribute to the high demand for homes as the homes they buy may sit vacant and are removed from the supply of available homes. Such speculative buyers typically pay cash for homes which can sideline mortgage-dependent buyers.

The National Association of Realtors reports that approximately two percent of pre-owned homes are sold to non-resident foreign buyers; this suggests that the impact of such buyers on demand for homes is currently minimal.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

4 Things You Should Never, Ever Say If You Hope to Sell Your Home

4 Things You Should Never, Ever Say If You Hope to Sell Your HomeHave you ever had a conversation with a total stranger where you said something that you regret? If you are placing your house or condo on the market, you're eventually going to end up having to chat with potential buyers. Yes, your real estate agent is likely to do most of the talking. However, you will still have to deal with buyers that want to grill you about the home's history, condition and more.

With that in mind, let's have a look at four things you should never say to someone who is interested in buying your home.

"We're Not Accepting Offers Less Than…"

A good way to kill your sale and have a buyer walk away is to set a price floor on bids and offers. Even if the amount you are asking for is reasonable, many buyers will pass because they are offended that they're being forced to bid above a certain price. Unless otherwise advised by your agent, it is best to let buyers feel in control of the offer process. You can always counter-offer later.

"Our House Has Been On The Market For…"

Stating how long your house has been on the market is rarely a good look. No matter how short or long the listing period has gone on for, buyers don't need to know this. Moreover, if your home has been on the market for months, knowing that may scare potential buyers off.

"We've Always Meant To Renovate That…"

If you were going to fix, improve or even clean something in your home, you probably would have done it before inviting potential buyers in. Your goal is to present the house you do have in the best possible light. Try to avoid pointing out areas that a buyer is going to need to renovate or invest in later.

"We Need To Close The Sale By…"

The last thing you want to do is look desperate to close the sale and move on. Buyers and their agents are going to be looking for signs of weakness which will allow them to submit low-ball offers for your home. If you let on that you have to sell or move by some deadline, you can rest assured that you are not going to get as much when you sell.

There you have it – just four of the things you should not say to potential buyers of your home. For more tips and advice about selling your home, contact our professional real estate team today. We are happy to help.

Monday, October 30, 2017

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - October 30, 2017


Last week's economic news included readings on new and pending home sales and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

New Home Sales Exceed Expectations; No Growth for Pending Sales

September sales of new homes reached a 10-year high with a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 667,000 new homes sold. Analysts said that high demand drove September sales past the expected rate of 555,000 sales and August's reading of 561,000 sales of new homes. September's reading was 19.9 percent higher than for August and was 17 percent higher year-over-year. September's reading was 8.60 percent higher for year-to-date sales of new homes. This news may encourage builders to ramp up new home construction, but the widespread damage caused by hurricanes and fires will account for rebuilding thousands of previously-owned homes in the coming months.

The national average price for a new home was $319,700 as compared to $314,700 year-over-year. Real estate professionals said that it would take five months to sell all new homes currently available.

Pending home sales did not change from August to September. The Commerce Department reported no change from August's reading of – 2.80 percent. Low inventories of pre-owned homes and affordability concerns may have sidelined would-be buyers as competition for available homes and home prices rose.

Regional results for pending sales were mixed. The Northeast region reported 1.20 percent growth in pending home sales, while the Midwest reported 1.40 percent growth and the West topped regional pending sales rates with 1.90 percent growth. The Southern region posted -2.30 percent fewer pending sales; hurricanes likely accounted for fewer contracts signed in September. Year-over-year pending home sales were lower in all regions.

Weekly Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise
Mortgage rates rose across the board last week. Freddie Mac reported that averaged rates for a fixed rate mortgage rose by six basis points for 30-year and 15-year mortgages. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.94 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.25 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose four basis points to 3.21 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims rose to 233,000 claims, which matched expectations and exceed the prior week's reading of 223,000 first time claims, which was a 44-year low. The jump in first-time claims is not due to layoffs as employers report shortages of skilled candidates to fill job openings.

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic news includes readings on Case-Shiller home prices, construction spending and labor sector readings on private and public-sector employment. The national unemployment rate will be released along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Friday, October 27, 2017

It's Hammer Time: 4 Common Remodeling Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

It's Hammer Time: 4 Common Remodeling Mistakes and How to Avoid ThemInvesting in your home by remodeling or renovating is an excellent way to increase its value. However, a significant renovation project can quickly turn into a disaster, especially for those who are inexperienced. Let's take a look at four of the more common home renovation mistakes that homeowners make and how you can avoid them.

Mistake #1: Skipping The Permit Process

The first mistake you will want to avoid is undertaking any home renovation without the required permits. While some remodeling projects will not require a permit, others will. Regardless, it is more than worth taking the time to do your research to ensure you do not run afoul of the law. A visit to the city's website or a quick phone call is all you will need to find out if a permit is required and how much it will cost.

Mistake #2: Being Afraid

A great way to ruin your renovation is to be too afraid to transform the space into whatever best suits your family. Try to avoid being trendy and going with renos that you saw recently on television. Instead, consider how you currently use your kitchen, bathroom or whatever other space you're changing and improve it for the better.

Mistake #3: Using Cheap Materials Or Labor

When it comes to contractors, going cheap is rarely a good idea. You want someone who is going to do the best quality of work at a fair, affordable price. Moreover, since you're investing in that contractor, it is best to also invest in using high-quality materials for the job.

Also, don't be the type that skimps on costs just because something isn't visible. A good example is if your contractor recommends that you install something like a bathroom membrane system. Yes, it's an extra cost that is mostly a preventive measure against mold getting under your tiles. However, it is a small consideration in protecting the more substantial investment you're making in upgrading your home

Mistake #4: Changing Your Mind

As the old saying goes: "measure twice, cut once." Changing your mind in the middle of your renovation is almost certainly going to cost you. Once you commit, try to stick to the plan unless circumstances force you to make a change.

These are just four of the many mistakes that can be made by an inexperienced home renovator. If you're thinking about a major remodel, contact us first. Our real estate team can share which renovations have added value and equity to other local homes.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

You Ask, We Answer: Should I Build a New Custom Home or Buy an Existing One?

You Ask, We Answer: Should I Build a New Home or Buy an Existing One?Are you looking to buy a new house in the near future? If so, one of the choices you will face is constructing your own brand-new home or buying an existing home. The idea of building a new house on the right piece of land might sound enticing, but what if you could have a larger, more luxurious existing home in the same neighborhood for a much lower cost?

As you might imagine, there are pros and cons to each kind of home. In today's blog post we will explore whether you should build a new home or buy an existing one.

Building Your Ultimate Dream Home

Let's get the obvious out of the way first. If you can afford the combined cost of the land, the house and all of the furnishings, then building a new home is an amazing experience. It is the chance to completely customize everything about your home, right down to having your family put their handprints in the foundation. You will be able to design the garage, media room, bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen and everything else exactly the way you want it. The house will truly feel "yours," as it's built in your vision.

Aside from the higher cost, there are other potential downsides to building a new home. Between permits, booking contractors, wrapping up all of the necessary paperwork and construction time, building a new home can be stressful. It can also take much longer than buying an existing home outright.

Well-Kept Existing Homes Have Lots Of Upside

Buying an existing home has its upsides as well. It's almost certainly going to be a much faster process than trying to build your own home from scratch. As long as you can find suitable listings, you can typically purchase and move into an existing home within a few weeks. You can also customize it to your liking, although not to the extent that you would with brand-new construction. It's also likely to be less expensive, although that depends on a variety of factors including the city you're buying in, the real estate market, the size of the home and more.

In the end, the choice comes down to budget, timing and personal preference. However, whether you decide to build new or you are okay with a lovely home that already exists, our professional real estate team is here to help. Contact us at your convenience and we'll be happy to share local home and land listings that suit your needs and budget. We look forward to meeting you.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Learning to Love Technology: 3 Tips That Will Help You to Embrace Home Automation

Learning to Love Technology: 3 Tips That Will Help You to Embrace Home AutomationAre you still using a key to unlock your door and twisting a dial on the wall to set the temperature? Home automation technology has made considerable strides in the past couple of years so it might be time to invest. In today's blog post we will explore three tips that can help those looking to make the leap into a fully automated home.

Tip #1: Start With Home Security And Go From There

Installing a modern home security system is the perfect place to start with home automation. Does your home already have an alarm? If so, it's likely to be one of the older "set it and forget it" models. You punch in a four-digit code when you leave the house to arm the alarm, and if someone decides to break in while you're gone the alarm trips and notifies the security company. Sound familiar?

The good news is that there are far better and more high-tech options on the market today. You can install cameras that connect directly to your phone, so you can see what's happening inside of your house. You can automate turning the lights on or off, as well as deciding what panic options you need in case a burglar shows up.

Tip #2: Consider Using A Central Hub

If you're not as technologically-inclined as some, then you may want to consider using a central hub to help control all of the other automated pieces in your home. Amazon's Alexa is a popular option, as are Mi Casa Verde and SmartThings. The idea is that you can use one single device to control everything else, rather than trying to figure out a myriad of apps and settings.

Don't forget that once you lock into using a central hub, you will need to make sure that any new pieces of tech you invest in are supported.

Tip #3: If It's Easy To Use, You'll Use It Regularly

Finally, be sure to test things out before you decide to buy. If a piece of home automation tech is hard to use, you're unlikely to stick with it over the long term. Ideally, setting up and using the device should be no harder than using your mobile phone.

Getting started with home automation is as simple as following the three tips above. When you're ready to look at high-tech, automated homes in the local area, contact us. Our professional real estate team is happy to show you around.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Quick-and-Easy Guide to Getting Started With House Flipping

The Quick-and-Easy Guide to Getting Started With House FlippingInvesting in real estate is one of the oldest means of building and storing wealth. However, it is only just recently that "flipping" of houses – buying at a low price, renovating and selling at a higher price – became popular. For many, house flipping has become a full-time career and their primary source of income.

So, are you interested in learning what it takes to become a successful house flipper? Read on to learn more about this fun and exciting way to invest in real estate.

Research Local Regulations And Legal Requirement

The first thing you'll want to do is start researching the local regulations and requirements for house flippers. You can either go online and read through the laws or call up an experienced real estate agent and ask them. Either way, you need to know the rules of the game you're about to enter

Gathering The Resources You'll Need

Next, you'll want to gather your resources – both financial and human. You will, of course, need to have some cash set aside for a down payment, or for buying houses outright. At minimum, you will also need a real estate agent, a mortgage professional and a real estate attorney. You may also need contractors to help you with renovations unless you have the skills and experience necessary for this

How To Assess Potential Investment Properties

Successful house flippers develop an eye for undervalued properties. Your goal is to find a home that is listed low but has a lot of room for improvement. The fundamentals of the property, its location, the size of the land, the home's foundation, etc. – should be good.

You will also want to get good at sourcing out homeowners that are willing to sell but haven't listed their home yet. If you can secure a private sale, you're going to save money and avoid having to bid against other flippers.

Making Your First Flip

You've built your team, learned the rules and have started to hunt for listings. Now, you need to decide and make your move. As foreclosure rates have trended down recently, it can be hard to find the perfect opportunity. However, as this is your first flip, your goals should be centered on learning the flipping process without losing any money. Keep an open mind and don't worry about trying to score big. Instead, buy the right home, renovate to add value and relist quickly so you can move on.

When you're ready to start your search for flip-ready properties, we're here to help. Contact your local real estate professional and we'll share a variety of local home listings that will be able to provide a healthy return.

Monday, October 23, 2017

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - October 23, 2017

Last week's economic reports included NAHB Housing Market Indexes along with readings on housing starts, building permits and existing home sales. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

NAHB: Builder Sentiment Jumps in September, Housing Starts and Building Permits Fall

The National Association of Home Builders reported a four-point increase in its Home Price Index for October. Builders surveyed reported higher confidence in overall market conditions, which resulted in a reading of 68. Analysts had expected no change in the September reading of 64. Natural disasters have raised builder opportunities for new projects, but the industry continues to be swamped with labor shortages and rising materials costs.

While stronger builder confidence is expected to impact housing starts and building permits issued, both reports had lower readings in September. Housing starts were calculated at 1.215 million starts on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. An expected reading of 1.170 million housing start was based on August's reading of 1.183 million starts. Single-family housing starts were lower than for August but were 9.10 percent higher year-over-year.

Building permits issued fell in September; 1.215 million permits were issued on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis as compared to 1.272 million permits issued in August. Higher readings for building permits are expected in the aftermath of recent hurricanes and wildfires, but increased starts and permits will include replacing damaged structures as well as building new developments.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, Existing Home Sales Rise

Fixed mortgage rates were lower after the 10-year Treasury rate fell six basis points. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was three basis points lower at 3.88 percent the average rate for a 15-year mortgage dropped by two basis points to 3.19 percent. Rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 3.17 percent, an increase of one basis point. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Sales of existing homes rose in September according to the National Association of Realtors®. Previously-owned homes sold at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.39 million sales. Which surpassed August's reading of 5.35 million sales and expected sales of 5.30 million previously-owned homes. Any increase in sales is a welcome sign that the severe shortage of homes for sale may be easing. It's too early to know how hurricanes and fires will affect housing markets and it will take months to rebuild all homes destroyed.

Weekly jobless claims fell to 222,000 and were lower than the expected 244,000 new claims and the prior week's reading of 244,000 new jobless claims filed. Fewer jobless claims suggest that jobs markets continue to expand and may help renters decide to buy homes.

What's Ahead

Next week's economic readings include reports on new and pending home sales and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Selling Your House? 3 Strange Questions That Potential Buyers Might Ask and How to Answer Them

Selling Your House? 3 Strange Questions That Potential Buyers Might Ask and How to Answer ThemAre you listing your home for sale now, or in the near future? If so, you have probably come to terms with the fact that soon you'll be having strangers tour through your home asking all kinds of questions about it. In today's blog post we'll take a look at three strange questions that buyers might ask and how to approach answering them.

"Has Anyone Died In This House Or Is It Haunted?

You might have chuckled when you read that, but questions about paranormal activity are more common than you think. Many people have beliefs and superstitions about ghosts, ghouls, demons and other spirits that haunt homes. Learning that someone has died in your house – even if it was long before you owned the place – is enough for some potential buyers to pass and move on to the next listing

"Is Anything Buried In The Backyard?"

Have you ever owned a pet that has grown old or otherwise perished? Think back to that experience and ask yourself: where did you bury them? Many families bury deceased pets in their backyard, thinking that it is a good final resting place. And that may be true if you own the house for the rest of your life. However, if you decide to sell, then you have passed on a backyard that has a corpse resting in it. That can end up as a startling surprise for the next family to live there, especially if they have a dog that enjoys digging up the turf.

"Have There Been Any Infestations?"

Asking about pest problems is a bit less on the weird side of things, but it is one question that is almost certain to come up. Visitors will want to know if your home has experienced mice, rats, termites, ants, cockroaches and a variety of other plagues. Some of these will make sense for your home or the area you live – termites in a wood-framed house, for example – while others will make no sense at all.

Rest assured that the above are just a handful of the many bizarre and strange questions you might get while showing your house to potential buyers. If you do encounter something that seems a bit funny, aim to be polite and answer thoughtfully. When you are ready to list your home for sale, or for more tips and real estate advice, contact us. Our professional real estate team is here to answer any questions you have.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Worried That Your Past Student Loan Debt Might Delay Buying a Home? Here's What to Do


Worried That Your Past Student Loan Debt Might Delay Buying a Home? Here's What to DoWhether you are just about to graduate college or you have been out of school for a few years, there's a good chance you're carrying some amount of student loan debt. It seems that news headlines are regularly pointing out that the nation's graduates are suffering from the stress of student debt. Moreover, that pressure can be even worse for those who are looking to buy a home and start putting some roots down in the local community.

Are you worried that past student loan debt will affect your chances of buying a home? Let's run through a few tips that can help put your debt worries at ease.

Start A Budget And Embrace Using It

The first and most important step anyone with debt can take is to commit to a monthly budget. Managing your debts means living within your means. In turn, that requires careful examination of your income and expenses to ensure your debts are being paid down.

Also, in most cases, interest is being charged on outstanding student loan debt which makes it a high priority for repayment. The faster you can pay your student loan debt off, the less interest you will pay on top of it.

Check In With An Expert Advisor

If all of this seems confusing, you're not alone. The good news is that there are expert debt and financial advisors that can help you to make sense of it all. They will help you to understand exactly where your money is going each month and what kind of financial discipline you'll need to clear the path to home ownership. Many are provided by local or state governments at no cost, so be sure to check out your local options.

Reach Out To Friends And Family

Don't forget that friends, colleagues and family members can be a great source of advice and support. Close family members may also be willing to lend a hand financially to get you out of renting and into your own home. Also, be sure to check in with former college classmates who have gone on to buy homes in the area. They'll be a great source of information.

While past student loan and other debts can crimp one's finances, they are no reason to put off home ownership indefinitely. For more information and to view affordable starter home options in the area, contact your local real estate professionals.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Home Builder Sentiment Highest in Five Months



Component readings used for calculating Housing Market Index readings also rose in October. Builder sentiment for current market conditions gained five points for a reading of 75. The index reading for builder perception of market conditions in the next six months also rose five points to an October reading of 78.

Builder sentiment for home buyer traffic in new home developments rose one point to 48. Buyer traffic readings seldom exceed a Home Builder Index reading of 50.

NAHB Chairman Granger Mc Donald said builders were recovering from the initial shock of damage caused by hurricanes, but this was prior to numerous wildfires adding to demand for contractors and home builders.

National Disasters Add to Ongoing Materials and Labor Shortages

Factors contributing to stronger builder sentiment included an industry concentration of building homes for purchase instead of multifamily rental projects. Single-family homes have been in short supply in recent years and building more homes is the only remedy for a market skewed in favor of sellers and rapidly rising home prices fueled by high buyer demand and few choices available to buyers.

Recent hurricane damage is likely to raise materials prices and worsen labor shortages; Widespread damage caused by wildfires in California is expected to increase demand for contractors and skilled laborers as they work to repair and rebuild homes and buildings ruined in storms and fires.

Regional Readings Mixed

Three-month rolling averages of builder sentiment for regions tracked by NAHB were mixed. In the Northeast, builder sentiment rose one point to 50. The South gained two points for a reading of 68. The reading for builder sentiment in the South was unchanged at 63; the reading for the West was also unchanged at 77.

Winter weather and challenges caused by higher demand for services against rising materials costs and ongoing labor shortages can be expected to challenge builders, but the need for new housing caused by multiple national disasters will likely create many new jobs for builders.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Let's Talk Closets: Why a Walk-in Closet Is a Must Have for Any New Home Buyer

Let's Talk Closets: Why a Walk-in Closet Is a Must Have for Any New Home BuyerAre you in the market for a new house or condo? Whether you're looking for something luxurious or intimate, you'll want to ensure that you have enough space for all of life's necessities. Many home buyers focus on bedrooms, bathrooms and living areas as their top priorities. But have you given any thought to your closet space?

In today's blog post we'll explore why a spacious walk-in closet should be high on your list of "must-haves" for your new home.

Enough Storage For A Stylish Couple

An upgrade in storage space is the main reason to have a large walk-in closet – and for good reason. Today's working professional needs a large wardrobe to store suits, work outfits, social attire, shoes, accessories and more. It's almost impossible to cram everything needed in a small closet with one large hanging rack and a shelf or two. And even if you do decide to fill a smaller closet until it's bursting at the seams, you're stuck with having to try to organize it regularly just to be able to find anything. Forget it!

A Showcase For Clothes, Shoes And Accessories

A walk-in closet isn't just for piling a ton of clothes into. It's a showcase for your wardrobe and all of the items in it. Most walk-in closets are designed with numerous shelves, racks and other display areas. Take advantage of these to show off the best pieces in your collection. For example, are you particularly proud of that oxblood leather bag that you found while traveling Europe? Or the hat that you wore to last year's Kentucky Derby? Your walk-in closet is the right place to show it off.

Room For Elegant Touches Like A Dressing Island

Finally, if you have enough space in your walk-in closet, you'll be able to add some elegant touches. A dressing island with built-in shelves is the perfect feature for storing accessories and shoes. You can also add matching jewelry boxes on top to store frequently-used items. An ottoman is another elegant touch that can help make your walk-in closet feel more roomy and comfortable. And don't forget to include a couple of mirrors for checking your look from multiple angles before you leave the house.

These are just a few of the (many!) reasons why a walk-in closet is an absolute must-have for any new home. When you're ready to explore local real estate opportunities – including those with incredible walk-in closets – contact us. Our professional team is happy to assist you.

Monday, October 16, 2017

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - October 16, 2017

Last week's economic reports included minutes of the Fed's Federal Open Market Committee meeting held in September along with releases on inflation and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

FOMC Meeting Minutes Indicate December Rate Hike is No Sure Thing

According to minutes for the September 19 and 20 meeting of the Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee, the Fed has adopted a wait-and-see posture concerning a possible rate hike at December's meeting. Although analysts previously indicated that additional rate hikes were expected by the end of 2017, the Fed chose not to raise the federal funds rate in September.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma Impact Industrial Production

Hurricane damage was expected to slow industrial production in the short term. The impact of hurricane damage in Texas and Florida are expected to be short term, but the full impact of the two hurricanes had not been fully assessed at the time of the FOMC meeting.

Labor and real GDP readings rose, but the year-over-year reading for inflation was lower than the two percent inflation rate set by the Fed as a positive economic indicator. The Fed's dual mandate also includes achieving maximum employment as measured by the national unemployment rate. The Fed originally set a goal of 6.50 percent unemployment in the immediate aftermath of the recession, but the national unemployment rate has exceeded expectations and currently hovers near 4.30 percent. Strong labor markets help propel renters into housing markets as they have more confidence in maintaining long-term employment.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims

Mortgage rates rose last week. Freddie Mac reported an average rate of 3.91 percent, which was six basis points higher than for the previous week. Rates for a fifteen-year fixed rate mortgage also rose by six basis points to 3.21 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dipped two basis points to 3.16 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rates and 0.40 percent for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage.

New jobless claims fell to 243,000 as compared to expectations of 258,000 claims and the prior week's reading of 260,000 first-time jobless claims filed.

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic readings include the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new unemployment claims will also be released.

Friday, October 13, 2017

4 Home Staging Ideas That Are Heavy on the "Wow" Factor but Light on the Wallet


4 Home Staging Ideas That Are Heavy on the Staging is one of the most important aspects of any home sale. The more attractive your home is to potential buyers, the faster you can finalize the sale and move on. With that in mind, let's explore four home staging ideas that won't cost a fortune but are sure to impress your buyers.

#1: Clean The Place Until It Shines

The first and most obvious option is not going to cost much more than your time. Your home needs to be absolutely, positively spotless. The floors should be so clean that you would have no issue with eating off of them. The walls should be clean and free of marks. Windows and mirrors buffed to a sparkling shine. If there's dirt to be found, rest assured that potential buyers will see it!

#2: Buy New Slip Covers And Sheet Sets

If your furniture is starting to look a little dated, you can spruce it up by investing in new slipcovers. These can be color matched to the rest of the room's palette so that your furniture fits in. It is also a great idea to ensure that you have new-looking, matching sheet sets on all of the beds. The bedrooms don't need to look like hotel rooms, but they do need to look good.

#3: Invest In Better Lighting For Important Rooms

When was the last time you replaced the bulbs in your fixtures and lamps? If you are still using dull older incandescent bulbs, it's time to invest in newer LED or compact fluorescent lighting. It is best to try to match the color temperature of the bulbs to the rest of the room so that the room's color and 'feel' don't clash with the lighting. If this is a bit above your head, consider having a lighting expert come in to help light the important, high-traffic areas.

#4: Use Plants To Add A Bit Of Warmth And Life

Finally, if your home is lacking a bit of plant life, it might be time to take a quick trip to the local nursery. Adding one or two plants to your common areas adds a touch of life and even helps to keep the air fresh. If you prefer a pop of color, you can always add a flowering plant that's currently in bloom.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Buying an Older Home? Watch Out for These 3 Key Flaws That Could Spell Trouble


Buying an Older Home? Watch Out for These 3 Key Flaws That Could Spell TroubleAre you a fan of homes with a bit more character than newer, modern designs? Whether in pristine condition or more of a "fixer upper," older homes are incredibly popular in cities across the country. However, there are some key factors to consider if you're thinking about buying a home built decades ago before modern standards were enforced.

Let's take a look at three key design issues that you will need to be aware of if you're thinking about buying an older house.

Old Electrical Designs Can Be A Significant Fire Hazard

No matter when a home was built, it's almost guaranteed to have electrical wiring running through walls to supply rooms with lighting and power outlets. However, if the wiring was run in decades past it may be with older cords that are less able to withstand a modern workload. A quick check of the circuit-breaker panel or fuse box and the wires leading from it can give an idea just how old the wiring is. As older designs can be a fire hazard, you will want to ensure the wiring is up to date.

Poor Plumbing Design Can Lead To Rot Or Worse

Plumbing can also be an issue in older houses – especially those in states that experience a cold winter. Water pipes tend to expand and contract due to temperature, which can lead to stress and leaks over time. Moreover, even though older pipes are typically made of metal, they can still wear out. The last thing you need is to wake up to a flooded basement, so be sure to have the plumbing professionally inspected.

Is The Roof And Insulation Strong Enough?

While the roof might look solid from the outside, it may not be as well put together on the inside. Even the smallest of holes or leaks in roof membrane can wreak havoc on the structural integrity of the roof. It's worth spending some time in the attic to inspect the inside of the roof, the condition of the insulation and how well the entire structure is holding up.

While the above list might sound a bit scary, it isn't meant to turn you away from buying an older character home. If you're diligent in checking out the home's history and invest in a professional inspection, you'll stay safe. When you're ready to explore character home options in the local area, contact our local real estate professional.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

How to Use a Mortgage to Buy a Home After Going Through a Bankruptcy


How to Use a Mortgage to Buy a Home After Going Through a BankruptcyWhile it is sometimes the best option to get your finances repaired, the bankruptcy and following discharge period can be tough. However, while it may delay things for a couple of years, the good news is that even a bankruptcy won't stop you from borrowing a mortgage to buy a home. In today's article, we will share some insight into how you can get a mortgage loan after going through bankruptcy.

Step 1: Get A Professional Credit Assessment

Once your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy has been discharged, you will be required to wait for at least two years before you're able to take out a mortgage. During this time, it is a good idea to sit down with a credit professional and get an assessment. Individuals and families with a bankruptcy on their credit file are going to go through a bit of extra scrutiny when taking out future loans. So spend a bit of time working on cleaning up your credit.

Step 2: Figure Out Your Monthly Budget

As you move closer to buying a home, you will want to start living off of a monthly budget. This will help to ensure that you are always prepared for your monthly mortgage payments and aren't left short of cash when payment time comes. A budget can be as simple as a spreadsheet listing your monthly sources of income and expenses. Alternatively, you can use iPhone or Android apps which help to make budget tracking easier.

Step 3: Get Your Down Payment Saved Up

You will also need to start saving for the down payment that you'll place on your home. The amount that you will need depends on a variety of factors including the city you're buying in, the size of the home and much more. If you're unsure about this, contact us and we'll share some insight.

Step 4: Maintain Your Spending Discipline Until It's Buying Time

Finally, it's worth noting that you will need to be very disciplined in the period between your bankruptcy discharge and your mortgage

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Buying a New Home? Here's Why Mortgage Pre-Approval Should Be Your First Step

Buying a New Home? Here's Why Mortgage Pre-Approval Should Be Your First StepAre you thinking about buying a new house, condo or apartment? Whether you are upgrading, downsizing or investing, if you intend on borrowing the funds you'll need to be pre-approved for a mortgage. In today's blog post we'll explore mortgage pre-approval and why this should be one of your first steps in buying a new home.

Pre-Approval Helps To Determine Your Budget

Do you know your budget? Mortgage lenders consider many factors when deciding how much they are willing to lend to a home buyer. While your employment status, salary, assets and credit rating are important, they are all pieces of a larger puzzle that help a lender to determine your risk. So regardless of how spotless your credit rating might be, you'll want to get pre-approved for a mortgage before trying to figure out your total purchase budget.

The size of your down payment will also be a factor in determining your overall budget. If you still have a bit of time before you're ready to buy a home, continue to put money aside for your down payment. The more you have, the less you'll need to borrow.

Once Pre-Approved You Are Ready To Make An Offer

Once you're pre-approved for your mortgage, you're ready to submit an offer for the home. Note that you do not need to bid high just because you are approved for a large mortgage. Work with your real estate agent to determine the right asking price for the home. Submitting a bid that's a bit lower than you're willing to pay leaves you with a bit of room in case the seller makes a counteroffer.

Many Sellers Will Demand Pre-Approval

Finally, don't forget that many sellers will require that you are pre-approved for mortgage financing before they'll accept a bid or offer. Many listings end up receiving multiple offers, especially those in hot real estate markets or popular communities. So if you table an offer without pre-approval, you may find that it is rejected in favor of another buyer who is ready to go.

Once you've been pre-qualified for mortgage financing, pre-approval is the final step in the process before you're ready to make an offer and purchase your new dream home. For more information about the home buying process and to view some amazing listings in the local area, contact us today.