Friday, September 22, 2017

Understanding the Differences Between 'Prequalified' And 'Preapproved' For a Mortgage


Understanding the Differences Between 'Prequalified' And 'Preapproved' For a MortgageAre you in the market for a new home? If you are going to rely on mortgage financing to cover some of the purchase cost, you will need to start the application process as soon as possible. However, what if you just need to know how much you will be able to borrow so you can start finding homes in your price range?

Let's take a quick look at the difference between being 'prequalified' and 'preapproved' for mortgage financing.

The Process Starts With Prequalification

The first step in obtaining mortgage financing is to speak with a mortgage professional to get prequalified. After sharing some quick information about your financial assets, income, and any debts, your advisor will share a range of financing options and amounts that you may qualify for. Prequalification is typically done free of charge and either in person or over the phone.

Note that your mortgage lender will not be doing any digging in the prequalification stage. There's no credit check and no hard look at your assets. Don't get too excited if you are prequalified for a large mortgage as you will still need to be approved.

Once You Are Preapproved, You Are All Set

Preapproval, on the other hand, is a firm commitment to access to a certain level of mortgage financing. Your mortgage lender will require a variety of information to get an idea of your financial situation, your current and future employment, your level of risk and more. Once they have a good idea of how much mortgage you can afford, you will be provided with a conditional commitment letter. This letter outlines how much the lender is willing to offer to you as well as other vital information like your mortgage loan interest rate.

Speed Up The Process By Preparing Beforehand

Finally, it is worth a mention that you can speed up the mortgage process by having all of your application paperwork ready before the initial meeting. Gather up your most recent income tax returns, pay stubs and bank statements. If you have investments or other financial assets, document those. You will also want to be up front about any outstanding debts that you are paying off. The more prepared you are, the faster the application and pre-approval process will go.

Have you found the home of your dreams? Contact your local real estate professional to get started.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Quick and Easy Guide to Finding the Best Real Estate Agent to Sell Your Home


The Quick and Easy Guide to Finding the Best Real Estate Agent to Sell Your HomeIs it time to move on from your house, townhouse or condo? If a sale is in your near future, you will want to start looking for a professional selling agent or broker to help manage the process. Let's take a look at our quick and easy guide to finding the best real estate agent to handle your home sale.

Check Your Social Network

The easiest place to start is your social network, as almost everyone knows a great real estate agent. Get a post up on Facebook sharing that you are about to sell your home and you're looking for the very best agent to help you sell it. Maybe an old high school acquaintance or college friend is now in the real estate business and can help.

Ask Your Friends And Family For Referrals

If you aren't close with a trustworthy real estate agent, the next best people to ask are your local friends and family. It is unlikely that you're going to get a bad referral from your best friend, brother or aunt. Send out a few text messages and make a few calls to let the family know that you're hunting for a great real estate agent. Soon enough, you'll have some recommendations.

Check Their Designations And Specialties

You might not know this, but real estate agents have specialties and designations available to certify in. Aside from becoming a REALTOR®, your agent may be a Certified Residential Specialist, an Accredited Buyer's Representative, a Seniors Real Estate Specialist and more.

Be Sure To Read Reviews And Talk To Past Clients

When you've made a short list of your final choices for a selling agent, it's time to check on their recent work. Ask the agent for a list of houses or other properties that they've sold recently. If possible, you'll also want to socialize with some of their past clients to see what the agent is like. You'll be working closely together for at least a couple of weeks, so it's important that you choose a real estate professional that you're comfortable with.

Selling your home is not a painful process, but it's one where you'll want to have the best agent working to protect your interests. If you're thinking about making a move, contact your local real estate professional.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

NAHB: Builder Confidence Dips on Hurricane Damage


Home builders had less confidence in housing market conditions in September. In the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, builders worried that ongoing shortages of construction labor and materials would worsen.  NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald said that concerns over labor and building materials were "intensified," but said that builder confidence was expected to return to high readings once rebuilding is underway.

The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index dropped three points to an index reading of 64 with all three component readings lower than they were in August. Builder confidence in current market conditions for new single-family homes dipped for points to an index reading of 70. Builder confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months also dropped points to 74. September's reading for buyer traffic in new housing developments was one point lower at 47.

Construction Labor and Materials Shortages Expected to Worsen

Home builders have cited shortages of labor and building materials in recent years, but these shortages are expected to grow in coming months due to massive amounts of construction workers needed for rebuilding after severe storm damage and flooding wiped out homes, businesses, and infrastructure. As with the high demand for homes caused by low inventories of homes for sale, labor and materials costs will likely rise as rebuilding begins

The NAHB Housing Market Index measures builder confidence on a scale of 0 to 100. Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders than fewer consider housing market conditions to be in positive territory. While September readings are well within positive territory, approaching winter weather and shortages may cause builder confidence in housing market conditions to decrease.

Regional Builder Confidence Readings Mixed

Three-month rolling average readings for four regions tracked by NAHB had missed results in September. The Northeast posted a one-point gain to 49; the Midwest posted a loss of three points for a reading of 63 and the Southern region posted a one-point loss for a reading of 66. The West posted a two-point gain for a reading of 77.

Future builder confidence readings depend on conditions as storm season continues and winter weather sets in.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Upgrading Your Home? 5 Great Reasons to Make the Switch to Hardwood Floors


Upgrading Your Home? 5 Great Reasons to Make the Switch to Hardwood FloorsAre you tired of scouring the internet, trying to find the secret recipe for whatever will take stains out of your carpet? And the irritating annual steam cleaning ritual where your whole home is soaking wet for a couple of days? Ugh. If your old carpet has you down, it might be time for a change. In today's blog post we'll share five great reasons why you'll want to make the switch from carpet to hardwood floors.

Your Home Will Look Amazing

Let's face it. Unless you have a serious appreciation for all things shag, hardwood floors look much better than carpet. Available in a variety of colors and grains, hardwoods add a natural element to any room. They give off a much warmer appeal than carpet as well, especially when polished.

They're Much Easier To Keep Clean

Spill on the floor? No problem. Pet has an accident? Rest easy. Hardwood flooring is far easier to keep clean than any form of carpeting. Your floor won't absorb liquids and solids won't leave a mess.

They're A Great Equity-Building Investment

Hardwood floors are an excellent investment in your home. Some studies show that up to 75 percent of the cost will be returned when the house is sold, which puts hardwoods high on the list of equity-building renovations. Also, many home buyers are specifically looking for houses with hardwood flooring. So when you do choose to sell, your home may sell that much faster.

They Last Longer Than Carpets

The next time you are over at a friend's house, take a look at their floors. Many homes have hardwood flooring that has been around for decades, requiring only the occasional refinishing to restore its former shine. Hardwoods last much longer than carpets and won't require a full "rip and replace."

Your Allergies Will Thank You

Finally, if you or any of your family members suffer from allergies, hardwood floors may be the answer. Carpets collect dust, which can lead to the formation of dust mites and other allergens. And while you can vacuum them regularly, only the very best vacuums have enough suction to get deep into the carpet fiber to remove this gunk.

These are just five of the many good reasons to invest in hardwood flooring for your home. When you're ready to sell, or if you're in the market for a great new home, contact your local real estate professional. We will be happy to show you some great local opportunities.

Monday, September 18, 2017

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - September 18, 2017


Last week's economic readings release included reports on inflation, core inflation retail sales and retail sales excluding autos. Consumer sentiment, along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also reported.

Inflation Exceeds Expectations, Retail Sales Lag

Consumer prices rose 0.40 percent in August, which surpassed expectations of 0.30 percent growth and July's reading of 0.10 percent. Core consumer prices, which exclude volatile food and energy sectors, matched expectations with a reading of 0.20 percent growth and exceeded July's growth of 0.10 percent.

August retail sales fell to -0.20 percent against expectations of no change from July's reading of 0.30 percent.

Retail sales excluding auto sales grew by 0.20 percent, which was lower than expected growth of 0.40 percent, which was based on July's growth rate of 0.40 percent.

Mortgage Rates Hold Steady, Weekly Jobless Claims Dip

Freddie Mac reported no change for averaged fixed mortgage rates; the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was unchanged at 3.78 percent. Rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.08 percent and was also unchanged from last week's reading. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by two basis points to 3.13 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. The readings for fixed rate mortgages were the lowest in 2017, and provided an ongoing incentive for home shoppers who continued to face high home prices and slim inventories of homes for sale.

New jobless claims were lower at 284,000 new claims filed than last week and were also lower than the expected reading of 300,000 first-time jobless claims The prior week's reading reported 297,000 first-time jobless claims.

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic reports include readings on home builder sentiment, existing home sales, housing starts and building permits issued. The Fed's Federal Open Market Committee will issue its post-meeting statement and Fed Chair Janet Yellen will give a press conference. Weekly readings for mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Friday, September 15, 2017

You Ask, We Answer: What Are the Fees and Costs That Come Along With a Mortgage?


You Ask, We Answer: What Are the Fees and Costs That Come Along With a Mortgage?Have you been considering a mortgage for your next home purchase? As with any loan or financial product, there are a variety of fees and costs you may incur in the process of closing your mortgage. In today's post, we'll explore a few of these potential fees and the situations in which you may encounter them. Let's get started!

Title Insurance Costs

You're almost certainly going to incur insurance fees and charges. In most cases, you'll need to pay for title insurance for the lender, which is based on the purchase price of the home but varies from state to state. This protects the lender if something is missed during the title search, which shows whether or not there are any liens on the property.

Mortgage Underwriting Fees

Depending on the lender, you may or may not be assessed an underwriting fee. When you apply for a mortgage, there's an intense amount of research required to determine the types of mortgage products that you qualify for and the amount of financing you can afford. This fee covers the costs involved in conducting this research. This may also be referred to as the 'origination fee' or included within it.

The Closing Fee

As mentioned above, there are title costs associated with finalizing your home purchase. As the name suggests, the closing fee covers the cost of having a representative from the title company present at the final 'closing' of the deal. This professional supervises the formal legal transfer of the home from the previous owner to you.

Legal And Attorney's Fees

Speaking of legal, in most states you will require an attorney for some part of the closing process. This may or may not be related to the mortgage financing itself. For example, in some states, you will need to have an attorney present when you finalize the mortgage paperwork. In others, you'll only need them for other parts of the purchase transaction.

Other Miscellaneous Costs

Finally, there are a handful of less common fees and costs that you might incur. These range from courier fees to get documents moved around the city to bank and wire fees to transfer your down payment.

While the list above may look like a lot, in the grand scheme of your total mortgage cost you won't even notice most of these fees. For more information about the mortgage process, contact your local real estate professional today. We're happy to help.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Selling Your Home? Here's 3 Reasons Why You Won't Want to Handle the Sale Yourself


Selling Your Home? Here's 3 Reasons Why You Won't Want to Handle the Sale YourselfAre you thinking about selling your home? If so, you may be weighing the pros and cons of working with a professional real estate agent. Let's take a quick look at three great reasons why you won't want to handle the sale yourself.

You Won't Save As Much As You Think

Let's start with the most common and obvious reason that homeowners try to handle their home sale: the cost. It's true that selling your home using the services of a real estate professional isn't going to be free. Depending on the value of your home, their commission might range from two to four or five percent of the final sale price. However, the entire reason you're paying commission is that you're contracting with a professional to do a job. Your real estate agent is there to both share their experience and handle all of the tasks and responsibilities with your sale. Without them, you'll be responsible for everything from creating an online listing for your property to figuring out how to host an open house.

So while you may believe you are saving money by not paying commission, you're going to be burning a lot of your time. If you're already busy in your career or as a parent, that may end up costing you more in the long run.

A Professional And Objective Eye Is A Huge Plus

Objectivity is another great reason to work with a real estate professional when selling your home. If you had to answer right now, would you say your home is better than your neighbor's? Better than all the houses on your street, even? The majority of home sellers do believe their home is "above average," which is of course statistically impossible.

When someone has been the one painting, renovating and putting love into her home for so long, it is no surprise that she becomes attached to it. A real estate agent's objective eye can offer a nice dose of reality and help to keep the sale moving.

Many Buyers Will Automatically Avoid Owner Sales

Are you a professional salesperson? If not, do you have experience dealing with the public? Selling your home is a significant financial transaction in which you're going to have to meet with buyers. Moreover, from their perspective, it's likely that your home is not the only one they're viewing. Many homebuyers will prefer to work with a seller agent as they know the process will be smooth and professional rather than trying to negotiate directly with an owner.

These are just a few of the reasons you won't want to go it alone when you sell your home. For more information about local home sales, contact your local real estate professional today.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

3 Useful Tips for First-time Homebuyers Trying to Navigate the System

3 Useful Tips for First-time Homebuyers Trying to Navigate the SystemWhether you're tired of renting, need more space or want to make an upgrade, buying your first home is the solution. However, if you have never participated in the market before it can be a bit daunting at first. Let's explore a few useful tips that are helpful for first-time homebuyers who are new to the process of buying real estate.

Tip #1: Begin With The End In Mind

Before you start exploring local home listings and shopping around, it's worth asking yourself both what you 'need' in a home and what you 'want' in a home. For example, are you single or married? If you are married or are likely to be in the near future, are you planning on having a family? Will you need space for pets? What area of the city is most convenient for your commute? And so on. If you start by knowing exactly what you need, it will be that much easier to narrow down your options.

Tip #2: The Market Determines The Value Of A House

The second tip to keep in mind is that your local real estate market is what determines how much a home is worth. What you can afford has nothing to do with a home's value, nor does your opinion of its current condition. In some cities, homes will sell with the intention of being torn down after the purchase completes.

Tip #3: Go Low, Start Slow

Finally, when you're ready to make an offer, it should be one that is as low as possible without insulting the homeowner. Buying a house is not like buying groceries or clothing. The price isn't fixed and is certainly going to be open to negotiation. Conversely, you shouldn't be surprised if and when the seller makes a counteroffer against yours. The more you're prepared for a lengthy back-and-forth to hammer out a final price, the more likely you are to be successful.

When you're ready to buy your first home, contact your trusted real estate professional and we'll be happy to help.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Ready to Buy Your First Home? Don't Forget to Check Your Credit Score - Here's Why


Ready to Buy Your First Home? Don't Forget to Check Your Credit Score – Here's WhyWhether you're just out of college, recently married or simply haven't jumped into the market yet, buying your first home is an exciting prospect. It can also be an expensive one, which is why most people will take out a mortgage to help finance the cost.

If you are planning on engaging with a mortgage lender, you'll need to have your finances in order. In today's post, we'll share a few key reasons why you'll want to check your credit score well in advance of buying your first home.

Your Credit Score Is A Signal For Lenders

As you know, mortgage lenders have a responsibility to lend to those individuals and families who are at a low risk of default. So when a mortgage lender starts to dig into your financial background, they are looking at your credit history and credit score to help them assess that risk.

Note that having a low score doesn't necessarily mean you have bad credit. If you're still in your 20s and have only had a credit card, your score might be low even though you are fully capable of managing a mortgage.

Your Score Impacts Your Mortgage Interest Rate

As mentioned above, your credit score helps to signify your risk. If your credit score is in a lower range, perhaps a 640 or 660, you're presenting a greater risk than someone with a score of 760 or 800. Because of this, the interest rate that you pay on your mortgage will in part be determined by your credit score. Those individuals who present a higher risk pay a higher rate to compensate. And vice versa, if your credit is spotless you can expect to pay a lower interest rate.

You'll Need Time To Challenge Any Issues

Finally, you'll need to give yourself some lead time to challenge any irregularities with your credit report. The credit reporting agencies aren't perfect and they do make mistakes. There may be some old, retired credit card or other debt sitting on your report which is holding the score down. Even worse, there may be some incorrect delinquency or other error which ends up as a big red flag for potential mortgage lenders.

As you can see, it's worth spending the time to check your credit score. You get to check it for free once per year, so take advantage of the opportunity. And when you're ready to discuss buying your first home, contact your local professional real estate agent. We'll share how to navigate the credit score and mortgage process so you can land the home of your dreams.

Monday, September 11, 2017

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - September 11, 2017

Last week's economic news was slim due to the Labor Day Holiday. Scheduled releases included the Fed's Beige Book Report and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Beige Book Cites Concerns Over U.S. Auto Industry

Federal Reserve Board members shared anecdotes from their respective regions; of note were concerns about U.S. automakers. Auto production was more than 16 percent lower year-over-year in Cleveland, Ohio. Fed business contacts said that automakers are no longer seeking buildings for expanding production. Analysts said that slowing auto production and sales could indicate slowing economic trends. Auto industry slow-downs could also result in layoffs in auto production and sales.

Economic conditions, in general, continue to improve at a "modest to moderate" rate. August's Beige Book did not include responses to damage caused by Hurricane Harvey, but damage to Houston and surrounding areas were expected to impact negatively impact the economy.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower fixed rate mortgage rates last week; this was the second consecutive week of record low rates. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by four basis points to 3.78 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was also four basis points lower at 3.08 percent and rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 3.15 percent. Discount points for fixed rate mortgages averaged 0.50 percent and points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 0.40 percent.

New jobless claims rose sharply to 298,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 242,000 new claims and the prior week's reading of 236,000 new jobless claims filed. Hurricane Harvey was blamed for the surge in new jobless claims. Further impacts on jobless claims were expected as two hurricanes, Irma and Jose, approached Florida on Friday. Severe damage was predicted; the total economic impact will be assessed in the aftermath of the hurricanes.

What's Ahead

This week's economic reports include readings on job openings, inflation, retail sales and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Selling Your Home? 3 Secrets to Getting the Best Price

Selling Your Home? 3 Secrets to Getting the Best PriceAre you ready to sell your home? Whether you're just starting to make your plans or you're ready to list now, you likely want to know how you can get top dollar. It's going to take more than just throwing up a high price on the listing and waiting for a buyer to show up with a check. With that in mind, here are three secrets to ensuring that when you sell your house or condo, you get the best possible price.

Great Staging Is Critical To Your Success

The first secret is that you'll really need to consider how you want to stage the outside and inside of your home. Staging your home is your best way to make a positive impression on potential buyers. Think about the difference in perception it makes arriving to view a beautiful, spotless and well-lit home compared with one that looks dirty or messy. Invest the time and money in staging your home and it will increase the value in the buyer's eyes.

Let A Professional Take Care Of The Heavy Lifting

It probably comes as no surprise that buyers who engage the assistance of a professional real estate agent end up selling for more than those who try to go it alone. A great selling agent will have their eyes and ears tuned to the local real estate market and will have insight into current selling trends. They can also research other recent home sales in your local community and can share which price is likely to attract the most offers. When it comes time to field offers, your agent will be able to help you understand how much you can counter-offer without scaring off the buyer.

Be Willing To Negotiate With The Right Buyer

Finally, to ensure you get the most you can out of your sale you'll need to remain open to negotiating with potential buyers. You may find that a great buyer needs some extra time to close their financing. Or that they're willing to bump up their asking price in exchange for you making some easy renovations before turning the keys over to them. The more you're willing to be flexible with your pricing and terms, the better your chances of securing a buyer that will give you a fair price for your home.

If you're thinking about selling your home, contact your professional real estate agent. We're happy to share our insight and experience to help you with the selling process.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Four Mistakes to Avoid When Making an Offer for Your Dream Home


Four Mistakes to Avoid When Making an Offer for Your Dream HomeYou've scoured the new home listings, been to all the open houses and have finally found the home of your dreams. It is now time to draft an offer and begin the negotiation process. Below we'll share four mistakes that you will want to avoid when making an offer on your dream home.

Mistake #1 – Not Working With A Professional

The first mistake that home buyers make is trying to buy a home without using the services of a real estate professional. Buying a home is a significant financial transaction and one where the seller and their agent are working hard to ensure they come out ahead. Having experienced representation on your side of the table ensures that you won't be taken advantage of.

Mistake #2 – Skipping The Home Inspection

The second mistake – and one that is more common than you think – is skipping the home inspection. There are countless instances of home buyers thinking that the house looks great on the outside without realizing that there are issues with the roof, the foundation, the plumbing, inside the walls or some other area that's tough to see. Having the house professionally inspected before tabling an offer ensures that issues are fixed up before the transaction is complete. Alternately, if you're willing to move ahead regardless, you can ask for the price to be reduced as compensation.

Mistake #3 – Not Being Pre-Approved For Financing

The third mistake in our list is making an offer on a home without being pre-approved for the amount of mortgage financing you will need. Regardless of how good your credit is, the mortgage application process is one that can present challenges. Also, many home sellers will require evidence of financing pre-approval before accepting an offer, so it's best to come prepared.

Mistake #4 – Taking On Other Debts

Once you've decided on the home you want to purchase, you will want to avoid taking on any other debts which can affect your credit score. Don't buy a car, open any new credit cards or do anything else which will show up on your credit report. Once you are pre-approved for your mortgage, you'll want to keep your credit as spotless as possible to ensure that nothing goes wrong.

If you're prepared and clear-headed, the offer process will go smoothly and you'll soon be moving into your dream home. When you're ready to explore local real estate options, contact your trusted real estate professional.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Kids Moving Out of the House? Here Are 3 Tips for Creating a Warm, Welcoming Guest Bedroom

Kids Moving Out of the House? Here Are 3 Tips for Creating a Warm, Welcoming Guest BedroomIf you're a homeowner with children, at some point, you'll be saying goodbye. They'll move off to college or to start their career and adult life. As children move out, you'll discover that you have extra bedrooms and other living spaces that will need a new purpose. Let's take a look at three ways that you can transform an unused bedroom into a welcoming place for guests to stay.

Get Started With A Deep Clean

The first thing you'll want to do is engage in a top-to-bottom deep clean of the room. Get everything out of the room so that nothing's left but the carpet. Clean the walls, windows, light fixtures and closets until they're sparkling clean. If the carpet is still in good condition and doesn't have a lot of stains, have it professionally steam-cleaned. Or if it's a little beat up from years of abuse, consider replacing it with beautiful new carpeting.

Consider A Fresh Coat Of Paint

Have a look at the condition of the paint and walls. Does the paint still add a colorful "pop" to the room? Or have the years taken away its luster? Do the walls have scratches, dents, and holes in random areas? Are they in need of repairs?

Even if the paint is in good condition, this is an excellent opportunity to completely change the look and feel of the room. Consider going with a lighter color palette that gives off a welcoming vibe.

Go With Matching Furniture And Tables

Once the room itself is in tip-top shape, you'll need to focus on the bed, dresser, tables and other furniture. As mentioned above, this is the perfect time to get rid of any mismatched furniture and replace it with a matching bedroom set. Also, be sure to toss out any dated mirrors or light fixtures that don't match up with the room's new look.

As your children get older and move out of the family home to start their own lives, you'll be granted with a lot more space to make use of. Having a welcoming guest bedroom or two will ensure that you've always got some room for family members to come and visit. But if you decide that you've got too much space, contact your local real estate agent. We'll share how you can downgrade the size of your home while improving your quality of life.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - September 5, 2017

Last week's economic reports included readings on home prices, pending home sales and construction spending. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were released along with labor-sector readings on Non-Farm Payrolls, ADP employment and National Unemployment.

Case-Shiller: Three Western Cities Hold Top Three Places for Home Price Growth

According to Case-Shiller's June edition of its 20-City Home Price Index, the top three spots were again held by Seattle, Washington, Portland Oregon and Dallas, Texas. Seattle home prices outstripped Portland, Oregon with a reading of 13.40 percent home price growth on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. Portland, Oregon home prices grew by a seasonally-adjusted year-over-year rate of 8.20 percent while Dallas, Texas held third place with its year-over-year reading of 7.70 percent growth.

David Blitzer, CEO and Managing Director of S&P's Index Committee, said that he sees no indications that home prices will cool anytime soon. Strong labor markets and economic growth are encouraging home buyers while low inventories of homes for sale coupled with high demand continued to fuel home price growth.

Construction spending dipped in July by -0.60 percent as compared to expected growth of + 0.60 percent and June's reading of 1.30 percent growth in spending. Real estate pros said that building more homes is the only way to ease demand for homes, but builders cited labor and lot shortages along with rising materials costs as obstacles to building more homes faster.

Mortgage Rates Fall, Weekly Jobless Claims Rise

Mortgage rates remain relatively low; Freddie Mac reported average mortgage rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell four basis points to 3.82 percent; interest rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage were four basis points lower at 3.12 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was three basis points lower at 3.14 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for all three mortgage types.

First-time jobless claims rose by 1000 claims to 236,000. Analysts had expected no change from the prior week's reading of 235,000 new jobless claims.

ADP payrolls rose to 237,000 new jobs reported for August as compared to 201,000 new private-sector jobs reported in July. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 156,000 new public and private sector jobs in August; Based on the ADP report and the expected reading of 170,000 new public and private-sector jobs, revision of the Non-Farm Payrolls report appears likely.

The National Unemployment rate ticked up from July's reading of 4.30 percent to 4.40 percent in August. Low readings for unemployment indicate that layoffs are not significantly contributing to unemployment.

What's Ahead

No financial reports will be issued Monday in observance of the Labor Day Holiday. The Federal Reserve's Beige Book report will be released along with reports on productivity and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Is It Possible to Get a Mortgage With Less-than-Perfect Credit? Yes - and Here's How


Is It Possible to Get a Mortgage With Less-than-Perfect Credit? Yes – and Here's HowAre you thinking about buying a new house? Whether you're a first-time or experienced buyer, if your credit score isn't looking too hot it can affect how much mortgage financing you receive – or whether you're approved at all! But don't fret. It's still possible to get a mortgage approved, even with credit issues. Below we'll share a few ways that you can get a mortgage loan even if your credit is less than perfect.

Consider An FHA-Guaranteed Mortgage

For many individuals with credit issues, the Federal Housing Administration's guaranteed loan programs are a good choice. In essence, the FHA guarantees your mortgage with select lenders, which allows them to worry less about the risk of lending to someone with past credit problems. It's worth noting that FHA programs do come with some additional costs attached. Mortgage insurance may be assessed, which helps to protect the mortgage lender in case you default. And there may or may not be an additional monthly premium cost as well.

Do Everything You Can To Improve Your Credit Score

Before taking the next step and applying for a mortgage, you'll want to ensure your FICO credit score is as high as possible. Call or visit the website of one of the major credit reporting agencies to get a copy of your credit report. You'll want to review any outstanding issues on the report and eliminate anything that shouldn't be there. For example, in the past, you may have had a credit card or small loan that went into collections yet is still in the report even though you paid it. Contact the credit agency to challenge anything that shouldn't be on your report.

Don't Stretch Beyond Your Means

If and when you're approved for a mortgage, it's critical to remember not to reach beyond your ability to pay the mortgage payments each month. Yes, it might seem like an excellent idea to get a larger or more luxurious house if a larger mortgage is offered to you. However, don't forget that you'll need to manage payments each month for many years and it's tough to predict the future.

Try not to worry if you have a low credit or FICO score and you're interested in buying a home. A great first step would be to contact your local real estate professional.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Real Estate Negotiations: 3 Tricks That You Can Use to Ensure Yours Is the Winning Bid

Real Estate Negotiations: 3 Tricks That You Can Use to Ensure Yours Is the Winning BidYou've toured through a number of listings, attended all the open houses and have found your potential new dream home. Now the hard part begins, especially if you're working against other buyers who are keen on getting the same home as you. Let's take a look at three tricks that you can use to make sure the bid you submit on a home is the one that wins.

Don't Start With A Lowball Offer

First, it's important to note that the offer itself needs to be a fair one. If you approach a home seller with a low offer, you'll likely discover that they're not too interested in accepting it. Even worse, if your offer is too low, you risk the seller feeling insulted. And that might prevent you from being able to counter with a higher price to be more competitive. Instead, consider bidding on the low end of a reasonable, fair price range as your starting bid. That way the seller knows that you're serious and is more willing to entertain the conversation.

Let A Real Estate Agent Handle It

If you want to make an offer that a seller can't refuse, you'll want to work with a real estate agent. An experienced agent that has helped dozens of buyers with the purchasing process will have critical knowledge that will be useful in making the right bid. Plus, if you end up receiving a counter-offer from the seller, an agent can assist you with understanding the terms and touching up your bid to get the deal done.

Keep Your Cool And Be Ready For The Counter

Speaking of counter-offers, you'll want to ensure that you keep an open mind when it comes to negotiating with the home seller. Unless your offer is close to or over the listing price, the seller is likely to counter your opening bid. This is normal and is a sign that they're interested, so from here it's your job to ensure that you sweeten the deal just enough that they're willing to close.

These are just a few of the ways that you can ensure that the bid you make on a home is the one the seller accepts. For more tips and insight into buying a house in your area, contact your local real estate professional today. We look forward to connecting!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Case-Shiller Home Price Index: National Home Prices Reach Pre-Recession Level


According to the Case-Shiller National Home Price Index for June, Seattle, Washington continued to lead home price growth for the tenth consecutive month with a June reading of 13.40 percent growth year-over-year. Portland Oregon held second place for home price growth in the 20-City Home Price Index in June but trailed Seattle by 5.20 percent with 8.20 percent year-over-year home price growth. Dallas Texas held third place with a year-over-year home price growth rate of 7.70 percent. The 20-City Home Price Index increased by 5.70 percent year-over-year and was unchanged from May's reading.

Case-Shiller's National Home Price Index reported a reading of 5.80 percent home price growth in June as compared to May's reading of 5.70 percent.

Wage Growth, Strong Economic Indicators Drive Demand for Homes

Case-Shiller's month-to-month home price data also reflected continued growth. 14 cities reported higher home prices in June after seasonal adjustment. Home prices rose 0.40 percent month-to-month nationally; the 20-city index rose by 0.10 percent month-over-month after seasonal adjustment.

Shortages of homes for sale continue to drive up home prices as sales of pre-owned homes outpace new home sales. Builders haven't kept up with demand due to ongoing labor and lot shortages and rising materials costs. There was an estimated 4.20 months' supply of homes for sale in June; the average level is a six-month supply. Low mortgage rates continue to encourage first-time and current buyers to enter the market.

David M. Blitzer, Managing Director, and CEO of S&P Dow Jones Indices Committee said that although home prices are rising steadily, wage growth and overall economic growth were driving demand for homes in June. Mr. Blitzer said that current economic trends indicated home price growth was not expected to reverse anytime soon.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Itching to Start a Project? Don't Forget These Four Key Tips to Avoiding Renovator's Remorse

Itching to Start a Project? Don't Forget These Four Key Tips to Avoiding Renovator's RemorseTake a look around your home. Do you feel that burning desire to renovate or upgrade certain areas? Perhaps it's the kitchen countertops or the décor in the master bedroom. Whatever the case, if you're itching to take on a home renovation project you'll want to ensure it's one that makes your life better – not worse! Let's take a look at four tips that will help you to avoid experiencing "renovator's remorse."

Ask Yourself: Will This Project Add Value?

If you're renovating to build equity in your home, you'll want to determine if the project is worth undertaking. There are many renovations that might seem to make the home more appealing, but in truth add next to no value that can be realized later when you sell. Be sure to choose those projects which will bump the home's value by a significant amount.

Start With A Realistic Budget

Ask any friend or neighbor that has renovated their home and you'll discover that costs can quickly spiral out of control if you're not careful. With this in mind, it's a good idea to start with a realistic budget that incorporates some additional room for last-minute tweaks or changes. Once you have the project scoped out, take a trip to your local building supply store and chat with the professionals. They'll be able to help you understand what the actual costs of your renovation will be and they can point out things that you may have forgotten.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

Even the most skilled carpenters and tradespeople make mistakes, so you should rest assured that it can happen to you. Even if you have to go over your plans twice or three times, it's worth knowing exactly what you're going to do before getting started. As the saying goes: "measure twice, cut once." Spending the necessary time preparing your work will go a long way in saving you time and money later.

Don't Start If You Can't Finish

The last piece of advice is to finish any home project that you start. A half-finished renovation project can degrade your quality of life significantly. And the longer it takes to get done, the less motivated you will be to finish it. Stay on task and get the job done as soon as possible.

If you're interested in learning more about the home selling process or listing your home for sale, contact your local professional real estate agent.

Monday, August 28, 2017

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - August 28, 2017

Last week's economic news included readings on sales of new and previously-owned homes, Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released, along with coverage of Fed Chair Janet Yellen's remarks at a conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Home Sales Lower in July

According to the Commerce Department, new home sales fell to a seven-month low in July; 571,000 new homes were sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis in July.  This reading fell short of the expected sales rate of 608,000 new home sales and June's reading of 630,000 sales. This was unwelcome news for home builders, who have been under pressure to build more homes.  pronounced shortage of available homes coupled with high buyer demand has pressured builders to increase their rate of housing starts. A sudden dip in new home sales could impact builders' production rates if slow sales persist.

Buyer demand may be waning as home prices have continued to climb. July's national average home price rose to $313700, which was 6.30 percent year over year. The National Association of Realtors® said the current inventory of available homes rose to 5.70 months. This was the highest reading in highest reading in several months. Real estate pros consider a six-month supply of homes for sale an average reading. Regardless of record high demand for homes and low inventories, rapidly rising home prices reduce the pool of potential buyers due to affordability.

Sales of previously owned homes also fell in July. The National Association of Realtors® reported that pre-owned homes sold at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.44 million sales. Analysts predicted a rate of 5.50 million sales based on June's reading of 5.51 million sales

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims

Freddie Mac reported mixed mortgage rates results, but mortgage types surveyed were little changed. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell three basis points to 3.86 percent; the average rate for a 15-year mortgage was unchanged at 3.16 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 3.17 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for all three mortgage types.

First-time jobless claims rose to 234,000, which fell short of the expected reading of 238,000 new claims and the prior week's reading of 232,000 new claims.

Fed Chair Defends Dodd-Frank Act

Fed Chair Janet Yellen defended Dodd-Frank mortgage legislation passed after the financial crisis. The legislation established credit standards for mortgage lenders to eliminate irresponsible lending practices. Speaking at the Federal Reserve's annual retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Chair Yellen's comments responded to recent indications by the administration and banking officials that the Dodd-Frank Act should be repealed.

What's Ahead

This week's economic reports include readings from Case-Shiller on home prices. Pending home sales, construction spending and inflation reports will be released in addition to weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. Several labor reports will also be released including ADP Payrolls, Non-Farm Payrolls, and the national unemployment rate will also be released.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Staging Small Spaces: How to Highlight Your Outdoor Areas Even If They're Not That Big

Staging Small Spaces: How to Highlight Your Outdoor Areas Even If They're Not That BigIf you're planning on selling your home, you've probably already started to consider how you're going to stage it. Staging is one of the most important parts of the selling process. The way you present your home is key to leaving a positive impression on a potential buyer. Let's explore a few ways that you can stage smaller outdoor spaces to make them feel like they're much more than they are.

Go With Smaller Furniture Options

If you're trying to stage a small patio, deck or yard area, you'll want to stick with smaller furnishings. Yes, that means packing up the enormous hammock or chaise lounge that you love to lazy around on. Remember, perspective is going to matter as potential buyers have never seen your outdoor spaces before. So any large furniture sitting in a small space is going to appear to be that much bigger.

One great idea is to use furniture that you can see through, as it will give the illusion that the area around it is much larger. Consider options like open-backed or Adirondack chairs which let light pass through.

Use Glass To Create A Spacious Illusion

Keeping visibility in mind, the second trick you'll want to leverage is to use as much glass as possible. Glass-top tables and other transparent items which let light through are an excellent way to highlight a small space. And don't forget – keep any glass spotlessly clean! The last thing you want is to be showing off a pile of greasy fingerprints.

Take Your Plants Vertical

Another excellent tactic for making the most of smaller spaces is to grow any plants vertically. If you have the room for it, a plant wall can really shine as it adds a pop of green and other colors to the area. If not, just stick with slender plants that grow straight up. Try to avoid plants that tend to spread out wide as they grow. If they look like they're taking up a lot of space, any potential buyers touring through will have the impression that your outdoor areas are smaller than they are.

There you have it – three easy tips for staging your small, intimate outdoor spaces. When you're ready to list and sell your home, contact your local real estate professionals.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Trying to Sell Your Home As a Fixer-Upper? Highlight These Key Areas to Attract Eager Buyers

Trying to Sell Your Home As a Fixer-Upper? Highlight These Key Areas to Attract Eager BuyersAre you going to sell your house in the near future? If it's a bit of a 'fixer-upper' – meaning that it's in need of some renovation work – you may find some challenges in marketing it to potential buyers. Reducing the listing price is one option available to you, but there are other ways to highlight this kind of home. Let's have a look at three key areas that you'll want to focus on when trying to sell a home in less than perfect condition.

Push The Customization Angle

First, try to keep in mind that most potential buyers who are on the market for a fixer-upper are likely to be interested in customizing the home. Be sure to highlight any key areas that are ripe for change. Is the décor in your kitchen a little dated? No problem – it's a chance for your buyer to build the kitchen they've always dreamed of. Is the basement unfinished? There's a perfect opportunity for a keen buyer to create a basement suite which they can then rent out to a new tenant.

Highlight The Surrounding Community

It's a good idea to jot down a list of all of the benefits of living in your community. How are the schools? Is the area well-served by public transit? Are there any amenities like a community center worth mentioning? Is the neighborhood considered family-friendly? What are the neighbors like? Are there hospitals or other medical services nearby? What about running trails, area hikes or dog parks? Many buyers care more about their quality of life than they do about the condition of the house itself. If the community is in better shape than your home, spend more time highlighting how great it is to live in the area.

Promote The Overall Property Or Land Value

Finally, don't overlook the value of the property that the house is sitting on. Buying real estate is a financial investment that will appreciate in value over time. While the house might get old and dated, the land will always retain value. Be sure to point out any positive land value trends to potential buyers.

These are just a few of the many ways that you can promote a fixer-upper home. For more information or to get your house on the market, contact your local professional real estate team. We're happy to assist.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Quick and Easy Guide to Determining How Big of a Mortgage Your Family Can Afford

The Quick and Easy Guide to Determining How Big of a Mortgage Your Family Can AffordAre you shopping around for a new house or apartment? One of the key considerations you will need to make is figuring out how much you want to invest in your new home. Below you'll find our quick and easy guide to determining just how much "house" you can afford. Let's get started!

Start By Making A Proper Budget

The first thing you'll want to do is sit down and get a full budget put together. The easiest way to get the process started is to begin with two lists: income and expenses. For the income list, write down the amount of money your family brings in each month after taxes. If you have side income sources or extra income that tends to fluctuate over time, use the average amount for the past six months.

For the expenses list, write down all the spending that you do each month. Start with the major, stable items like rent, utilities and the like. Then work your way through to discretionary spending like dining out and other sources of entertainment. If it helps, go through your bank and credit card statements to ensure that you are not missing anything.

Once you have an accurate budget, you'll know exactly how much you can afford to pay toward your mortgage payments each month.

Figure Out How Much You Can Put Down

Next, you'll need to think about how much cash you want to pay as a down payment on your home. The larger the down payment you can afford, the smaller amount of mortgage financing you'll need. While it might seem like a good idea to put as much as you can down, there are some things to consider. Any money you put against your down payment is going to be unavailable to you, which reduces your financial options. You'll also lose the opportunity to invest it, which means missing out on potential returns over time.

Determine How Much House You Actually Need

Finally, give some thought as to how large or luxurious a home you want to buy. For example, if you have a small family and don't need a large four- or five-bedroom house, you can instead opt for a smaller but more luxurious home. Conversely, if space is a priority, you may want to forego the high-end options to ensure you have enough room.

When you're ready to explore your options, we're ready to help. Contact your trusted real estate professional at your convenience. We're committed to helping you purchase the home of your dreams.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Wrapping It All Up: Don't Forget These Important Tasks After Closing on Your New Home


Wrapping It All Up: Don't Forget These Important Tasks After Closing on Your New HomeThe negotiations are over. The seller has accepted your bid and the paperwork has been signed. Shortly, you'll be handed the keys to your new home and you can start moving in. But of course, the work doesn't end after the real estate closing process. In fact, it's just beginning! In today's article, we'll share a few essential tasks that you'll want to get to work on after the closing process is over.

Backup And Copy All Of The Paperwork

If you haven't bought a house before, you'll soon discover that there is a lot of paperwork involved in getting the deal done. From title deeds to tax documentation, the sheer number of forms that need to be read through and signed may seem endless. Once the closing process wraps up, it's a good idea to make copies of all of the paperwork. Store these backups in a safe place where they can be referred to later if needed.

Change All Of The Locks

Next, you'll want to change all of the exterior locks on the house. It might seem a bit overkill, but securing your home is important. Re-keying the locks is a one-time cost that can end up paying significant dividends should anyone attempt to break in. It's also a chance to upgrade to stronger, more secure deadbolts. If you have a home alarm system or any keypad-style locks, be sure to change the codes on those as well.

Inspect The Water Heater

While it was almost certainly checked during the home inspection, take the time to have a quick look at the water heater. You'll want to check the temperature setting to ensure it's reasonable. Don't forget that maintaining a high hot water temperature can be expensive over the long-term.

Give The Gutters A Quick Check

Finally, it's worth getting out the ladder to give all of the gutters a quick inspection. Clogged gutters can end up causing significant roof damage if left unchecked. You'll want to ensure that both the horizontal gutters and the vertical drains are clear of leaves, twigs and other debris. As long as rainwater can drain out smoothly, you're all set. Note that safety should be your priority here. If you don't have a suitable ladder or you aren't comfortable with heights, consider paying a professional.

The closing process is always an exciting time. If you're in the market for a new home or would like to know more about real estate opportunities in the local area, contact your local real estate professional.

Monday, August 21, 2017

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - August 21, 2017

Last week's economic readings included the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index and readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Consumer sentiment for August was reported by the University of Michigan. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

NAHB: Builder Confidence Jumps 4 Points in August

Builder confidence in housing market conditions improved by four index points in August after reaching its lowest reading in eight months in July. Builder confidence rose in consideration of a strong labor market and overall economic growth. Obstacles including labor shortages, rising materials costs and a lack of buildable lots continued to present obstacles to builders producing homes at a pace sufficient to meet high demand and alleviate low inventories of homes for sale.

Housing starts were lower in July at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.155 million starts and fell short of 1.229 million starts. 1.223 million starts were reported in July. Single family home construction was higher as builders focus on meeting demand for single-family homes. Building permits issued in July were also lower at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.223 million permits issued as compared to July's reading of 1,275 million permits issued.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims Lower

Average rates for fixed rate mortgages fell last week. 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates averaged 3.89 percent at one basis point lower than the previous week. Rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.16 percent and were two basis points lower than the previous week. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose two basis points to 3.16 percent. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages, 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims were lower last week with 232,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 241,000 new claims and 244,000 new claims filed the prior week.

August's reading for the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index was higher at 97.6 as compared to an expected reading of 94.8 and July's index reading of 93.4. Growing consumer confidence could along with improving job markets and economic expansion could prompt renters to buy homes.

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic reports include readings on sales of new and previously owned homes along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Friday, August 18, 2017

DIY Home Projects: Creating a Study Space That Will Help Your Children Stay Focused


DIY Home Projects: Creating a Study Space That Will Help Your Children Stay FocusedIf you're a parent of school-aged children, you've likely been concerned with their study habits at some point. Sitting down in front of the television or at the dinner table to crack open the books is going to be less efficient than doing so in a quieter, more productive work space. Let's explore how to create a study space that will help keep your children focused and on task.

Ask The Kids What They Need To Be Productive

Before you get to work on creating a new studying space, it's a good idea to have a chat with those will be using it most. Ask the children what kind of surroundings they feel would help to keep them productive. Younger kids may only need a small desk area but would appreciate more space in the room. Conversely, older children who are in high school are likely to need a lot of desk space for laptops, textbooks, and other studying materials. Starting the project out by asking what they need ensures that they get what they need out of the space.

Brighten Up The Room

Next, you'll want to focus on how the room is lit. A dark room isn't likely to be a positive studying environment. If possible, natural light sources should be used as much as possible. Studies indicate that sunlight is better at keeping individuals alert and focused than fluorescent or other types of home lighting. Also, consider adding some plants which can help to keep oxygen levels a bit higher in the room.

Note that you'll want to avoid making the room so bright that it's distracting. Plus, the sun can cause quite a bit of glare depending on how much outdoor exposure the room has. If there's already a lot of natural light, consider a set of curtains that can reduce or block out any glare to allow for a more comfortable learning environment.

Eliminate Any And All Distractions

Distractions – especially those which are useful for procrastinating – are the bane of any productive space. There should be no television, no video games and no other distracting elements in the study area. The only furnishings should be those used for studying.

A study room is an excellent addition to any home with school-aged children. If you're in the market for a new home – study spaces included – contact your local real estate professional.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

NAHB: Builder Sentiment Surges in August

Home builder confidence in housing market conditions surged in August after sagging to an eight-month low in July. The National Association of Home Builders reported a July reading of 68 in August after analysts expected a one- point increase from July's Housing Market Index reading of 64. Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders consider housing market conditions positive than those who do not.

Component readings of the Housing Market Index also improved in August. Builder confidence in current housing market condition rose four points to 74; Builder confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months rose by five points to 78. Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new home developments rose one point to an index reading of 49.

Positive Economy Fuels Builder Confidence

Builders have long cited a shortage of buildable lots and labor, along with rising costs as impacting confidence in current and future confidence in housing markets. NAHB said that labor shortages are worse in 2017 than in 2016. Builders reported labor shortages including carpenters and electricians. August readings suggest that positive economic developments are mitigating long-term builder concerns, but a recent tariff on Canadian lumber raised materials costs for some builders.

The discrepancy between builder confidence and housing starts concerns real estate pros and housing and lending industry leaders, but without enough workers to staff their building crews, home builders face obstacles in meeting buyer demand for homes.

Stronger economic and jobs indicators are boosting builder confidence in housing market conditions. As more prospective home buyers find stable jobs, buying a home becomes possible for prospective buyers who have waited for economic conditions to improve sufficiently to invest in home ownership.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

First-Time Home Sellers: Don't Miss These 4 Tips That Will Keep Your Sale Moving Smoothly


First-Time Home Sellers: Don't Miss These 4 Tips That Will Keep Your Sale Moving SmoothlyAre you selling your home? If it's your first time going through a home sale, you've probably got a lot of questions about the process. In today's post, we'll share four tips that can help to keep your home sale moving along smoothly. Let's get started!

Tip #1: Enlist The Help Of A Professional

First, you'll want to ensure that you enlist the help of an experienced real estate agent. Selling a home is a significant financial transaction and the process can be especially daunting the first time. A professional agent with sales experience will be a major asset in having a stress-free sale. They'll know all of the legal and other requirements to selling so you won't be buried in paperwork. Plus, they'll have insight into other local sales which can help with listing your home at a competitive price.

Tip #2: Focus On Your 'Curb Appeal'

As the saying goes: you never get a second chance to make a first impression. With that in mind, you'll want to ensure that you focus on how your home looks when a potential buyer shows up. If you feel the home could use it, a fresh coat of paint is an inexpensive upgrade that can give your home a new look and feel. Don't forget your lawn and other landscaping, which should look well-maintained. The last thing a buyer wants to see is a nasty jungle of uncut grass or dying flowers!

Tip #3: Don't Turn Down A Solid Offer

While you likely shouldn't jump on the very first offer you get for your home, you also won't want to pass up on a fair one either. It can be tough attracting a buyer, especially for larger, more expensive or luxurious houses. If your agent advises you to accept a competitive offer, it's advice that's well worth considering.

Tip #4: Have Your Share Of The Paperwork Ready

Last but not least, it's worth having your share of the paperwork ready to go. There's a lot of documentation required to complete a home sale, and being unprepared is a guaranteed way to make the closing process take longer. Spend the time gathering what you need before you accept an offer and you'll enjoy a faster sale.

There you have it – four tips that will help to keep your home sale moving along smoothly! When you're ready to discuss selling your home, contact your trusted real estate professional. We're happy to share our guidance and experience to help you with your sale.

Monday, August 14, 2017

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - August 14, 2017


Job Openings, New Jobless Claims Rise

Job openings rose in June to 6.20 million as compared to May's reading of 5.70 million job openings. Analysts said that increasing job vacancies show that employers are unable to find qualified workers. Business services, construction, health care and professional job sectors had the most job openings. Slow wage growth could be contributing to widespread job openings. Average wage growth has been running at approximately 2.50 percent, which is lower than the average of 3.50 to 4.00 percent typically seen during economic expansion.

First-time jobless claims rose to 244,000 as compared to expectations of 242,000 new claims and the prior week's reading of 242,000 new jobless claims.

Mortgage Rates Lower

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was three basis points lower at 3.90 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was unchanged at 3.18 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was one basis point lower at 3.14 percent.

Inflation rose in July by 0.10 percent against an expected increase of 0.20 percent; June's reading was unchanged. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors, rose by 0.10 percent against expectations of 0.20 percent and 0.10 percent growth in June.

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic reports include the NAHB Housing Market Index, Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued and the University of Michigan's Consumer Sentiment Index, Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Go Big or Go Home: 3 Reasons Why Your First Home Should Be a Spacious One

Go Big or Go Home: 3 Reasons Why Your First Home Should Be a Spacious OneBuying a home for the first time? One of the key considerations you'll need to make is just how much 'house' you want to buy. While going minimal might seem like a good idea to save on costs, having a smaller living space can end up cramping your lifestyle in many ways. Let's take a look at three great reasons why your first home should be roomy, spacious and luxurious.

You Might End Up With More Family Than You Think

Have you considered whether or not you want to have a family? Whether you're a single young professional or part of a newlywed couple, there's always a chance you'll end up with more kids than you think. If you're buying a home for the long haul, you'll want to ensure that you have enough bedrooms to contain a growing family. It's much easier to make other use of a spare room than to invent an extra bedroom if you end up with one or two more children than you had planned. Even if you don't have kids, you may end up welcoming other family members into your home for extended periods.

Small Spaces Limit You In Just About Every Way

As you might imagine, small living spaces will limit your options. Whether you want to build out a new media room or just want more luxurious furniture, much of the time living small means living without. Buying a larger home from the start will give you all of the space needed to build your dream home. And over time, you're far more likely to enjoy living in a home that you can tweak and customize to suit your changing tastes.

You Can Always Monetize The Extra Space

Don't forget that extra space can always be put to good use. If you have a finished basement, you can possibly rent the suite out to a tenant. Or, you can host guests in your extra bedrooms using apps like Airbnb. If you're more of an entrepreneurial type, you can start a small business out of one of the spare rooms.

These are just a few of the many reasons why buying a larger home is an excellent idea. For more information about luxurious homes that are for sale in the local area, contact your trusted real estate professional today.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Thinking About a New Home? 3 Reasons Why a Mortgage Will Be the Best Money You Ever Borrow


Thinking About a New Home? 3 Reasons Why a Mortgage Will Be the Best Money You Ever BorrowIn these days of low interest rates, it can be a great idea to get into the real estate market and invest in a home. However, if you don't have the funds saved up to buy a home outright, it may seem like more of a burden than it's worth. The good news is that you might qualify for a mortgage loan, which tends to come with more favorable terms than a traditional bank loan. Here are three reasons why a mortgage might just be the best money you ever borrow.

Taking Advantage Of Low Interest

Interest rates have been relatively low for a number of years, which can be a definite financial boon when it comes to your monthly mortgage payment. Unfortunately, though, the predictions forecast that rates are on the rise and that means home ownership may be a more difficult dream in the coming years. If you're interested in getting a home at a lower price with a better interest rate, it may be worth getting a short-term loan for the long-term gain.

Begin To Invest

It will certainly improve your financial outlook if you have a financial plan and a monthly budget you stick to, but few things will help your money grow like investing. Fortunately, real estate is still one of the best investments you can make in terms of helping your money grow and ensuring your future fiscal success. While stocks and mutual funds can be a bit topsy-turvy if you're not knowledgeable about investing, real estate can be a more reliable asset that's easier to understand.

Giving Up On Rent

When investing in a home, there are few things more rewarding than not having to pay rent anymore. Instead of effectively tossing away money each month that you'll never see again, you will be able to see your equity grow in the home and property you purchase. Plus, this equity can be used as leverage for investment in another home. It also means that no matter the downturn in the market, you'll have a solid investment in something.

You may not like the idea of borrowing money for your mortgage, but it can be a good fiscal choice with interest rates on the rise and the opportunity to say goodbye to rent forever. If you're currently considering borrowing and are planning on buying a home in the near future, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

Yes, You Should Take the Plunge and Buy a New Home in 2017. Here's Why


Yes, You Should Take the Plunge and Buy a New Home in 2017. Here's WhyAre you thinking about buying a house, townhouse, or condo? In many markets across the country, there's never been a better time than now to become a homeowner. In this post, we'll share a few reasons why the conditions are right to jump into the market and buy a new home.

Interest Rates Are Heading Up

If you're like most home buyers, you're probably looking to make use of mortgage financing to help spread out the purchase cost over a longer period of time. If so, you'll want to make a move in 2017 so you can lock in a low interest rate. The Federal Reserve has indicated that interest rates are going to continue to rise over the next year or two. If that prediction holds true, mortgage costs will continue to grow along with rates. Buying in 2017 means that you'll be able to secure a lower mortgage rate which in turn will save you money.

It's A Buyer's Market In Most Areas

Depending on the community that you're looking to buy in, you may find that it's a bit of a buyer's market. There are a number of individuals looking to sell their homes to lock in the price appreciation that's taken place during the recovery since the 2008 financial crisis. More listings on the market mean that sellers will be open to negotiation as they won't want their home sale to take weeks or months. If you're pre-approved for your mortgage financing and are serious about buying, you may be able to convince a seller to take a lower offer than they normally would.

You'll Start Building Real Net Worth

Of course, one of the best parts of buying a home is that it's a significant financial investment. Properly maintained, your home should continue to increase in value over time. As you continue to invest in upgrades and renovations, you'll build more and more equity that can be used as leverage for additional credit or just pocketed when you eventually decide to sell. Even though every market has its ups and downs, owning real estate is a far greater path to prosperity than renting.

When you're ready to get into the market and find your dream home, we're here to help. Contact us today and we'll be happy to introduce you to some beautiful new homes that suit your tastes and budget.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Finding Your Latte Factor: 3 Ways to Find the Money to Make Extra Mortgage Payments

Finding Your Latte Factor: 3 Ways to Find the Money to Make Extra Mortgage PaymentsIt's not uncommon for a homeowner to want to pay more than the minimum monthly mortgage payment on their home. However, just because it can seem hard to come up with the funds on a monthly basis doesn't mean it's not possible to find the money for extra mortgage payments each year. If you're wondering how you can pay down your mortgage debt much sooner with extra money, here are some tricks you may want to try.

Relinquish Your Refund

Many people look forward to tax time because it's an opportunity to spend their refund on shopping, dining or a much-needed vacation. However, using your tax refund to pay down your debt can actually be a satisfying way to put more down on your mortgage and achieve something lasting from that extra bit of cash. While you may want to set some aside for an outing or a special treat, the amount remaining on your mortgage will seriously benefit from the extra payment.

Re-Tool Your Budget

If you've been successful at making your mortgage payments, it's likely that you have a working budget that you stick to each month. But like any plan, a budget can change. If you haven't done so in a while, it's worth sitting down to re-calculate your monthly income and expenses. There's a good chance that some expenses exist that you can pare down or get rid of entirely. While it may not make a significant difference in one month, small amounts will add up over time.

Plan A Yard Sale

It's easy to acquire a lot of things that you don't necessarily use, whether it's technology or kitchenware or home decorations. Fortunately, planning a yard sale for your infrequently used items can be a great way to come up with a small fortune to pay off your mortgage sooner. Of course, you'll need to be ready to haggle to get the prices you're looking for. And don't forget to get the locals involved and make it a neighborhood event for even more selling success.

It may seem nearly impossible to come up with the money to put more down on your mortgage, but using your tax refund and re-tooling your budget can easily add up to savings that make a difference! If you're considering buying a new home in the future, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

Monday, August 7, 2017

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - August 7, 2017


Last week's economic news included readings on pending home sales, construction spending. Several reports related to employment were also posted along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Pending Home Sales Rise as Construction Spending Lags

Pending home sales rose by 1.50 percent to an index reading of 110.2 in June according to the National Association of Realtors®. Sales of homes under contract that have not yet closed regained positive territory after May's negative reading of -0.70 percent. Pending sales were in negative territory for the past three months.

Regional results for pending sales were mixed. The Northeast posted a gain of 0.70 percent, which was 3.40 percent higher than in June 2016. The Midwest region lost ground with a reading of -0.50 percent in June, but pending sales were 3.40 percent higher year-over-year. Pending home sales increased by 2.10 percent in the Southern region, which was 2.60 percent higher year-over-year. Although the Western region posted a month-to-month pending home sales gain of 2.90 percent for June, pending home sales were 1.10 percent lower year-over-year.

The west has enjoyed a run on rapid home price growth due to slim supplies of homes for sale and high demand for homes in popular metro areas. June's lower year-over-year reading could signal that home prices have maxed out and low inventory of homes isn't providing potential buyers with enough choices given higher home prices.

Construction Spending Slows, Mortgage Rates Hold Steady
Real estate pros again cited the shortage of available homes as driving high home prices and creating high competition for homes on the market. These conditions can make homeownership difficult for first-time and moderate- income buyers. Despite pressure on home builders to increase construction, the Commerce Department reported lower construction spending in June. Spending was lower by -1.10 percent against expectations of 0.40 percent growth based on May's flat reading.

Mortgage rates were little changed last week; the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose one basis point to 3.93 percent. 15-year fixed mortgage rates were two basis points lower at 3.18 percent. Rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were three basis points lower at 3.15 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for all three mortgage types.

Weekly Jobless Claims, Unemployment Rate Fall

New jobless claims fell to 20,000 new claims as compared to expectations of 244,000 new claims and the prior week's reading of 245,000 initial jobless claims filed. Readings for Non-Farm Payrolls were lower at 209,000 private and public-sector jobs created.in July. Analysts expected 175,0000 new jobs based on June's reading of 231,000 jobs. ADP Payrolls reported 178,000 private sector jobs created in July as compared to June's reading of 191,000 new jobs created.

The national unemployment rate dropped to 4.30 percent as expected and was lower than June's reading of 4.40 percent. Lower unemployment readings suggest that fewer people are seeking full-time work.

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic reports include readings on job openings, inflation and core inflation. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Friday, August 4, 2017

3 Ugly Truths You'll Discover Trying to Buy a Home Without a Real Estate Agent

3 Ugly Truths You'll Discover Trying to Buy a Home Without a Real Estate AgentMany people, whether they are new to the market or have purchased a home before, consider investing in a home without the help of an agent. While there are benefits involved with going it alone, there are also a number of drawbacks that can significantly impact the success of your home purchase. If you're wondering about the difficulties involved in going "agent-less", consider the following points.

It's A Lot Of Legwork

It might seem simple if you've found a house and you like it, but a lot more goes into investing in a home than just finding a place. While you can do research on your own, an experienced real estate agent will have knowledge of the market and the neighborhoods you're searching in and will be able to share an insider's perspective. As a result, they may be more successful at providing you with insights about the local community and the price you should be paying. All of which would be hard to determine on your own.

Navigating The Process

Home ownership can be considered as easy as signing on the dotted line, but there are so many steps that go into making the final purchase that having someone experienced along to assist can be very beneficial. In addition to pay stubs, tax returns, employment records and bank statements, you'll need to deal with legal forms, deeds and a ton of other information the home sellers and your lender will need. Fortunately, an agent will be familiar with what's needed and will be able to simplify the process wherever possible.

The Right Home Takes Time

The right agent may make finding a home look pretty easy, but it takes a lot of knowledge and experience to be able to find what works for you. As a result, it's very easy to underestimate the amount of time you'll need to invest in research and open houses and even negotiating to find your next home. If you don't have the time to do what's needed to find the right place for you, it may be worth enlisting the services of a professional.

It can be tempting to forego the costs of an agent when it comes to buying a home, but the right agent can save you time and help you find the right place at the right price. If you're currently preparing to invest in a home, contact your local real estate professional for more information.