Friday, May 26, 2017

4 Dated Design Features to Get Rid of Before Listing Your Home for Sale

4 Dated Design Features to Get Rid of Before Listing Your Home for SaleMost homeowners get used to a certain aesthetic in their own home that they're comfortable with, but if you're putting your home on the market it may be time to get rid of some of the old familiarities. While it won't be worth your time or money to renovate everything, here are a few design-style duds that you may want to update before you decide to sell.

Oversized Bathtubs or Jacuzzis

It may be very appealing for most people to find an oversized tub in their hotel room, but when it comes to the home you live in, big tubs have made their exit. While a tub can certainly allow a person to stretch out in comfort, gone are the days of big homes and large bathrooms. Instead of a sizeable tub, you'll want a bathroom space that you can maximize.

Tiled Counter Tops

The concept of kitchen tiles may look great in a magazine, but when it comes to the real deal tile can be a huge drawback. Despite your best efforts, it's quite likely the grout will need to be replaced and will provide an unclean appearance over time. Instead of leaving the tile behind, you may want to stick with a solid surface like marble so there will be no issues with cleanliness or damage.

Too Bright Colors

An accent wall or brightly hued design feature may have made a comeback in recent years, but the popularity of colorful pieces has died away in recent years. Instead of the kind of feature that will turn off potential homebuyers, opt for neutral tones so that homebuyers can imagine themselves in your place without the necessity for renovations.

Bulky Furniture Pieces

Much like the oversized tub in the bathroom, the boxy piece of furniture in your living room may be comfortable, but it's not the best when it comes to selling your home. Instead of having a huge piece of furniture command the attention of your entire room, choose smaller pieces that will offer comfort but still provide a positive impression to potential buyers.

Design trends can change a lot over the years, but by being aware of how styles are evolving you can be on the cutting edge of selling your home in style. If you're currently making some small renovations and are preparing to sell your home, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Dusty Attic, No More: How to Convert an Attic Into a Usable Living Space

Dusty Attic, No More: How to Convert an Attic Into a Usable Living SpaceThe attic may be one of the spaces in the house that everyone prefers to avoid, but many people forget that an attic can be a great place for a bedroom or an additional living room. If you're wondering how you can go about upgrading your attic for everyday use, here are some things to think about before you move forward.

Consider The Access Routes

In order for an attic to function as a truly livable space, you will need to have access to it and there will also need to be a fire escape route. This means that, in addition to a staircase that has a minimum clearance height, you will also require a window that will function as another means of exit. If you're not interested in doing a lot of construction, fixing up your attic may not be worth the effort, but if you already have some of these features in place, you're on the path to a space you can really use

Supporting The Floor

Most of us have seen the visuals in movies or on television of someone crawling up to the attic only to fall through the floor, and it's a familiar image for a reason. Because the attic floor will likely be relatively thin, it will need to be reinforced so that it can function as a space for consistent use. When it comes to making these changes, it's important to keep in mind that how much floor you'll add will also impact the available height in your attic.

Adding In Insulation

Whether you want to use your attic as a living room or an exercise area, one thing for certain is that you'll need to install some insulation to keep the temperature consistent with the rest of the house. It will also be necessary to have heating and cooling units for cold winter weather and hot summer air, as these will ensure that you don't have to deal with any moisture issues in the space. However upscale or down home you want your attic to be, you'll need to consider how to control temperature.

Attics may be the stuff of many myths and scary movies, but by making some structural changes they can be a much-loved extra space in your family home. If you're currently renovating your home and are preparing to sell, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Yes, It's True! Why Replacing Your Front Door Can Help to Sell Your Home Faster

Yes, It's True! Why Replacing Your Front Door Can Help to Sell Your Home FasterThere are plenty of things that you'll need to shape up when you embark on selling your home, whether it's painting the house or the minor fix-ups, but it's easy to forget about some items that will be readily apparent to homebuyers. If you're preparing to put your home on the market and are wondering what you shouldn't miss, here are a few reasons why replacing your front door should be at the top of the list.

It's The First Thing Buyers Will Notice

While the yard and the exterior of your home may be the most noticeable things to a potential homebuyer when they visit your home, the door will be one of the most imposing things they come across. Because this will be the access point for your home, the quality and stability of your door will create the first impression, good or bad. If you happen to have a flimsy or poorly designed door that is aging, it may be time to invest in something more substantial that will create a positive impression

A Sense Of Safety

An aesthetically appealing door may be pretty important when it comes to making an instant impression, but a solid door will be key in providing potential buyers with an idea of safety and stability. One of the most important things for homebuyers when it comes to purchasing a home is the sense of security it provides, and a sturdy door will go a long way towards making your community and the potential new dwelling feel like a welcome abode.

Increases Your Home's Value

There are plenty of small renovations you can take on that will bump up the value of your home, but replacing an unsound door is important because most homeowners won't make this upgrade right away. While it may seem like buying a door will be a significant splurge, there are actually many great options for a relatively economical price. It's just important to find something that won't break the bank and will fit in with your renovation budget.

When it comes times to sell your home, there are many renovations that can instantly bump up its value. However, many people forget that the door provides one of the first impressions and a sense of security and comfort. If you're currently preparing to put your home on the market, contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

5 Things That First-time Home Buyers Wish They Knew Before They Signed

5 Things That First-time Home Buyers Wish They Knew Before They SignedWithout a doubt, it can be both overwhelming and exciting to find your dream home and be able to put the money down for it. However, there are a lot of things to know before signing on the dotted line so you can avoid buyer's remorse. Instead of going it alone, here are a few tips to keep in mind before you decide to commit to your new home.

A Good Agent Is Important

Many homeowners want to find the right place on their own, but having an agent along to assist you in the process can go a long way towards finding your ideal home at the right price. Instead of risking it, choose an agent that comes highly recommended and has an abundance of experience in the business.

Is The Price Right?

It's easy to be taken in by a beautiful home, but before putting money down you'll want to calculate your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio to make sure it's within reach. You may feel like you can make it work, but paying a too-high mortgage will become a drain over time and may ruin the happiness of your home investment.

What's The Potential?

When it comes to first-time buying, many potential homeowners go into it with unrealistic expectations. However, demanding too much of your investment can mean you miss out on the gems that have a lot of hidden potential. Instead of saying 'no' right away, consider what you can improve for little cost.

Researching The Neighborhood

The focus for many homeowners is definitely the house, but 'location, location, location' is a cliche; for a reason. Instead of focusing only on your home, ensure you'll be living in a neighborhood where you can feel safe and will have access to all the amenities you need.

Investing In An Inspector

A home inspection may feel like a formality, but it's important to have the right inspector so they will notice maintenance items that can hugely impact your finances. While little items that need to be fixed-up are not a big deal, issues with the foundation or the roof can cause major grievances if they're not detected.

There are a lot of things to keep in mind when it comes to buying a home, but by doing your research and being aware of your financial outlook, you'll be well on your way to a good investment. If you're currently in the market for a home, please contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

Monday, May 22, 2017

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - May 22, 2017

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

NAHB Housing Market Index Rises, Exceeds Expectations

Builder Sentiment rose two points in May, which exceeded expectations of no change to April's reading of 68. Builders and analysts said that short inventories of available homes continue to drive demand for new homes. While index readings jumped immediately after the Presidential election in November, builder enthusiasm settled when tariffs on lumber were increased.

Two of three components used in calculating the NAHB Housing Market Index reading. Builder confidence in current housing market conditions gained two points to a reading of 76; Confidence in market conditions over the next six months gained four points to 79. The reading for buyer traffic in new home developments fell one point to 51. Any reading over 50 is considered positive in NAHB HMI reports.

Housing Starts, Building Permits Lower in April

Despite rising home builder confidence in current and future housing markets, housing starts and building permits issued were lower in April than for March. According to the Commerce Department, 1.172 million homes were started in April as compared to 1.203 million housing starts reported in March; April's housing starts were 0.070 percent higher year over year. Analysts had expected a reading of 1,259 million starts, which are calculated on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis.

Builders started single-family homes at a seasonally- adjusted annual pace of 835,000 homes in April, which indicated that builders may be gaining confidence in building homes for sale as compared to rental units. Building permits were issued at a pace of 1,229 million on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis; this was lower than the March reading of 1.260 million permits issued.

The apparent lag between strong builder sentiment and housing starts and permits could be due to ongoing concerns over increasing materials prices and shortages of buildable lots and labor needed to ramp up home construction.

Mortgage Rates, Weekly Jobless Claims Fall

Mortgage rates fell last week. Freddie Mac reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged three basis points lower at 4.02 percent. Rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.27 percent, a drop of two basis points over the prior week. Mortgage rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 3.13 percent, which was one basis point lower than the prior week. Discount points were unchanged at an average of 0.50 percent for all three mortgage types reported.

New jobless claims were lower than expected last week, with 232,000 new claims filed as compared to 240,000 new claims expected and 236,000 claims reported the prior week. Low readings for new unemployment claims suggest strong jobs markets, but can be volatile and subject to adjustment

What's Ahead

This week's scheduled economic reports include readings on new and existing home sales and consumer sentiment. Mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Did You Know: Single Women Are Buying Homes Faster Than Single Men -- Here's Why

Did You Know: Single Women Are Buying Homes Faster Than Single Men -- Here's WhyWith low interest rates and uncertainty as to where the real estate market will be in the next six months, many people are opting into ownership and investing in a home. Interestingly, according to the National Association of Realtors, approximately 17 percent of homebuyers in the United States last year were women, which is a much higher percentage than the 7 percent of single men who invested in a home. While the statistics may be interesting enough on their own, here are some of the reasons why women may be opting in.

Single Parent Security

The numbers don't lie, and it's a fact that there are a much higher number of single mothers in the United States than fathers, which makes home ownership that much more of a benefit. With low interest rates, it's common sense that many single mothers will be flocking towards the housing market to find stable housing for their family in a market that may fluctuate in the coming months

Making A Lifestyle Choice

The days are long gone of women having to invest in a home when they get married, and for many women being single is a very popular lifestyle choice. This means that many single ladies are choosing to invest on their own terms and at their own time so that they can reap the benefits of home ownership. As Jessica Lautz of the National Association of Realtors says, "They really value home ownership, and they're willing to give up a lot to have a home of their own."

It's In The Numbers

There are certainly more than a few reasons why single women are flocking to the real estate market, but demographics are changing rapidly. While it was once the case that most people were married or would marry, more single women are opting out of marriage and opening up a wider market for single-person home purchases. Given the low interest rates and the increasing number of women choosing to be single, purchasing a home offers a solid bet and a financial boon.

With a home offering up the benefit of security and the advantage of being a good financial choice, it's no surprise that more and more women are turning to home ownership on their own. If you're contemplating purchasing a home of your own, contact your local real estate professional for more information about opportunities in your area.

Today's Home Seller Needs a Real Estate Agent More Than Ever -- and Here's Why


Today's Home Seller Needs a Real Estate Agent More Than Ever -- and Here's WhyMany home sellers attempt to get into the real estate market on their own without consulting the counsel of an experienced real estate agent. However, while having an agent will certainly cost you a percentage of your home sale, it can get you a lot more in the end for a lot less headache. If you're currently considering going agentless, here are some reasons you may want to get an expert involved.

They Have Neighborhood Knowledge

It's easy enough to look through the MLS listings and get and good sense of what a home in your neighborhood is worth, but a good real estate agent will already know your area and be able to make a better assessment based on this. Not only will they be able to determine what you can sell your home for in the real estate market you're heading into, they'll be able to provide the appropriate price so it won't sit on the market too long.

Home-Marketing Savvy

With social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, it's never been easier to sell your home online. However, a real estate agent will be able to determine the best social media strategy for you and decide how best to invest their energy in order to reach the kind of homebuyers you're looking for. Beyond making a website and a home video, they'll also be able to leverage their presence online to attract other interested parties who might not have found your home otherwise.

Doing The Tough Negotiating

One of the toughest parts of any real estate transaction is the negotiating, and it goes without saying that having an experienced agent along to seal the deal can be more than a little comforting. While it's all well and good if the home inspection was positive and you got your asking price, the right agent can be instrumental in providing the right advice and price in case there are counter-offers. It's just important to do the research so you can find the right agent for you.

Many homeowners like the idea of navigating the real estate market on their own, but an experienced agent can make the process of selling your home a lot easier and more profitable at the end of the day. If you're currently getting prepared to put your home on the market, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Rises in May

The National Association of Homebuilders reported a two-point increase in builder confidence in May. The NAHB Housing Market Index reading increased from 68 in April to 70, which was the second-highest reading since the economic recovery started. May's reading exceeded analyst expectations of a flat reading for May. Builder confidence rose as demand for homes continued to rise; this factor overrode builder obstacles including higher prices for lots and ongoing labor shortages. A new tariff on lumber was also expected to dampen builder confidence

Component Readings Suggest Strong Builder Confidence in Current and Future Housing Markets

The monthly Housing Market Index is comprised of three components. Builder confidence in current housing market conditions rose two points to 76; the reading for builder confidence in market conditions for the next six months rose four points to 79. Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new homes dropped one point to 51, but overall, builder confidence in market conditions is strong as any NAHB Housing Market Index reading over 50 is considered positive.

Fewer Mortgage Applications: Home Buyers Don't Share Builder Optimism

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, mortgage applications dropped 4.30 percent year-over-year in April, and were 20 percent lower than in March. While the Mortgage Bankers Association doesn't report seasonal adjustments, fewer applications for purchase mortgages on new homes illustrated ongoing affordability challenges faced by first-time and moderate income home buyers.

High demand for available homes puts mortgage-dependent home buyers at a disadvantage when cash offers are in play. Rapid escalation of home prices creates difficulty for first-time and moderate income buyers as down payment and mortgage qualification requirements sideline buyers.

Increasing home builder sentiment has not corresponded to the number of new homes being built, which industry analysts consider the main solution to high demand for homes driven by short inventories of homes. First-time buyers are important to housing markets as they enable "move-up" buyers to sell their homes and buy new or larger homes.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

3 Bedroom Staging Tips That Will Get Potential Buyers Excited About Your Home


3 Bedroom Staging Tips That Will Get Potential Buyers Excited About Your HomeArranging an open house is one of the most important parts of selling your home, but there can be a lot of tricks involved in staging it so you'll get the right offers. While the kitchen and the living room may be a bit more straightforward, here are some tips for staging your bedroom that will be sure to get buyers interested in making an offer on your home.

Brighten The Bedding

It's one thing to have makeshift bedding when you only have your family to impress, but when it comes to having an open house, you'll need to be prepared to make a statement. Instead of a mish-mash of colors and styles, ensure that you have one style and one look you're going for, and ensure that it's not cluttered with too many pillows and colors. You'll also want to make sure the colors you choose match the rest of the décor in your room so the viewer isn't distracted by the sight.

Minimize The Clutter

Few things will swallow the space in your bedroom like a lot of clutter, so it's important to clear out any extras from your room before you have any viewers. While it's a given that you'll want to get rid of extra papers and anything additional that's obstructing the eye, it's also important to clear out any oversized pieces of furniture. It's possible that you have a chaise lounge you're in love with, but if it swallows the room, you may want to re-consider it when staging time comes.

Don't Forget About The Walls

There are few things that will illuminate a room like a good piece of art, so ensure that your favorite space isn't entirely empty when it comes the time to stage your home. While you won't want to have something that's too dramatic or colorful, ensure that it's something that matches the color and style of your room and will help to illuminate the elements that make it ideal. It's also important to choose the right size of print so that it doesn't completely overwhelm your space.

There are a lot of small details that go into staging a home properly, but you can be sure to show your bedroom effectively by keeping it clutter free and making it match. If you're currently getting prepared to put your home up for sale, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

Monday, May 15, 2017

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - May 15, 2017


Last week's economic reports included readings on inflation and core inflation, retail sales and consumer sentiment. Weekly reports on new jobless claims and mortgage rates were also released.

Inflation, Retail Sales Higher in April

April inflation grew by 0.20 percent as expected. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors, increased by 0.10 percent. Analysts expected a reading of 0.20 percent. The Federal Reserve monitors inflation readings as part of its research for monetary policy decisions. The Fed set a benchmark of 2.00 percent annual inflation as an indicator of solid economic recovery. Growing inflation could prompt the Fed to raise interest rates in June.

Retail sales grew in April from 0.10 percent in March to 0.40 percent, but fell short of an expected 0.50 percent increase. Retail sales not including the automotive sector rose by 0.30 percent in April, which was the same growth rate posted in March. Analysts expected a reading of 0.50 percent. Growing retail sales indicates that consumers are more confident about economic conditions.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Weekly Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was three basis points higher at 4.05 percent. 15-year fixed rate mortgages had an average rate of 3.29 percent and was two basis points higher than the prior week. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages rose one basis point to 3.14 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for all three types of mortgages reported.

New jobless claims fell to 236,000 last week as compared to an expected reading of 245,000 new claims and the prior week's reading of 238,000 new claims. Jobless claims remained below the 300,000 benchmark for the 114th consecutive week; last week's reading was the lowest in more than 28 months.

Consumer sentiment ended the week on a positive note with a May index reading of 97.7 as compared to an expected reading of 97.20 and April's reading of 97.0.

What's Ahead
Economic readings scheduled for this week includes reports on the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, Commerce department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Friday, May 12, 2017

6 Tips That Will Help You Get the Most Out of Your Home Inspection

6 Tips That Will Help You Get the Most Out of Your Home InspectionA home inspection may be one of the last things that needs to be done before the deal is sealed. However, it's very important to have a proper inspection done so that you can ensure you're offering price is appropriate for the home you're getting. If you're prepping for an inspection soon, here are some things you'll want to consider beforehand

Choose A Good Inspector

Like a good agent, the right inspector is going to have expertise in what they do and know what to look for. They will not only find the small fix-ups, they'll be able to highlight the potentially huge issues that may arise down the road.

Prepare Your Papers

Your inspector may be able to do their job well on their own, but if you've noticed any issues when you've visited the house, it's important to address them. While they may amount to nothing, an inspector will be able to clear up any confusion.

Ask The Questions

Whether you're experienced with real estate or not, ask the questions you want to ask whether or not they make you feel like a novice. Even if the answer is simple, it will give you the information you're looking for.

Get The Lowdown

It might seem like a bridge too far, but talking to neighbors in the area can give you a good sense of the overall upkeep of the home. While it's unlikely you'll get any unfortunate tales, people in the area may be able to illuminate you on the house's history.

Partake In The Inspection

It's good enough for many a homeowner to get a written report, but going along to see the house can facilitate conversation and may give you insights into what to watch out for. It may also mean you have a clearer idea of any potential issues.

Facilitate The Discussion

In the event that there are significant issues with the home, it may be worth talking with the inspector about dealing directly with the contractor. While this may or may not be necessary, it's a good way to ensure any problems will be effectively communicated and can be rectified.

A home inspection may be par for the course, but by asking the right questions and being involved you can ensure you'll get the most out of your inspection. If you're currently in the market for a home, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

One-stop Shopping: The Quick and Easy Guide to Buying a Home the First Time You See It

One-stop Shopping: The Quick and Easy Guide to Buying a Home the First Time You See ItMost people peruse the real estate market for a while before they bite down and decide to invest in a home. However, whether you're in a rush or you think you've found the ideal place, it's possible you may be ready to put in an offer on the first visit. If you're trying to determine how you can get the home you're looking for the first time around, here are a few things to be aware of when going in.

Are There Any Maintenance Issues?

If you're planning on putting in an offer right away, it's imperative to take a look around at any maintenance issues that jump out. You may not be able to notice all of the things that might be in need of fixing, but watch out for things like peeling paint, windows drafts and small fix-ups that haven't been completed. This will give you a sense of what the overall home maintenance is like and may be a good sign of whether the home is a solid bet.

What Are You Willing To Pay?

Many people have an idea of what they want to spend, but it often flies out the window as soon as they see their dream home. It's important, however, to keep in mind what kind of offer you want to put down and not stray too far from it. This will ensure that you pay a reasonable price for your home and won't be stretching your monthly budget. It's just important to be ready to negotiate!

What Do You Really Want?

It's easy to get swept away by the excitement of investing in a home, but if you're planning to buy you'll need to know exactly what you're looking for so you can avoid buyer's remorse. Instead of making a split decision, write down a list of the things that you absolutely must have and the things you can do without. If you find a great place, you might be willing to let go of them in the moment, but review the list before making an offer to ensure it's the right choice.

There are a lot of factors that go into buying a home, but if you're prepared to purchase on the first visit it's important to determine beforehand what you really want and the price you want to pay. If you're currently searching for a home, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

3 Simple Home Security Upgrades That Will Help to Deter Burglars


3 Simple Home Security Upgrades That Will Help to Deter BurglarsWhether you're going on an extended holiday or are just concerned about security in your neighborhood, you might be curious about the best ways to pursue safety in your home. If you're wondering how you can successfully stave off theft without a high price tag, here are some tips for protecting your property.

Keep It Clean

It's often said that one of the first things a burglar will look for when it comes to a prize home is an unkempt property. Fortunately for you, this means that keeping your property clean and tidy is a great way to prevent your home from being targeted. While everything doesn't need to be spic and span, it's a good idea to ensure that the lawn is mowed, the trees are well maintained and no tools or toys are hanging out on your yard for days on end. It might seem inconvenient, but it has the double-convenience of keeping your property clean and preventing crime!

Install Motion Activated Lights

It might have seemed like a good trick a few years ago to leave on the lights in the hope of scaring away burglars, but with more sophisticated technology comes more sophisticated methods. While you may want to use timers for your lights so they can go off randomly and give the illusion of you being at home, you may also want to spring for motion-activated lights. There is no 100% guard against crime, but motion-activated lights can work to scare off someone who's up to no good and illuminate your property for observant neighbors.

Secure Doors and Windows

Locking your doors and closing your windows might seem like the most apparent of security tips, but it actually goes a long way in deterring crime. Burglars are often looking for the easiest target and that means that an unlocked door or a slightly ajar window can go a long way in convincing them of a prospect. Instead of risking it, ensure that your doors are locked and all windows are secured before leaving your home. You may also want to use extra reinforcements if you have sliding windows or French doors.

Protecting your home may seem like it comes at a high premium, but there are very simple and economical ways to keep your home secure. If you're currently preparing to put your home on the market, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Living With a Small Green Space: How to Make the Most of a Smaller, Intimate Yard

Living With a Small Green Space: How to Make the Most of a Smaller, Intimate YardIt's great to have a yard in this day and age, but so many new developments in the city have limited green space for you to let your imagination run wild. If you're wondering what you can do with your patch of green space or small yard, here are a few options for making it aesthetically appealing and still maximizing its potential.

Pick A Centerpiece

In order to stretch the look of your green space, try adding a centerpiece or focal point that will draw the eye and instantly improve your yard's appeal. Whether you decide on a planter, a birdbath or an awning covered in vines, a unique piece will work to distract from the limitations imposed by your yard. A centerpiece may do nothing to expand your garden space, but by changing the way you view it, it will make all the difference in how you feel about it.

Make It Match

Your garden or back green space is going to look a whole lot smaller if it's eclectic style diverges greatly from your home, so keep the two aligned. If there's a selection of colors and style you use in the room that faces your yard, use them outdoors! It's also important to make it something you'll really use. As landscape architect Amber Freda of Amber Freda Home & Garden Design says, "A plain dining table with wooden chairs won't entice you to use it very much, but really comfortable lounge seating will."

Keep It Clean

It's a well-known fact that clutter in any enclosed space will instantly make it look smaller, and it's no different when it comes to your yard. Instead of jamming an excessive amount of stuff into your small space, keep it simple and decide exactly what you want to get out of the area, whether it's a vegetable garden or a comfortable place to sit. In keeping with clutter free, you'll also want to make sure you keep any invasive or aggressive plants from making themselves too comfortable!

It may seem limiting to have an undersized green space, but by deciding what you want to get out of it and creating a central point of interest, you'll be well on your way to a comfortable place. If you're currently fixing up your home in the hopes of putting it up for sale, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Monday, May 8, 2017

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - May 8, 2017


Last week's economic news included readings on construction spending, the post-meeting statement by the Fed's Open Market Committee and labor-related reports including ADP payrolls, Non-farm payrolls and the national unemployment rate. Weekly readings on new jobless claims and mortgage rates were also released.

Fed Rate Unchanged, Mortgage Rates Hold Steady

Federal Reserve policymakers did not change the target federal funds rate, which ranges from 0.75 to 1.00 percent. In its usual post-meeting statement, FOMC said that a weak first quarter was "transitory" and expected economic growth to continue going forward. Less consumer spending contributed to a sluggish first quarter, but analysts said that a rate hike was very likely at the FOMC meeting in June. The FOMC included its usual caveat concerning monetary policy in its statement; FOMC policies are not pre-determined, but are based on members' ongoing review of news and economic developments.

Freddie Mac reported minor changes in its weekly survey of mortgage rates. 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates were one basis point lower at 4.02 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was unchanged at 3.27 percent; the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose one basis point to 3.13 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for all three mortgage types.

Construction, Labor Reports Reflect Economic Growth

Construction spending fell in March after an unusually high reading in February. The original growth rate for February construction spending was 0.80 percent, but was adjusted to 1.80 percent. A spurt of unseasonably warm weather was cited as pushing construction activity to unusual levels in February. Construction spending fell by -0.20 percent as compared to an expected reading of 0.50 percent, which was based on the original reading for February.

ADP Payrolls reported lower growth for private sector jobs in April with a reading of 177,000 new jobs as compared to 255,000 new jobs gained in March. The Federal Non-farm payrolls report, which covers public and private sector jobs, posted a gain of 211,000 jobs in April after reporting only 79,000 jobs added in March. The disparity in month to month readings indicates ongoing volatility in jobs growth, but the national unemployment rate dropped to 440 percent in April from 4.50 percent in March. Low unemployment rates can indicate economic growth with job seekers gaining employment.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Til' Debt Do Us Part: How to Get a Mortgage If One Spouse Has A Poor Credit Score

Til' Debt Do Us Part: How to Get a Mortgage If One Spouse Has A Terrible Credit ScoreA poor credit history is a reality for many people, but it can be particularly daunting when it comes to investing in a house. Fortunately, simply because you or yours have experienced bad credit doesn't mean that you should be penalized in the future. If your spouse has struggled with bad credit in the past but you're both preparing to move forward and invest in a home, here are some tips for getting it together financially.

Face The Music

Many people who have bad credit are too scared to take a look at their credit report and broach it honestly, but it's important to come to terms with the problem so that it can be fixed. Instead of ignoring it, get a copy of the credit report and review it for any errors so that you can update these if needed and be aware of the issues impacting your credit score. While there may not be any inaccuracies on the report, knowing what you're dealing with will give you a point to start from.

Make Your Payments

At some point, most people have missed a credit card or bill payment, but the first step involved in improving your finances and your credit is ensuring your spouse is paying their bills on time. While this won't require paying the complete balance each month, it's important to pay the minimum balance before the due date, and stick with it! It may seem like a small step, but over time it will improve credit and say a lot to mortgage lenders!

Save Up For Down Payment

20% is the amount that's often suggested when it comes to a down payment, but if your spouse has terrible credit, it may be worth your while to save up more. It goes without saying that having good credit for both yourself and your spouse is important in getting approved for a mortgage, but by having extra for your down payment and paying your bills on time, you may be successful at convincing lenders you're a solid bet.

It can be a lot more difficult to get your mortgage approved if your spouse has bad credit, but there are steps you can take to improve your financial outlook and give lenders a better impression. If you're planning on investing in a home in the near future, contact your local real estate professionals for more information.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Three Ugly, Dated Design Features That You Need to Get Rid of Before You Sell Your Home


Three Ugly, Dated Design Features That You Need to Get Rid of Before You Sell Your HomeThere are a lot of inexpensive renovations that can easily improve the value of your home, but you might not be aware of dated features that are working against you and aging its look. If you're ready to put your home on the market and are wondering what types of design will downgrade your home's appeal, here are a few things you may want to consider upgrading or discarding before planning your first open house.

Bright Accent Walls

While brightly colored paint can certainly enhance a room if it's done in the right home and the right space, it can also age the room it's in. If you've got a neon tone that's overstayed its welcome, you may want to pull out the paint and go back to a neutral-toned wall. This will ensure that visitors to your home are not overwhelmed by the look and won't have to consider renovating right away if they don't like the color.

Lightly-Shaded Wood Cabinets

It's one thing if you're in a log cabin, but most potential homebuyers don't want to see old kitchen cabinets that are lightly toned like maple and oak. This color palette can instantly age a kitchen and they're also not that easy an upgrade. A kitchen is one of the most important selling features of your home, so instead of leaving this to chance, consider pulling out the paint for an instantly improved cabinet finish.

Clunky Furniture Pieces

The furniture that fills your home may be one of the easiest fixes there is, but it also has a significant impact on how homebuyers will view the potential of your home. A large L-shaped couch or a clunky chair can not only swallow up a room, they can create an unpleasant visual for the buyer. In these modern times, it's best to stick with a more minimal look so that homebuyers can imagine themselves in your house. If you can't cover up your item, you may want to consider moving it out when it comes time for home viewings.

There are many design features and items in your home that you may love, but when it comes to oversized furniture and bright accent walls, they may not appeal to the modern buyer. If you're currently cleaning up your home and are planning to put it on the market soon, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Suffering in a 'Low Inventory' Real Estate Market? 3 Helpful Tips for Finding a Home to Buy


Suffering in a 'Low Inventory' Real Estate Market? 3 Helpful Tips for Finding a Home to BuyMany homebuyers struggle with finding a home that is within their price range, but many of those perusing the market also struggle when it comes to the search. If you're currently in the real estate market and are having difficulty finding a good selection of homes, here are some ways to expand your search so you can find an opportunity you're prepared to invest in.

Look Over The Old Listings

Whether you do it on your own or enlist the help of your real estate agent, it's worth looking through the old listings to determine if any old opportunities are still available. There may be many formerly listed homes that have since sold, but homes that have lingered on the market may be open to offers; they may also be more aligned with the current market rates. Instead of taking the listings for granted, search for old opportunities that might turn up something good!

Consider Other Marketing Strategies

The market has changed in recent years, but the way that people choose to sell their home has changed along with it. While it's still possible to see a sign on the front lawn or find a home on a real estate agent's page, social media has become a very popular way to buy and sell. Aside from looking through the listings, consider searching Twitter or Facebook posts for homes that are for sale in your area. While you may not find your dream home, it's entirely possible that an interesting detail or neighborhood that might have been missed will capture your attention.

Keep An Eye On Expensive Listings

Most homebuyers will immediately write off a listing that is out of their price range, but homes that are overpriced will often sit on the market. Fortunately, for many homeowners, this is something they can use to their advantage. Instead of avoiding pricey homes altogether, make sure to keep tabs on ones that are a little bit out of range but manage to pique your interest. It's entirely possible that they won't come down in price, but if they do it may be well worth the wait.

Many homebuyers struggle to find a home in a tight market, but by keeping an eye out on listings and considering all of the post-modern strategies for marketing, you may be able to find your dream home. If you're currently searching for a home, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

3 'Hidden' Costs You'll Uncover Buying Your First Home - and How to Plan for Them

3 'Hidden' Costs You'll Uncover Buying Your First Home – and How to Plan for ThemAre you about to become a first-time home buyer? If so, there's a lot to get excited about. You'll soon be a home owner, able to customize and improve your living space as you see fit.

Of course, buying a home is an investment unlike any other. To get the best deal on your home, you'll need to be diligent. Let's have a look at some of the hidden costs you may uncover when buying your first home.

#1:The Home Inspection (And What It Finds)

A major step before buying any home is the inspection. A licensed inspector will go over the home from top to bottom, looking for current or future issues. The inspection itself isn't very costly. But any unresolved issues that come up may lead to expensive problems later.

If possible, try to ensure that the seller pays for any necessary repairs. When you take possession of the home, it should be in top condition.

#2: Taxes And Fees You've Never Even Heard Of

You already know about the major taxes, such as sales taxes that apply to a home's sale price. Or property taxes, charged by local governments each year and based on your home's assessed value. But depending on where you live, there may be a whole host of other taxes and fees involved. Many of which you've never even heard of!

For example, you may be subject to a Land Transfer Tax or Property Purchase Tax. These are taxes charged when a property changes hands. If you're taking out a mortgage loan, the lender may require you to pay land survey or appraisal fees. These costs help the lender to ensure the risk involved with the mortgage is appropriate.

#3: Insurance, Insurance And More Insurance

Finally, don't forget the cost of insurance. On top of regular home insurance, you may need mortgage insurance, title insurance, extra life insurance and more. It's worth booking some time with an insurance professional to find out what kind of coverage you will need.

These are three of the possible costs involved in closing the purchase of a new home. For more information about closing costs and new homes in your neighborhood, contact your local real estate agent. We have the data and insight to help you make the best decision.

Monday, May 1, 2017

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - May 1, 2017

Last week's economic news included readings on Case-Shiller Home Prices Indices, new and pending home sales. Weekly readings on new jobless claims and average mortgage rates were also released. Case-Shiller reported that home prices rose by 0.20 percent from January to February with a year-over- year growth rate of 5.80 percent.

Western cities continued to post the fastest growth rates for home prices with Seattle, Washington topping annual home price growth rates at 12.20 percent; Portland, Oregon followed with a year-over-year home price growth rate of 9.70 percent. Dallas, Texas posted the third fastest growth rate for home prices with year-over-year growth in home prices at 8.80 percent. Dallas replaced Denver, Colorado for third place in the 20-City Home Price Index. 15 of 20 cities tracked in the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index posted higher year-over-year gains in February than for January 2017

New Home Sales Rise as Pending Home Sales Dip

New home sales rose to 621,000 sales in March; analysts expected a reading of 580,000 new homes sold on a seasonally adjusted annual basis based on January's reading of 587,000 new home sales. Sales of new homes are important due to months of high demand for homes coupled with low inventories of homes for sale. Sales of new homes can indicate future readings on builder confidence and housing starts, but there are no definite connections between new home sales, builder confidence in housing market conditions and housing starts.

Pending home sales dipped in March with a month-to-month reading of -0.80 percent as compared to February's seasonally adjusted annual reading of 5.50 percent. Pending sales are home sales for which sales contracts are signed but have not been closed. Pending home sales are an indicator of future completed sales and can be impacted by factors including fluctuating mortgage rates and regulatory influences on mortgage lending and mortgage approval requirements.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was six basis points higher at 4.03 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was four basis points higher at 3.27 percent. Mortgage rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 3.12 percent which was two basis points higher than for the previous week. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage and averaged 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims rose to 257,000 last week as compared to expectations of 245,000 new claims filed and the prior week's reading of 243,000. Analysts said that the spike appeared to be localized in New York State and would likely resolve soon.

What's Ahead

This week's economic readings include ADP and Non-Farm Payrolls, national unemployment rate and readings on inflation. The Federal Open Market Committee of the Fed will issue its customary post-meeting announcement on Wednesday; this announcement is expected to reveal the Fed's next move on interest rates. Weekly readings on new jobless claims and mortgage rates will also be released.