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.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

With Mortgage Rates This Low, Should You Dive In? 3 Reasons Why Now Might Be the Time

With Mortgage Rates This Low, Should You Lock In? 3 Reasons Why Now Might Be the TimeWhether you've just finished school or are about to start a family, investing in a home can be one of the biggest financial decisions of your life. But as you'll soon discover, there are a number of considerations you'll need to make. It can be difficult to know whether to get a short-term or long-term mortgage, or how long of an amortization period you'll need. Read on below for three questions that will help you to make your decision, as now is the best time to dive into the market.

Do You Have A Down Payment?

There are a lot of numbers mentioned when it comes to the down payment, from 5% to cash only offers, but 20% is the ideal percentage to put down when it comes to buying a home. Because putting 20% down will enable you to avoid having to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), you'll be able to lower your costs of home ownership over time. While 20% isn't the be-all-end-all if you're really ready to hit the market, it's worth re-tooling your budget to save up.

Will You Struggle To Make Ends Meet?

Lower mortgage rates can certainly improve your overall outlook for investing in a home, but buying a home can be financially debilitating for many people. While you'll be required to make your monthly mortgage payment, there will also be insurance costs, property taxes, home maintenance and other associated fees that add up. If you feel it's going to be a huge financial risk to sustain home ownership, it may be worth sitting down with a mortgage professional to go over the numbers.

Are You Ready For Ownership?

Home ownership is often considered a rite of passage as one gets older, but it's important to determine how a new home will fit into your current lifestyle. The costs of home ownership are usually higher than renting and you'll have to take care of things like the yard and general home maintenance yourself. It might not be the best time if a home strongly imposes on your lifestyle, but if you're looking forward to domestic duties, it can be a step in the right direction.

Mortgage rates have been hovering relatively low for a few years, but it's important to know that home ownership is right for you before moving forward. If you're currently contemplating a home in your area, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Five Most Common Overlooked Expenses When Selling a House

The Five Most Common Overlooked Expenses When Selling a HouseMost homeowners are so enthusiastic about putting their home on the market and getting the price they're hoping for that the expenses involved in selling a home are forgotten. However, it's often said that one has to spend money to make money, and selling a home is no exception! If you're wondering what kinds of overlooked expenses will cut into your home sale, here are some costs to consider.

Minor Renovations

There are always a few things to fix-up when it comes time to sell your home, but by establishing what will best increase your home's value, you can make it a good investment. Instead of going it blind, create a renovation budget so any cost you incur will pay for itself.

Staging Your Home

It's possible you may be able to get away with minimal costs when it comes to home staging, but adding a few small details can improve the overall impression of your home. Instead of spending an abundance on dressing up your home, put your time into cleaning and de-cluttering for ample effect

Closing Costs

It goes without saying that closing costs can add up to a lot of money at the end of the day, but many people forget they're part of the transaction. Closing costs can include anything from transfer tax to title insurance to escrow fees so it may be worth talking to your agent to see if they can give you a deal.

Real Estate Commission

It's easy to forget, but using a real estate agent to sell your home will require you to pay a portion of your home's sale to them. While you may be able to negotiate this percentage with your agent, it's worth realizing that an agent will help you garner a higher price and will do a lot of the leg work for you.

The Moving Van

It might be too soon to think about, but if you have a lot of stuff and don't want to take on the task yourself, you'll need to hire a moving company to help you relocate. Instead of leaving this to the last minute, contact a few popular movers to get pricing, and don't wait until the last minute to schedule your move. If you're desperate, you're likely to pay more.

Selling a home can be a financial boon, but there are many expenses that can come along with it. If you're currently preparing to put your home on the market, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Community Living: The Quick and Easy Guide to Starting a Community Garden

Community Living: The Quick and Easy Guide to Starting a Community GardenAh, the city. With so many people living in an urban landscape these days, it can be hard to find anything more than a planter on the balcony for your herbs. And good luck finding space for vegetables or large flowering plants! Fortunately, coming up with a community garden can be a great way to get the locals together. If you're wondering how to get started with this fun project, begin with the following guide.

Find The Right People

Organizing your own community garden can seem overwhelming at first, so it's important to gather a group of like-minded people that are interested in the idea and have the same passion for it that you do. Whether you decide to use a site like Meetup to get a group together or you have a variety of friends and neighbors who might be interested, ensure your group has both gardening and planning skills to bring to the table.

Research The Local Community

You'll want to choose a site that's not too far from your home, so talk to local horticultural organizations and your city or community center for information on available areas of land. Once you know the details, it will be easier to determine what exactly you'll need to do to fund and develop the area. You might decide to cover the startup costs on your own, or you may want to create a small society which can be sponsored by local businesses. There may even be loan programs in your area that are available for your project, so ask around.

Start The Planting Process

Once you've determined who your crew will be and where you'll be creating your garden, it will be much easier to move forward and determine what exactly your garden will be. Do you want it to be a collective which you all share together? Or do you want separate plots so all your members can do whatever they like? Once you've decided, the launch date can be the ideal time to throw a garden party and get everyone in on the fun.

Growing vegetables and planting your own garden has become a more popular pastime in recent years, and it can be easier than you think to get your very own community garden started. If you're looking to buy a home in a garden-friendly new community, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.