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

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

Sort Everything That You Don’t Need

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

Host A (Virtual) Yard Sale And Consider Consignment

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

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

Donate Everything Else

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

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

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 6, 2017

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

CaseShiller: Home Price Growth Approaches Record

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

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

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

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

Mortgage Rates Little Changed, New Jobless Claims Fall

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

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

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

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

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

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

#1: Goodbye, Garages

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

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

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

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

#3: More Space Means More Green Space

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

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

Real Estate 101: What Is a “Short Sale” And How Does It Work? Let’s Take a Look

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

What Is A Real Estate Short Sale?

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

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

Stick With The Pros When Buying A Short Sale

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

Mistakes To Avoid When Buying A Short Sale Home

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

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

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

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

Home Prices Nearing Their Peak? 

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

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

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

Role of NonResident Foreign Buyers Minimal

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

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

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

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

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

“We’re Not Accepting Offers Less Than…”

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

“Our House Has Been On The Market For…”

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

“We’ve Always Meant To Renovate That…”

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

“We Need To Close The Sale By…”

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

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

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 30, 2017

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

New Home Sales Exceed Expectations; No Growth for Pending Sales

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

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

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

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

Weekly Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

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

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

Whats Ahead

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

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

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

Mistake #1: Skipping The Permit Process

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

Mistake #2: Being Afraid

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

Mistake #3: Using Cheap Materials Or Labor

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

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

Mistake #4: Changing Your Mind

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

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

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

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

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

Building Your Ultimate Dream Home

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

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

Well-Kept Existing Homes Have Lots Of Upside

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tip #2: Consider Using A Central Hub

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

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

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

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

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