Showing Your Home to Buyers? Don’t Make These 4 Mistakes – They Could Cost You Dearly!

Showing Your Home to Buyers? Don't Make These 4 Mistakes - They Could Cost You Dearly! There are numerous steps that must be taken to properly stage a home, and some sellers can easily become overwhelmed by all of the tips and steps they have been told to follow. It may be acceptable to skip over some of the steps to save time or money when staging a home, but there are some mistakes that homeowners can make that can have negative results.

Leaving Personal Hygiene Items Out

A common staging tip relates to storing all personal items out of site, and the reason for this is so that home buyers can see themselves living in the home as opposed to feeling as though they are in someone else’s home. However, some homeowners will leave personal hygiene items out, such as a razor, shampoo, a toothbrush and other items. These are highly personal items that can easily make a home buyer feel uncomfortable walking through the home.

Allowing Controversial Items To Be Seen

In addition, some homeowners will leave controversial items out, and these can distract a buyer, annoy them or even infuriate them if the items are controversial enough. Home buyers should feel welcome in a home and should leave without any negative feelings. Everything from posters to refrigerator magnets that may be even slightly tainted with controversy should be removed.

Leaving Valuable Items In Plain Sight

For homeowners who have some valuable possessions, it may be best to store these away or even to remove them entirely from the home. Keep in mind that buyers will be negotiating with sellers at least once and often several times during the process, and the last thing a seller wants is for the buyer to have the impression that the seller can afford to make concessions and to negotiate more freely.

Keeping Closets And Cabinets Cluttered

Closets and cabinets are common storage areas that are used to hide much of the clutter that most people keep on dressers, counters and shelves when staging a home, but storing items in these areas can backfire. Buyers will open closets and cabinets to inspect storage space, and a home can appear to be lacking in storage space when these areas are cluttered.

Properly staging a home is an important step to take to prepare a home for sale. A trusted real estate agent can provide a homeowner with additional staging tips customized to his or her home. Consider setting up a consultation with your real estate professional to discuss staging ideas before listing a home on the market.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 29, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - June 29, 2015Last week’s economic news was largely positive as both new and existing home sales beat expectations. FHFA reported that home price growth held steady in May, while weekly jobless claims edged up, but were lower than expected.

New and Existing Home Sales Exceed Expectations

According to the Commerce Department, new home sales reached 546,000 on an annual basis for May. This surpassed expectations for 525,000 new homes sold and April’s revised reading of 534,000 new homes sold. Expectations were based on the original reading of 517,000 new homes sold in April.

Existing home sales rose by 5.10 percent in May to a seasonally-adjusted annual reading of 5.35 million sales and hit their highest level in five and a half years. The National Association of Realtors reported that this was the fastest pace of sales for previously-owned homes since November 2009. Expectations were based on an April’s original reading of 5.04 million sales, which was later revised to 5.09 million existing homes sold.

With wages and hiring picking up, more first-time buyers are expected to enter the market. Economists said there are signs that mortgage credit is becoming more available as lenders gain confidence in stronger economic conditions. A larger supply of available homes was also cited as driving sales of previously owned homes higher.

FHFA: Home Prices Show Steady Growth in May; Mortgage Rates Mixed

The Federal Finance Housing Agency (FHFA), the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that home prices related to mortgages owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac held steady with a growth rate of 5.30 percent year-over-year reported in May. This was the same year-over-year home price growth rate that the agency posted in April.

Freddie Mac reported mixed developments for mortgage rates. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by two basis points to 4.02 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 3.21 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage also fell by two basis points to 2.98 percent. Average discount points were 0.70, 0.60 and 0.40 percent respectively.

Last week’s economic reports ended on a high note with June’s Consumer Sentiment Index reporting a reading of 96.1 as compared to expectations of 94.6 and May’s reading of 94.6. All in all, last week’s economic news provided further indications of stronger economic conditions that should provide the confidence to ease mortgage credit requirements and enable more first-time buyers to purchase homes.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic reports include date on pending home sales, Case-Shiller’s Home Price Index reports and construction spending. The Bureau of Labor Statistics will also release the monthly Non-Farm Payrolls report and National Unemployment reports. No economic news is scheduled for Friday, July 3 due to the Independence Day holiday.

Dealing with the Summer Heat? How to Keep Your Home Cool Without Using a Ton of Energy

Dealing with the Summer Heat? How to Keep Your Home Cool Without Using a Ton of EnergyMany people look forward to the long, relaxed, sunny days of summer, but they also dread opening up their energy bills throughout the summer months. Cooling a home can be costly, and many are searching for convenient ways to lower cooling costs without sacrificing on comfort inside the home on the warmest days of the year. These are just a few of the cost-effective and convenient options that can help homeowners to reduce cooling costs throughout the summer.

Keep The Blinds Closed

A significant amount of heat can enter a home through the windows, and blinds and curtains provide an extra layer of insulation between the window glass and the interior of the home. Some types of blinds and curtains are more effective at blocking heat than others, and homeowners may consider making an upgrade for the best results. For example, wood blinds can block significantly more heat than thin, almost translucent sheers.

Run The Ceiling Fans

Another way to keep cooling costs lower throughout the summer months is to run ceiling fans regularly. Ceiling fans help to circulate the air, and this helps the central cooling system function more efficiently. In addition, ceiling fans also can make those who are in the room feel cooler, and this may mean that homeowners can keep the home’s thermostat set at a slightly higher level than it otherwise would need to be set at for comfort indoors.

Use Heat-Generating Features At Night

There are numerous appliances and types of equipment that may be used indoors throughout the summer that can generate a considerable amount of heat, and running these at night can reduce the need to run the central cooling system as much during warm days. Consider that everything from running the washing machine and dryer to using the dishwasher and oven or range can emit heat in the home, and these serve to counteract the work that the cooling system is doing. When possible, limit the use of these features to cooler nighttime hours.

Keeping the home cool throughout the summer is a top priority for most, and the good news is that there are easy ways to reduce the cost associated with keeping a home cool. These ideas all can be beneficial in a homeowner’s quest to reduce energy costs during the summer.

If your current home is a real energy hog and you are ready to move into a more energy efficant option, make sure to speak with your trusted real estate professional for a look at newer energy efficant homes in your area.

Family Matters: How to Choose the Perfect Home for a Large or Growing Family

Family Matters: How to Choose the Perfect Home for a Large or Growing Family Selecting the right home to purchase for a family is a monumental task, and this process can seem even more challenging for those with a large or growing family. A common goal may be to give everyone ample space to stretch out and feel relaxed, but some home buyers may also be focused on other factors like location, cost and even the general style of the home. While choosing the perfect home for a large or growing family is not easy, the process can be simplified by focusing on a few points.

Focus On Storage Space

There are few things that can make home life more miserable in the coming years than a lack of storage space. When a large family does not have adequate storage space in closets, the attic, the garage and cabinets, their items will likely find a home on the counters, on the floor and in other undesirable locations. Home buyers can consider looking for a home that has more storage space than is needed right now to ensure that the new home can accommodate growing needs over the years.

Think About Function Over Size

Many people who are looking for a new home will focus on finding a home that has a specific minimum square footage or a minimum number of bedrooms, but function is generally more important. For example, if a home has bar-style seating at the kitchen counter, the family may not need as large of a breakfast room to accommodate its needs. The family may also get more use out of a home that has a second living area, such as a game room, rather than a formal dining room that may rarely be used.

Choose The Right Floor Plan

In addition, consider reviewing the floor plan of the home carefully. Many prefer to have the kids’ rooms away from the master room, a study placed away from the kids’ game room or an open area where the kitchen and family room are connected so that a parent can oversee the kids while making meals. Home buyers should consider how they live and their likes and dislikes about their current space to determine which floor plan is best for them.

Deciding which home to purchase is rarely easy to do, but your trusted real estate professional can assist home buyers with this process. Those who are searching for a new home for a large or growing family can call their local real estate agent for further assistance.

Seeking the Perfect Summer Home Improvement Project? It’s Time for an Inground Pool

Seeking the Perfect Summer Home Improvement Project? It's Time for an Inground Pool The warmer summer months provide homeowners with the ideal conditions for making improvements to their property, and many will want to put installing an in-ground swimming pool at the top of their list of improvement ideas. While a swimming pool may seem like a pure luxury to some, there are actually considerable benefits that homeowners can enjoy by making this improvement. With closer consideration, homeowners may decide that this is the perfect improvement to make to their property.

The Perfect Place For Relaxation And Entertainment

Many homes provide ample space for basic living, but they often lack an extra space that is well-suited for personal relaxation and for entertaining family and friends. An in-ground swimming pool can enhance a backyard area and can create the ideal space for everything from spending quiet, lazy afternoons alone to hosting a backyard get-together with family and friends. This can be a true extension of the home that improves its functionality in a number of ways.

Beautification For The Backyard

More than that, a backyard swimming pool can beautify the yard tremendously. This is a feature that enhances ambiance as well as function through its tranquil, serene water and the general décor of the pool itself. While additional landscaping can be improved around the pool, the pool itself can create a luxurious, relaxing look to a backyard.

Enhanced Appeal When Selling The Home

A trusted real estate professional will likely tell the average homeowner that a swimming pool will not have a direct impact on property value, but it can improve desirability. Some home buyers may not want a pool, but many will choose a home that has a swimming pool over one that does not have one in a head to head comparison. Therefore, a swimming pool installation project now may give a property enhanced appeal later when the homeowner decides to sell it.

There may be a number of different home improvement projects for homeowners to consider completing this summer, but many will want to place the installation of a backyard swimming pool at the top of their list. With so many benefits associated with having an in-ground pool, this is an option that most homeowners should take a closer look at. Those who want to learn more about how an in-ground pool can improve their property’s value or re-sale appeal can speak with their trusted real estate professional.

Summer Staging: How to Stage Your Home to Appeal to Young Families

Summer Staging: How to Stage Your Home to Appeal to Young Families Young families often look for many different things in a home than older couples with teenagers or those with an empty nest may look at. Many real estate agents will tell their clients to stage a home so that it appeals to those who are most likely going to be interested in buying it. For sellers who have a family home in a safe, kid-friendly community, staging a home to appeal to young families is a great idea and can be accomplished with a few easy steps.

Clean Up The Back And Front Yards

Young families may spend as much time focusing on the interior of the home as the exterior of the home. While a real estate agent may have made suggestions for sprucing up curb appeal in general, making the area kid-safe and friendly is also a smart idea. Remove any dangerous areas that may be concerning to parents of young kids, and define play areas in the backyard or show off how much space there is for kids to run and play.

Define Family Areas

Inside the home, spend ample time staging family or communal areas, such as the family room, game room and kitchen. Adding a few kid-friendly features to stage these areas can go a long way toward appealing to young families, and one idea is to add kid-sized sitting chairs in the family room. Parents should be able to envision themselves as well as their kids living in the space when an area has been properly staged.

Make The Space Safe And Tidy

Young parents are finely attuned to the dangers all around them, and some may instantly and actively seek out danger areas in the homes they tour. This can distract them from focusing on the many wonderful benefits and attributes of the home itself, so removing these distractions is imperative. Remove sharp objects, glass table tops, small choking hazards and more throughout the home so that parents with young children can feel more at home in the space.

While other basic staging steps should also be taken when preparing to list a home on the market, these are steps that can help a seller create a family-friendly ambiance that appeals to home buyers who have young children or who may be planning to have children soon. For those who need more information about selling their home or who want personalized staging advice, contact your trusted real estate agent for a consultation.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 22, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - June 22, 2015Last week’s economic news included National Association of Home Builders / Wells Fargo (NAHB) Housing Market Index and Commerce Department reports on Housing Starts and Building Permits, the post-meeting statement of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), and Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s scheduled press conference.

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Hits 9 Month High

Home builder confidence in housing market conditions is growing in spite of a planned merger between two builders and related cost-cutting efforts. According to the NAHB’s the home builder index posted a reading of 59 in June as compared to an expected reading of 55 and May’s reading of 54. Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders are confident about housing markets than those who are not. June’s reading was the 12th consecutive month for readings above 50.

The NAHB index is composed of three assessments of market conditions. The reading for current market conditions was seven points higher at 65; builder confidence in current market conditions rose by 6 points for a reading of 69 and the reading for buyer traffic in new single-family housing developments rose five points to a reading of 44.

Regional results for builder confidence were also positive, with three of four regions posting gains in the three-month rolling average of builder confidence. The South posted a gain of three points to a reading of 60; the Northeast region also gained three points for a reading of 44. The West gained two points for a reading of 57 and the Midwest’s reading dropped by one point to 54.

Housing Starts Drop, Building Permits Increase

According to the Commerce Department, Housing starts fell in May while building permits rose. The reading of 1.04 million housing starts was lower than the expected number of 1.08 million starts and April’s reading of 1.17 million housing starts. Analysts note that apartment construction is heating up as fewer families are buying homes. Tight lending standards and concerns about stable job markets continue to keep would-be home buyers from buying homes.

Building permits in May rose from April’s reading of 1.14 million to 1.28 million permits issued. This report includes all types of building permits. David Crowe, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders noted that the demand for rental units in large metro areas was fueling the pace of permits for multi-family housing.

Fed: No Date Set for Rate Hike; Analysts Predict Rate to Rise in Fall

The Federal Reserve’s FOMC statement and Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s press conference did not provide a date for raising the target federal funds rate, but suggested that most members approved of a rate hike before year-end. While Chair Yellen characterized a rate hike as positive in terms of providing better yields on savings accounts, a rate hike would also lead to higher rates for consumer loans and mortgages.

Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Lower

Weekly jobless claims fell to 267,000 new claims filed, a reading much lower than expectations of 275,000 new claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 279,000 new jobless claims filed. Analysts said that the lower reading indicates a healthier labor market.

Mortgage rates fell across the board last week. Freddie Mac reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by four basis points to 4.00 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 3.23 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped one basis point to an average rate of 3.01 percent. Average discount points were 0.70 percent for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, 0.50 percent for a 15 year mortgage and 0.04 percent for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes reports on new and existing home sales and FHFA’s monthly home price report. Reports on consumer spending and consumer sentiment will also be released along with Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates survey and weekly jobless claims.

Safety Tips: 5 Ways to Prepare for a House Fire – and What to Do if One Breaks Out

Safety Tips: 5 Ways to Prepare for a House Fire - and What to Do if One Breaks Out House fires can break out for a wide range of reasons, and these include everything from grease fires while cooking in the kitchen to lightning striking the home. They can cause a significant amount of property damage as well as personal injury or even loss of life, so preventing them and knowing how to properly respond if a fire does break out are important. Whether buying a new home or residing in an existing home, everyone can benefit from learning more about fire safety rules.

Have An Exit Strategy

Fires can break out whether residents are awake in the living room or kitchen, taking a bath or sleeping in the bedrooms. It is important to have a fire exit strategy for every floor of the home and every room of the home. In addition, it is equally important that all residents in the home understand the strategies and know how to get out.

Invest In Fire Safety Ladders

Fire safety ladders are designed to give residents a safe escape route from second story windows, and they should be placed in a convenient location in every second floor room in the home. Residents should know how to attach them securely to the window as well as how to get down the ladder safely.

Purchase A Fire Extinguisher

Generally, it is safer for residents to get out of the home in the event of a fire rather than to attempt to put the fire out, and personal safety should also come before thoughts about saving the property. However, in the event a very small fire has broken out, a fire extinguisher can provide a homeowner with a safe way to put the fire out. It is best to keep a fire extinguisher in a convenient location on each floor of the home.

Place Fire Detectors In Strategic Locations

There are codes regarding the placement of fire detectors in a home, and your trusted real estate agent can provideyou with more information about this. In many cases, homeowners may benefit from having additional fire detectors placed in strategic locations throughout the home in addition to the locations required by code.

Check Fire Safety Equipment Regularly

Fire safety and prevention equipment is only useful if it works, so it is important to test the equipment and supplies regularly. For example, a homeowner may test the batteries in a fire detector monthly and may take extinguishers to the local fire department for testing annually. These steps will help to ensure that residents have access to functional safety equipment regularly.

Residents should also know what to do if a fire breaks out in a home, and in most cases, the answer is to get out of the home quickly and to call the fire department. Attempts to save personal belongings should not be made, and all residents should know where the family will meet outside of the home in the event of a fire. Those who want to learn more about safety features in a home or about the required placement of smoke detectors can contact your trusted real estate professional for further assistance.

Federal Reserve: No Change on Target Fed Funds Rate

Federal Reserve: No Change on Target Fed Funds RateThe Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve did not move to increase the Fed’s target federal funds rate, which is currently 0.00 to 0.250 percent. Although the committee acknowledged further progress toward achieving the Federal Reserve’s dual goal of maximum employment and an inflation rate of two percent, committee members indicated that they want to see further improvements in both areas before raising the federal funds rate.

In its customary post meeting statement, the FOMC said that it may not raise rates when both goals have been achieved. This statement may have been meant to calm ongoing speculation that the Fed will soon raise rates. The statement also said that FOMC members may “elect to keep the target federal funds rate below levels the committee considers normal in the longer term.” This stance suggests that the Fed wants to be very sure that economic improvement is on a solid track before it raises rates.

The statement further indicated that the FOMC is not completely influenced by the Fed’s goals of maximum employment and two percent inflation; instead, the committee said that it will consider ongoing domestic and global news and economic reports along with readings on financial and economic developments as part of its decision to raise or not raise the target federal funds rate.

Analyst reactions to the decision not to raise rates suggests that the Fed is likely to raise rates at its September meeting and possibly again in December.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s Press Conference

Fed Chair Janet Yellen gave a scheduled press conference after the FOMC statement was issued and answered questions on a variety of topics. Ms. Yellen noted that retiring baby boomers are expected to take up slack in employment lags; as boomers retire, they drop out of the work force and reduce the number of people actively seeking employment.

Ms. Yellen also noted that when the Fed does raise rates, seniors and retirees could benefit from higher yields on savings.

In response to questions about when the Fed will raise its target federal funds rate, the Fed Chair said that the Fed has not decided when to raise rates and said that unfolding economic developments would play a role when the Fed does decide to raise rates.

Ms. Yellen encouraged emphasis on when the Fed will make its first rate hike. She recommended focusing on “the entire trajectory” of rate increases, which some analysts took to mean don’t panic about the first rate increase.

Moving to the City? How to Downsize from a Large House to a Smaller Condo or Apartment

Moving to the City? How to Downsize from a Large House to a Smaller Condo or Apartment Many people make the decision to move from the country or the suburbs into the heart of the downtown area for a number of reasons, such as to enjoy proximity to work or to enjoy the urban lifestyle. With the higher cost of real estate in central urban areas and with real estate space at a premium, many who make the decision to relocate will need to downsize from a larger house to a smaller condo or apartment. While this can be challenging, it can be accomplished by following a few steps.

Choose The Right Pieces To Keep

When downsizing from a larger house to a smaller apartment or condo, it is often necessary to get rid of some furnishings. It is important to select furnishings that are best suited for the size of the new space as well as the individual’s needs. Items that will not have a place in the new home can be donated, stored in a storage unit or given to a family member or friend.

Think About Storage

When living space is downgraded, storage of everything from dishes to linens and clothing becomes a concern. Storage features in downtown apartments and condos is often minimal, and this means that those moving into these units may need to invest in special storage features. For example, storage bins that can slide under the bed, pull-out features for kitchen cabinets and various other types of storage features can all be put to use to improve organization and to maximize the limited amount of space available in the property.

Get Back To The Basics

While storage features can be useful, the fact is that most people who are making this transition will need to get rid of some of their items or store them in a storage unit. A smart idea is to consider only the basic items that are truly necessary for living as a first step. If space permits, additional luxury items can be added to the space provided there is room in the apartment or condo.

Downgrading from a larger home to a smaller living space can be frustrating and stressful, but eliminating the unnecessary items and improving storage and organization can go a long way toward streamlining this process. Those who are searching for a new place to live in the city can request personal assistance from their trusted real estate professional.