Posted in Home Seller Tips

Sell A Home, While Managing Your Stress

Sell A Home, While Managing Your StressWhen we are going through a difficult and stressful time, our bodies naturally react to the situation. This “fight or flight” reaction to stress makes us more alert and ready to avoid danger, so it is helpful in the moment.

However, if you are in a constant state of stress on an ongoing basis, this can be very damaging to your health and can increase the risk of diseases such as heart disease, depression and other problems.

Chronic stress can also result in insomnia, headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain and much more – as well as emotional issues such as panic attacks, anxiety and worry.

This is why learning to manage your stress is crucial to your health. Many people try to manage their stress by overindulging in unhealthy substances, such as tobacco, drugs and alcohol.

However, by managing stress in this way you are actually making the problem worse because you are contributing to the stress on your body.

So what are some of the healthy ways that you can manage stress?

Express Your Feelings

A lot of stress comes from being angry or upset about a situation, but keeping your thoughts and feelings inside. You can relieve that stress by sharing your feelings and expressing how you feel.

Take Time To Relax

No matter how busy and chaotic things might be, take time for yourself to recharge and relax. Even if it’s only 20-30 minutes per day, having a bath, reading a book or going for a walk – it will really help to keep you calm.

Get Some Exercise

The act of exercising is a great stress reliever because it encourages your brain to produce feel-good chemicals such as endorphins. Also, your body will be better able to fight stress when it is in good shape.

Make Sure You Get Sleep

When there are a lot of demands on you, it can be tempting to want to skip sleep so that you can get more things done. However, when you are sleep deprived you will actually be much less effective and you won’t be able to handle stressful situations as well. Make sure that you go to bed at a reasonable time and get the sleep you need.

Speak To A Friend

Having a close friend who you can discuss your issues with can be a huge help when you are feeling stressed. Even if they can’t solve anything, it is simply helpful to have someone who listens, cares about how you are feeling and offers some encouraging words.

Managing your stress is crucial to your health, so make sure that you keep these tips in mind when things start to get overwhelming.

Posted in Homebuyer Tips

Ready To Buy Your First Home, Here Is Your Quick Checklist

Ready To Buy Your First Home, Here Is Your Quick ChecklistBuying your first home is a major milestone in your life, similar to graduating high school or moving out of your parent’s house.

When you buy a property, you are making a long-term investment decision in your future and potentially taking the first step toward your future financial security.

However, buying a house before you are ready can actually be a negative move that puts a cramp in your plans.

It is important to assess where you are in life, so that you know whether or not it’s the right time to buy a house.

Some people buy their first home at 21, others at 30 and some might continue to rent for the rest of their lives – the decision depends on personal circumstances. But how can you determine for yourself whether you are ready?

You Have All Of  Your Finances In Order

Is your credit score looking healthy? Have you paid off your credit card debt, student loans or personal loans?

If not, it is important to clean up your finances and pay down your debts before you start looking for a home, or you will be adding a mortgage on top of the debt before you are able to handle everything.

You Have Enough Savings For A Down Payment

Just because you can buy a home for as little as 3.5% down payment, doesn’t mean that you should. You will have your dream home, but your mortgage payments will be so high that you won’t have any money left over for repairs or improvements.

Also, you will end up paying thousands of dollars more in interest over the length of the loan. The bigger down payment you can save, creating equity in your home, the better.

You Are Earning Enough To Comfortably Afford The Mortgage Payment

Financial experts recommend that you never take a monthly payment that is more than 25% percent of your take home pay – including taxes and insurance.

Stretching yourself thinner will leave you little room for error and if your income drops for any reason – you will quickly find yourself in hot water.

You Are Happy To Settle In One Place

Could you see yourself settling in this location for the long term, or are you still considering moving elsewhere in the country or living abroad?

Buying a home is a long-term investment, so if you think that you might possibly move somewhere else in the next five years, you might want to think twice about buying a home and rent instead.

These are just a few of the signs that you are ready to purchase your first property. For more information, contact your trusted real estate professional.

Posted in Home Selling Tips

How To Emotionally Detach From Your Home When Selling

How To Emotionally Detach From Your Home When SellingLet’s face it, selling your home can be an emotionally difficult process – especially if you have lived there for a long time. When you make a house your home, it holds many of your memories and it becomes a part of your identity.

How can you sell the house in which your child took their first steps, where you held many dinner parties and where your family celebrated so many birthdays and holidays together?

You will go through a period of transition when moving house, which can be mentally and emotionally tiring.

It might be hard to sell your home, but time marches on and eventually it is time to move to a different location or simply downsize or up-size to suit your changing family situation.

The problem with being too emotionally attached to your home is that it makes it difficult to sell. When you have a sentimental attachment to your home you will estimate its value as higher than it really is and you will have trouble accepting counter offers.

Which could mean that your home is on the market for a long time when it could possibly have been sold for a reasonable price.

Here are some tips for emotionally detaching from your home so that it is easier to sell:

Remove Your Personal Items

Taking any of your personal items out of the house will make it a lot easier to sell, because the buyer will be able to imagine a blank slate filled with their items instead. Also, it will make the process easier on you if you can remove your family photos, keepsakes and personal items – because it will make the house feel less like yours.

Think About Your New Home

Whether or not you have already bought your next property, it’s time to start thinking about it as your new home. It will take some time, but you can transfer that emotional connection to the new place where you will live.

Start to focus on all of the things that you are looking forward to about living in your new home.

Preserve A Record Of Your Old Home

Take photos and even make a video tour of your old home before you move – so that you can always remember where you used to live.

Get An Outside Opinion

Ask your real estate agent or a professional home stager to take a look at your home with unbiased eyes to let you know what you should change to help it sell faster.

They might tell you to eliminate the jungle wallpaper in your son’s bedroom that you love – but they are probably correct in a way that you can’t see because your emotions cloud your judgement.

With these tips, you should be able to emotionally detach from your old home, so that it is easier to sell. For more information contact your real estate professional.

Posted in Mortgage Rates

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 10, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - February 10, 2014Residential Construction Spending Up

Last week’s mortgage and housing-related reports began with Construction Spending for December, with a reading of 0.10 percent or a seasonally adjusted $930.5 billion. December’s reading fell short of an expected increase of 0.40 percent.

Spending for private sector projects rose by 1.00 percent; of this amount, residential construction spending increased by 2.60 percent and private sector spending for non-residential construction fell by -0.70 percent.

Although construction spending posted a fractional gain, the good news is that construction spending is currently dominated by residential construction and that due to inclement winter weather, any gain in construction spending during December could be considered positive.

Jobs and Unemployment Data Mixed

Employment related reports dominated the week’s economic reports. The ADP employment report for January indicated that only 175,000 new private sector jobs were added for the lowest reading in five months.

December saw 227,000 new jobs. Severe weather conditions were the cause of lower than expected jobs growth. Month-to-month job reports can be unpredictable, but quarterly results provided positive information as the three month period ended in January 2014 saw average monthly job growth of 230,000 jobs as compared to an average reading of 220,000 jobs added during the same period a year ago.

New Jobless Claims came in at 331,000, significantly less than the prior week’s reading of 351,000 new jobless claims, and also lower than the forecasted reading of 337,000 new jobless claims. Analysts said that these readings supported gradual improvement in the economy.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its Non-Farm Payrolls report for January, which indicated that 113,000 new jobs were added during the first month of 2014.

This reading was better than December’s reported 75,000 jobs added, and suggested to economists that bad weather was not the underlying cause of the dip in jobs growth. Healthcare and government sectors cut jobs in January.

With lower job growth, a higher unemployment rate would seem likely, but the national unemployment rate dropped to 6.60 percent from last week’s reading of 6.70 percent.

The Federal Reserve’s FOMC Committee has established a benchmark reading of 6.50 percent as one of the economic indicators it uses in decisions concerning federal stimulus programs.

Readings for labor and unemployment are important for the overall economy and housing markets; consumers worried about jobs that they might lose or jobs they cannot find likely won’t be buying homes in the near term.

Mortgage Rates Drop

According to last week’s Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, average mortgage rates dropped across the board. The reported rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.23 percent, down from the prior week’s 3.32 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.70 percent.

The rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by seven basis points to 3.33 percent. Discount points ticked upward from 0.60 to 0.70 percent. The rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by four basis points to 3.08 percent with discount points unchanged.

Whats Coming Up This Week

This week’s scheduled economic news includes Weekly Jobless claims, Freddie Mac’s report on average mortgage rates, along with retail sales and retail sales except automotive sales.

The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment report will be released Friday.

Posted in Around The Home

Conducting Your Own Home Energy Audit

Conducting Your Own Home Energy AuditIf your monthly energy bill has started to make you cringe, then it might be time to conduct an energy audit on your home. Hiring a professional can cost you a pretty penny. So save the dough and examine your home yourself.

With a few tools and the tips below, you can identify problem areas that could be costing you every month.

 Energy Bills

Analyze last year’s energy bills. Each statement should itemize the energy you use each month in kilowatts. Note any spikes that could indicate problems with one of your appliances or the structure of your home.

Call your energy provider and ask what the average cost is for a home of your size in your area. Then determine how extensively you need to conduct your energy audit.

 Air Leakage

Warm or cool air escaping from your home can cost you more money and overstress your appliances. To search for cracks that air might be seeping through, light an incense stick and walk into each room of your home on a windy day. The smoke from the incense stick will highlight problem areas and you can mark them with painters’ tape.

Heating And Cooling System

Thoroughly inspect your heating and cooling equipment. Most homeowners neglect to follow appliance manufacturers’ recommendations of doing this once a year. Make sure your system is working properly.

Change filters and examine ductwork. If your appliances are older than 15 years, consider replacing it with a newer, more energy-efficient model.

 Insulation

Go up into your attic and check for insulation. If the insulation covers the joists, then there is probably enough to protect your home. Remove light sockets and use a flashlight to see if your walls have been insulated.

If not, you might want to have insulation blown in. Look for any stained or damaged insulation. This could be a sign of exterior leaks that need to be fixed.

 Lighting

According to Energy.gov, lighting accounts for around 10% of energy usage. As part of your energy audit, reduce your use by replacing inefficient bulbs with incandescent or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs.

Consider using lower-wattage bulbs in rooms that get a lot of sunlight and only turning on table lamps instead of overhead lighting at night.

 

Posted in Home Selling Tips

What Is DOM And How It Affects Your Home For Sale

DOM - What It Is And How It Affects Your Home For SaleOh, the dreaded/happy DOM question: “How long has this house been up for sale?” If it’s your home for sale we’re talking about, you’re probably wondering about the split “dreaded/happy” bit. For that matter, whether you’re a buyer or a seller, you’re probably asking, “what the heck is ‘DOM’?”

Days On Market

“DOM” is the shortened industry term for Days On Market, used by the multiple listing services. It’s exactly what it sounds like: the number of days your home for sale has been on the market. This metric covers the time it actually goes on sale to the time the deal is closed.

Why Is DOM Important?

Remember the “dreaded/happy” part at the beginning of this article? As a buyer’s agent, I might gleefully answer, “Fifty days.” I say “gleefully,” because a house that has sat on the market for a long time is a good thing for my client.

The seller is probably more eager to sell than a month before, and is most likely willing to work a deal. An eager seller makes a happy buyer in most cases.

On the other hand, as a seller’s agent, I might not be so happy about it, and for the same reason. My seller is now an eager seller. I want to get the best deal for my client, but I know the buyer has the upper hand. It is then up to me to help my client get the home sold without giving away the barn, the pool, the tool shed and the tools.

Already, you may be beginning to understand how the DOM metric can affect the sale of your home.

The problem with the DOM metric is that it causes buyers and agents to build false assumptions. If a home has been on the market for an above-average length of time, we start to wonder, “what’s the matter with that listing?” Even though I know there are other reasons for a home to go static and not sell, many people automatically think there’s something wrong.

Reasons For An Extended DOM Metric:

  • The Home May Be Overpriced – Nothing is wrong with the property itself; it’s just priced too high.
  • Testing The Market – Although it’s a big mistake and agents will tell you so, some sellers test the market by throwing a high price on a home they don’t care if they sell – just to see if somebody is foolish enough to take it.
  • Sticking To Your Guns – Often, sellers get fixed on a price and won’t budge, come hell or high water. They figure they can wait around until the market can meet their price, not the other way around.
  • Renovations – Sometimes, a home will go on the market in the middle of renovations. The sellers aren’t ready to let the home be seen, so it just sits there.
  • Availability – A growing problem is the lack of access to a home for sale. Sadly, agents and FSBOs alike seem to be unavailable when a buyer wants to view the home. Obviously, no viewing means no sale.

Don’t let your DOM get high because of simple mistakes. If you’re serious about selling your home, remember the five reasons above and make sure you aren’t doing them.

If you’re ready to sell your home with a professional who understands how to keep the DOM to a minimum, contact your real estate professional today.

Posted in Homebuyer Tips

Buying A Home That’s Not For Sale

Buying A Home That’s Not For SaleYou’re ready to purchase a home, but you’ve looked at everything on the market and can’t find the perfect place. You’ve researched the school districts, neighborhoods and nearby amenities, and you know exactly in which area you want to live.

However, anything that comes on the market in that part of town gets snapped up immediately.

It’s time to get creative when it comes to buying a home. Start looking at places that are not currently for sale. You might have driven past your dream home, but you never thought of going the unconventional buying route.

Well, take a look at the tips below to see how you can close on a home without any other buyers knowing.

Look At Previously Listed Homes

Search homes that were on the market, but the owners took them off. Many homeowners let their listing expire and are waiting until the market improves. This is fortunate for you, because you know they are already interested in selling.

Research Online County Records

If you see your perfect home, but you don’t want to just walk up to the door and demand they sell their house, you can find their contact information online. Property records include the owners’ name, address, and, sometimes, their contact information. This will allow you to go through the proper channels of proposing an offer.

Consider A Real Estate Agent

A seller is more likely to take you seriously if a real estate agent brings the offer to them. Agents deal with sellers all the time and will be able to gage if the homeowners are interested.

They’ll also be able to tell you the right price to offer and how you should go about it. You’ll also have piece of mind that all the paperwork that comes with buying a home is completed correctly.

Write A Personal Letter

While all the guidelines say to keep personal feelings out of the home selling process, it’s practically impossible. A home is the place where you raise your children and make memories.

So write the homeowners a heartfelt letter about how you’d like to build a life in their current house. If they think you’ll care for their place as much as they do, they might entertain an offer.

Offer A Fair Price

Many homeowners are ready to upgrade, but hate the idea of getting their current residence ready to sell. They’d have to clean, clear clutter, stage and keep everything looking spotless until they close the deal — which can be quite a hassle.

So, make it convenient. Offer a price that won’t offend and will have them thinking how this could be a stress-free transition.

Posted in Federal Reserve

FOMC Statement Shows Tapering Of Quantitative Easing Purchases

FOMC Statement Shows Tapering Of Quantative Easing PurchasesAccording to a statement provided by the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve, the committee has approved another reduction of the Fed’s monthly asset purchases.

The adjustment will be made in February and cuts monthly purchases of mortgage backed securities from $35 billion to $30 billion and monthly purchases of Treasury securities from $40 billion to $35 billion.

FOMC began reducing its asset purchase under its quantitative easing program in January, when the monthly purchases of mortgage-backed securities and Treasury securities was reduced from $85 billion per month to $75 billion.

Citing its goals of maximum employment and price stability, the FOMC said that it has seen consistent improvement in the economy and specifically mentioned a lower, but still elevated unemployment rate. The statement also indicated that the FOMC expected labor markets to improve. 

FOMC Asset Purchases: How They Impact Mortgage Rates

The Fed initiated the QE program in an effort to control rising long-term interest rates, which include mortgage rates. Yesterday, the FOMC statement said that Fed expects its purchases of longer-term assets will continue to control long-term interest rates and mortgage rates while supporting mortgage markets.

FOMC’s statement reported that it sees the risks to its economic outlook and the labor market as having become nearly balanced. The FOMC is still looking for inflation to reach its 2.00 percent goal.

Fed Monetary Policy To Remain “Highly Accommodative”

The Fed intends to maintain a highly accommodative stance on monetary policy after the QE asset purchases end and the economy is significantly stronger. The current Federal Funds Rate of between 0.00 and 0.250 percent will be maintained at least until the national unemployment rate drops below 6.50 percent.

FOMC members reaffirmed their commitment to monitoring economic indicators as part of any decision to alter current QE measures or the Federal Funds Rate. 

Indicators Mentioned In The FOMC Statement Include:

  • Additional indicators of labor market conditions
  • Inflationary pressures and expectations
  • Readings on financial developments

FOMC statements have consistently included the committee’s assertion that no arbitrary benchmark alone will be sufficient for the committee to change either QE asset purchases or the Federal Funds Rate.

FOMC stated that it will seek a “balanced approach consistent with its longer-run goals of maximum employment and inflation at two percent.”

Although fears of tapering the Fed’s monthly asset purchases may persist, it appears that each FOMC decision to reduce asset purchases under the QE program indicates economic growth.

Posted in Mortgage Rates

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 03, 2014

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week February 03 2014Last week brought mixed news; while the Department of Commerce reported a dip in new home sales, mortgage rates also fell. The Federal Reserve’s FOMC statement revealed that quantitative easing would be further reduced by an additional $10 billion monthly.

New Home Sales: Y-O-Y Reading Best Since 2008

December’s reading of 414,000 for new home sales fell short of November’s revised reading of 445,000 new homes sold as well as expected sales of $455,000. The consensus figure was based on November’s original sales reading of 464,000 new homes sold.

The inventory of new homes available rose from last month’s level of 4.70 month supply to a 5 month supply in December. Cold weather was cited as a cause of lower new home sales.

New home sales increased by 4.50 percent year-over-year; this was the highest reading since 2008. The median price of a new home rose by 0.60 percent in December to $270,299. 

The national median home price was $265,800 in 2013, an annual growth rate of 8.40 percent and the highest annual growth rate for median home prices since 2005.

Economists cited rising mortgage rates, new mortgage rules and a lagging labor market as signs that slower home sales could be expected in 2014.

Pending home sales echoed the slowing trend in home sales; the index reading fell by -8.70 percent to a reading of 92.4 in December.

All Four Regions Reported A Drop In Pending Sales As Compared To November:

Northeast              -10.30 percent

West                    -9.80 percent

South                   -8.80 percent

Midwest                -6.80 percent

This was the lowest reading for pending home sales since October 2011.

Case-Shiller: Home Prices Up 13.7%

The Case-Shiller 10 and 20 city home price indices for November reported a 13.70 percent gain in home prices year-over-year. This was the fastest annual growth rate in home prices since 2006. Further evidence of slower growth in home prices was evident as nine of 20 cities tracked reported lower home prices.

Fed Continues Stimulus Reduction

Wednesday’s FOMC statement confirmed expectations that the Fed would continue tapering its monthly asset purchases made under its quantitative easing program.

Monthly purchases of mortgage-backed securities and Treasury securities will be reduced from January’s level of $75 billion to $65 billion in February. Economists expected this reduction to occur.

Freddie Mac’s Primary Market Survey reported lower average mortgage rates. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by 7 basis points to 4.32 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.7 percent.

15-year mortgage rates also fell to 3.40 percent with discount points lower at 0.60 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by 3 basis points to 3.12 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent.

This was welcome news as homebuyers and mortgage lenders have felt the effects of higher home prices and new mortgage rules that became effective January 10.

New Jobless Claims Higher

Weekly jobless claims jumped to 348,000 from the prior week’s 339,000 new jobless claims. This was the highest level of new jobless claims in six weeks. Reasons for increased claims were unclear, but were possibly caused by lingering influences of the holiday season or a sinking labor market.

Consumer confidence rose in January to a reading of 80.7 as compared to December’s reading of 77.5 as compared to January 2012’s reading of 58.4.

This Week

This week’s scheduled economic and housing news includes construction spending, non-farm payrolls and the national unemployment rate. Freddie Mac’s PMMS report and weekly jobless claims will be released as usual on Thursday.