Posted in Around The Home

Roof Restoration 101: Preparing Your Roof for the Harsh Winter – and when to Call in Professional Help

Roof Restoration 101: Preparing Your Roof for the Harsh Winter - and when to Call in Professional HelpWhile the days may be relatively warm and sunny right now, the transition to fall and winter will soon be upon us. Winter weather can be harsh, and it can also be destructive to your property. From the snow and ice to the frigid temperatures, winter can wreak havoc on a property.

One of the best steps that you can take now while the weather is warm is to restore your roof to prepare for the harsh winter ahead. This effort today will minimize damage that the home may endure throughout the cold months of the year. Here are some steps you can take to winterize your roof before the weather gets colder.

Steps to Take Now

As a homeowner, you can easily take a few steps today to prevent your home from being damaged in the winter months. From the ground level, inspect the home for signs of roof damage. You may notice a few shingles not laying flush on the roof, or you may see that some shingles are missing.

Repair work to the roof should be completed quickly. In addition, you can trim away tree limbs and branches that hang over the roof. These can become heavy with the weight of snow and ice, and they can break entirely or hang low to cause damage to the roof.

You also should clean out your gutters now. When gutters become clogged, they are ineffective at handling snow and ice melt. Cleaning your gutters every spring and fall will ensure they are prepared to handle inclement weather.

When to Call a Professional

Some work on a roof can easily be completed by a homeowner. However, roof work can also be dangerous or difficult. This may be due to the high height of the roof, the steep incline or even the type of work that needs to be completed.

When the work is dangerous or when you believe that you do not have the equipment or skills required to complete the work right, you should call a professional to your home to assist you. You’ll want to call an experienced roofer if you notice leaks or damaged gutters or soffits. These kinds of repairs are critical to properly winterizing your home, and letting a professional handle them means you get a high-quality job.

The integrity of your home’s roof will impact energy efficiency of your home’s heating and cooling system, its ability to resist water damage and pest infestation and more. Long before the first snow or ice arrives, it is important for homeowners to assess their roofs for damage and to make repairs as needed. Contact a roofing contractor for an inspection to ensure your roof is winter-ready.

Posted in Market Outlook

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – Sept 15, 2014

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week Sept 15 2014Last week’s housing related economic reports were slim, but an unexpected increase in weekly jobless claims gained attention. Analysts calmed concerns by noting that last week’s reading of 315,000 new jobless claims was not far removed from jobless claim levels before the recession. Expectations for last week’s reading were for 301,000 new jobless claims based on the previous week’s original reading of 302,000. The previous week’s reading was revised to 304,000 new jobless claims.

Jobless Claims: 4-Week Average for Continuing Claims Hits Lowest Level Since 2007

Prospective home buyers and current homeowners typically consider their jobs and employment prospects before seeking a home purchase mortgage or refinancing their existing home loans. Last week’s readings released by the Department of Labor suggest that while weekly jobless claims increased, overall trends in hiring and continuing jobless claims indicate a stronger labor sector.

The four-week average of new jobless claims rose from 303,250 to 304,000. The four-week average is typically less volatile than week-to-week readings. Continuing jobless claims increased by 9,000 to 2.49 million for the week ended August 30. The four-week average for continuing jobless claims fell by 15,500 claims to 2.50 million continuing jobless claims. This was the lowest reading for continuing jobless claims since 2007.

In other labor related news, job openings were nearly steady at 4.67 million in July against June’s reading of 4.68 million new job openings. The Labor Department reported that job openings increased by 22 percent year-over-year, with private sector jobs rising to 4.19 million job openings and government jobs increasing by 101,000 job openings to 485,000 in July. The number of hires in July rose from June’s reading of 4.79 million to 4.87 million in July. This was the highest number of hires since 2007. Pre-recession hiring levels were approximately 5 million; this suggests that U.S. labor trends are approaching pre-recession levels.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Discount Points Unchanged

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates on Thursday, with average discount points unchanged at 0.50 across the board. Average rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose from 4.10 percent to 4.12 percent; the average rate for a 15-year mortgage was two basis points higher at 3.26 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose to 2.99 percent from the prior week’s average of 2.97 percent.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled news includes several reports related to housing. In addition to Freddie Mac’s usual mortgage rates report, The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) will release its Housing Market Index and the Department of Commerce will release data on housing starts in August. General economic reports include the Consumer Price Index, Core Consumer Price Index, and Leading Economic Indicators.

The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve will release its post-meeting statement on Wednesday, and Fed Chair Janet Yellen is also expected to give a press conference. The Federal Reserve may provide further indication of its intention concerning the target federal funds rate, which is currently at 0.00 to 0.250 percent. The Fed may address its intentions concerning the federal funds rate, but the FOMC has been consistently vague about details concerning its economic strategy.

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips

Turned Down for a Mortgage? What to Do if You are Declined – and How to Get Second Opinion

Turned Down for a Mortgage? What to Do if You are Declined - and How to Get Second OpinionIf you have been declined for a mortgage, you may think that buying that new home is out of reach. However, there are ways to turn a rejection into an approval and to find a more accessible loan. Here are just a few steps you can take to learn about your loan options and get the mortgage that works for you.

Find Out Why The Mortgage Application Was Denied

The first step to getting a second opinion is to find out why your mortgage application was denied. Banks commonly deny mortgages for reasons like a low credit score, a high debt-to-income ratio, or concerns about the applicant’s past and present employment status.

To qualify for a mortgage, most lenders want to see someone with a credit score of 640, a debt-to-income ratio of less than 43 percent after the mortgage is included and at least 30 days in your current position if using wage income to qualify for the loan.

Not All Lenders View An Application The Same Way

A good reason why it is worthwhile to ask for a second opinion about your ability to get a loan is because no two lenders will view an application the same way. For one lender, a credit score of 650 is insufficient for getting a loan – but another lender might be more than happy to offer you a mortgage with a score of 650. To get a second opinion, you may wish to talk to a mortgage broker who will be able to scan a variety of loan programs to find one that works for you.

There Are Ways To Find Down Payment And Closing Cost Assistance

Those who have a low credit score or other questionable metrics may be able to qualify for a loan by offering a larger down payment. While a first-time buyer may not have the cash on hand to make a larger payment, there may be programs that provide grants or low-interest loans that can be used as part of your down payment or to help pay closing costs. With this extra money, it may be possible to overcome lender objections and obtain a mortgage.

If your mortgage application has been rejected, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get a mortgage from another lender. If you’re ready to buy a house but just need to clear the mortgage approval hurdle, there are ways to get a leg up.

Posted in Around The Home

Planning for 2015 Already? Here are Some Home Decor Trends to Watch Out For

Planning for 2015 Already? Here are Some Home Decor Trends to Watch Out ForYour home is your haven, your place to get away from the world at the end of a long day. That’s why keeping your home decor on-trend is important: It will create an inspiring and relaxing space that you can enjoy.

Whether you are looking for changes you can make at your existing residence or you’re thinking about what to look for in a new home, pay attention to what’s coming in 2015. These exciting trends in home decor that are really making a splash.

It’s All About Color

From exterior to interior color schemes, 2015 is the year of lavender, plum, tan, beige, and blue, with a dash of green. expect to see variations of these colors dressing new homes. You can make a refreshing change in your own home simply by applying a new coat of paint in your living space.

Start small and see what a difference it can make in one room. You can go big with new vinyl siding if you really want to make your home pop.

Transform Your Outdoor Living Space

Many homeowners are tapping into the potential of their yards. From patios to gazebos and waterscapes, there are so many ways that you can enhance your outdoor space and create an escape that is appealing and inviting.

Bring The Outdoors Inside

The latest buzz is about color schemes, fabrics, and prints that create an airy atmosphere within the home. It’s like nature has been invited in to stay a while. Use water colors, soft textures and eye-catching pictures on the wall to create a fantasy that is irresistible.

Take Your Decor Back In Time

Many see a return to older, simpler times as an upcoming trend in home decor. Don’t be surprised to see antique rockers on the porch, a grandfather clock in the hallway, and family photographs from bygone days to bring back a sense of yesteryear.

Give Your Space Two Green Thumbs Up

Homeowners are trying to create a natural ambiance by bringing more greenery into their yards and homes. Consider making the addition of live plants to the interior – it adds a decorative touch and improves air quality.

2015 is going to bring with it some big changes in home decor trends. Whether you’re looking to sell your home or you just want to spruce it up, these great decor ideas will help you to create a livable space that has 2015 written all over it.

For more information about the latest trends, or to find out how you can use home decor to boost your home’s resale value, contact your local real estate professional today.

Posted in Home Seller Tips

Keeping Quiet: Five Things You Shouldn’t Mention During an Open House

Keeping Quiet: Five Things You Shouldn't Mention During an Open House

An open house is an opportunity for sellers to showcase their property to a potentially large number of interested buyers, and a great way to generate buzz. While you want to be as open and honest about the property as possible, you also want to make a good impression – and that means there are some things that you don’t want to say during an open house. Here are five things that you should definitely keep to yourself during your next open house.

This Is Where The Dog Did His Business

There is a good chance that the new owner of a home is going to do something about stained carpet or hardwood. At best, the honesty is providing too much information to the buyer. At worst, the honesty could turn a potential buyer off.

The Candle Is Covering Up For Last Night’s Fish Dinner

A buyer wants to get a true feel for how he or she would enjoy living in the house. If a candle is covering up an unsavory scent, it could cause the buyer to ask what else a seller may be hiding.

The Neighbors Tend To Be Noisy

What one person may consider excessive noise may not bother another person. The last thing that a seller wants to do is create the impression that a home is not a peaceful place for the buyer to spend their evenings and weekends in. Let buyers judge for themselves how noisy your neighbors are.

The Schools Around Here Aren’t Very Good

Having good schools in the area is a feature that boosts property values for everyone in the neighborhood, and mentioning that the schools are poor or anything less than the best could turn buyers off. If the schools aren’t great or aren’t up to the seller’s standards, it is best to not mention them at all. Again, let your buyers decide whether or not they like the schools.

There Isn’t Much To Do Around Here

Although most buyers know what kinds of attractions are nearby, there is no reason to be negative about a house located in a more rural area. The concept of “boring” is subjective. If buyers are looking at your property, they have likely already researched the community – and they like it enough to come have a look at your house.

An open house is your opportunity to create a great impression. Don’t waste it by pointing out all of your home’s flaws. For more advice on how to sell your home, contact a local real estate professional today.

Posted in Around The Home

It’s Not Just Car Storage: How to Transform Your Garage into a Brand New, Highly Usable Space

It's Not Just Car Storage: How to Transform Your Garage into a Brand New, Highly Usable SpaceIn some homes, garages are used only for car storage. They may appear to be bare and without real functional use for homeowners. However, other garages may be an envy of the neighborhood – they may have floor to ceiling shelving systems, and they may be the picture-perfect image of organization.

With a bit of planning and creativity, you can turn your garage into a much more functional space. Here’s how you can make your garage the most useful space in the house.

Determine What You Need To Store

One of the most important steps to take when improving the functionality of your garage is to determine which items you need to store. The last thing you want is to invest in a shelving system or cabinets for your garage only to later realize that your belongings do not fit in the features you have purchased. Take an inventory of the items you want to put in the space as well as their sizes and dimensions, and then take stock of the space available to store these items.

Invest In Storage Features

There are numerous types of storage features that you may choose to invest in for your garage, such as cabinets, drawers, wall pegs, shelves, overhead storage features, and bins.

The best storage features for your garage are those that take into account your accessibility needs. For example, seasonal items that you may rarely need access to may be placed in overhead storage features that hang over the cars. On the other hand, screwdrivers and other tools that you may need to use more frequently should be placed in a more accessible area.

Consider The Look Of The Garage

Some homeowners truly do not care what their garage looks like, but you should keep in mind that this is a room that is revealed to the outside world each time your garage doors are raised. This can indeed affect curb appeal and others’ impressions of you. Therefore, think about investing in a full garage storage system rather than piecing together different items.

If your garage looks like a war zone, you are wasting valuable storage space and compromising your property value. Investing in aesthetically pleasing and highly functional storage solutions can turn your garage into a major selling point and a great multi-use space. For more great home renovation ideas, or to find your next home in a community that suits you, contact a real estate professional today.

Posted in Market Outlook

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – Sept 8, 2014

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week Sept 8 2014Last week’s housing-related economic news was slim, likely due to the Labor Day holiday Monday. On Tuesday, the U.S. Commerce Department reported that construction spending for July increased by 1.80 percent as compared to June’s revised reading of 1.0 percent and expectations of a 1.0 percent increase for July.

The Federal Reserve released its Beige Book report Wednesday; the collection of anecdotes from business contacts within the 12 Federal Reserve districts indicated that the general economy was strengthening as well as labor markets. The Fed noted a shortage of skilled workers. New construction and home sales grew modestly, but the Fed reported that fewer than half of the districts reported growth in real estate activity.

This information appears to be consistent with recent media reports of falling home sales, mortgage originations and demand for homes. Analysts say that mortgage lenders remain wary of loosening mortgage credit standards without protection from having to repurchase faulty mortgages from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Mortgage Rates Saw Little Change

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates and discount points saw little change last week. The average rates for a 30-year mortgage and a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage were unchanged at 4.10 percent and 2.97 percent respectively. Discount points were also unchanged at 0.40 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by one basis point to 3.24 percent with discount points also lower at 0.50 percent.

Non-Farm Payrolls Add 142,000 Jobs, Unemployment Rate Unchanged 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics Reported that 142,000 new jobs were added in August. Analysts had expected 228,000 new jobs added, but many analysts said that the abrupt decline in jobs added was a fluke. A couple of short-term incidents impacted retail and automotive sectors as a supermarket chain cut hours and fewer July layoffs in the automotive sector led to fewer workers called back in August. The unemployment rate remained at 6.10 percent.

Weekly jobless claims rose to 302,000 against expectations of 300,000 new jobless claims and 298,000 new jobless claims in the prior week.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news is also light on housing and mortgage reports. Retail spending, consumer credit, and federal budget data are some of the reports set for release.

Posted in Home Buyer Tips

Considering a Vacation Home? Six Tips for Buying a House or Condo for Relaxation and Vacation Use

Considering a Vacation Home? Six Tips for Buying a House or Condo for Relaxation and Vacation UseIf you’ve just returned from the vacation of a lifetime, you probably wish that wonderful time never had to end. When you buy a vacation home or condo, you can guarantee that you have an escape that will provide you with years of enjoyment. Before you take the plunge, though, take advantage of these six helpful tips about buying a vacation home.

Choose Someplace Versatile

When buying a vacation home, it’s all about getting the most out of your investment. Consider choosing a place that you can enjoy throughout the year. Your ideal vacation home will be a haven in the summer, a beauty in the fall, a refresher during the spring, and the perfect place to celebrate the winter holidays.

Think About Convenience

When you choose your vacation home, you will want to find a relaxing getaway that fits your lifestyle. If you love to have easy access to the grocery store and other amenities, don’t buy in a remote location. If instead you’d prefer something secluded, opt for a home that is hidden far from civilization.

Consider Your Neighbors

Depending on where you choose to buy a vacation home, you’re likely to be surrounded by others who love the area as much as you do. You need to decide if you want to have many others who are in close proximity or if you prefer having your space to yourself.

Find Out About Taxes

If you are opting for an extremely popular location, beware of high taxes. You want to go into your purchase with your eyes wide open. If you choose a home that is off the beaten path, you could have a more favorable tax rate.

Learn About Restrictions

You may have restrictions to deal with when you buy a vacation home. From a Home Owner’s Association that stipulates regulations about the care of property to restrictions in paint schemes, you may not have complete freedom with your property.

Look For Excellent Deals

Whether it is due to the strained economy or someone who has to make a property move quickly, you could find a phenomenal deal. Don’t rush into any sale until you’ve reviewed all of your options. Buying a home that is in a community neighboring a hot spot (instead of in the hot spot itself) could make for better prices as well.

A vacation home is a great real estate investment that can make vacation planning much easier. With these tips in hand, you’ll be well equipped to find the perfect vacation home for your budget. If you’re ready to start the search for your dream vacation home, contact a local real estate agent today.

Posted in Home Buyer Tips

Buying Land to Build a New Home On? Don’t Forget These Three Important Considerations

Buying Land to Build a New Home On? Don't Forget These Three Important ConsiderationsWhen most people talk about real estate, they envision buying an already-built house on already-landscaped property. However, buying vacant land and building a new home is a great way to ensure that you get the home that you want in the location that you want. It’s also a major undertaking, which is why you should take these three considerations into account before you buy any land for your new home.

Location, Location, Location: It’s More Important Than You Think

People often hear the phrase “location, location, location” and it’s a very prudent maxim with buying land. The parcel of land that you buy should be in a good geographic location and on stable ground – which means there shouldn’t be any major water sources nearby (like a swamp) and hills should be minimal. You’ll also want to consider zoning regulations that influence the acreage and other regulations that influence how you can and cannot use the land.

Utility Connections Will Be Your Responsibility

New land tends to not have utilities laid out under or over the ground. If this is the case, you will need to invest in electrical, water, and possibly heat utilities for the home.

This process involves communicating between the municipal government and utility companies so that the proper infrastructure is put in place. These costs and the implementation can be quite a headache depending on how isolated the land is from municipal or regional infrastructure.

Access: Look Up Any Easements on the Land

Many homeowners may not realize how legal access to land can affect their purchase. An easement refers to the legal right of other entities to use your land even though they do not own it. Before you buy land, you and your lawyer should investigate whether or not the land has easements, and whether or not these easements may interfere with your goals for the property.

These are just a few of the major considerations you need to make when you buy land. Purchasing a plot of land is quite a bit more complicated than buying a house, and if you’re not prepared, it can easily turn into a nightmare. When properly planned, though, buying land can give you a great backdrop on which to build the house of your dreams.

If you’re looking for new land on which to build your home, an experienced real estate agent can help. Contact a local real estate professional today to find your new parcel of land.

Posted in Home Selling Tips

You Ask, We Answer: Understanding the Real Estate ‘Short Sale’ and How This Process Works

You Ask, We Answer: Understanding the Real Estate 'Short Sale' and How This Process WorksA short sale is something that occurs when a homeowner is not able to make the mortgage payments on time due to a financial hardship. Instead of foreclosing on the property after one or more missed payments, the bank may agree to allow the homeowner to turn the home over to the bank, which will sell it to as close to market value as possible.

Here’s what you need to know about how short sales work and what circumstances might call for one.

Step 1: The Homeowner Provides Information To The Bank

The first step in the short sale process is for the homeowner to submit an information package to the bank. The homeowner will provide information such as the reason for the short sale, an authorization letter allowing the real estate agent to talk to the bank, and a financial statement. In addition, the seller may need to provide an HUD-1 statement as well as a list of comparable homes in the area.

Step 2: The Buyer Makes An Offer

Once the house is put on the market, a buyer can make an offer just as he or she would on any other home. The seller will then have the opportunity to accept any offer that he or she receives from a prospective buyer.

Step 3: The Bank Makes A Decision About The Offer

Once the seller accepts an offer to buy the home on short sale, the seller is responsible for sending information about the sale to the bank. Before the sale is finalized, the bank must approve the buyer’s offer. It could take as little as two weeks or as long as 120 days for the bank to approve the offer.

However, not all short sales are immediately approved. The seller’s bank bank might decline the buyer’s offer for one reason or another. A bank may decline a short sale offer if the bank negotiator thinks the house is worth more than the buyer’s offer or if the seller violates a clause in the short sale agreement – such as moving out of the property and violating a clause that states only owner-occupied properties are eligible for short sale.

Buying a home that is being sold as a short sale requires patience and an ability to move at the bank’s pace. Working closely with an experienced lender or mortgage broker may make it easier to get through the process without a lot of hassle or drama. For more information about short sales, or to complete a short sale on your property, contact a local real estate agent today.