Posted in Around The Home

DIY Home Upgrades: 5 Reasons Why Hardwood Flooring Should Be on Your Renovation List

DIY Home Upgrades: 5 Reasons Why Hardwood Flooring Should Be on Your Reno ListWhether you’re planning on selling your home soon or you want to do a few minor renovations for your own enjoyment, an ailing hardwood floor may be on your list of things to tackle. While this can be a more difficult renovation to complete than many other household items, here are five reasons you may want to move it to the top of the list.

An Issue with Structure

If there happens to be any glaring structural issues with your hardwood, a complete do-over will be a necessity if you want to sell your house in the future. While this will likely involve fixing the sub-floor under your hardwood, this will dramatically improve the overall health of your home.

Experiencing a Lot of Movement?

A lot of movement in your hardwood floor can be a sign that it’s time for a fix up. If you’re already planning on refinishing your floor for an instantly improved look, this fix-up will need to happen before you can take that necessary next step!

Worn-Out or Over-Sanded Wood

Whether your boards are worn down in spots from excessive use or sanding, this is an issue that will instantly age the look of your living space. If you’re noticing the boards coming apart at the ends or nails jutting out, it’s definitely time for an overhaul.

Upping a Home’s Market Value

There may be a few things a homebuyer will be willing to fix in a new home, but flooring is unlikely to be something they will want to replace right off the bat. By upgrading this before it’s an issue, you can easily make your home a lot more attractive to potential buyers.

It’s an Instant Facelift

There are few things that will be as apparent as the look of the floor when entering a room, so having dull, scratched hardwood will instantly downgrade the appearance of your living space. If more than expected wear and tear has occurred, an updated floor can completely shift the look of your place!

If you’re planning on tackling home renovations soon and are not sure where to begin, you may want to assess the quality of life left in your hardwood floors. As this will have a marked impact on the way your home appears, fixing your floors can help to improve the market value of your home. If you’re wondering about other renovation upgrades that will appeal to buyers, you should consider contacting your local real estate professional for more information.

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips

How Much Should You Budget for Closing Costs? Let’s Take a Look

How Much Should You Budget for Closing Costs? Let's Take a LookIf you’re in the market for a new home, you’re probably trying to budget for all of the expenses that come with a home purchase. After all, the asking price isn’t necessarily the entire amount that you’ll pay – there are other expenses that will factor in to the final price. One such expense is your closing costs.

Closing costs are the miscellaneous fees you’ll pay when you sign the deal to buy your home. But how much do you need to save up for closing costs? Here’s what you need to know.

The General Guideline for What to Expect

Most mortgage advisors will tell you that you should expect to pay about 3 to 5 percent of your mortgage in closing costs. By law, your mortgage provider is obligated to give you a Loan Estimate form which is designed to help you understand the key features, costs, and risks of the mortgage loan. Three business days before the loan closes your mortgage provider will also give you a Closing Estimate form to review all of the costs of the transaction including all closing costs.

How Your Closing Costs Break Down

Your lender will give you a breakdown of costs in your Loan Estimate and Closing Estimate. But in general, there are certain closing costs you can expect to pay.

One cost that most lenders include is the loan origination fee, a small charge to compensate the lender for the time it takes to prepare the initial loan documents. There will also typically be a loan application fee, which can vary per lender.

Your lender may require you to get private mortgage insurance depending on your situation. The title search and title insurance to protect your lender from title fraud is another fee you should consider, and you’ll also likely want to buy title insurance to protect yourself.

There are also several other closing costs to keep in mind, like escrow fees, notary fees, pest inspections, underwriting fees, and the mortgage broker’s commission. All in all, you’ll want to budget approximately $5,000 in closing costs for every $100,000 you borrow.

Closing costs can be quite expensive, which is why you’ll want to make sure you budget appropriately when you buy your new home. A real estate professional help you to figure out how much you need to budget for closing costs. Call your local real estate agent today to learn more about the home buying process.

Posted in Home Seller Tips

Do You Regret Turning Down an Offer? How to Reopen Talks with a Potential Home Buyer

Do You Regret Turning Down an Offer? How to Reopen Talks with a Potential Home BuyerThe real estate market is in a state of constant flux, and if your home has been for sale a little while you may feel vulnerable if you’ve recently rejected an offer. If you’re starting to change your tune on what you want and you’re wondering how you can re-make a deal, here are a few pointers for how to approach a new negotiation.

Did You Do a Follow-Up Call?

One of the rules for selling your home is to follow-up with all potential buyers as a matter of courtesy, whether you’ve accepted their offer on your home or not. If you’ve done this with a potential buyer you want to re-negotiate with, then you’re in a good position to contact them. Whether you choose to do this directly with the buyer or through your real estate agent, make sure that you know exactly what you want to say so the second time around can be more promising for both parties.

Re-Consider the Buyer’s Point of View

If you’re contemplating a former offer, looking at the way the buyer sees things may help you come to more of a consensus in terms of price. While you’ve paid for your property, and you’re aware of all that you’ve invested into it, a buyer may be looking simply at the going price of other properties in the area. By re-considering the market value in your area and being clear on the buyer’s concerns regarding your price-point, it’s possible you may be able to meet somewhere closer to the middle when it comes to a renegotiated price.

Be Prepared to Change Your Tune

You likely won’t be able to successfully negotiate anything with your potential buyer unless you and your family re-consider your asking price. While re-negotiating an offer that seems unfair certainly isn’t something worth stressing over, you’ll want to think about what the additional money you might be making is worth and if the difference is going to make up for potentially having your house on the market for a few more weeks or months. If it’s worth it to you to re-negotiate, you may just have home sale on your hands in short order

Selling a home can be a matter of significant stress, and missing out on an offer can add even more difficulty to the proverbial pile. Whether you’re wondering how you can renegotiate an old offer or successfully sell your home, you may want to contact your local real estate agent for more information.

Posted in Market Outlook

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 13, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week October 13 2015Last week’s economic reports included the Federal Open Market Committee Meeting Minutes and Weekly Jobless Claims. Also, the new mortgage TRID rules went into effect. Here are the details:

TRID (TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure) Goes Into Effect

TRID, or TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure, which is also known as the “Know Before You Owe” rule will change the mortgage process by altering some standard loan forms and practices. Originally slated to go into effect August 1, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) actually took effect on October 3.

On Wednesday, October 7, 2015, the House of Representatives approved HR 3192, “The Homebuyers Assistance Act”, which would provide a safe harbor for lenders who act in good faith to comply with the new TRID mortgage disclosure requirements. The bill will still need to be passed by the US Senate and signed by the President in order to become law.

Home buyers can expect to be using two new forms under TRID — the Loan Estimate and the Closing Disclosure. These two new loan forms are easier to understand and consolidate the earlier standard forms. The forms are also designed to work in combination with each other, which wasn’t happening with the previous forms.

The new forms clearly detail the loan amount, its terms, whether the amount can increase after closing for each section, and the feature of the loan, such as whether there is an early payment penalty or not.

The forms are designed to provide the buyer with more time to review the costs associated with the mortgage. The Loan Estimate document is due to the buyer three days after applying for the loan, while the Closing Disclosure must be presented three days before closing.

The CFPB has offered a special guide for real estate professionals.

Real Estate Professionals Guide (http://www.consumerfinance.gov/know-before-you-owe/real-estate-professionals/)

Mortgage Rates Tick Downward

Freddie Mac reported that the average mortgage rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped lower to 3.76 percent from 3.85 percent the previous week; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was also lower at 2.99 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at an average rate of 2.88 percent. Average discount points for both fixed rate products was.6 percent while the discount points for the adjustable product was.2 percent.

Jobless Claims Fall To 42-Year Low

New unemployment claims dropped to 263,000 against expectations of 271,000 new jobless claims and the prior week’s reading of 277,000 new jobless claims. Some experts argued that the drop may have had to due with seasonal employment trends. The U.S. labor-force participation rate was reported at a 38-year low at 62.4 percent in September.

Posted in Around The Home

3 Autumn-inspired Decor Ideas That Will Spice Up Your Home

3 Autumn-inspired Decor Ideas That Will Spice Up Your HomeWith the season of jack-o-lanterns and crunchy leaves under foot, there can’t help but be plenty of ways to integrate the loveliness of autumn into your home decorations. Whether you’re looking for a simple touch or a statement that will completely define a room, here are a few ideas for highlighting the best the fall has to offer.

Showcase a Seasonal Bouquet

A vase full of flowers can add a lot to any room in the house, but a great way to integrate the season outside with your home is to make a bouquet that will utilize the best of fall’s vegetation. Instead of opting for the usual bright colors, gather an array of colored leaves that strike your fancy and add a collection of branches to a vase that suits the purpose. If arranged right, this can be a striking and unique embellishment to your front entrance.

Carve Out a Candle Holder

An easy way to join the cooler weather with your inside atmosphere is to utilize the help of the season’s most familiar vegetable, the pumpkin. Instead of going for the typical Halloween carving, cut the top off of a small pumpkin, clear away all of the seeds and let it dry out. Once this is complete, you can put a candle in the pumpkin, and create a unique lighting look for your home. If you like it enough, you may want to consider doing it with several pumpkins for an even more festive display.

A Falling Light Fixture

Instead of making something from scratch, you might want to consider using the pieces you have in your home and switching them up to complement the changing season. If you happen to have a chandelier in your dining room and you also have kids who like to craft, have them put together some papier-mâché leaves and pumpkins so you can hang them decoratively from the chandelier. While this is a look that will take more work, it will be a particularly striking way to illuminate your chandelier – and your dining area!

Adding some fall inspiration into the mix for your home decorating can be a great way to better enjoy the season and have some fun with your family. From a festive chandelier to a striking autumn bouquet, there are plenty of ways to become crafty for the fair season. If autumn is making you contemplate your neighborhood and your home, you may want to contact your local real estate agent for more information.

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips

Worried About Mortgage Rates Going Up? Steps to Prepare Yourself Financially

Worried About Mortgage Rates Going Up? 3 Steps to Prepare Yourself FinanciallyMortgage rates have been at record lows for quite some time, making it easy for new homebuyers to finance their dream homes. But what comes down will eventually go back up, and with the world economy expected to rebound in 2016, we’re about to start seeing more expensive mortgages.

So what can you do to prepare yourself before mortgage rates start to rise? Here are some strategies that will keep you ahead of the game.

Start Saving More Money Now

If you have a variable rate mortgage, you’ve benefited from great interest rates that this world won’t see again for quite some time. Hopefully, you’ve taken advantage of this low-interest period to save up some cash. If so, you’re going to be in a great position for when interest rates rise – and if not, you’ll want to start saving as much as you can now to ensure you can weather the storm.

It’s far easier to save money now, with interest rates low, than it will be when your mortgage payment starts to rise. So start squirreling away as much of your paycheck as you can.

Pay Down as Much of Your Principal as Possible

Another great way to prepare for the rise in interest rates is to pay down your principal amount. The total amount of interest you’ll pay goes up when rates go up, but by paying down your principal, you can take a big bite out of your debt before it has a chance to snowball. So pay down as much of your principal as you can afford – it’s easier to pay down interest on a smaller principal amount.

Switch to a Fixed Rate Mortgage

One of the best ways to take advantage of low rates and ensure you get a great deal is to switch your floating rate mortgage to a fixed rate mortgage. Locking in your low interest rate with a fixed rate mortgage means you’ll pay less interest over the term of the loan, but it also means you’ll only have a set amount of time to pay your mortgage in full. If you’re in a position to predict when you can pay back your mortgage, you’ll save a lot of money by locking in your low rate.

Move to a Smaller More Affordable Home

If the home that you have now is just too much for you, you may consider downsizing. Moving from a large home into a smaller house or condo has not only the benefits of a smaller mortgage and more flexibility, it can also offer a lower utility bill and less cleaning. Downsizing can be stressful, but with a solid plan  you can transition to a smaller home and and save a good amount. If you are considering this option, contact your trusted real estate agent for more information on what would work best for your situation.

Mortgage rates haven’t been this low in a long time, and likely won’t be this low again for many years to come. That’s why, if you’re a homeowner, you’ll want to do everything you can to prepare for higher interest rates before they get here.

Posted in Home Buyer Tips

Real Estate Investing: Why Buying a Condo in a Ski Resort Area Can Be a Great Investment

Real Estate Investing: Why Buying a Condo in a Ski Resort Area Can Be a Great InvestmentThe decision to invest in real estate can be one rife with risk, but if you’re ready to take this type of step into the investment market, you might be wondering where to begin. While upcoming neighborhoods and university areas may always be a place where investment is a viable idea, here are some reasons it can be a boon to consider a resort condo.

A Reliable Influx of Visitors

The great thing about having a condo close to a resort is that, no matter the weather, people will be getting away in the summer and the winter for some vacation relaxation. While you’ll certainly notice a more significant influx of visitors to a ski resort when winter rolls around, there will still be heavy crowds for the summer months when people want to escape from the city. Renting a condo in a resort can seem like a risk in the off-season, but there are many months out of the year that you can garner a cash flow that will make up the difference.

Maximizing Your Rental Earnings

An investment property in a trendy neighborhood or next to an educational institution will probably always be a popular renter]s area, but being a landlord for a resort property can have its own special perks. With the high season comes the push and pull of supply and demand, and this means you’ll be in a position to offer your property at a significantly higher rate. By keeping your rent reasonable but respectable, you should be able to quickly make up for the cost of initial investment.

It’s An Extra Vacation Property

While this might not work for the investment angle, having a condo at a popular resort may help with the cost savings that can come from not spending money at vacation time. Instead of going to far flung places and splurging on expensive hotel rooms, a resort condo property will mean that you can save on accommodation and still enjoy a relaxing holiday with your family and friends. If your vacation happens to occur during the resort’s downtime, it’s even better since you won’t miss out on improved rental earnings.

While investing in real estate is not risk-proof, buying into a resort condo can be a great way to enjoy a vacation pad and still make money in the high season at the same time. If you would like to learn more about the ins and outs of investment properties, you may want to contact your local real estate agent for more information.

Posted in Home Buyer Tips

Locked in a Bidding War? 3 Tactics That Will Ensure That You Reign Supreme with a Winning Bid

Locked in a Bidding War? 3 Tactics That Will Ensure That You Reign Supreme with a Winning BidBidding wars can be ugly, nasty things – but with the right tactics, you can come out a winner without having to double your offer. Welcome to basic training – today, you’ll learn how to navigate the obstacle course that is a real estate bidding war and come out on top. Put these three strategies to use and you’ll easily win the home of your dreams.

Offer To Pay The Deposit In Cash

It’s not usually wise to make a down payment in cash, but paying cash for the deposit is a brilliant strategy that will put you first in line for your new house. One major reason why homes don’t sell is because the buyer didn’t get approved for financing – and that inconveniences the seller. Paying your deposit it cash proves your reliability to the seller, and it means the seller gets paid faster.

Add A Personal Touch With A Letter

Want to get a completely unfair advantage over other buyers in your neighborhood? Make your offer personal by writing the sellers a heartfelt letter. Marketing professionals know that emotional experiences are highly persuasive, and a personalized hand-written letter shows that you care.

For maximum effect, do a quick Google search on the sellers and look for common threads. Do the sellers have a child in college? Talk to them about your college-aged son or daughter and what program they’re taking – it may sound cliché, but a little bit of bonding really does go a long way.

“Escalate” The Situation With An Escalation Clause

When most buyers write up their formal offer, they simply name a price and that’s it. But you can set yourself apart from other potential buyers by including an escalation clause in your offer.

An escalation clause is a piece of a real estate contract that increases your offer in the event that you get outbid. An escalation clause usually lists your original offer, the amount by which you’re willing to beat other bids if you get outbid, and the maximum amount you’re willing to offer in the event that there are multiple offers. Escalation clauses are usually best used when you know that there will be a one-day review of all offers or when you’re anticipating multiple offers – otherwise it may compromise later negotiations.

Bidding wars aren’t ideal, but they are a reality of the real estate market – especially in competitive areas where it’s the norm to see multiple offers on a house. But with these tactics, you can outgun competing bidders and come out with the house you’ve always wanted. Contact your trusted real estate professional to learn more about navigating a bidding war and making a winning offer.

Posted in Market Outlook

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 05, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week October 05 2015Last week’s economic reports included Pending Home Sales, Construction Spending and several reports on jobs and employment. The details:

Pending Home Sales Down as Home Prices Rise

Pending home sales dipped in August, which is consistent with the waning spring and summer peak sales period for homes. Pending home sales were down by -1.40 percent as compared to July’s gain of 0.50 percent. Pending home sales indicate future closings and mortgage loan volume.

Home prices rose in July according to the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index, which reported that home prices for the 20-City Home Price Index rose from June’s reading of 4.90 percent in June to 5.00 in July. Higher home prices contribute to falling home sales as fewer buyers can afford to enter the market.

Construction spending increased in August to a reading of 0.70 percent as compared to expectations of 0.60 percent growth and July’s reading of 0.40 percent growth. Builder confidence readings suggest how builders view housing market conditions and can ultimately impact housing supplies and markets.

Mortgage Rates Tick Downward

Freddie Mac reported that the average mortgage rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was one basis point lower at 3.85 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was also one basis point lower at 3.07 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at an average rate of 2.91 percent. Average discount points were mixed at 0.70, 0.60 and 0.50 percent respectively.

New Jobless Claims Rise; Unemployment Rate Holds Steady

New unemployment claims increased to 277,000 against expectations of 271,000 new jobless claims and the prior week’s reading of 267,000 new jobless claims. The national unemployment rate held steady at 5.10 percent, which supports analysts’ preference for using monthly data as opposed to volatile weekly readings for identifying and tracking economic trends.

ADP Payrolls reported 200,000 private sector jobs added in September as compared to August’s reading of 186,000 new private sector jobs added. The Commerce Department reported that Non-farm Payrolls grew by 142,000 jobs in September as compared to expectations of 200,000 new jobs and August’s reading of 136,000 jobs added.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include release the minutes of the recent FOMC meeting along with weekly releases of new jobless claims data and Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates.

Posted in Around The Home

Looking for an Eco-friendly Upgrade? Try These Easy Ways to Save Water Around the Home

Looking for an Eco-friendly Upgrade? Try These Easy Ways to Save Water Around the HomeWith the impact we have on our environment becoming a matter of greater concern, it’s becoming more important for the average citizen to know they’re doing their part. While there are many simple tricks for saving water that will make you feel better about your environmental footprint, here are a few easy upgrades that will make that saving a little more automatic.

Consider a Cistern Device

With outhouses a thing of the past, flushing the toilet has become one of the ways in which household water is being overused the most, but flushing less simply isn’t a viable option. Instead of wasting water in this way, purchase a displacement device and place it in your toilet’s cistern. Without you having to do anything at all, it will instantly reduce the volume of water that is used with each flush.

Learn to Work a Water Meter

It’s ideal to help the environment by saving water, but it’s even better if you can save yourself money at the same time. If you happen to be among those who pay for their water, installing a water meter will enable you to take a closer look at where your water use is going, and can assist you in helping to trim down this expense.

Drain It From the Rain

In the event of an intense downpour, there’s often a lot of water that runs off into the gutter and can’t be absorbed by the grass or the trees. Instead of letting it go to waste, install a water butt to your drainpipe so that you can use the runoff when it’s dry outside to water your plants or even wash your car. There’s no reason that any of the moisture from a good rainfall should have to go to waste.

Invest in Water Efficient Items

From showerheads to washing machines, going energy efficient with your household appliances is becoming quite popular. The next time you have to replace a small appliance or there’s a leak with a household item, consider heading down to the drugstore to look for environmentally friendly options that will instantly reduce your footprint.

With so many options for environmentally friendly items on the market these days, there’s no reason you can’t save water at home with a few easy changes. From making use of the rain that falls to learning to work with a water meter, some simple shifts may make your house the most environmentally friendly one on the block.