Posted in Home Buyer Tips

Moving with Children? Here’s How to Quickly Assess Whether a Community Is Family Friendly

Moving with Children? Here's How to Quickly Assess Whether a Community Is Family FriendlyIf you’re looking for a home that’s in a family-friendly neighborhood, there are a few key things you can look for to make sure your new house is a good fit for both you and your children.

Quality Public or Private Schools

Are there good public schools nearby? If so, do they span from kindergarten all the way to high school? Finding a home in an area with a great elementary school can be a good fit for several years, but if you’re looking for a home that will be convenient in the long-term it’s important to consider your proximity to both primary and secondary schools.

Parks And Other Relaxing Green Spaces

If you’re looking for a family-friendly neighborhood with free sources of entertainment, make sure that there is at least one park or playground nearby. Playgrounds can provide endless amusement for younger children, whereas a park can offer entertainment for kids of any age. Either way, have a park in the area will help boost the quality of your family’s leisure time.

Recreation Facilities And Other Amenities

For even more great leisure opportunities, check out the local recreational facilities. Public swimming pools, community centers, and recreation centers often offer a wide variety extracurricular activities and programs. These can be a great support when it comes to supplementing what your kids’ education with skills that are learned outside of school, and can encourage a healthy lifestyle as well.

Shopping & Services

If you’re looking for a convenient lifestyle, perhaps one of the most important factors to consider is what stores and businesses are located nearby. Is there a grocery store, doctor’s office, cafe, drug store, gas station, or other essential businesses nearby? Make your life easy! If there are stores nearby that meet your needs it will help boost your neighborhood satisfaction for years to come.

A Short (Or At Least Tolerable) Commute

If you commute to work, it is also valuable to consider how long of a drive it is between your place of employment and potential new home. The less time you have to spend on the road, the more time you’ll have with your family.

Neighbors You Will Enjoy Associating With

Finally, it is important to consider who else lives in the area. Is the neighborhood you’re looking at full of other young families? Are there other children for your kids to play with? Does it seem like a close-knit community?

Although you can’t predict how relationships will blossom in a new home, you’ll set yourself up for success if there are people with similar interests and lifestyles as you. If the people seem great, chances are the neighborhood is, too!

Ready to find the perfect home to raise your family in? Contact your trusted real estate professional today.

Posted in Home Seller Tips

Selling Your Home This Autumn? Try Boosting Your Curb Appeal with These Inexpensive Upgrades

Selling Your Home This Autumn? Try Boosting Your Curb Appeal with These Inexpensive UpgradesCurb appeal is the first impression that your home will have on potential buyers, so it’s important to make it a good one. Try these simple budget upgrades to give your home the “WOW” factor that buyers are looking for!

Crystal Clean

As simple as it sounds, it is extremely important to make sure that your house is nice and clean on the outside. This is overlooked by sellers more than you’d think as they become so focused on perfecting the inside of their home that they forget about the exterior!

Dirt streaks running down stucco or siding give the impression that your home isn’t well kept, and smudges on windows will prevent them from sparkling in the sun. Remember: you want your home to be their dream home. Spruce up the outside to impress buyers before they even set foot in the door.

Knock Knock

Another important design feature of your outer home is the front door as it is one of the only features of the exterior that buyers will be forced to look at up-close. A new door will not only look great from the curb, the details of its quality will inevitably be seen by anyone who enters the home. Make sure your door is in tip top shape before you start your showings!

Raise The Roof!

If your roof isn’t in good condition;or looks like it isn’t in good condition, then upgrading it is an absolute must. Most buyers are quickly turned off when they see a roof that’s in poor condition because it can be an expensive fix. It’s important that when buyers first see your home they don’t see more dollar signs than they expected.

Fantastic Furniture

Patio furniture is an easy and inexpensive way to differentiate your home from the rest! Add a pop of color to a neutral-colored house by placing vibrant chairs and planters on the front porch as featured pieces, or add a cute table and chairs to your lawn to show how useful the space can be.

That being said, be careful not to overdo it, as too much patio furniture or potted plants may give the illusion that your home is cluttered, which is a major no-no in the real estate world.

Need more advice on how to better prepare your home for a sale? Contact your local trusted real estate professional today.

Posted in Around The Home

Growing Your Wealth: 3 Reasons Why Real Estate Is the Ultimate Long-Term Investment

Growing Your Wealth: 3 Reasons Why Real Estate Is the Ultimate Long-Term InvestmentWhile many people may be hesitant to consider real estate as a viable long-term investment, owning property has a steady historical track record and isn’t as volatile as other investment markets can be.

Any investor who hasn’t seriously considered it as an option should take a closer look at the benefits of owning real estate and why it is the ultimate long-term investment strategy.

It Becomes A Consistent Source Of Income

Investing in rental property has the added benefit of being able to show regular returns in the form of rental income. Unlike other long-term investments that require a level of patience in order to profit, real estate can provide a large sum return in the future while still providing financial benefits on a monthly basis.

An Investment That Anybody Can Participate In

Many forms of investment require a level of skill or familiarity in order for first timers to jump straight into it with any level of confidence. Real estate is one investment that anybody can enjoy, thanks in part to the insight that can be gained from family and friends who have gone through the same process.

The level of knowledge that’s required to invest can be gained with some simple investigating to learn more about local areas that have increased in value and the kinds of homes that are popular. A real estate professional can take that information and add to it, providing invaluable expertise to the process.

Consider It To Be A Guaranteed Retirement Plan

Saving for retirement has become harder to commit to as each year goes by. Money being left in a savings account or an easy to sell investment can be dipped into at any point, leaving very little when retirement starts to roll around.

Using property as a long-term retirement plan requires a level of commitment to the investment and upkeep to the property that guarantees there will be something tangible to bank on later in life.

While investing in real estate may seem simple, especially when compared to other investment markets, it’s still recommended to consult with a professional before making any decisions. A local real estate professional will have a level of knowledge about which areas will be the wisest to invest in depending on how long in the future you are looking to sell. If you are interested, contact a local real estate professional in your area today for more information.

Posted in Home Buyer Tips

Feeling the Squeeze of Rising Rents? Here Are 3 Reasons You Should Consider Buying a Starter Home

Feeling the Squeeze of Rising Rents? Here Are 3 Reasons You Should Consider Buying a Starter HomeWith real estate becoming more affordable, new homes being sold in a range of prices and the cost of rent going up, there has never been a better time to consider buying a starter home.

Put That Rent Money Into Your Own Property

People who live in areas that have become trendy know the pain of rising rent rates. At what point is the amount of money being spent on rent more advantageous to put into a new home?

Starter homes are not the crazy investment they used to be. With the increase in condo developments and the lower entry price for smaller homes, it’s never been easier and less expensive to put a down payment on a new home and put that rent money into a place that you actually have a financial stake in.

A Starter Home Is Not A Fixer Upper

There was a point in time when starter homes were considered to be houses that required a lot of work to renovate them to a point where they could be sold for a profit. This was before really affordable condo developments started to spring up in every city and began to provide younger people the opportunity to own a home.

Some people still think of a starter home as a fixer upper, an old house that will require a substantial investment and time, something that most first-time home owners do not have an abundance of. In today’s market, starter homes can be brand new and will be in the best condition imaginable.

It Can Act As A Source Of Income

Some homeowners find that when it’s time to finally make the move from their starter home into their forever home, they no longer need to sell. In some cases they prefer to hold onto it and use it as a rental property to bring in a second source of income to help with the new house.

This is more common with condos in neighborhoods that have experienced tremendous growth around them in the years after the purchase. When the price of rent skyrockets in these areas, the investment actually has more value as a rental property until the time is right to sell.

There are many reasons to invest in a starter home and the area you want to buy will change depending on your own reasons. Contact your local real estate agent so you can pinpoint what you want out of a starter home and receive some valuable insight into the kinds of homes you should be considering.

Posted in Mortgage Rates

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 12, 2016

Few economic reports were released last week due to the Labor Day Holiday. The Federal Reserve released its Beige Book Report, which documents anecdotes shared with the Fed by its regional business contacts. A job openings report, weekly jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s survey of mortgage rates was also released.

Fed’s Beige Book: Approaching Election Dampens Business Growth

According to the Federal Reserve’s survey of business contacts within its 12 districts, November’s election is causing business owners to take a “wait and see” position regarding expansion plans. Commercial real estate contacts in several Fed districts cited modest projections for sales and construction for the second half of 2016. The Bank of Canada supported Fed contacts’ view of modest growth; it characterized U.S. business growth as “less certain.”

Analysts review the Beige Book report for indications of how the Fed may adjust its monetary policy including whether or not to raise the target federal funds rate. The Beige Book report did not reveal any compelling evidence for the Fed to raise rates before year-end, but Fed Chair Janet Yellen said in a recent statement that economic conditions were strengthening and favored a rate hike before year-end.

November’s election will likely delay any rate hike until December. Fed policymakers have repeatedly said that a combination of economic trends, current readings and news reports contribute to decisions relating to interest rates and other monetary policy issues.

Job Openings Rise, New Jobless Claims Drop

July job openings rose from June’s reading of 5.60 million openings to 5.90 million openings to hit an all-time high.  New jobless claims fell from 263,000 new claims to 259,000 new claims. The Labor Department also reported that hires increased from 5.17 million to 5.23 million in June. These readings are further indications of strengthening job markets and general economic growth.

Mortgage Rates Lower

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week; the average rate for a 30-year mortgage was two basis points lower at 3.44 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was one basis point lower at 2.76 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was two basis points lower at 2.81 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60, 0.50 and 0.40 percent respectively.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on retail sales, national inflation and consumer sentiment.

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips

Can You Use a Reverse Mortgage to Buy Your Next Home? Yes, and Here’s How

Can You Use a Reverse Mortgage to Buy Your Next Home? Yes, and Here's HowMost people who have been on the market for a home are familiar with what the term ‘mortgage’ means, but many have not heard of a reverse mortgage and aren’t aware of how this product can benefit them. If you’re nearing retirement and are contemplating a new home or even relocation to another community, here are the details on a reverse mortgage and how this option may benefit you.

What Is A Reverse Mortgage?

While many homeowners may not have the net worth to be able to buy another home without selling their current one, a reverse mortgage enables the buyer to borrow money against the value of their home. Created in 2009 as the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for Purchase (HECM), this type of mortgage can enable those older than 62 to relocate to a new house or move closer to their family without having to sacrifice the money they’ve saved or their fixed monthly income.

What Are The Requirements?

Beyond the minimum age requirement of 62 years of age, those who would like to utilize a reverse mortgage must either own the current property they are living in or have a high amount of equity in the property. They must be able to pay all of the costs associated with ownership of the home and the property they are purchasing must be able to pass the standards held by the Federal House Administration (FHA). In addition, applicants will have to go through a financial assessment to ensure they can make insurance and property tax payments.

The Benefits And Drawbacks Of Reverse Mortgages

A reverse mortgage can be a great benefit in that it enables those who are in their senior years to purchase a new home without having to utilize a portion of their fixed monthly income. However, because a reverse mortgage includes this benefit, it also comes in tandem with a higher loan balance and this higher balance means that interest will accrue more quickly. Dependent on this amount, this can actually diminish the equity in the home.

While the opportunity for a reverse mortgage has been around for a number of years, this alternative for purchasing a home has not been utilized by many homeowners since its inception in 2009. If you’re approaching your senior years and are considering the benefits of purchasing a new home, you may want to contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Posted in Home Seller Tips

Don’t Even Think about Selling Your Apartment or Condo Without These Key Renovations

Don't Even Think about Selling Your Apartment or Condo Without These Key RenovationsFail to complete these renovations before selling your condo and you may be missing out on huge profit gain! Don’t sell yourself short, tackle these reno projects before your home hits the market to maximize offers.

#1: Is It Time To Paint?

Painting is one of the most cost effective ways to make a property look newer, bigger, and brighter. Scuff marks and scratches are one of the most common types of wear-and-tear, but they’re also a huge turn-off to buyers, which makes this easy renovation is a no-brainer. Choose paint colors that are neutral to ensure that they’re adaptable to the wide variety of interior design preferences that your potential buyers will have.

#2: Let There Be Light(ing)!

Old light fixtures can not only bring down the aesthetic appeal of your condo, they can also give it a gloomy vibe. Adding new light fixtures to your home will brighten the space and provide it with more vibrant energy while also increasing the modernity of its design. Now that’s a bright idea!

#3: How Is Your Flooring?

Flooring is another design element that can easily make an old unit look more modern, especially if your condo is carpeted. By replacing the floors you can also avoid the possibility of a buyer trying to deduct the cost of floor replacement from your sale price, which would most likely outweigh the cost of doing your own reno in advance.

#4: Spruce Up The Kitchen With New Counters

Changing kitchen countertops is one of the effective ways to spruce up an outdated kitchen. Since countertops are so large the eye is drawn to them immediately, making them a key design factor. Many modern buyers prefer high quality stone such as granite or marble, though there are many stylish options to choose from if visual appeal is what you’re after. Add new countertops to give your condo that “WOW” factor and you’ll instantly tack on extra value to your property.

#5: Don’t Forget Your Balcony!

Balconies are often overlooked when it comes to condo showings, so if you choose to pay attention to this significant detail you’ll not only stand out from the competition but will also showcase an important selling feature of your home. Dress the balcony to show its functionality: does it fit a BBQ, table and chairs, lounge chair, planter? Adding some furniture will show the possible uses of the space, making it more valuable to potential buyers.

Ready for a successful condo sale? Contact your trusted real estate professional today for further advice.

Posted in Home Seller Tips

Trying to Decide Whether or Not to Sell Your Home? Here Are 5 Key Questions to Ask Yourself

Trying to Decide Whether or Not to Sell Your Home? Here Are 5 Key Questions to Ask YourselfSelling a home, especially one with sentimental value, is never an easy decision to make. There are many factors that go into determining if the home is ready to be listed and if the seller is actually ready to part with it.

Answering some simple questions can go a long way to help an owner decide whether or not it’s time to try and sell.

How Much Work Does The Home Require?

Some houses and condos are ready to hit the market immediately, but others have serious problems that would need to be disclosed to interested parties. It may not be wise to try and sell until all major issues are repaired.

What Is The Market Like In The Area?

Have similar homes in the neighborhood been selling quickly for a lot of money or have they been sitting on the market for years with no buyers? Any seller should look into the current market trends in their community to determine how much they would be able to sell for so they don’t lose money on the transaction.

When Is The Best Time To Sell?

Every city is different and the time of year can have a major impact on the market. A local real estate agent will have a strong comprehension of the best time of year to list the home, which could provide some valuable time to get it ready.

Will You Be Happier In A New Home?

Sometimes deciding to sell a home can become so overwhelming that people forget to ask themselves whether or not they will be happier in a new home. If the answer is a resounding ‘yes’ then there should be no question about selling.

Should A Real Estate Agent Be Involved?

It may seem easier for sellers to eschew the services of an agent to save a little money, but the nightmare that can follow without the assistance of somebody who has the time and experience to show and promote the home may not be worth it. Talk to local real estate professionals to see if there are any that feel like a good fit.

If you have been debating selling your home but still aren’t sure whether or not it’s the right time, speak with a local real estate agent. They will be able to walk you through the process and provide some insight about what you should expect.

Posted in Mortgage Rates

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 6, 2016

Last week’s economic reports included readings on pending home sales, construction spending and consumer sentiment. Case-Shiller Home Price Indices for June were released, along with several labor-related reports including national unemployment, ADP Payrolls and Non-Farm Payrolls were also released along with weekly readings on new jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s survey of average mortgage rates.

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Holds Steady in June

According to the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index for June, average national home prices held steady with a seasonally adjusted annual growth rate of 5.10 percent in June. The top three cities for home price growth were Portland, Oregon with a reading of 12.60 percent; Seattle, Washington followed with a reading of 11.00 percent. Denver, Colorado home prices grew by 9.20 percent year-over-year.

San Francisco, California, which had posted highest year-over-year price gains in recent months slipped with a reading of 6.40 percent year-over-year in June. This could signify a cooling of rapid price gains in high demand metro areas where home prices have become unaffordable for many buyers.

Construction Spending Flat in July, Pending Home Sales Increase

While builder sentiment has been strong, construction spending was flat in July as compared to an expected reading of 0.60 percent and June’s reading of an 0.90 percent increase in construction spending. The Commerce Department reported that pending home sales increased 1.30 percent in July, which exceeded expectations of 0.90 percent growth and June’s negative reading of -0.80 percent. July’s reading appeared to even out June’s unexpected slump in pending sales, which are considered an indicator for future closings and home loan volume.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

Mortgage rates rose for all three loan types reported by Freddie Mac. The rate for a 30-year mortgage rate rose three basis points to 3.46 percent; the average rate for a 15-year mortgage also rose three basis points to 2.77 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage jumped by eight basis points to 2.83 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent, 0.50 percent and 0.40 percent respectively. Mortgage rates rose after the yield on 10-year Treasury Notes increased in response to a speech given by Fed Chair Janet Yellen that indicated that the target federal funds rate could be raised in December.

263,000 new jobless claims were filed as compared to expectations of 265,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 261,000 new claims. Job growth slowed in August; the Commerce Department reported a reading of 151,000 new jobs in its Non-Farm Payrolls report. Analysts expected 170,000 new jobs, which fell significantly short of July’s reading of 275,000 jobs created. Non-Farm Payrolls includes data for public and private sector jobs.

Labor Reports: Job Growth Slows, National Unemployment Holds Steady

ADP Payrolls also reported fewer private sector jobs created in August with a reading of 177,000 new jobs as compared to 194,000 private sector jobs created in July. Analysts characterized August jobs reports as “fickle” due to high numbers of summer vacations and company-wide summer holiday closures.

August’s reading for national unemployment held steady at 4.90 percent.

While slower growth in home prices and job creation could signal an economic slowdown, there was good news as consumer confidence rose to 101.7 in August; this reading surpassed the expected reading of 97.0 and July’s reading of 96.7.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news is lean due to the Labor Day holiday on Monday. In addition to weekly reports on new jobless claims and mortgage rates, reports on job openings and the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report will be released.

Posted in Home Buyer Tips

Real Estate Investing: 3 Insider Tips to Winning House, Land or Foreclosure Auctions

Real Estate Investing: 3 Insider Tips to Winning House, Land or Foreclosure AuctionsHouse, land and foreclosure auctions can be one of the most nerve-wracking ways to buy a property. However, if you prepare yourself with proven bidding tactics, auctions can be a great way to purchase your dream home at a competitive price.

If you’re in-it-to-win-it, familiarize yourself with these top three tips and tricks before attending a real estate auction.

Give The Right Impression

While you may not have control over what other bidders are willing to pay for a property, you do have some control over their perception of whether or not bidding against you is worthwhile. Come well-dressed and maintain a confident demeanour to give the appearance that you are a serious buyer, one whom ‘the other guy’ likely can’t out-bid.

To enhance this appearance, do not make an offer right away. Wait until the bids have reached approximate 80% of your maximum price and then join in, as it will knock out the bargain hunters. A big first bid can be intimidating to others, making them question whether they stand a chance against you. Following bids should be made quickly and confidently to send the message that you are the person who will be closing this deal.

If you are extremely anxious to place bids, consider hiring a professional bidder to do the work for you. A seasoned pro will be able to maintain their cool while placing bids strategically to maximize your chances of getting the property you want at the price you want.

Know Your Limit

Never go into an auction without knowing your absolute limit. If you are emotionally invested in the property it is best to write your limit somewhere on the inside of your hand, so that you are forced to remember it when you’re tempted to exceed it.

In terms of setting a limit, pick a figure that isn’t rounded. Many buyers will set limits such as $500k or $1.2 million, and will drop out after these round figures have been reached. If your limit is $515k or $1.25 million, you will have an extra cushion than may just barely outbid your rivals – and that’s all you need to win.

Ask The Hard Questions

Do your research beforehand and ask the auctioneer about the property’s flaws. Questioning whether the deck is up to code or whether there is still a possibility of road widening could make other bidders second guess the property and drop out before bidding has even begun.

Ready to blow the competition out of the water? Make sure you are completely prepared for an auction, contact your trusted real estate professional today.