Don’t Trash This: 7 Common Home Items That You Can Repurpose and Give New Life

October 21, 2016 by John · Leave a Comment 

Don't Trash This: 7 Common Home Items That You Can Repurpose and Give New LifeThere are untold benefits to reusing old household items instead of tossing them. Not only are you reducing your ecological footprint, but you can also save lots of money by recycling what you’ve already bought. Read on for some common items that are easily repurposed.

Finish The Milk, But Don’t Toss The Jug

Go for plastic milk jugs instead of cartons and easily repurpose them as, for example, watering cans. Simply, and carefully, use a nail and a hammer to poke several holes in the lid. Go for the 2-litre jugs if you only have one or two indoor plants, and the 4-litre if you have more.

Mason Jars, Beer Bottles And Applesauce, Oh My!

Glass containers are brilliant as storage, in the kitchen or elsewhere why not use a jar as a toothbrush or writing utensil holder? Beer bottles or other narrow-necked containers become flower vases. Jars with tight screw lids and a narrowing neck, like applesauce jars, can become a travel-sized water or juice bottle. And all of these containers can be covered in fabric or paint, to make them functional and beautiful.

Broken Dresser? Don’t Chuck The Drawers

So your dresser broke? That’s okay. Drawers never go out of style. Use old ones as under-the-bed storage, or stack and secure them with the bottom against the wall for a DIY shelving unit. You can also fill them with soil and use them as planters in your garden or yard.

A New Take On Hand-Me-Down Clothes

Clothing is one of the most ubiquitous household items which is perfect, because it’s also one of the most versatile. Cut up an old dress or collared shirt and, with a quick run through the sewing machine, you have a new baby dress or bib. If you use a scarf to wrap a present (for more info, look at “furoshiki” techniques), you’re giving an extra gift to your friend, and the planet.

Use Up The Floss And Break A Dish

Next time you’re travelling, finish up the floss first and use the container to store cash. This recycles the container and it disguises the money in case of burglars. And if you break a dish, don’t worry you can smooth the edges of the broken pieces and use them as mosaic tiles, or a garden border, or jewelry.

It’s simple. To start saving money, and the planet, use these easy ideas, or reach out to your local real estate agent for more tips and tricks on how to reuse old household items in funky, handy ways.

Understanding Appraisals and What to Do If Your Home Doesn’t Appraise for Its Purchase Price

October 20, 2016 by John · Leave a Comment 

Understanding Appraisals and What to Do If Your Home Doesn't Appraise for Its Purchase PriceIt can be a bit of a surprise if your home turns out to be valued at less than the purchase price offered, but this is the type of thing that can occur in an appraisal situation. While this can change everything from your contract to the amount of your down payment if your home has been appraised at less than you envisioned, here are some options you may want to consider.

Review The Appraisal Contingency Clause

If an appraisal contingency clause is built into the terms of your contract, this means that the terms of your contract can be re-evaluated and re-negotiated if an appraisal happens to come up short. While this is meant primarily to protect the homebuyer against a lower appraisal, it doesn’t mean that the terms of a new deal can’t be met for the good of both parties.

Get A Second Appraisal

It’s entirely possible that the initial appraisal is accurate, but it doesn’t necessarily hurt to get a second opinion in the event that the first appraisal seems too low. While you can work in conjunction with your lender to get a second appraisal, you may need to pay for it the second time around in order to get your initial purchasing price. Whether it happens to be good news or bad news, it can be worth the peace of mind to know how to proceed.

Consider A Lower Price

It’s less than ideal when your home is appraised for less than the purchase price, but this doesn’t have to be a deal breaker when it comes to selling it. While you may be able to get away with a higher price for your home in a hot real estate market, if things have cooled off, this can be an important time to re-negotiate the deal you’ve got. If a potential buyer likes your home and has already made an offer, they may be happy to decide on new contract terms.

It can be quite disappointing if your home is appraised at a value that is less than the offer you’ve received, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have to put your home back on the market. Whether you and the potential buyer decide to re-negotiate or get a second opinion, there are options that can be beneficial for both parties. If you’re currently going through the appraisal process, you may want to contact your local real estate professional for more information.

NAHB Housing Market Index Dips 2 Points

October 19, 2016 by John · Leave a Comment 

According to the National Association of Home Builders, overall builder confidence in housing markets dropped two points in October to an index reading of 63. September’s reading of 65 was the highest posted since the housing bubble peak. Component readings for October’s housing market index were mixed; the reading for builder confidence in market conditions over the next six months rose one point to 72. Builder confidence in current housing market conditions fell two points to 69. Builder outlook for buyer traffic in new home developments over the next six months fell by one point to an index reading of 46.

Approaching winter weather likely contributed to lower readings, but builder confidence remained strong. Any reading above 50 signifies that more builders are confident about specific index components than fewer. While home builders continue to be encouraged by low mortgage rates and a stronger job market, they also face obstacles including shortages of labor and buildable lots for development.

High Demand, Low Inventory of Homes Present Ongoing Challenges

High demand for homes coupled with depleted inventory of available homes is sidelining some buyers. As demand continues to drive home prices higher first-time and moderate income buyers are faced with affordability and mortgage qualification challenges. Limited inventory also makes it difficult for home buyers to find homes they want and contributes to competition for available homes. Buyers depending on mortgage financing typically compete with investors and cash buyers for homes in high demand areas.

Real estate pros and analysts monitor home builder sentiment as an indicator of future home supplies, but builder sentiment and housing starts don’t necessarily correspond. Given high home prices and strict mortgage qualification standards that sideline some buyers, it appears that home builders are taking a moderate stance toward ramping up construction.

In addition to boosting real estate markets, building homes provides jobs and supports local economies. Building homes creates demand for construction materials and related products and services.

Buy Your Home Today: Understanding Why It’s a Bad Idea to Try and Time the Mortgage Market

October 18, 2016 by John · Leave a Comment 

Buy Your Home Today: Understanding Why It's a Bad Idea to Try and Time the Mortgage MarketIt’s often the case that people will opt to postpone home ownership until the best rates are available or it’s a more stable investment, but in an ever-shifting market it may not be the best decision to put such a sizeable investment off. If you’re wondering whether or not you should put off investing in a home, here are some reasons you may want to start putting your time into searching for a home.

Interest Rates Always Fluctuate

While interest rates are constantly changing and have certainly risen since the economic recession of 2008, they still remain relatively low and this can make investing in a home an even better financial decision. There are no certainties that market rates will remain low, but given a lower monthly payment and the easier qualifications nowadays to acquire a loan, the present may be the best time to start investing in your own place.

Investing Early Reaps Financial Rewards

It’s easy enough to wait for a lower home price or even improved interest rates, but there is no guarantee that the market will shift down. In the meantime, you may be spending at lot of your monthly paychecks on rent. If home ownership is one of your goals in life and you’re living month to month with a high rental payment, investing money into a home is a sure way to gaining equity for the future, even in the event that the market shifts up.

It’s A Good Time To Buy

When it comes to the market, there may always be a time coming when you’ll get a better deal, but the fact remains that homes tend to remain on the market a lot longer these days and it’s largely a buyer’s market. There are no guarantees that you’ll be able to find the house you want at the price you can afford, but there are a lot of good deals to be found these days and investing sooner is an opportunity to reap financial rewards down the road.

Many people hold off on home ownership because they are waiting for prices to come down or interest rates to change, but the sooner you invest in a home, the more you can benefit from investing into something that is entirely your own. If you’re currently perusing the market for a home at a price you can afford, contact your local real esatate professional for more information.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 17, 2016

October 17, 2016 by John · Leave a Comment 

Last week’s economic news included reports on job openings, retail sales and weekly readings on average mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Job openings were lower in August after hitting an all-time high in July according to the federal government. Job openings fell to 5.44 million in August as compared to July’s reading of 5.83 million job openings, Job openings reached 5.31 million in August of 2015. Job quits were unchanged in August with a reading of 3.0 million quits; the quits rate was 2.20 percent. There were 5.4 million hires in August as compared to 5.8 million hires in July. The hiring rate held steady at 3.60 percent.

Weekly jobless held steady from the prior week’s reading of 246,000 new claims, although analysts expected a reading of 252,000 new claims. September retail sales increased by 0.60 percent in September and fell short of expectations of 0.70 percent growth. August’s retail sales reading was negative at -0.20 percent. Retail sales excluding the automotive sector were as expected with an increase of 0.50 percent.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Consumer Sentiment Slips

Freddie Mac reported higher rates for fixed rate mortgages. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose five basis points to 3.47 percent. The average rate for a 15-year mortgage was four basis points higher at 2.76 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at 2.84 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Consumer sentiment was lower in October with an index reading of 87.90 percent. Analysts expected a reading of 91.70 percent based on September’s reading of 91.20 percent. November’s presidential election was viewed by analysts as unsettling to consumers’ feelings about current and expected economic conditions. The index reading for consumer sentiment for current economic conditions rose from 104.20 percent in September to 105.50 in October, but fell sharply for expected economic conditions to an index reading of 76.60. Analysts noted that consumers with lower incomes expressed less assurance about post-election economic conditions.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include the NAHB/Wells Fargo Home Builders Market Index, Sales of Pre-Owned Homes and Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. In addition to weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims, reports on consumer spending will also be released.

Buying a Home This Autumn? 4 Unconventional Ways to Save up for Your Down Payment

October 14, 2016 by John · Leave a Comment 

Buying a Home This Autumn? 4 Unconventional Ways to Save up for Your Down PaymentAutumn is a popular time for new home buyers to start looking for their first house or condo. But with that down payment looming, everybody could use a bit of help saving up to make that bulk payment a little less intimidating.

There are plenty of unconventional ways to save up that may seem small, but will quickly add up and put a dent into that down payment.

Create A High Interest Savings Account

Talk to the bank about creating a secondary savings account with a higher interest rate. These super savings accounts usually come with the caveat that no money can be removed for a designated period of time. Using this account for the down payment works in everybody’s favor because it guarantees those extra dollars cannot be used for any other purpose.

Discard One Guilty Pleasure

Enjoy Starbucks coffee? Grab a pint every happy hour? Choose one vice and put the amount that would be spent on it into a jar. Most people will be surprised on how much money they spend each month on one guilty pleasure that can easily be cut out of their life. Every perk that’s cut will increase the amount by a decent margin.

Put Away Any Bonus Money

Holiday bonuses from work, tax refunds, birthday or Christmas presents, income from side gigs, any and all extra dollars that come in from any source outside of the main paycheck should be considered ‘down payment dollars.’ Sure it’s tempting to use that nice bonus or tax refund on a weekend trip or a night out, but all extra income should be saved away for that initial down payment.

Bring On The Roommates

People who already own a home and are looking to relocate can take this unconventional approach. Decent housing is hard to find so anybody with an extra room can rent it out and put that money towards the new house. Having a roommate can be a pain, but it’s for a limited time and can add up quickly.

While saving for a down payment can be stressful, you don’t have to go through the process alone. Your local real estate professional will be able to guide you and provide some helpful tips for how to make that down payment without breaking the bank. These men and women have seen countless couples go through the same thing and their experience can make a world of difference.

Dealing with Mice: Peppermint Oil, Dryer Sheets and Other Crazy Tricks to Try

October 13, 2016 by John · Leave a Comment 

Dealing with Mice? Peppermint Oil, Dryer Sheets and Other Crazy Tricks to TryThere are things that everyone shares: the need for food, the search for love, and the intrusion of mice into our homes. But don’t despair! There are several ways to deter and remove mice. Read on to learn about a few of the more well known, if a little out-there, methods.

Peppermint Oil And Cotton Balls

The smell of peppermint is lovely for humans, but terrible to a mouse’s nose. Put a few drops of pure peppermint oil on cotton balls and place them where you’ve noticed evidence of mice. Be careful to change those balls for fresh ones at least once a week once the smell wears off, cotton balls are great material for a mouse nest.

Dryer Sheets

Another strong smell that will discourage mice from your home is dryer sheets. Place fresh ones around mouse hangout points, or stuff them into entry holes. Same thing here, though: make sure to remove them once the smell wears off. Nothing looks nicer for a nest than an unscented dryer sheet.

Mousetrap! The Glass Bowl Version

One humane and cost-effective choice is to build a live trap by balancing a glass bowl on an upright coin. Put some chocolate or peanut butter high up inside the bowl. When the mouse reaches for the treat it’ll upset the coin and drop the bowl to the floor, trapping itself. Then slide stiff cardboard over the bowl opening and carry the mouse at least 1km from your home before releasing it. Or you can go the store-bought route but either way, check all traps at least once a day.

Plug Those Holes!

With the mouse gone, there’s two things left to do. First, clean up after it (remove its droppings and sanitize the area) to discourage a return. Then close all its doors. Block any holes bigger than a pencil with caulking, steel or copper wool, or even aluminum foil all of these are tough to chew through.

And that’s it! Keep an eye out, and call in help if it becomes too much to handle these steps are most effective for a small number of rodents. If you need more help, call your local real estate agent for advice and referrals.

The 5 Secrets to Hosting an Open House That Leads to Multiple Offers

October 12, 2016 by John · Leave a Comment 

Open houses are a debatable topic with real estate agents. Some say they aren’t necessary in the age of the internet when options can be narrowed online. Others argue that closing yourself off will limit the number of possible buyers.

What everybody agrees on is that hosting a successful open house is an art that requires some tricks to pull off. Here are five to try out.

Choose Wise Hours

Find out the most popular hours for open houses in the neighborhood and coordinate around those times. If most open houses end at 4 p.m. then consider ending an hour later at 5 p.m.

This extra hour will bring in house hunters who went the entire day without finding something they wanted as well as people who rushed through every other open house so they could see them all. If there are no other open houses then there’s no reason to rush.

Embrace Technology

Most buyers, especially young ones, are starting their home search online. New apps and websites are launching every day and staying up to date on the newest real estate tech hangouts will allow a seller to hit the popular sites as well as advertise to tech-savvy buyers who are embracing new hotspots.

Change Up The Signs

Not only should there be a lot of signage, but the signs should be tailored towards different demographics. Wealthier areas should be signed with tasteful and professional signs while some cute, handwritten signs will bring in the bargain hunters who are looking for something affordable.

De-Personalize Everything

Every buyer needs to be able to see him or herself living in the home. Anything controversial or personal will remind them of the people living there now and get in the way of their imagination running wild. Clean out anything political, controversial or family related before opening the doors.

Learn From The Criticism

An unsuccessful open house is an opportunity to remain open minded and discover exactly what pushed away a day’s worth of potential buyers. Any criticism or feedback should be used to make changes before the next open house so that the same mistakes aren’t repeated on a new group.

What works for one region may not work for another and only a real estate professional with experience in the area will know what tips have proven successful in your neighborhood.

Buying a Solar-Powered Home? Watch Out for These Symptoms of Future Problems

October 11, 2016 by John · Leave a Comment 

Buying a Solar-Powered Home? Watch Out for These Symptoms of Future ProblemsSolar-powered homes are becoming more commonplace, and are an excellent step in the right ecological direction. That said, there are some aspects to consider if you’re thinking about investing in solar energy. Read on for some salient points about living by the sun.

The Sun And The Economy

As solar power has grown in popularity, the government has introduced incentives to help homeowners combat the once-high costs of purchasing and installing solar panels. And companies are springing up to rent you panels and cover the cost of installation. This means that your initial costs are smaller, but also that those third party companies reap the government incentives and may not always maintain strong relationships between you and your utility company.

The Sun And Your Roof

Roofs are the primary locations for solar panels, particularly on homes. Ensure that your roof has enough strength for the added weight of the equipment, and enough space for the proper placement (away from the edges, for example). The equipment comes with a lifetime guarantee so if the roof it’s on is already old, consider updating it before installation (which is an extra but necessary cost).

The Sun And Your Surroundings

A solar-powered home is all about location, location, location. Watch for tall and shady trees, or for high buildings that will shadow your panels and decrease or prevent their output. Look forward, too are there any plans for development in your neighborhood that would introduce such impediments in the future?

The Sun And Cloudy Days

The most obvious hiccup with solar power is that bane of a sunny existence: cloudy days. Location has influence here too: the climate of your area will determine how many panels you’ll need, where you’ll need to place them and how much energy you’ll be able to glean in each season. There are batteries you can purchase for collecting and storing solar energy but they’re still an expensive option. And solar power is still somewhat unattractive in the global economy because of how variable it is. Fossil fuels are more dependable, and therefore more marketable, than an energy source so tied to the weather although that looks to change if solar energy continues its rise in popularity with the masses.

All things considered, there is a deep and growing draw to solar-powered homes, but don’t enter into anything without looking at all sides of the equation. If you have questions, or want to know more about how solar energy works in your neighborhood, contact your local real estate agent.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 10, 2016

October 10, 2016 by John · Leave a Comment 

WhatsAhead101016Other than a release on construction spending, last week’s economic readings were dominated by labor and employment data including ADP Payrolls, Non-Farm Payrolls and National Unemployment. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

Construction Spending Drops in August

Commerce Department readings on construction spending indicate that overall spending fell in August to -0.70 percent; this reading was lower than the expected positive reading of 0.10 percent. July’s reading showed a drop of 0.30 percent in overall construction spending. The decrease in August spending was largely the result of pull backs on public construction spending, which declined 2.0 percent after July’s decline of 3.50 percent in July. Public construction spending is 8.80 percent year-over-year., and August’s reading was the lowest since March 2014.

Private sector construction spending fell 0.30 percent in August. Residential construction fell by 0.20 percent within the private sector reading. Reasons for falling construction spending include impending winter weather and previously cited labor shortages. Shortages of available homes and high demand for homes are creating pressure on construction companies to build more homes.

Labor Reports: Job Growth Slows in Public and Private Sector

ADP reported 154,000 private sector jobs created in September against August’s reading of 175,000 new private-sector jobs. September’s reading showed the lowest growth rate since April. Analysts said that lower readings for job growth could be expected as job openings are filled.

According to the government’s Non-Farm Payrolls report for September, 156,000 new jobs were added, which fell short of downwardly-revised expectations of 170,000 new jobs added. Analysts said that a reading of 120,000 jobs added represented a healthy rate of jobs growth. As more workers return to or join the workforce, job openings can be expected to decrease. Healthy growth in jobs may signal the Fed to increase interest rates in December.

National unemployment rose from 4.90 percent to 5.00 percent in September; variances can be expected in month-to-month readings that are considered more volatile than quarterly or annual readings.

New jobless claims correlated to fewer job openings and fell to a reading of 248,000 new claims 256,000 new claims were expected based on the prior week’s reading of 254,000 new claims.

Mortgage Rates Nearly Unchanged

Average mortgage rates were unchanged with the expectation of a decrease of one basis point for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages to 2.80 percent. Average rates for 30 and 15 year fixed rate mortgages were unchanged at 3.42 percent and 2.72 percent Discount points were unchanged at 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports are few due to the Columbus Day holiday Monday. Along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims, reports on job openings and consumer sentiment will be released.

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