Living With a Small Green Space: How to Make the Most of a Smaller, Intimate Yard

May 9, 2017 by John · Leave a Comment 

Living With a Small Green Space: How to Make the Most of a Smaller, Intimate YardIt’s great to have a yard in this day and age, but so many new developments in the city have limited green space for you to let your imagination run wild. If you’re wondering what you can do with your patch of green space or small yard, here are a few options for making it aesthetically appealing and still maximizing its potential.

Pick A Centerpiece

In order to stretch the look of your green space, try adding a centerpiece or focal point that will draw the eye and instantly improve your yard’s appeal. Whether you decide on a planter, a birdbath or an awning covered in vines, a unique piece will work to distract from the limitations imposed by your yard. A centerpiece may do nothing to expand your garden space, but by changing the way you view it, it will make all the difference in how you feel about it.

Make It Match

Your garden or back green space is going to look a whole lot smaller if it’s eclectic style diverges greatly from your home, so keep the two aligned. If there’s a selection of colors and style you use in the room that faces your yard, use them outdoors! It’s also important to make it something you’ll really use. As landscape architect Amber Freda of Amber Freda Home & Garden Design says, “A plain dining table with wooden chairs won’t entice you to use it very much, but really comfortable lounge seating will.”

Keep It Clean

It’s a well-known fact that clutter in any enclosed space will instantly make it look smaller, and it’s no different when it comes to your yard. Instead of jamming an excessive amount of stuff into your small space, keep it simple and decide exactly what you want to get out of the area, whether it’s a vegetable garden or a comfortable place to sit. In keeping with clutter free, you’ll also want to make sure you keep any invasive or aggressive plants from making themselves too comfortable!

It may seem limiting to have an undersized green space, but by deciding what you want to get out of it and creating a central point of interest, you’ll be well on your way to a comfortable place. If you’re currently fixing up your home in the hopes of putting it up for sale, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 8, 2017

May 8, 2017 by John · Leave a Comment 

Last week’s economic news included readings on construction spending, the post-meeting statement by the Fed’s Open Market Committee and labor-related reports including ADP payrolls, Non-farm payrolls and the national unemployment rate. Weekly readings on new jobless claims and mortgage rates were also released.

Fed Rate Unchanged, Mortgage Rates Hold Steady

Federal Reserve policymakers did not change the target federal funds rate, which ranges from 0.75 to 1.00 percent. In its usual post-meeting statement, FOMC said that a weak first quarter was “transitory” and expected economic growth to continue going forward. Less consumer spending contributed to a sluggish first quarter, but analysts said that a rate hike was very likely at the FOMC meeting in June. The FOMC included its usual caveat concerning monetary policy in its statement; FOMC policies are not pre-determined, but are based on members’ ongoing review of news and economic developments.

Freddie Mac reported minor changes in its weekly survey of mortgage rates. 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates were one basis point lower at 4.02 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was unchanged at 3.27 percent; the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose one basis point to 3.13 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for all three mortgage types.

Construction, Labor Reports Reflect Economic Growth

Construction spending fell in March after an unusually high reading in February. The original growth rate for February construction spending was 0.80 percent, but was adjusted to 1.80 percent. A spurt of unseasonably warm weather was cited as pushing construction activity to unusual levels in February. Construction spending fell by -0.20 percent as compared to an expected reading of 0.50 percent, which was based on the original reading for February.

ADP Payrolls reported lower growth for private sector jobs in April with a reading of 177,000 new jobs as compared to 255,000 new jobs gained in March. The Federal Non-farm payrolls report, which covers public and private sector jobs, posted a gain of 211,000 jobs in April after reporting only 79,000 jobs added in March. The disparity in month to month readings indicates ongoing volatility in jobs growth, but the national unemployment rate dropped to 440 percent in April from 4.50 percent in March. Low unemployment rates can indicate economic growth with job seekers gaining employment.

Til’ Debt Do Us Part: How to Get a Mortgage If One Spouse Has A Poor Credit Score

May 5, 2017 by John · Leave a Comment 

Til' Debt Do Us Part: How to Get a Mortgage If One Spouse Has A Terrible Credit ScoreA poor credit history is a reality for many people, but it can be particularly daunting when it comes to investing in a house. Fortunately, simply because you or yours have experienced bad credit doesn’t mean that you should be penalized in the future. If your spouse has struggled with bad credit in the past but you’re both preparing to move forward and invest in a home, here are some tips for getting it together financially.

Face The Music

Many people who have bad credit are too scared to take a look at their credit report and broach it honestly, but it’s important to come to terms with the problem so that it can be fixed. Instead of ignoring it, get a copy of the credit report and review it for any errors so that you can update these if needed and be aware of the issues impacting your credit score. While there may not be any inaccuracies on the report, knowing what you’re dealing with will give you a point to start from.

Make Your Payments

At some point, most people have missed a credit card or bill payment, but the first step involved in improving your finances and your credit is ensuring your spouse is paying their bills on time. While this won’t require paying the complete balance each month, it’s important to pay the minimum balance before the due date, and stick with it! It may seem like a small step, but over time it will improve credit and say a lot to mortgage lenders!

Save Up For Down Payment

20% is the amount that’s often suggested when it comes to a down payment, but if your spouse has terrible credit, it may be worth your while to save up more. It goes without saying that having good credit for both yourself and your spouse is important in getting approved for a mortgage, but by having extra for your down payment and paying your bills on time, you may be successful at convincing lenders you’re a solid bet.

It can be a lot more difficult to get your mortgage approved if your spouse has bad credit, but there are steps you can take to improve your financial outlook and give lenders a better impression. If you’re planning on investing in a home in the near future, contact your local real estate professionals for more information.

Three Ugly, Dated Design Features That You Need to Get Rid of Before You Sell Your Home

May 4, 2017 by John · Leave a Comment 

Three Ugly, Dated Design Features That You Need to Get Rid of Before You Sell Your HomeThere are a lot of inexpensive renovations that can easily improve the value of your home, but you might not be aware of dated features that are working against you and aging its look. If you’re ready to put your home on the market and are wondering what types of design will downgrade your home’s appeal, here are a few things you may want to consider upgrading or discarding before planning your first open house.

Bright Accent Walls

While brightly colored paint can certainly enhance a room if it’s done in the right home and the right space, it can also age the room it’s in. If you’ve got a neon tone that’s overstayed its welcome, you may want to pull out the paint and go back to a neutral-toned wall. This will ensure that visitors to your home are not overwhelmed by the look and won’t have to consider renovating right away if they don’t like the color.

Lightly-Shaded Wood CabinetsIt’s one thing if you’re in a log cabin, but most potential homebuyers don’t want to see old kitchen cabinets that are lightly toned like maple and oak. This color palette can instantly age a kitchen and they’re also not that easy an upgrade. A kitchen is one of the most important selling features of your home, so instead of leaving this to chance, consider pulling out the paint for an instantly improved cabinet finish.

Clunky Furniture Pieces

The furniture that fills your home may be one of the easiest fixes there is, but it also has a significant impact on how homebuyers will view the potential of your home. A large L-shaped couch or a clunky chair can not only swallow up a room, they can create an unpleasant visual for the buyer. In these modern times, it’s best to stick with a more minimal look so that homebuyers can imagine themselves in your house. If you can’t cover up your item, you may want to consider moving it out when it comes time for home viewings.

There are many design features and items in your home that you may love, but when it comes to oversized furniture and bright accent walls, they may not appeal to the modern buyer. If you’re currently cleaning up your home and are planning to put it on the market soon, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Suffering in a ‘Low Inventory’ Real Estate Market? 3 Helpful Tips for Finding a Home to Buy

May 3, 2017 by John · Leave a Comment 

Suffering in a 'Low Inventory' Real Estate Market? 3 Helpful Tips for Finding a Home to BuyMany homebuyers struggle with finding a home that is within their price range, but many of those perusing the market also struggle when it comes to the search. If you’re currently in the real estate market and are having difficulty finding a good selection of homes, here are some ways to expand your search so you can find an opportunity you’re prepared to invest in.

Look Over The Old Listings

Whether you do it on your own or enlist the help of your real estate agent, it’s worth looking through the old listings to determine if any old opportunities are still available. There may be many formerly listed homes that have since sold, but homes that have lingered on the market may be open to offers; they may also be more aligned with the current market rates. Instead of taking the listings for granted, search for old opportunities that might turn up something good!

Consider Other Marketing Strategies

The market has changed in recent years, but the way that people choose to sell their home has changed along with it. While it’s still possible to see a sign on the front lawn or find a home on a real estate agent’s page, social media has become a very popular way to buy and sell. Aside from looking through the listings, consider searching Twitter or Facebook posts for homes that are for sale in your area. While you may not find your dream home, it’s entirely possible that an interesting detail or neighborhood that might have been missed will capture your attention.

Keep An Eye On Expensive Listings

Most homebuyers will immediately write off a listing that is out of their price range, but homes that are overpriced will often sit on the market. Fortunately, for many homeowners, this is something they can use to their advantage. Instead of avoiding pricey homes altogether, make sure to keep tabs on ones that are a little bit out of range but manage to pique your interest. It’s entirely possible that they won’t come down in price, but if they do it may be well worth the wait.

Many homebuyers struggle to find a home in a tight market, but by keeping an eye out on listings and considering all of the post-modern strategies for marketing, you may be able to find your dream home. If you’re currently searching for a home, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

3 ‘Hidden’ Costs You’ll Uncover Buying Your First Home – and How to Plan for Them

May 2, 2017 by John · Leave a Comment 

3 'Hidden' Costs You'll Uncover Buying Your First Home – and How to Plan for ThemAre you about to become a first-time home buyer? If so, there’s a lot to get excited about. You’ll soon be a home owner, able to customize and improve your living space as you see fit.

Of course, buying a home is an investment unlike any other. To get the best deal on your home, you’ll need to be diligent. Let’s have a look at some of the hidden costs you may uncover when buying your first home.

#1: The Home Inspection (And What It Finds)

A major step before buying any home is the inspection. A licensed inspector will go over the home from top to bottom, looking for current or future issues. The inspection itself isn’t very costly. But any unresolved issues that come up may lead to expensive problems later.

If possible, try to ensure that the seller pays for any necessary repairs. When you take possession of the home, it should be in top condition.

#2: Taxes And Fees You’ve Never Even Heard Of

You already know about the major taxes, such as sales taxes that apply to a home’s sale price. Or property taxes, charged by local governments each year and based on your home’s assessed value. But depending on where you live, there may be a whole host of other taxes and fees involved. Many of which you’ve never even heard of!

For example, you may be subject to a Land Transfer Tax or Property Purchase Tax. These are taxes charged when a property changes hands. If you’re taking out a mortgage loan, the lender may require you to pay land survey or appraisal fees. These costs help the lender to ensure the risk involved with the mortgage is appropriate.

#3: Insurance, Insurance And More Insurance

Finally, don’t forget the cost of insurance. On top of regular home insurance, you may need mortgage insurance, title insurance, extra life insurance and more. It’s worth booking some time with an insurance professional to find out what kind of coverage you will need.

These are three of the possible costs involved in closing the purchase of a new home. For more information about closing costs and new homes in your neighborhood, contact your local real estate agent. We have the data and insight to help you make the best decision.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 1, 2017

May 1, 2017 by John · Leave a Comment 

Last week’s economic news included readings on Case-Shiller Home Prices Indices, new and pending home sales. Weekly readings on new jobless claims and average mortgage rates were also released. Case-Shiller reported that home prices rose by 0.20 percent from January to February with a year-over- year growth rate of 5.80 percent.

Western cities continued to post the fastest growth rates for home prices with Seattle, Washington topping annual home price growth rates at 12.20 percent; Portland, Oregon followed with a year-over-year home price growth rate of 9.70 percent. Dallas, Texas posted the third fastest growth rate for home prices with year-over-year growth in home prices at 8.80 percent. Dallas replaced Denver, Colorado for third place in the 20-City Home Price Index. 15 of 20 cities tracked in the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index posted higher year-over-year gains in February than for January 2017.

New Home Sales Rise as Pending Home Sales Dip

New home sales rose to 621,000 sales in March; analysts expected a reading of 580,000 new homes sold on a seasonally adjusted annual basis based on January’s reading of 587,000 new home sales. Sales of new homes are important due to months of high demand for homes coupled with low inventories of homes for sale. Sales of new homes can indicate future readings on builder confidence and housing starts, but there are no definite connections between new home sales, builder confidence in housing market conditions and housing starts.

Pending home sales dipped in March with a month-to-month reading of -0.80 percent as compared to February’s seasonally adjusted annual reading of 5.50 percent. Pending sales are home sales for which sales contracts are signed but have not been closed. Pending home sales are an indicator of future completed sales and can be impacted by factors including fluctuating mortgage rates and regulatory influences on mortgage lending and mortgage approval requirements.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was six basis points higher at 4.03 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was four basis points higher at 3.27 percent. Mortgage rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 3.12 percent which was two basis points higher than for the previous week. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage and averaged 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages

New jobless claims rose to 257,000 last week as compared to expectations of 245,000 new claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 243,000. Analysts said that the spike appeared to be localized in New York State and would likely resolve soon.

Whats Ahead

This week’s economic readings include ADP and Non-Farm Payrolls, national unemployment rate and readings on inflation. The Federal Open Market Committee of the Fed will issue its customary post-meeting announcement on Wednesday; this announcement is expected to reveal the Fed’s next move on interest rates. Weekly readings on new jobless claims and mortgage rates will also be released.

5 Tips for Crafting a Counter-offer That Doesn’t Scare Away a Potential Home Buyer

April 28, 2017 by John · Leave a Comment 

5 Tips for Crafting a Counter-offer That Doesn't Scare Away a Potential Home BuyerIf you’ve recently put your home up for sale, one of the most exciting parts of the selling process is getting an offer. However, all is not said and done once you’ve received an offer, as you’ll probably want to negotiate a better price. If you’re wondering how you can counter without losing a potential buyer, here are some tips when the time comes to negotiate.

Lower Your Price (A Little)

As a seller, it’s important to believe in the price you’ve put your home on the market for, but lowering your asking price after getting an offer will tell the potential buyer that you’re flexible. While you may not want to compromise too much, you’ll have to move a bit to keep them interested.

Pay For Closing Costs

There are so many costs involved in home ownership that many people are tired of all the associated fees of buying a home by the time it comes to closing. Instead of budging on your price, offering to pay for the closing costs can serve as a significant financial benefit for many buyers.

Hold Off On Offers

It can be a risky strategy, but choosing a specific day to consider offers can create a healthy competition for your home, and may stimulate interest without losing potential buyers. While you’ll want to be careful how you navigate this, it can work out well when it comes to bumping up the offers.

Provide An Expiration Date

Most counter-offers come with a timeframe that will allow those interested to accept the deal; however, consider adjusting this period to a timeframe that will work better for you. While you shouldn’t wait too long, a period of more than one day will tell the potential buyer that you want your home to be the right choice for them.

Be Reliable And Responsive

For an interested homebuyer, there’s nothing worse than having a home-seller that is not responsive to their offer. Instead of sitting on an offer too long, ensure you’re letting interested parties know that you’re considering their offer and will get back to them as soon as you’ve made a decision.

The art of negotiating can be complicated when it comes to selling your home, but by being responsive and showing flexibility, you may be able to get the offer you’re looking for. If you’re currently getting prepared to buy a new home, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

Case-Shiller: February Home Prices Grow at Fastest Pace in 3 Years

April 27, 2017 by John · Leave a Comment 

According to the Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, February home prices grew at their fastest pace in three years. While home prices have steadily grown in recent months, growth rates slowed in many areas month-to-month; the escalation of home prices from January to February indicates stronger housing markets. National home prices increased by 0.20 percent in February to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.80 percent appreciation.

Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index posted a month-to-month gain of 0.20 percent for a year-over-year gain of 5.90 percent. Seattle, Washington again topped the 20-City index with year-over-year home price growth of 12.20 percent. Portland Oregon followed with an annual price gain of 9.70 percent. Denver, Colorado was replaced by Dallas, Texas with a year-over-year home price growth rate of 8.80 percent. Fifteen cities posted higher year-over-year gains in home prices in February as compared to January readings.

Month-to Month Home Prices

Case-Shiller National, 20-City and 10-City Home Price Indices reported moth-to-month 0.20 percent home price growth before seasonal adjustment. After prices were seasonally adjusted, national home prices increased by 0.40 percent month-to-month; the 20-city index showed an increase of 0.70 percent and home prices in the 10-City Index rose by 0.60 percent after seasonal adjustment.  

Home Prices Rising on High Demand, Low Inventory of Homes Available

David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chair of the S&P Dow Jones Indices Committee, said that ongoing shortages of homes for sale continue to boost home prices as demand exceeds supply. First-time and moderate income home buyers continue to face affordability concerns as rising home prices can negatively impact buyers’ ability to qualify for mortgage loans.

Analysts said that while rising home prices are a sign of economic strength, housing market indicators such as housing starts have not had corresponding growth rates. New construction is viewed as the only way to ease demand for homes as rising home prices have so far not cooled demand.

Are You ‘Mortgage Pre-approval Worthy’? Learn How to Assess Your Finances in 10 Minutes

April 26, 2017 by John · Leave a Comment 

Are You 'Mortgage Pre-approval Worthy'? Learn How to Assess Your Finances in 10 MinutesFinding the right home and the right mortgage can take a lot of time and energy, so it’s important to consider whether you’ll be prepared for approval before diving into the process. Whether you’ve had some financial setbacks or you just want to have an idea ahead of time, here are some ways to quickly determine if you’ll be pre-approved for a mortgage.

Do You Have A Down Payment?

You may have heard that the ideal down payment amount is 20% of the cost of the home, but this doesn’t mean you have to have this amount. However, it is important that you have a significant chunk of change put away so that it can signal to the lender that you’re financially sound and will be able to come up with your monthly payment. A down payment will not only minimize the amount of money you owe the lender each month, it will also show that you know how to save and can be trusted with a significant financial investment.

Determine Your Credit History

Many potential homebuyers have financial hiccups in their history, but it’s how they’re dealt with that determines the future. While you may have considerable issues getting a mortgage approved if you’re not paying your minimum payments on time and have debt, by making this change, you can have a positive impact on your credit history in a matter of months. You may also want to get a copy of your credit report to ensure there are no errors that have adversely impacted your score.

Do You Have A Solid Employment History?

It’s very important to have a solid work history in the event that you’re applying for a mortgage, as this will signal to the lender that you have the funds to make your monthly payment. Keep in mind that it’s good to have at least 2 years of solid employment under your belt, and you’ll need to provide paystubs. If you’re self-employed or your recent job opportunities have been sporadic, this can cause issues with getting pre-approved.

It can take a lot of time to find the right house and the right lender, but if you have a solid history of employment and a sizeable down payment you’re well on your way to pre-approval. If you’re preparing for purchasing a home and would like to learn more, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

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