Category Archives: Home Tips
Home buyers say they want the latest design trends in their next property—but 70 percent admit to having outdated features in their current house, according to a new consumer survey by home builder Taylor Morrison. The most common of these outdated features are:
- Linoleum floors (40 percent)
- Popcorn ceilings (29 percent)
- Wood paneling (28 percent)
- Ceramic tile countertops (28 percent)
- Shag carpeting (19 percent)
- Avocado green appliances (8 percent)
“This is why real and virtual house hunting is so popular,” says Taylor Morrison Chair and CEO Sheryl Palmer. “We all love to daydream and envision ourselves in a beautiful new environment. But keeping up with ever-evolving preferences for paint colors, home features, new technologies, and how we expect to use our homes over the years is difficult. We also know that home interior preferences vary by generation, by home style, by region, and even by city.”
Taylor Morrison found that the features home buyers say they most desire are:
- Better energy efficiency (62 percent)
- Personalized floor plans (58 percent)
- Easier maintenance (56 percent).
Also, the interior features home shoppers called most essential are:
- Wood flooring (65 percent)
- USB and Ethernet ports (44 percent)
- Whirlpool tub (36 percent)
- Sun room (34 percent).
Source: “Home Is Where the Shag Carpet Is?” BUILDER (Nov. 16, 2017)
shared from DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS on REALTORMag
Mortgage rates inched higher last week, prompting more buyers and homeowners to retreat from taking out loans.
Total mortgage application volume, which includes refinancing and home purchases, dropped 2.6 percent last week on a seasonally adjusted annual basis, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported Wednesday. The index is now 20 percent lower than a year ago.
Refinancing saw the largest drop last week at 5 percent. Refinancing applications are 38 percent lower than the same week a year ago, when interest rates were lower.
Mortgage applications for home purchases dropped 1 percent during the week. However, purchase applications are still 10 percent higher than a year ago.
The average on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to its highest level since July last week at 4.22 percent, the MBA reports.
“Rates increased last week as speculation over the next Fed chair continued, and the European Central Bank announced plans to taper its asset purchase program, signaling increased confidence in the euro zone economies,” says Joel Kan, an MBA economist.
However, investors are feeling confident the Fed won’t move rates at its next meeting and will instead choose to do so at its December meeting, writes Matthew Graham, chief operating officer of Mortgage News Daily. Instead, investors are more closely watching President Donald Trump’s pick to replace current Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen. He’s expected to make his announcement on Thursday.
Source: “Weekly Mortgage Applications Fall 2.6% as Rates Move Even Higher,” CNBC (Nov. 1, 2017)
article written by DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS and shared from RealtorMag
Demand is forcing home prices out West to keep ticking up, even though the home-buying and -selling season is winding down, according to the September Zillow® Real Estate Market Report. Appreciation is highest in the San Jose, Calif., and Seattle, Wash., metropolitan areas, where prices have rocketed (in order) 10.3 percent, to a median $1,052,500, and 12.4 percent, to a median $455,800, year-over-year. Appreciation nationally is 6.9 percent, to a median $202,700.
Rents out West are also on a swift upswing. Rents in Riverside, Calif. have climbed 6.0 percent year-over-year—the most of the metro areas in the report—to a median $1,833. Rents in Seattle have gone up 5.5 percent to a median $2,189; rents in Portland, Ore., have increased 4.7 percent to a median $1,863; and rents in Los Angeles, Calif., have risen 4.5 percent to $2,714. Appreciation nationally is 2 percent, to a median $1,430.
“In these West Coast markets, heightened demand is being met with limited supply of homes for sale, which naturally causes prices to rise,” says Dr. Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow. “That limited supply and high demand dynamic is a widespread phenomenon impacting high-growth metros like Seattle, as well as slower-moving markets, like Indianapolis.
“It might be easy to assume another bubble is emerging, with home values growing 10 or 12 percent per year, but don’t worry—the market is reacting to basic economic laws, and is behaving exactly the way we would expect it to given good overall growth, limited supply of homes for sale and decent housing affordability thanks to low mortgage interest rates,” Gudell says.
Nationally, there are now 12 percent fewer homes for sale compared to one year ago, the report shows.
article written by Suzanne De Vita, RISMedia’s online news editor.
What’s that smell? The sense of smell is the strongest of all the senses to connect buyers to a home. While a bad smell can really deter buyers, a good smell can tempt buyers to a sale. From “green” scents to seasonal scents, discover the right smells for triggering positive emotions and home sales.
- Clean Smell
Most of us associate “clean” with strongly scented cleaning products and disinfectants. It can even make buyers nostalgic. But remember, a little goes a long way. You should dilute your cleaning solutions so buyers don’t get overwhelmed.
Using actual fruit is one way to get a clean smell without all the cleaning products. Lemon, orange and grapefruit scents are best. One great tip is to grind up lemon or orange rind with a few ice cubes in the garbage disposal. This will freshen up the kitchen, one of the most important rooms in the house.
- Natural Smell
Sometimes the best scent is no scent at all. Try using “green” cleaning supplies, baking soda and other non-scented products that neutralize odors. The idea is that simpler is better, so you want to avoid complex, artificial smells from potpourri, sprays and plug-ins, which can actually distract buyers and turn them off.
- Baked Goods
Nothing can make a house smell more like home than freshly baked goods, but be sure to stick to simple smells like vanilla, cinnamon and fresh bread. You don’t have to really bake anything. One trick is to boil some water and throw in a few cinnamon sticks an hour before a showing.
Don’t we all love that fresh pine scent? Especially with the holidays around the corner, it’s a great scent to greet buyers when they walk in the door. If you don’t want to put up a live tree, you can simply hang a wreath of tree trimmings or some fresh garland. You can’t go wrong with setting a holiday mood to inspire a sale.
article written by American Home Shield and shared from RISMedia
Buying a house and moving in is gonna cost you. There’s no way around it. Right? Well, actually, there may just be a way to make it not quite so painful. A willingness to negotiate and put in a little work plus a little inside info on special deals you can take advantage of can help you cut some costs. Here are eight ways to save money on your move and move in.
1. Don’t take it all with you
Furniture you’re no longer in love with or appliances like washers and dryers or the fridge you have in the garage can be a pain to move. You can potentially save money (and time and hassle) by including them in your home sale. First-time buyers or someone moving from out of state may appreciate your old stuff far more than you, and you don’t have to pay to haul it to your next place.
2. Leave the flat screen
If you have a mounted flat screen TV that’s at least a few years old, consider leaving it behind too. The cost of taking it down and repairing the wall behind it plus the care involved in moving it might not be worth it. Flat-screen technology is always improving while costs are coming down, so it’s a good excuse to buy something bigger and better without spending a lot.
3. Negotiate everything
If you’ve been looking for a house or have bought one before, you’re probably already aware of closing costs. But you might not be aware of how much you can negotiate with your lender.
“Shop around before choosing a mortgage lender, but don’t stop there,” said Bankrate. “When you receive your good faith estimate of closing costs, or GFE, the negotiation hasn’t ended.” This itemized list of estimated closing costs includes lender’s fees as well as items such as appraisal charges and title insurance premiums.
“The lender or broker charges some fees, and third parties charge others. The first step is to find out which are loan origination fees and which are third-party fees. Don’t guess. Ask the lender or broker.”
Bankrate advises that while “some items are non-negotiable: taxes, city and county stamps, recording fees, prorated interest and reserves,” negotiating on others that can “be waived or reduced” can save you money.”
4. Barter for services
Need a handyman and have appliances or furniture you’re getting rid of? You just might be able to make a deal. Ask around for referrals and then introduce a barter system into the equation during your first conversation. You might be surprised what you can get for what you’ve already got.
5. Move Smart
Once you’re out of college, or maybe out of your first post-college apartment, thinking about renting a U-Haul and moving yourself (or with a few good friends) seems less than desirable. But if you’re willing to sweat a little (ok, a lot) you can save a bundle. Just remember two important things to entice and thank your friends: Pizza. And beer.
If you don’t want to do the whole thing on your own, think of ways you can save by doing a hybrid move:
- Do the packing and unpacking yourself
- Have everything on one floor. Stairs can add considerably to the cost of a move.
- Pare down. Maybe you don’t need to bring all that stuff with you. Selling it will earn you a few bucks and save you a few more.
6. Consider moving and storage hybrid options
A company like PODS or U-Pack might be a solution for you if you need self storage wrapped into your move. Essentially, the company drops off a mobile storage unit at your house and you pack it up yourself. They then pick it up and move it for you. You can tack on storage at the end if needed, making this a particularly good solution for those who have time between their move out and their move in. This type of move can cost up to 35 percent less than traditional movers, but keep in mind you will be doing the labor – just not the driving.
7. Take advantage of special offers
Move-in offers for cable, Internet, and phone service can save you a lot of money. But they often come with a catch that could cost you down the line. Look out for special limited-time offers – one-year or six-month specials that expire, leaving you with much higher rates after the introductory period.
8. Don’t rush the renos
Chances are, after you move in, you’re going to start receiving all kinds of junk mail asking if you want to refi, redo your lawn, and apply for 72 different credit cards. In what seems like an endless pile of junk mail will be some special offers for new homebuyers, but they might not arrive for a month or more. Look out for coupons from handymen, companies selling flooring and window coverings, home furnishing companies like Bed Bath and Beyond and World Market, and offers from landscapers with discounts for new clients. If you’re planning to shop, renovate, or do some work on your interior or exterior, taking advantage of a few of these offers can help shave down the cost.
WRITTEN BY JAYMI NACIRI and shared from RealtyTimes
Sometimes a great listing hits the market and just doesn’t sell. The reasons may be easy to pinpoint, but other times it takes some work to determine what the problem is. Here are some of the biggest reasons your listing may be stagnating on the market.
First impressions are everything; if a potential buyer walks into a listing that has clutter everywhere, they can’t truly visualize and see the home for what it truly is. Buyers can’t fall in love with a house that has clutter everywhere. Make sure your listing isn’t buried under furniture, knick-knacks, papers and laundry. Also make sure everything from the floor, ceiling, and walls is spick and span.
If clutter is not the issue but your listing is still not selling, you may want to consider staging. Staging has been found to not only decrease the amount of time a listing spends on the market, but also increase the selling price. Find staging tips here.
The initial listing price of a home is instrumental in how quickly it sells. Many sellers assume setting the price high and coming down later or being willing to accept a reasonable counter-offer if they don’t get much traction is a safe way to ensure they get the highest price for their home. In reality, starting with a high listing price just ensures that the buyers who are most compatible with the listing either don’t see it or move on because it’s outside what they’re comfortable paying. The buyers who are looking at homes for the price you set will see that there are other houses at the same price with more expensive upgrades.
If the price is right and your listing is squeaky clean and clutter-free, you may want to check your listing details. For example, an extra zero can turn your $450,000 listing into a $4,500,000 listing, where it’s probably not going to get much traction. Double-check to make sure your information is accurate, make sure the description is interesting and informative, and your photos are professional and numerous. View a list of powerful words you can use in your listing description.
If everything else seems in order and your listing still isn’t selling, the problem may be the house itself. According to the 2016 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, only 19 percent of buyers were willing to compromise on the condition of the home. Major repairs, such as a new roof or updated water heater, may be necessary to attract a buyer.
Article written By Mark Mathis, General Manager of Broker and Agent Sales for Homes.com and shared from RISMedia
Buying your first family home can be a monumental event, but it can also be stressful. After all, you may be focused on finding the perfect home to move into that is affordable for your budget. With many factors at play, it may seem challenging to find the ideal new space to call home; however, by using these tips, you could more easily locate the perfect starter home to move into.
Determine Your Budget
Your budget is a critical element that you do not want to overlook. There are two primary aspects of your budget to focus on: your down payment amount and your monthly housing payment. Both factors should be comfortable for you to manage without stressing your finances. Remember that you may want to estimate on the higher end and shoot for keeping expenses as low as possible. In many cases, expenses and payments may be higher than anticipated, so always aim for a lower figure when possible.
Define Needs and Wants
It is easy to let your mind wander as you imagine how grand your new home may be; however, when buying a starter home on a budget, you may need to carefully define the features that you absolutely need versus those that you want. This can help you to more quickly and easily find homes that meet your absolute needs within the budget you have in mind, and you may even benefit from having a few bonus items included in the home you firmly settle on.
Think About Suburban Communities
Many homebuyers who are looking for their first home may be turned off by homes located in the heart of urban areas or in otherwise expensive and high-end communities. If you are having trouble finding a desirable home that meets your needs in the confined search area you selected, consider expanding your search area to different suburban communities. In some cases, suburbs are much more affordable to live in.
Consider All Types of Properties
As beneficial as homeownership can be, remember that you do not necessarily have to buy a single-family home to enjoy these benefits. Another idea is to buy a condo. These may provide you with the space and features you need, but the cost may be much more affordable. In addition, maintenance on the outside of the condo and in your yard may be provided by your condo association.
The quest to find your family’s first home can be exciting, but it can also be demanding in many ways. Rather than get frustrated with your current situation, use these tips to more quickly and easily find the ideal property to move into.
shared article written by By Hannah Whittenly for RISMedia’s Housecall
Wintry weather is great at turning up problems you didn’t even know you had. Like that first snowy night in front of your fireplace that you thought was pure bliss — until you noticed a leak in the ceiling corner, which apparently was caused by a lack of insulation. How were you supposed to know that?
Here are seven things to do now to avoid costly wintertime mistakes:
#1 Buy a $2 Protector for Your Outdoor Faucet
The cost if you don’t: Up to $15,000 and a whole lot of grief
It’s amazing what a little frozen water can do damage-wise. An inch of water in your basement can cost up to $15,000 to pump out and dry out. And, yet, it’s so easy to prevent, especially with outdoor faucets, which are the most susceptible to freezing temps.
The simplest thing to do is to remove your garden hose from your outdoor faucet and drain it. Then add a faucet protector to keep cold air from getting into your pipes. They’re really cheap (some are under $2; the more expensive ones are still less than $10). “Get these now,” says Danny Lipford, home improvement expert and host of the “Today’s Homeowner” television and radio shows. “When the weatherman says we’ve got cold coming, they’ll sell out in minutes.”
While you’re at it, make sure any exposed pipes in an unheated basement or garage are insulated, too, or you’ll face the same pricey problem.
Wrap pipes with foam plumbing insulation — before the weather drops. It’s cheap, too, just like the faucet cover (only $1 for six feet of polyethylene insulation). And it’s an easy DIY project, as long as you can reach the pipes.
#2 Add Insulation to Prevent Ice Dams
The cost if you don’t: $500 — if you’re lucky; a lot more if you’re not
Those icicles make your home look so picturesque, you just gotta take a few pics. But you better make them quick. Those icicles can literally be a dam problem. (Yes, dam — not the curse word that sounds the same. )
Icicles are a clear sign that you’ve got an ice dam, which is exactly what it sounds like: a buildup of ice on your gutter or roof that prevents melting snow and ice from flowing through your gutters. That’s really bad news because these icy blocks can lead to expensive roofing repairs.
Depending on where you live, expect to pay at least $500 for each ice dam to be steamed off. Leave the ice and you risk long-term damage, which could ultimately cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to your roof, depending on what type of shingles you have and the size of the damaged area.
How to prevent them? Insulation. “Ice dams, icicles, and ice buildup on the gutters is a symptom of not enough insulation in the attic,” says Chris Johnson, owner of Navarre True Value and several other stores in the Twin Cities area.
And “you need to have at least 14 inches of insulation in your attic, no matter where you live,” says Lipford. If you live in a colder climate, you’ll need more.
If you don’t have the cash to insulate, heated gutter cables, which run between $50 and $150 each, can be a less expensive alternative when temporarily affixed to areas prone to ice damming, Johnson suggests.
#3 Clean Your Gutters
The cost if you don’t:: You really don’t want to be in a position to find out
It can be so tempting to skip gutter cleanups as winter nears. It seems like as soon as you clear your gutters, they clog right back up again. So what’s the point?
Well, if it looks like you’re living inside a waterfall when it rains, water is missing your gutter system completely. It’s being directed to your foundation instead. And a water-damaged foundation is never, ever cheap to fix.
A contractor can plug foundation cracks for $1,500 to $3,000, says David Verbofsky, director of training for exterior home products manufacturer Ply Gem. But a worse problem, one that requires a foundation excavation or rebuild, can set you back (gulp) $30,000 or more.
Suddenly, cleaning your gutters a few times each fall doesn’t seem so bad. A pro can do the work for anywhere between $70 and $250, depending on the size of your gutter system.
#4 Seal Up Leaks
The cost if you don’t: Nights where you never feel warm, despite sky-high heating bills
“If it were possible to take every crack on the outside of a typical home and drag them together, you’d have the equivalent of a three-by-three window open all the time,” says Lipford. Yikes.
Yet cracks can be easily and inexpensively sealed with a simple tube of caulk, and it’s available in hundreds of colors to match your window panes, outside siding, and even brick. Not sure where to caulk? Look for visible cracks around:
- Window sills
- Fireplace or dryer vents
- Anywhere something inside pokes a hole to the outside
#5 Program Your Thermostat
The cost if you don’t: Money you could spend on something else besides heating
We all know we should, but we seem to have some mental block when it comes to programming our thermostats to align with our schedules. It’s not that hard, and sometimes all it takes is buying a new one that suits you. (Like maybe a Wi-Fi one that’ll give you a little money-saving thrill each time you swipe your app.)
“From a cost-savings perspective, a programmable thermostat is a great investment,” Lipford says — as much as 10% off your energy bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
#6 Get a Furnace Tune-Up
The cost if you don’t: A furnace that’ll die years before it should — and higher energy bills
“Forget to service your furnace and you could easily cut five years off the life of your system,” says Lipford, who added that five years is a full third of the typical unit’s life span. New units can cost around $4,000 installed, making the $125 annual maintenance charge a no-brainer.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to replace the furnace filter, which cleans the air in your home, and also keeps your furnace coils cleaner, which can shave up to 15% off your energy bill. Johnson suggests at least every three months, but possibly as often as monthly if you have allergies, pets, or smoke cigarettes at home.
#7 Get a Fireplace Inspection
The cost if you don’t: Possibly your life — and your home
“A cozy fire is great, but if you don’t maintain your chimney, a fire can cost you thousands of dollars,” says Johnson, not to mention the risk to you and your family.
Schedule your maintenance appointment as early as you can.”If you wait until the busy season, you’ll have a hard time getting them out there, you’ll pay more, and you’ll get a lower quality job,” says Lipford.
written by ALAINA TWEDDALE for houselogic .com