Stay Connected – Subscribe for Updates

Selling to Millennials: Three High-Tech Upgrades That Will Increase Your Home’s Appeal to Young Buyers

Selling to Millennials: Three High-Tech Upgrades That Will Increase Your Home's Appeal to Young BuyersMillennials are finally starting to enter the real estate market after delaying home purchases for several years. With a completely new client base looking for homes, it is time to start making your home more appealing to these young buyers.

Millennials are used to using high-tech gadgets every day, so they are going to desire these things in their new home. While there are several high-tech upgrades you can make on your home, these three will appeal the most to young homebuyers.

Keyless Entry: Security for the New Millennium

Keyless entry doors are becoming a popular way of keeping a home secure while adding that great “wow” factor. These keyless entry systems mean there’ll be no more fumbling for keys when all you want to do is get in the door. It may seem like something out of a sci-fi film, but several companies have mastered the art of keyless entry doors that you can use in your home today.

The door automatically locks when it is shut, and you will need the correct fingerprint to unlock the door. If you could show off a keyless entry system at your open house, you would immediately pique the interest of every young buyer interested in technology.

A Home Security System is a Great Practical Addition

A high-tech home security system will certainly make your home more appealing to young buyers, who may even be thinking about having children in the near future. No matter how safe your neighborhood is, everyone is always looking to feel more secure at home. Placing a few security cameras around the exterior of your home will allow you to know what is happening outside at all times, and buyers will love having that peace of mind.

Home Energy Monitor: For the Eco-Conscious Generation

Young people are extremely conscious of the environment, so they would love seeing a home energy monitor when shopping for a new home. A home energy monitor is able to track the energy use of every aspect of your home.

If you think your air conditioner is not running efficiently, a home energy monitor can tell you whether or not you’re right. Since young people know about the dangers of improper energy use, they will want to make the home as efficient as possible.

Millennials are slowly entering the real estate market, and although they are starting to look at homes, you’ll face a lot of competition from other homeowners looking to pass properties onto this new generation. These three upgrades will increase your home’s value and make it more appealing to Millennial buyers. For more information about selling your home, contact a trusted real estate professional today.

National Association of Realtors, Existing Home Sales Slip in August

National Association of Realtors Existing Home Sales Slip in AugustSales of previously owned homes fell in August according to the National Association of REALTORS®. This was the first decline in sales in five months. Although not welcome news to homeowners and real estate pros, there is good news. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS®, as first-time buyers and moderate income families may now have an opportunity to find and buy affordable homes.

Bidding wars and slim inventories of available homes made buying a home difficult for many prospective buyers in recent months, but Mr. Yun said that these obstacles have subsided in many markets. Other obstacles contributing to a slowdown in housing markets are labor markets, which have shown some improvement, and stringent mortgage credit requirements that became effective in January.

Analysts had expected an annual sales rate of 5.20 million existing homes in August against July’s original reading of 5.15 million sales, which was later adjusted to 5.14 million sales of existing homes. August’s reading was 5.05 million previously owned homes sold.

FHFA Home Sales Show Fractional Gain in July

FHFA, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, reported that July sales of homes connected with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac owned mortgages rose by a tenth of a percent in July on a seasonally-adjusted basis. On a year-over-year basis, home prices were 4.40 percent higher than in July 2013. It’s important to bear in mind that FHFA reports a month behind the readings reported for existing home sales in August. Another thing to consider is that FHFA readings are based on properties connected with mortgages owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

First-Time Buyers Missing in Action

Falling home prices and sales volume may be due in part to a vortex of challenges facing first-time home buyers. The census bureau reports that homeownership rates have dropped for the 25-29 age groups; about 40.6 percent owned homes in 2007 as compared to 34.1 percent in 2013. The national unemployment rate for millennials is higher at approximately 9.00 percent as compared to the national unemployment rate for all workers at about 6.00 percent. Stricter mortgage rules and long-term under-employment are also impacting first-time buyers’ ability to purchase homes. The inability of would-be first-time buyers to buy homes can impact buyers and sellers at all levels of local housing markets as most sellers rely on selling their existing home to fund down payments and closing costs for their next homes.

House Hunting: Watch for These Five Small Signs That Can Indicate Much Bigger Problems with a Home

House Hunting: Watch for These Five Small Signs That Can Indicate Much Bigger Problems with a HomeIt’s not uncommon for homebuyers to recount horror stories about properties that appeared to be fine at first glance, but were actually hiding very expensive problems. If you fail to do your due diligence, you might find your dream house turning into a nightmare. The next time you walk through a house, pay attention for these five signs that the property might be hiding a unfortounate secret or two.

Mold, Water Spots and Water Damage

Older and newer homes alike may develop a leaky pipe or another similar plumbing issue from time to time, but any type of water issue can result in mold growth inside the walls. Water spots and warped wood indicate that the property has had a water issue in the past, and this means that the property should be more thoroughly inspected for mold growth before you make a purchase.

Doors and Windows That Stick

One of the most common signs of a foundation issue is doors and windows that stick or that are difficult to open and close. As you walk through the home, open and close the doors at leisure to identify if they are not in the frame properly. The issue should be reviewed by a structural home inspector or foundation contractor.

Small Cracks in the Walls

Some cracks in both interior and exterior walls can indicate that the home’s foundation has shifted and is no longer flat and level. Significant issues may be indicated by molding or door frames that appear to have shifted after installation.

Fresh Paint on a Small Area of the Wall

Many property sellers will apply fresh paint to walls before listing a home for sale, and this is not necessarily a sign of damage to the home. However, when fresh paint is applied on one area of the wall alone, this may be a sign that the homeowner is attempting to conceal water damage or other related issues with the property. Further inspection of the property is in order.

Floors That Slant

Any time a floor slants to a level that you feel as though you are walking up or down across the home, this is a significant indicator that the foundation has shifted. Foundation issues result in the movement of the foundation that the entire home rests on, and this can result in an uneven feeling when you walk across the floor. If you notice that the floors in a property slant, you should schedule an inspection of the foundation.

These small signs are symptoms of large problems, and they should concern you. If you notice any of these problems on a walkthrough, walk away from the home and contact a real estate professional for assistance.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – Sept 22, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week Sept 22 2014Last week’s economic news largely concerned the Federal Reserve’s FOMC meeting statement and a post-meeting conference given by Fed Chair Janet Yellen. The FOMC statement indicated that the Fed continued its wind-down of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities and that its purchases are expected to cease after the next FOMC meeting.

The FOMC statement said that committee members find the economy to be improving at a moderate pace and currently strong enough to further reduce the QE3 monthly asset purchases. The Fed seeks to achieve and sustain its dual mandate of maximum employment and an inflation rate of 2.00 percent. While the unemployment rate is lower than the Fed’s benchmark of 6.50 percent, FOMC members cited concerns that the labor force is underutilized and that labor markets, while recovering, could use further improvement. The Fed repeated its customary statement that the Fed’s monetary policies are not on a pre-determined course, and that FOMC members continually review and interpret developing financial and economic news as part of their decision-making process.

Chair Yellen explained during her press conference that it is not possible to provide a specific date when the Fed will change its target federal funds rate. Economists and media analysts expressed concerns that raising the target federal funds rate, which is currently at 0.00 to 0.250 percent, could cause overall interest rates to rise. Chair Yellen said that she expects the current target federal funds rate to remain for a “considerable time” after the QE asset purchases cease. She also said that it is impossible to provide a specific date when the Fed will change its target federal funds rate and cited multiple influences considered by FOMC when changing monetary policy.

Home Builder Confidence Grows, Housing Starts Fall

The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index rose by three points in September for a reading of 59. Analysts had predicted an index reading of 56 against August’s reading of 55. September’s reading was the third consecutive reading above 50. Stronger labor markets were cited as supporting the higher reading, but builders were also concerned by tight mortgage credit standards. Any reading above 50 indicates that more builders perceive market conditions for new homes as positive as those that do not.

August’s housing starts were inconsistent with the Home Builders Index; according to the Department of Commerce, construction of new homes fell by 14.4 percent from July’s reading to 956,000. Analysts expected 1.03 million starts against July’s reading of 1.12 million homes started.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Weekly Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week. Average mortgage rates rose across the board with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage 11 basis points higher at 4.23 percent. The rate for a 15-year mortgage also rose by 11 basis points to 3.37 percent and the rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose from 2.99 to 3.06 percent. Average discount points were unchanged for all mortgage types at 0.50 percent.

New weekly jobless claims dropped to 280,000 against an expected reading of 305,000 and the prior week’s adjusted reading of 316,000 new jobless claims. The original reading for the prior week was 315,000 new jobless claims. The less volatile four-week average of new jobless claim fell by 4,750 new claims to a reading of 299,500 new claims.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news brings multiple housing-related reports. The National Association of REALTORS® will release its Existing Home Sales report for August. Case-Shiller’s monthly Housing Market Index report and the FHFA’s Home Value report will bring new light to national market trends. The Department of Commerce will release its New Home Sales report, and as usual, Freddie Mac’s weekly report on mortgage rates will come out on Thursday.

Federal Open Market Committee, Fed Chair: No Rush to Raise Rates

Federal Open Market Committee Fed Chair No Rush to Raise Rates Wednesday’s customary post-meeting statement issued by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve provided some relief to investors and analysts concerned that the Fed may soon raise its target federal funds rate. The target federal funds rate has held steady at between 0.00 and 0.25 percent since the inception of the Fed’s current quantitative easing program. The FOMC statement indicated that the committee does not expect to raise the target federal funds rate until the Fed’s dual mandate of maximum employment and reaching its target inflation rate is achieved.

FOMC members don’t expect the wind-down of scheduled securities purchases under the quantitative easing program to cause long-term interest rates to rise quickly. The FOMC statement indicates that the Fed expects its current holdings and acquisitions of securities to hold down long-term interest rates and help with achieving the Fed’s dual mandate of achieving maximum employment and 2.00 percent inflation. As in past meetings, the FOMC statement asserted the committee’s dedication to reading and researching economic and financial reports and repeated that Fed policy is not contingent on a predetermined course, but that FOMC members make decisions based on current economic trends and developing domestic and global events.

FOMC members also re-asserted their position that after employment and inflation achieve levels consistent with the Fed’s dual mandate, the Fed will likely maintain the target federal funds rate at lower levels than the committee considers normal for “some time.”

Fed Chair Janet Yellen provided further insight into Fed policy during a press conference given after the FOMC statement. She also said that the FOMC’s view of current economic conditions has not changed over the past few months. Chair Yellen also said that the committee expects to maintain the current target federal funds rate for a “considerable time” after asset purchases under the QE 3 program cease.

Fed Chair Yellen: Gaps Between Current Data and Fed’s Mandate Shrink Modestly

In a press conference given after the FOMC policy statement was released, Fed Chair Janet Yellen emphasized that the committee’s discussions did not imply any near-term changes to the target federal funds rate. Chair Yellen cited gaps between current unemployment rates and the Fed’s mandate of achieving maximum employment and the current inflation rate and the Fed’s target inflation rate of 2.00 percent as major considerations in forming current Fed policy. She said that the respective gaps had narrowed “modestly,” and again emphasized the Fed’s commitment to constant review of economic and financial data as a significant factor in its decisions to change monetary policy.

Ms. Yellen cautioned media representatives and analysts to avoid making economic projections too far into the future and pointed out that longer term predictions are subject to more variables. Chair Yellen also cautioned press conference attendees not to consider anything in the FOMC statement or her press conference to a definite time frame.

Media reps continued to press for definite dates and time projections, but Chair Yellen held fast to the Fed’s often-repeated position that policy changes cannot be set by a calendar and also depend on economic trends and news that influence the Fed’s monetary policies.

Thinking About a New Floor? Five Excellent Reasons to Choose Hardwood Flooring when Remodeling

Thinking About a New Floor? Five Excellent Reasons to Choose Hardwood Flooring when RemodelingIf you’re remodeling, you should seriously consider updating your flooring. A new hardwood floor will give your home an impressive look and prevent scratches and stains. Here are five very good reasons why you should consider a hardwood floor for your next remodeling project.

Hardwood Is More Durable Than Other Materials

Hardwood is much more durable and longer lasting than many other flooring materials. If there’s a lot of traffic in your home, hardwood floors are less likely to get scratches and dents than vinyl tiles or laminated floors. On weaker floors, damage is often permanent – but with hardwood floors, any imperfections can be sanded and refinished to make your floor look as good as new.

Hardwood Offers A Wide Array Of Styles

Hardwood flooring is very versatile, and it comes in a wide assortment of styles and colors. Hardwood is also available in a variety of textures to compliment any decor or color scheme. It’s easy to buy small area rugs that match the flooring rather than having wall-to-wall carpeting installed that may have to be replaced when it gets worn.

It’s A Good Long Term Investment

Hardwood flooring is one of the most practical investments you can make in your home. Carpeting, vinyl tile, linoleum, and laminate flooring will eventually need to be replaced. Although the initial investment of installing hardwood floors in your home is more than you’d spend on some of the alternatives, hardwood lasts much longer than other materials – so you spend less money in the long run.

Selling Your Home Is Easier

Hardwood flooring is an extremely attractive material that a lot of homeowners love. It also increases your home’s value. If you put your home on the market, you’re making a good investment by making your home more appealing to buyers.

You’ll Experience Fewer Allergy Problems

Carpeting can cause symptoms from allergies to get worse, because dust and other allergens like pet dander can get trapped in the fibers. Doctors often recommend that patients with severe allergies get rid of the carpeting in their home and replace it with hardwood flooring. With this type of flooring, it’s a simple matter to sweep or mop the floor, so allergies are no longer an issue.

Hardwood flooring is a highly popular interior design choice that is taking modern homes by storm. If you’re renovating your home in the near future, consider installing hardwood flooring as a means of giving it a classic floor that you and your guests will adore. For more great design ideas that will increase your home’s value, contact a local real estate agent today.

It’s Not Just for Cooking! Five Excellent Uses for Olive Oil That Don’t Involve a Stove

It's Not Just for Cooking! Five Excellent Uses for Olive Oil That Don't Involve a StoveOlive oil contains heart-healthy fats, making it a great choice for those concerned about a healthy diet. However, this amazing natural oil can also be used to solve a variety of household and beauty problems.

A high-quality oil like extra-virgin olive oil tastes great for eating and cooking but for beauty and household purposes, a less expensive type will probably work fine.

Remove Stickers And Price Tags

Taking off price tags and stickers often takes time, and it can be a real challenge to remove the entire thing. Stop stressing and get out some olive oil! Dab a sticker with oil, then wait for the sticker to soak up the oil. After waiting a minute or two and both the sticker and the residue will usually wipe off easily.

Treat and Remove Head Lice

Products for removing lice can contain potentially harmful chemicals. They can be expensive and sometimes they just don’t work. Try substituting olive oil for a simple – and often very effective – remedy. Simply coat the head and scalp with olive oil, then leave on for approximately an hour. Shampoo and repeat the process to get rid of the lice quickly.

Renew Leather And Wood

Breathe new life into leather or wood by applying olive oil. For wood, rub it in a teaspoon at a time, using a soft cloth. Allow time for the wood to absorb the oil, then just rub away any excess after about thirty minutes. The oil may also be used to protect wooden cutting boards, utensils and other kitchen items made of wood. Renew old leather baseball gloves, jackets and more using the same process.

Get Off Gum

Sticky situations can also be solved using olive oil. To get gum off a shoe, or out of someone’s hair, soak a cloth or paper towel in olive oil. Hold it on the spot with the gum for about 10 minutes. The oil helps break down the gum, allowing it to be removed easily.

No More Squeaks

Try using olive oil to squelch a squeak. Just rub a cotton ball or cloth dipped in oil onto a noisy hinge or spring. Then all you have to do is sit back and appreciate the silence. Best of all, this solution is odor-free and non-toxic.

Olive oil keeps for as long as two years. After that time the oil starts to lose its flavor, and it may spoil. However, the oil will often still remain good for household uses. One bottle of olive oil makes a great substitute for so many different products. So give it a try to save money, save space and solve some problems, all at the same time.

Roof Restoration 101: Preparing Your Roof for the Harsh Winter – and when to Call in Professional Help

Roof Restoration 101: Preparing Your Roof for the Harsh Winter - and when to Call in Professional HelpWhile the days may be relatively warm and sunny right now, the transition to fall and winter will soon be upon us. Winter weather can be harsh, and it can also be destructive to your property. From the snow and ice to the frigid temperatures, winter can wreak havoc on a property.

One of the best steps that you can take now while the weather is warm is to restore your roof to prepare for the harsh winter ahead. This effort today will minimize damage that the home may endure throughout the cold months of the year. Here are some steps you can take to winterize your roof before the weather gets colder.

Steps to Take Now

As a homeowner, you can easily take a few steps today to prevent your home from being damaged in the winter months. From the ground level, inspect the home for signs of roof damage. You may notice a few shingles not laying flush on the roof, or you may see that some shingles are missing.

Repair work to the roof should be completed quickly. In addition, you can trim away tree limbs and branches that hang over the roof. These can become heavy with the weight of snow and ice, and they can break entirely or hang low to cause damage to the roof.

You also should clean out your gutters now. When gutters become clogged, they are ineffective at handling snow and ice melt. Cleaning your gutters every spring and fall will ensure they are prepared to handle inclement weather.

When to Call a Professional

Some work on a roof can easily be completed by a homeowner. However, roof work can also be dangerous or difficult. This may be due to the high height of the roof, the steep incline or even the type of work that needs to be completed.

When the work is dangerous or when you believe that you do not have the equipment or skills required to complete the work right, you should call a professional to your home to assist you. You’ll want to call an experienced roofer if you notice leaks or damaged gutters or soffits. These kinds of repairs are critical to properly winterizing your home, and letting a professional handle them means you get a high-quality job.

The integrity of your home’s roof will impact energy efficiency of your home’s heating and cooling system, its ability to resist water damage and pest infestation and more. Long before the first snow or ice arrives, it is important for homeowners to assess their roofs for damage and to make repairs as needed. Contact a roofing contractor for an inspection to ensure your roof is winter-ready.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – Sept 15, 2014

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week Sept 15 2014Last week’s housing related economic reports were slim, but an unexpected increase in weekly jobless claims gained attention. Analysts calmed concerns by noting that last week’s reading of 315,000 new jobless claims was not far removed from jobless claim levels before the recession. Expectations for last week’s reading were for 301,000 new jobless claims based on the previous week’s original reading of 302,000. The previous week’s reading was revised to 304,000 new jobless claims.

Jobless Claims: 4-Week Average for Continuing Claims Hits Lowest Level Since 2007

Prospective home buyers and current homeowners typically consider their jobs and employment prospects before seeking a home purchase mortgage or refinancing their existing home loans. Last week’s readings released by the Department of Labor suggest that while weekly jobless claims increased, overall trends in hiring and continuing jobless claims indicate a stronger labor sector.

The four-week average of new jobless claims rose from 303,250 to 304,000. The four-week average is typically less volatile than week-to-week readings. Continuing jobless claims increased by 9,000 to 2.49 million for the week ended August 30. The four-week average for continuing jobless claims fell by 15,500 claims to 2.50 million continuing jobless claims. This was the lowest reading for continuing jobless claims since 2007.

In other labor related news, job openings were nearly steady at 4.67 million in July against June’s reading of 4.68 million new job openings. The Labor Department reported that job openings increased by 22 percent year-over-year, with private sector jobs rising to 4.19 million job openings and government jobs increasing by 101,000 job openings to 485,000 in July. The number of hires in July rose from June’s reading of 4.79 million to 4.87 million in July. This was the highest number of hires since 2007. Pre-recession hiring levels were approximately 5 million; this suggests that U.S. labor trends are approaching pre-recession levels.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Discount Points Unchanged

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates on Thursday, with average discount points unchanged at 0.50 across the board. Average rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose from 4.10 percent to 4.12 percent; the average rate for a 15-year mortgage was two basis points higher at 3.26 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose to 2.99 percent from the prior week’s average of 2.97 percent.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled news includes several reports related to housing. In addition to Freddie Mac’s usual mortgage rates report, The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) will release its Housing Market Index and the Department of Commerce will release data on housing starts in August. General economic reports include the Consumer Price Index, Core Consumer Price Index, and Leading Economic Indicators.

The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve will release its post-meeting statement on Wednesday, and Fed Chair Janet Yellen is also expected to give a press conference. The Federal Reserve may provide further indication of its intention concerning the target federal funds rate, which is currently at 0.00 to 0.250 percent. The Fed may address its intentions concerning the federal funds rate, but the FOMC has been consistently vague about details concerning its economic strategy.

Turned Down for a Mortgage? What to Do if You are Declined – and How to Get Second Opinion

Turned Down for a Mortgage? What to Do if You are Declined - and How to Get Second OpinionIf you have been declined for a mortgage, you may think that buying that new home is out of reach. However, there are ways to turn a rejection into an approval and to find a more accessible loan. Here are just a few steps you can take to learn about your loan options and get the mortgage that works for you.

Find Out Why The Mortgage Application Was Denied

The first step to getting a second opinion is to find out why your mortgage application was denied. Banks commonly deny mortgages for reasons like a low credit score, a high debt-to-income ratio, or concerns about the applicant’s past and present employment status.

To qualify for a mortgage, most lenders want to see someone with a credit score of 640, a debt-to-income ratio of less than 43 percent after the mortgage is included and at least 30 days in your current position if using wage income to qualify for the loan.

Not All Lenders View An Application The Same Way

A good reason why it is worthwhile to ask for a second opinion about your ability to get a loan is because no two lenders will view an application the same way. For one lender, a credit score of 650 is insufficient for getting a loan – but another lender might be more than happy to offer you a mortgage with a score of 650. To get a second opinion, you may wish to talk to a mortgage broker who will be able to scan a variety of loan programs to find one that works for you.

There Are Ways To Find Down Payment And Closing Cost Assistance

Those who have a low credit score or other questionable metrics may be able to qualify for a loan by offering a larger down payment. While a first-time buyer may not have the cash on hand to make a larger payment, there may be programs that provide grants or low-interest loans that can be used as part of your down payment or to help pay closing costs. With this extra money, it may be possible to overcome lender objections and obtain a mortgage.

If your mortgage application has been rejected, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get a mortgage from another lender. If you’re ready to buy a house but just need to clear the mortgage approval hurdle, there are ways to get a leg up.