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Blog Archive for July, 2016

Home sales are moving faster

Categories: Blog | Posted: July 28, 2016

In June 2016, a home went under contract, on average, in 41 days, according to real estate brokerage, Redfin. That’s the fastest turn since Redfin started to track the housing market activity in 2009, and four days faster than the same time last year.

In Denver, one of the most competitive housing markets in the country, half of the new homes being listed went under contract in six days. Seattle and Portland, Oregon, have the second fastest market, with a median of eight days from listing to contract.

The housing market is hot right now, and although buyers are reaping the reward of low mortgage rates, sellers are benefitting from the increased competition. The average sale-to-list price reached 95.5 percent, the highest ratio Redfin has ever recorded. Almost one-fourth of the homes—23.6 percent—were sold above the asking price.

Buyers are buying, but sellers aren’t stepping up to help increase the inventory. The gap between supply and demand for the housing market has widened. Redfin estimates the current housing inventory at 2.8 months, the lowest margin in seven years.

New homes are on the rise

While resale supply hasn’t been growing as quickly as it needs, new home construction has increased. Groundbreaking on new homes rose slightly in June as well—up 4.8 percent. The annual pace is at 1.19 million units, slightly higher than the projection of 1.17 million units.

Single-family homes represent the largest segment of new construction, and the U.S. Department of Commerce reports that the number of new homes being built has risen 4.4 percent. The Northeast is the most active region for new, single-family homes, with a 31.6 rise in starts this year.

If you’re considering putting your home on the market, now is a great time. If you’re ready to buy, be prepared to move quickly. Get your mortgage pre-approval completed. Connect with the new home builders in your area to see what’s available now and what’s in the works.

We know from experience that the housing market can fluctuate dramatically, and the low mortgage rates won’t stay low forever.

Best materials for a low-maintenance home.

Categories: Blog | Posted: July 21, 2016

  1. Asphalt Shingles. Metal roofing is fire-resistant, and it’s expected to last 40 to 50 years, as opposed to 20 to 30 for an asphalt roof. This option will cost two to three times more than asphalt shingles, but you’ll spend less time repairing and cleaning it, and the roof will outlast the asphalt shingles.
  2. Laminate flooring. This material has come a long way since it was first introduced. Today’s laminate flooring offers an expansive array of realistic grain and color choices. The laminate is protected with a tough plastic layer that resists stains, scratches, and moisture. Unlike hardwood flooring, you will never need to refinish it. Laminate should give you about 25 years of virtually worry-free coverage.
  3. Quartz countertop. Everyone is clamoring for granite. It looks great and lasts a long time. Quartz offers the same beauty, along with the added feature of being resistant to bacteria, scratches, and stains. Unlike granite, you don’t need to reseal your quartz countertop, because the material is non-porous. About 80% of NKBA kitchen and bath designers said they prefer quartz as their top choice, over granite. A quartz countertop should provide lasting beauty with minimal care for 30 or more years.
  4. Fiberglass windows. Vinyl windows are easy-care and provide energy efficiency. Fiberglass is a newcomer to the window industry, but is fast proving to provide major benefits for low maintenance. Fiberglass resembles real wood, and it even looks great painted. The material stands up to extreme temperatures without warping, resists rot and moisture, and provides exceptional insulation. With just occasional cleaning, you can expect your fiberglass windows to last for 15 years or more.
  5. Composite decking. Like siding, composite decking has vastly improved in its quality and appearance. Today’s composite decking has the look and feel of real wood, but doesn’t splinter or fade. So, it doesn’t need refinishing. Just give it a good scrubbing with soap and water every few years. Wood attracts insects, wood rot, mold, and mildew. Composite can resist it all, and look great for 20 to 25 years.

Technology has expanded and improved the choices for low-maintenance home materials. How will you spend the time you save?

Landscaping tips to increase your home’s value

Categories: Blog | Posted: July 14, 2016

A buyer’s impression starts with curb appeal. What better way to make a great first impression that with great landscaping?

Improving your landscaping can add as much as 28% to your home’s value. Even if you have good landscaping, an upgrade can still boost your resale value anywhere from 5 to 8 percent, depending on the landscaping and your geographic location. One of the major benefits of quality landscaping is that as the plants mature, so does your investment!

Here are some landscaping tips to increase your home’s value.

#1. Plan for the long run.

Before you go crazy spending hundreds or thousands of dollars at your local nursery, figure out where you can enhance your landscape, and how. BobVila.com says the biggest landscaping mistake is not making a plan. Without a long-range view of your landscape, it could end up looking like a patchwork quilt.

#2. Start large.

Get a head start on mature plantings with a shade tree that already measures about four to six inches in diameter at about a foot from the ground. This is an important investment, so don’t cut corners. In fact, have the garden center deliver and plant it to avoid tree damage that frequently happens in transportation. If the nursery delivers and plants it, they will be responsible if anything happens.

#3. Go native.

Native plants, shrubs, and trees will fare better in your garden than the more exotic types. Avoid the hassle of additional care and feeding of non-native plants, which will cost you in time and money.

#4. Avoid hijackers.

Some plantings will take over your yard very quickly. English ivy, bamboo, mint, Chinese wisteria, and trumpet vine grow so fast that they will hijack your landscape.

#5. Light it up.

Exterior lighting plays an important part in the curb appeal of your home. A beautifully lit landscape will be the envy of the neighborhood, as well as adding a safety benefit. The National Association of Home Builders’ list of home buyer preferences shows that 41% of buyers consider outdoor lighting as “essential” and 49% called it “desirable”.

Solar lighting is easy to install and adds a soft glow to light up your landscape in the evening. Talk to a lighting professional about other energy-saving ways to improve your landscape with the right lights.

#6. Less is more.

Don’t overdo your landscaping improvements in the first year or two. Give your plantings a chance to mature. Use pottery and garden art sparingly so that it accents, rather than overwhelms, the street view of your home. Also, go lightly with stonescaping and fencing. A heavy-handed approach might actually reduce the quality of your landscape.

#7. Think low-maintenance.

Most of what you do to your landscape will require some degree of maintenance. Plants will need to be fed and watered, trees and shrubs require pruning, and walkways must be weeded. Be watchful of your home improvements so that they don’t require more maintenance than you’re willing to give. You’re trying to boost curb appeal, and untended landscape will be a red flag to a potential homebuyer.

Still waiting? Mortgage rates sliding down to historic low

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: July 7, 2016

Just when we thought mortgage rates couldn’t get any more enticing, they’ve dropped to the lowest average this year.

Freddie Mac reports that a 30-year, fixed rate mortgage slipped to 3.48 percent—down from 3.56 percent the week before, and just a short distance from the 3.31 percent all-time record low in November 2012. At the same time last year, the 30-year, fixed rate was 4.08 percent.

The 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage is averaging 2.78 percent, down from 2.83 percent the week before. Last year’s rate was 3.24 percent.

There seems to be a sort of “butterfly effect” happening here. Britain’s vote to exit the 28-nation European Union could spark demand in real estate in the United States, according to National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. Global corporations who were eyeing the U.K. might now perceive “Brexit” as sign of instability.

“Mortgage rates will tumble,” says Greg McBridge, Bankrate.com’s Chief Financial Analyst, “possibly hitting new record lows. If you’re a borrower, don’t wait to lock in your rate, as this opportunity may not last long.”’

Steve Rick, Chief Economist of the CUNA Mutual Group agrees. “This would create another mini refinance mortgage boom at financial institutions as homeowners rush to lock in near-historic low interest rates.”

Some market watchers are expecting that Brexit’s impact could last awhile, as the repercussions spread. The vote to leave the EU has already had a positive impact on the value of the U.S. dollar, in light of the British pound plummeting.

If you thought you missed the best values in home financing, you just got a reprieve!

7 annual home maintenance chores

Categories: Blog | Posted: July 1, 2016

7_Annual_Home_Items

The change of seasons always triggers some sort of home maintenance “To Do” list. You winterize your home before the cold weather hits. When spring is in the air, you going on a cleaning frenzy.

Some tasks fall off the radar because they’re not necessarily part of the seasonal home care routine. As a responsible homeowner, put these 7 annual home maintenance chores on someone’s “To Do” list.

#1. Clean the gutters.

Late fall is a great time to scoop out all the dead leaves that fell of the trees and landed in your gutters. You’ll probably find a lost ball, sticks, and formerly living things that expired there. Clogged gutters can send water into your home, instead of allowing runoff to the ground. Don your work gloves, climb the ladder, and make gutter cleaning a priority!

#2. Clean your rugs and carpets.

No matter how often you vacuum, there’s nothing like a good steam-cleaning to revive your carpets. The heat kills germs and any other living organisms, like fleas, that stow away deep in the fibers. You’ll be amazed at the color and texture that springs back. And since you rented that steam cleaner, you might consider tackling your upholstery, too!

#3. Wash the windows.                                          

Nothing improves your outlook quite like clean windows. You don’t realize how much dirt has built up on your windows until you have a crystal clear, streak-free view. Make an annual date with your windows, inside and out. If you have the energy-efficient windows that tilt inward for easy cleaning, it’s an easy job. Worst case scenario? Hire a window washer.

#4. Clean out your drawers.

From junk drawers to sock drawers, any place that can hide “stuff” needs an annual purge. Empty every drawer in your home—one at a time, of course. Sort through the contents. Throw out the excess stash of pens and pencils, the miscellany of sticky note pads, paper clips, old receipts, and rubber bands. Discard socks and underwear that have seen better days. Vacuum the empty drawer before replacing what you’re keeping.

#5. Prune your trees.

It’s easy to overlook the branches hanging off your trees, but take a little time to go around your yard and cut those stragglers. A good clipping will also promote healthier growth.

#6. Bring in a pest control pro.

You might not see pests, but by the time you do, they’re a problem. Hire an exterminator to check your home once a year, inside and out, to avoid damage and discomfort that can be caused by termites, rodents, roaches, fleas, bedbugs, and more.

#7. Visit a neighborhood open house.

It’s not being nosy. Houses for sale in your neighborhood will reflect the resale value of your own home. You’ll discover what buyers are looking for, what impresses them, and what doesn’t.

The effort you put forward for these 7 annual home maintenance chores will save you money and add a boost to the enjoyment you experience in your home, sweet home.

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