4 Surprising Things That Might Increase Your Home’s Value

May 29, 2020

4 Surprising Things That Might Increase Your Home's ValueYou’ve probably heard that living near excellent schools or having curb appeal can boost the value of your home. However, a home’s value is dependent upon a lot of different factors. Some of these things are more obvious than others. Things that might seem insignificant can have an impact on your home’s worth. Here are some surprising things that can affect the existing value of your home or how much a buyer is willing to pay for it.

#1 A Blue Kitchen or Bathroom

Painting your home is an easy and cost-effective way to update your home. Just make sure that you select the right colors. Based on recent research, walls that are painted cool neutral colors like blue are more likely to appeal to buyers. According to a 2017 study by Zillow, homes with blue bathrooms sell for an average of $5,500 more than expected. Houses that had blue kitchens sold for $1,809 more compared to similar homes that had a white kitchen.

#2 How Close You Are To A Supermarket

Being next to a well-known supermarket can increase the value of your home. If the supermarket is considered upmarket, then the increase in value is even higher. According to “Zillow Talk, The New Rules of Real Estate,”  homes that are near a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods grocery store appreciate up to 40 percent faster than other homes. The presence of a popular store like Trader Joe’s has a positive effect on market values over time.

#3 A Joanna Gaines’ Aesthetic

Joanna Gaines’s urban farmhouse aesthetic is more than just chic; it can have a surprisingly positive effect on the value of your home. According to a Zillow analysis of home sale descriptions from 2016, houses that had the keywords “farmhouse sink” and “barn door” sold quicker and at a premium compared to similar homes. Listings that had the words “barn door” sold 57 days quicker and for 13.4 percent more than similar homes. For sale listings that included a “farmhouse sink” sold for 8 percent more. So, if you plan to make interior updates in your home, you might want to watch a couple of episodes of “Fixer Upper” for inspiration.

#4 Your Proximity to Starbucks

Do you live within a quarter of a mile from a Starbucks? If so, then you are in luck? A study released by Zillow in 2015 found that homes that were within a quarter of a mile from the Seattle-based coffeehouse increased by 96 percent on average from 1997 to 2014. This number is well above the average of 65 percent of all U.S. homes.

Whether you are in the process of buying a new home or updating your existing home, think about the above factors as they may play a role in the value of your home.

The Pros And Cons Of Remodeling During The COVID-19 Pandemic

May 28, 2020

The Pros And Cons Of Remodeling During COVID-19 PandemicNearly everyone has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in some way. While many people are getting tired of being cooped up in their homes, the home improvement industry has actually been able to stay afloat. Furthermore, it is actually thriving. Because many people are trapped in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are thinking about carrying out a home remodeling project. For those who are wondering about the prospects of such an undertaking, it is important to weigh the pros and cons. 

The Pros Of Home Remodeling During The COVID-19 Pandemic

There are a few benefits that people should note about remodeling during this time. They include:

  • There is more time to plan out the project. With extra time, people can compare costs, take virtual tours of showrooms, and even check out some of the latest designs. 
  • There are even some brick and mortar showrooms that are still open. While many people are nervous about venturing out during the COVID-19 pandemic, these showrooms are still maintaining proper social distancing measures to keep their staff and customers safe.
  • Finally, there are also a handful of discounts available to those who are remodeling during this time. Because they are eager for business, they are often wiling to slash the prices to help someone get their project done.

These are some of the biggest benefits for people to note; however, there are also a few drawbacks as well.

The Cons Of Home Remodeling During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Some of the disadvantages of trying to start a home remodeling project during this time include:

  • There might be a shortage of materials available to carry out the project. It might take time for companies to restock their inventory, delaying the start of the project.
  • While some items are cheaper, others are more expensive because the supply has dried up.
  • For those who might being a challenging financial situation during the pandemic, there is a risk of spending too much money as the project gets going.

For these reasons, it is important for everyone to carefully weigh the pros and cons of starting a home remodeling project during this time. While there are some attractive offers, everyone’s individual situation is different. People need to think about what is right for them.

Some Millennials Are Finding Home Buying Overwhelming

May 27, 2020

Some Millennials Are Finding Home Buying OverwhelmingMany millennials are reaching the age where they are thinking about buying homes for the first time. It turns out that many members of this generation are finding this process challenging. Even though the housing market is great for those looking to buy, surveys indicate that this generation also finds the process overwhelming.

Reports have been published showing that many millennials are planning to buy their first home in the next year, showing that owning property is still a strong part of the American dream. Furthermore, many millennials also know that this is a great time to buy. Why are millennials finding this process so challenging?

Student Loan Debt

One of the biggest reasons why millennials are having issues purchasing a home is student loan debt. When someone is looking for a home, any potential lender is going to take their existing debt into account. It is no secret that student loans are a major issue right now.

With numerous millennials saddled with student loan debt, this makes it hard to qualify for a mortgage. While other forms of debt are easier to pay back, student loan debt is not. Some millennials have student loan debt that looks like a mortgage. 

A Poor Understanding Of Costs

Even though millennials may look at their rent payments as a solid barometer for their mortgage payment, there are other costs that millennials need to consider. These include real estate taxes, HOA fees, homeowners’ insurance, and potential repairs. Therefore, they might need to reset their expectations.

Comparison Is A Dangerous Temptation

Finally, too many millennials are tempted by what they know. Many millennials end up moving back into their parents’ house after they finish school. The job market can be tough and they think this is a great way to save money. On the other hand, this also means they might end up looking for a house that is similar to their parents’. 

Many millennials have set the bar high for their first home. A property like their parents’ simply isn’t within the budget. An unwillingness to accept this makes it harder to find a home. On the other hand, there are affordable homes out there. Millennials simply need assistance to find them.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 26th, 2020

May 26, 2020

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - May 26th, 2020

Last week’s economic news included readings from the National Association of Home Builders on housing market conditions and reports on housing starts and building permits issued.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell testified before Congress about the impact of Covid-19. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Improves in May

Home-builder confidence rose seven points in May to an index reading of 37; April’s reading of 30 was the lowest reading for the NAHB Housing Market Index since June 2012. Low mortgage rates and expectations that the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic had passed contributed to higher readings for builder confidence.

Component readings in the Housing Market Index were higher in May; builder confidence in current market conditions rose six points to 42.

Builder confidence in home sales within the next six months rose ten points to 46, and the reading for buyer traffic in new housing developments rose from 13 to 21. Readings below 50 are historically common for buyer traffic, but mandatory shelter-at-home rules kept more potential buyers away.

NAHB Housing Market Index readings above 50 indicate that most builders surveyed were positive about U.S. housing markets. Readings below 50 indicate that most builders surveyed were pessimistic about housing conditions.

Fed Chair Urges Congress to Help Pandemic Victims

Fed Chair Jerome Powell testified before Congress and said that those impacted by Covide-19 should receive as much assistance as possible. While Congress approved Federal Reserve Loans to mid-to-large businesses,  Mr. Powell reminded Congress that they must also do as much as possible to help low to moderate-income families and businesses and cited a Federal Reserve study that reported 40 percent of households making less than $40,000 lost a job within the first month of the pandemic.

Sales of Pre-Owned Homes, Housing Starts, and Building Permits Issued Fall in April

The Commerce reported lower readings for sales of pre-owned homes, housing starts, and building permits issued in April. Sales of previously owned homes fell to a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 4.33 million sales as compared to the March reading of 5.27 million sales. 

Housing  Starts fell to an annual pace of  891,000 starts in April as compared to 1.276 million starts reported in March. The Commerce Department reported 1.074 million building permits issued on an annual basis; this reading was also lower than the March reading of 1.356 million permits issued but was higher than the expected reading of 996,000 permits issued.

Mortgage Rates Fall as New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week; the average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages was four basis points lower at 3.24 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.70 percent and were two basis points lower than for the prior week.

Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 3.17 percent and were four basis points lower. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.40 percent f04 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims reported by states fell to 2.44 million claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 2.69 million initial claims filed.  The reading for state and federal jobless claims filed rose from 3.21 million to 3.30 million as applicants applied for additional jobless benefits offered through federal pandemic relief programs.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic readings include Case-Shiller’s Home Price Indices, the FHFA Home Price Index, and data on new home sales. Monthly readings on inflation and consumer sentiment are scheduled along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Low Maintenance Landscaping To Improve Curb Appeal

May 22, 2020

Low Maintenance Landscaping To Improve Curb AppealAttractive landscaping is one of the first things that potential home buyers notice. They may see the landscaping in the photos of a home for sale or may even do a physical drive-by. The view of the property from the street is called “curb appeal.” It is important to make this be as nice as possible.

In many parts of the country, there are pressures on the water supply that make having a lush-green, living lawn very costly or even prohibited by the local regulations. Innovative technology and the use of natural ground covers, such as stone and rocks are replacing the green lawns that most people think of when considering landscaping a home properly.

Here is a guide to some landscaping that is attractive and worth considering to make a home look spectacular and require little maintenance:

Artificial Turf

Artificial turf has improved dramatically over the past few years. There is no longer the need to use the obvious green plastic covering of cheap fake grass. The newest artificial turf products look so much like real grass that it is nearly impossible to tell that they are not real. They can be installed over drainage rock and washed down with water like real grass.

Decorative Concrete

Molded concrete is now available in so many surface treatments, textures, and colors that it can represent almost any popular covering. For example, a nice European-style, cobbled-stone, street look is a popular choice for driveways and walkways. It is made out of molded, colored concrete, not stone, and installs easily.

Rock And Stone

Replacing areas of grass in the front yard with decorative rock and stone makes a nice look. It is better not to use wide swathes of this ground covering in big blocks. Instead, for a better aesthetic appeal, use natural rock and stone to create unique, eye-catching areas. For example, surrounding a wishing well with a nice circular area of rock pebbles creates a nice look.

Artificial Trees And Bushes

Advancements in the manufacturing of artificial bushes and trees developed very convincing products that are durable enough for exterior installation. Some best looking ones are the evergreen bushes.

They come in perfect heights of various sizes. They never need watering or trimming to make them look attractive. The only maintenance that they need is the occasional spray washing to remove dust and things that might fall on them like leaves from neighbor?s trees.

There are many to choose from. The modest-sized bushes are very inexpensive and usually less than $50 each. At the other end of the spectrum, are the exotic 11-feet tall artificial cheery trees that have built-in LED illumination. These are very dramatic and cost many thousands.

Summary

With these interesting ideas to consider, take a look at landscaping in a new way. Even though artificial landscaping requires an upfront investment, it can last for many years and may reduce overall maintenance costs significantly. If you ever want to sell the home, there will be much less landscaping needed to get it ready for sale.

Loan Programs For Lower Income Buyers

May 21, 2020

https://i1.wp.com/bringtheblog.com/i/Real_Estate_Terms_The_Debt_to_Income_Ratio_and_How_It_Affects_Your_Home_Purchase.jpgOwning a home may be the American dream, but for many who are in a lower income bracket, finding a loan can become challenging. Thankfully, there are several loan programs that can work well for lower income people considering homeownership. Here’s a closer look at some of these home loans designed to help people who have a low-to-moderate income find a way to buy a home.

FHA Home Loans

FHA home loans are loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration. Lenders are more likely to lend to “higher risk” borrowers through the FHA loan program because the loans have the FHA’s backing.

With the FHA loan, a borrower can have a credit rating as low as 500, as long as there is a reasonable explanation for it, and a fairly high debt-to-income ratio. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, these loans require only a 3.5% down payment, which can come from gifts, and have less stringent requirements for credit rating or income.

USDA Rural Development Loans

If you are shopping for a home in a small town or suburban area, you may qualify for the USDA rural development loan program. Only those borrowers who make no more than 115% of the average median income in their area qualify for this loan program, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

USDA loans require no down payment and the loan has no debt-to-income ratio maximum. It has a low PMI fee even for a zero-down loan, and fair interest rates. For those who live in areas that qualify, the USDA rural housing loan simply makes sense.

97% Loan-To-Value Purchase Loans

One of the biggest challenges for lower income borrowers to overcome is the down payment, but the 97% loan-to-value loan makes that less of a concern. This program, which Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have offered to help encourage more people to get loans, allows people to buy a home with just 3% as a down payment.

The 97% loan-to-value purchase loan is specifically for first-time buyers. Borrowers must not have owned a home within the last three years to apply.

This loan program offers fair interest rates and does not have stringent credit score requirements. Borrowers can use gift funds to pay for the 3% down payment if necessary.

As you can see, there are many home loans designed for lower income borrowers. If you are looking to buy a home but worry you can’t afford it, consider one of these options.

How Will Coronavirus Impact Our Real Estate Economy?

May 20, 2020

Without a doubt, the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has impacted every part of the economy. This is a dangerous virus and has left many parts of the country on lockdown orders to prevent it from spreading rapidly. The question many people are asking is how much the real estate is going to be impacted by the virus as well.

People Are Not Looking For Houses

One of the biggest impacts of coronavirus is that some people simply aren’t out looking for houses. Stay at home orders and social distancing measures have prevented people from touring homes that they may be interested in buying and sellers postponing the listing of their home for sale.

In some parts of the country, the new listings available for homes have dropped drastically. This includes areas of the country that have been hit the hardest by the virus such as New York and California. Even web traffic to various real estate sites such as Zillow has dropped as well. Without a doubt, the rate of weekly mortgage applications has been impacted as well.

The Impact Of International Trade

In addition, for those who want to move, they might find a slowdown in international shipping and trade challenging. Many of the items that people need to furnish a home such as couches, tables, stoves, washers, dryers, ovens, and more are made overseas. Many home building materials are also manufactured and shipped from abroad. This creates a challenge for home builders and remodelers to effectively source the materials they need. It may take some time for the supply chain to reset and catch up with pent up demand.

The Response Of The Federal Government

Right now, those who currently own homes can find some relief from monthly mortgage payments if they are struggling financially. The government has put a moratorium in place on foreclosures. They have also told mortgage servicers to offer forebearance options for many mortgages.  While these grace measures will expire eventually, they may be helpful for the time being.

Looking Forward

The impact of COVID-19 on the nation’s real estate market is already apparent; however, the real question is how long the market is going to take to recover. The most recent report from National Association of Realtors states that 2020 is forecast for a 15% overall decline in the real estate industry. Many analysts believe that the real estate industry will be one of the fastest segments to recover across the country. Once the market does open up, the demand should increase quickly.  

3 Ways To Make Your Home Safer

May 19, 2020

3 Ways To Make Your Home SaferIn the wake of the recent news reports, you might be looking for ways to make your home safer. Some of the most common accidents and events that take place in homes include poisoning events, falls, and even burglaries. The good news is that there are ways to improve the safety of your home. You might even be rewarded with a lower home insurance premium!

Invest In An Alarm System

It is not easy to figure out exactly how many burglaries are prevented every year by having an alarm system; however, even having a sign in the front yard could be enough to scare off potential intruders. If you are looking for a quick and easy way to make your home safer, invest in a home alarm system. 

The price of a home alarm system from vary from provider to provider. Homeowners can tailor their security services to meet their needs. This is a great way to keep burglars at bay.

Purchase A Video Doorbell System

There has even been a rise in the frequency of porch pirates, or those who steal the packages of others from their front door! If you are someone who buys a lot of stuff online, then you should get a video doorbell to watch your packages when they get dropped off.

Furthermore, you can even use this video doorbell system to see who ringing your doorbell when you aren’t home. In some cases, you can even communicate with them, providing them instructions, or asking them to leave when necessary.

Buy Automatic Outdoor Lighting Systems

Lights are often enough to scare people away. There are plenty of motion sensor lights that you can purchase for your driveway, porch, and front door. These lights can even be set to turn off when the sun comes up to save energy. 

Keep Your Home Safe

These are a few of the easiest ways that you can make your home safer. If you take steps to keep burglars at bay, not only will you protect your home but you might even save some money on home insurance! 

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 18th, 2020

May 18, 2020

https://i2.wp.com/bringtheblog.com/i/05-Whats-Ahead.jpgLast week’s economic news included readings on inflation, retail sales, and a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. The University of Michigan released a preliminary reading of its Consumer Sentiment Survey; weekly readings on mortgage rates and initial jobless claims were also released.

April Inflation and Retail Sales in Negative Territory

Consumer prices fell in April to a negative reading of -0.80 percent and matched expectations. The Core Consumer Price Index, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors, fell to -0.40 percent from -0.10 percent in March. Analysts expected a reading of -0.20 percent. Consumer Price Indices are used for determining inflation rates.

Retail sales also posted negative readings for April. Overall, retail sales fell by -16.40 percent as compared to the March reading of -8.30 percent and April’s expected reading of -12.50 percent. Retail sales excluding autos fell by 17.20 percent; analysts expected a reading of -0.90 percent based on the March reading of -0.40 percent. Retail readings may improve in May as retail establishments and malls start to open.

Fed Chair Expects Slow Economic Recovery

Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve advised business contacts that the economic recovery may be slower than originally expected.  In remarks given at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, Mr. Powell said, “The path ahead is both highly uncertain and subject to significant downside risks.” Mr. Powell cautioned that “the passage of time can turn liquidity problems into solvency problem” and suggested that additional government assistance to households and businesses may be worth it to prevent more damage to the economy.

Mortgage Rates Mixed; New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported little change in average mortgage rates last week. Rates for 30-year fixed-fixed rate mortgages averaged two basis points higher at 3.28 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages dropped by one basis point to 2.72 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged one basis point higher at 3.18 percent. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims were lower than in the prior week but remained far above traditional readings. 2.98 million claims were filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 3.18 million initial claims filed. Analysts expected a reading of 2.73 million new claims filed. 

The University of Michigan released its preliminary Consumer Sentiment Index readings for May. The latest index reading was 73.70  as compared to an expected reading of 69.80 and last month’s reading of 71.80. May’s reading was in line with Chair Powell’s suggestion that consumers are looking ahead to returning to work and shopping as the economy gradually reopens.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic reporting includes readings from the National Association of Home Builders on housing market conditions along with reports on housing starts and building permits issued. Data on existing home sales and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Qualify For A Larger Mortgage With A Co-Signer

May 15, 2020

https://i2.wp.com/bringtheblog.com/i/3_Great_Reasons_to_Use_an_Experienced_Mortgage_Professional_for_Your_Next_Mortgage.jpgThere are numerous steps involved in the process of buying a new home. It is important to go through the mortgage qualifying process before looking at dream houses. This gives people an idea of how big a house they can afford. Sometimes, individuals looking for a house might not get a loan that is big enough to cover their dream house. There are ways to qualify for a larger loan; however, one of the fastest methods is to use a co-signer.

What Is A Co-Signer?

A co-signer is someone who signs onto a potential home loan with the homebuyer. Essentially, the co-signer is saying that he or she is willing to be on the hook for the loan in the event that the primary homeowner is unable to make his or her mortgage payments.

This is a big commitment from the co-signer because he or she is exposing himself or herself on behalf of the primary borrower. On the other hand, the co-signer is also providing a vote of confidence on behalf of the primary borrower. Parents often act as co-signers for their children when they purchase their first home.

Vetting The Co-Signer

When someone is going through the home loan process, they are asked to produce tax returns, proof of income, credit reports, bank statements, and more. The co-signer is going to go through the same process. The bank wants to make sure the co-signer is actually adding something of value to the buying process.

The income and debt of the co-signer will be added to the primary borrower. Then, the two will be combined to be approved for a larger home loan. This can help someone purchase the home of his or her dreams.

An Important Note On The Co-Signer

If the co-signer goes to apply for a home loan or car loan in the future, the loan for which they co-signed will show up. This could limit the ability of the co-signer to qualify for a loan down the road. Even though having a co-signer can increase the size of the loan for the primary borrower, this is not without risk to the co-signer. Consider this carefully!