Archive for March, 2013

3 Common First Time Home Buyer Mistakes Can Cost Thousands

March 29, 2013

First Time Home Buyer TipsBuying real estate for the first time is a very exciting step in life.

It is likely to be one of the biggest financial commitments that you make, so it’s very important to navigate the purchasing process wisely.

Many first-time home buyers make rookie mistakes that bring on negative consequences and a lot of frustration.

Outlined below are common errors home buyers make, so you can learn from their missteps and avoid them yourself.

1. Buying More Than What You Can Truly Afford

Just because the bank says that you qualify a certain amount for a mortgage doesn’t mean that you have to choose a house at the very top of this price range.

Many people get carried away and buy the most expensive house that they qualify for.

If something unexpected happens, they may find it difficult to keep up with their monthly mortgage payments later on.

Remember that you will also have student loan payments, vehicle costs, credit card bills, health insurance, groceries, retirement savings and other expenses, so make sure that your mortgage payments will comfortably fit within your budget.

2. Failing To Get A Home Inspection

Before buying a house, you should always have a professional inspection done. Not doing so is a big mistake.

You don’t want to get stuck with hidden damage that could saddle you with the expense of ongoing repairs.

Hiring a professional to assess the home’s condition is absolutely essential before making your final decision.

3. Disregarding Your Future

When you are buying real estate, don’t just think about how the home will work for you in the immediate future.

Also consider what your needs will be five, ten or even 20 years from now.

Find out the development plans for the neighborhood.

Look for reputable schools if you intend to start a family.

And consider whether the street’s home values are likely to increase or decline in the future.

Your Next Steps

Don’t let the home-buying process overwhelm you!

Learn from these common first-time home buyers’ mistakes, so you can avoid them.

A great next step toward planning for your first home purchase is to consult with a trusted, licensed mortgage professional who is trained in providing the best advice on how a new home will affect your budget.

7 Quick And Inexpensive Ways You Can Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal

March 28, 2013

Improve Your Curb Appeal For Better Sales Results

Have you ever heard the saying, “You never get a second chance for a first impression?”

If you have a home for sale, it is important to appreciate the significance a first impression has on your potential buyer.

When buyers drive up to your property and take their first look at your home, they will instantly be forming ideas about your house and how it might fit for their family.

When you are trying to entice a buyer to make an offer on your house, you must consider the curb appeal – how your house looks from the outside, or while standing on the curb – of your home for sale.

In fact, some surveys show that curb appeal can affect a buyer’s decision even more than price or square footage.

Below are seven simple and inexpensive things you can do to improve your home’s curb appeal.

  1. Plant a few shrubs or decorative flowers in the front yard to bring color to your lawn.
  2. Is your front door looking a little worse for wear? Give it a fresh coat of paint or replace it with a new one.
  3. Keep your grass well watered so it appears green and lush.
  4. Remove anything your pet leaves lying around, such as bones, chew toys or droppings.
  5. Take a look at your gutters. If they look damaged or are hanging loose from the roof, be sure to have them repaired before showing the house.
  6. Clean up your flowerbeds by removing weeds and trimming overgrown plants.
  7. Add a bench, a garden ornament or a couple of beautiful pots to make your front yard more attractive. 

These are just a few ways you can improve the curb appeal of your home for sale and make a great first impression on buyers.

A good next step for preparing your home for sale is inviting a trusted, licensed real estate professional to your home for a preview.

An agent’s experience in the real estate market can help you plan your strategy to get top-dollar for your home and help you improve the curb appeal at the same time.

Rising Sales Prices Are Excellent News For Homeowners Across America

March 27, 2013

Existing Home Sales Up March 2013

The National Association of REALTORS® released its monthly Existing Home Sales report on March 21 and gave investors and home sellers something to cheer about. 

While February sales of existing homes didn’t meet investor forecasts of 5.00 million homes sold on a seasonally adjusted annual basis, the actual number of existing (previously owned) homes came close at 4.98 million homes sold.

This number surpassed January’s revised reading of 4.94 million homes sold by 0.8 percent.

Sales of existing homes comprise approximately 85 to 90 percent of homes sold in the U.S.

Investors watch existing home sales for evaluating housing markets and short-term economic trends related to home purchases such as goods and services associated with home ownership.

Existing Home Sales Up For 20 Consecutive Months

Existing home sales have increased by 10.2 percent as compared to 4.52 million existing home sales for February 2012, and have increased for 20 consecutive months.

A short supply of homes available for sale and better job prospects are creating more demand for homes.

In February, available homes increased to a 4.7 month supply of homes, which is up from January’s 4.3 month supply of available homes, the lowest number since May of 2005.

With that said, current listed inventory of homes is 19.2 percent below last year’s 6.4 month supply of available homes.

Increasing demand for existing homes also suggests growing competition between buyers for available homes.

Mortgage Rates Remain Near Historic Lows Increasing Affordability For Home Buyers

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage before making an offer on a home can help buyers, as sellers know that pre-approved buyers won’t have potential delays related to the mortgage approval process.

The National Association of REALTORS® reports that the national median selling price for existing homes of all types was $173,600, which is up 11.6 percent year-over-year.

This suggests that potential homebuyers may want to act now as mortgage rates typically increase along with home prices.

Regional Average Selling Prices Show Positive Results For February

  • Northeast: The median selling price was $238,800, 7.6 percent higher than for February 2012.
  • Midwest: The median selling price was $129,900, which is 7.7 percent above the median selling price in February 2012.
  • South: The median selling price was $150,500. This represents a 9.3 percent increase since February 2012.
  • West: The median selling price was $237,700, a substantial increase of 22.7 percent over February 2012.

Multiple buyer bidding and limited inventory choices are fueling higher prices for existing homes, particularly in the West.

This is the strongest year-to-year rate of growth since November 2005, when existing home prices had increased by 12.9 percent as compared to the previous 12 months.

7 Great Tips To Help Your Kids Adjust to Their New Home

March 26, 2013

Moving Tips With ChildrenYou’ve finally made the decision and are moving to a new city.

And while a move can be an exciting new adventure – new work, new friends, new life experiences – moving to a new home is a big deal, especially for a young child.

They might not understand what is happening, and even feel apprehensive, overwhelmed or stressed during a move.

However, there are ways that you can help your children adjust and make the transition of moving to a new house easier.

Here are a few tips to help you, and your little ones, beat the moving blues.

  • Talk to your children before the move and explain what is happening — why you are moving and where you will be going. Be straightforward and answer all their questions.
  • From sadness to excitement, your children will have emotions associated with the move. These feelings are normal; so let your children know that it’s okay to express them.
  • If possible, visit your new home well in advance of the move. It helps a child feel much less apprehensive if they have a picture in their mind of where they are moving. Be sure to highlight some of the nice things about the area you are moving to, such as a great playground or beautiful lake.
  • Make sure that you recognize their need to say goodbye to friends. Let them have a party and invite people over. Gather email addresses, Skype usernames and phone numbers in case your child wants to keep in touch with friends.
  • When you arrive at your new home, give your children plenty of say in how they decorate their new rooms. This will help them to feel like they have control over their environment and they won’t feel so lost.
  • Support your children in making friends at their new location. Sign them up for a club, introduce them to neighborhood children or invite another family over for dinner. The sooner they make a positive connection, the more settled they will feel.
  • As a final tip, working with a trusted real estate professional can also make your move much easier. Licensed real estate agents have a lot of experience recommending the best options and opportunities to their clients during and after a move.
Adjusting to a new home can be difficult for a child, but with plenty of love and support the transition can be much easier.

 

7 Great Tips To Help Your Kids Adjust to Their New Home

March 26, 2013

Moving Tips With ChildrenYou’ve finally made the decision and are moving to a new city.

And while a move can be an exciting new adventure – new work, new friends, new life experiences – moving to a new home is a big deal, especially for a young child.

They might not understand what is happening, and even feel apprehensive, overwhelmed or stressed during a move.

However, there are ways that you can help your children adjust and make the transition of moving to a new house easier.

Here are a few tips to help you, and your little ones, beat the moving blues.

  • Talk to your children before the move and explain what is happening — why you are moving and where you will be going. Be straightforward and answer all their questions.
  • From sadness to excitement, your children will have emotions associated with the move. These feelings are normal; so let your children know that it’s okay to express them.
  • If possible, visit your new home well in advance of the move. It helps a child feel much less apprehensive if they have a picture in their mind of where they are moving. Be sure to highlight some of the nice things about the area you are moving to, such as a great playground or beautiful lake.
  • Make sure that you recognize their need to say goodbye to friends. Let them have a party and invite people over. Gather email addresses, Skype usernames and phone numbers in case your child wants to keep in touch with friends.
  • When you arrive at your new home, give your children plenty of say in how they decorate their new rooms. This will help them to feel like they have control over their environment and they won’t feel so lost.
  • Support your children in making friends at their new location. Sign them up for a club, introduce them to neighborhood children or invite another family over for dinner. The sooner they make a positive connection, the more settled they will feel.
  • As a final tip, working with a trusted real estate professional can also make your move much easier. Licensed real estate agents have a lot of experience recommending the best options and opportunities to their clients during and after a move.
Adjusting to a new home can be difficult for a child, but with plenty of love and support the transition can be much easier.

 

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 25th, 2013

March 25, 2013

What's Ahead For Interest Rates March 25 2013Last week’s economic news was dominated by events in Cyprus and the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting on Wednesday.

Mortgage rates fell last Monday as investors became concerned over news that a Cyprus bank bailout was in the works.

Federal Reserve Holding Course With Mortgage Backed Security Purchases

The FOMC met on Wednesday and in a press release after the meeting, noted that no immediate changes to the present economic easing program would be made.

The Fed officers will continue to monitor the nation’s economy, and are eventually expected to implement a gradual reduction of their monthly bond and mortgage backed security (MBS) purchases when the nation’s economy has recovered sufficiently.

The Fed currently purchases $85 billion in bonds and MBS in an effort to keep long term interest rates low.

If the Fed should reduce its purchases, mortgage rates would be likely to rise. 

Investors viewed the Fed’s announcement as positive news and bond prices fell, which caused mortgage rates to rise, but mortgage rates finished the week slightly lower than last week.

Continuing Economic Turmoil In Europe May Encourage Lower US Mortgage Rates

In global news, the European Union (EU) threatened to withdraw its promise of aid to Cyprus banks if they cannot raise funds required as a condition of the bailout.

A one-time tax on bank deposits was suggested, but ultimately rejected as Cypriots nixed the idea of taxing their savings, even on a one-time basis.

Cyprus banks provide a tax shelter for foreign citizens, and the banking system in Cyprus is disproportionately large compared to its size.

Failure of this banking system could create serious repercussions for global financial markets.

The EU has set today, March 25 as a deadline for Cyprus to find the funding required for the bailout to be given.

Investors could seek safe haven in bonds if the EU withdraws its offer of a bailout to Cyprus banks, which usually creates downward pressure on mortgage rates.

If the EU offers Cyprus banks a bailout, then investors may respond positively and buy more stocks which would likely cause mortgage rates to rise.

Upcoming Economic Reports Could Affect Mortgage Rates

Other economic news scheduled for next week includes Treasury Auctions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

The Department of Commerce issues its monthly New Home Sales report on Tuesday.

This report measures sales of new privately owned single family homes, and indicates buyer interest in new homes and also future demand for goods and services used by homeowners.

 

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 25th, 2013

March 25, 2013

What's Ahead For Interest Rates March 25 2013Last week’s economic news was dominated by events in Cyprus and the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting on Wednesday.

Mortgage rates fell last Monday as investors became concerned over news that a Cyprus bank bailout was in the works.

Federal Reserve Holding Course With Mortgage Backed Security Purchases

The FOMC met on Wednesday and in a press release after the meeting, noted that no immediate changes to the present economic easing program would be made.

The Fed officers will continue to monitor the nation’s economy, and are eventually expected to implement a gradual reduction of their monthly bond and mortgage backed security (MBS) purchases when the nation’s economy has recovered sufficiently.

The Fed currently purchases $85 billion in bonds and MBS in an effort to keep long term interest rates low.

If the Fed should reduce its purchases, mortgage rates would be likely to rise. 

Investors viewed the Fed’s announcement as positive news and bond prices fell, which caused mortgage rates to rise, but mortgage rates finished the week slightly lower than last week.

Continuing Economic Turmoil In Europe May Encourage Lower US Mortgage Rates

In global news, the European Union (EU) threatened to withdraw its promise of aid to Cyprus banks if they cannot raise funds required as a condition of the bailout.

A one-time tax on bank deposits was suggested, but ultimately rejected as Cypriots nixed the idea of taxing their savings, even on a one-time basis.

Cyprus banks provide a tax shelter for foreign citizens, and the banking system in Cyprus is disproportionately large compared to its size.

Failure of this banking system could create serious repercussions for global financial markets.

The EU has set today, March 25 as a deadline for Cyprus to find the funding required for the bailout to be given.

Investors could seek safe haven in bonds if the EU withdraws its offer of a bailout to Cyprus banks, which usually creates downward pressure on mortgage rates.

If the EU offers Cyprus banks a bailout, then investors may respond positively and buy more stocks which would likely cause mortgage rates to rise.

Upcoming Economic Reports Could Affect Mortgage Rates

Other economic news scheduled for next week includes Treasury Auctions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

The Department of Commerce issues its monthly New Home Sales report on Tuesday.

This report measures sales of new privately owned single family homes, and indicates buyer interest in new homes and also future demand for goods and services used by homeowners.

 

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 25th, 2013

March 25, 2013

What's Ahead For Interest Rates March 25 2013Last week’s economic news was dominated by events in Cyprus and the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting on Wednesday.

Mortgage rates fell last Monday as investors became concerned over news that a Cyprus bank bailout was in the works.

Federal Reserve Holding Course With Mortgage Backed Security Purchases

The FOMC met on Wednesday and in a press release after the meeting, noted that no immediate changes to the present economic easing program would be made.

The Fed officers will continue to monitor the nation’s economy, and are eventually expected to implement a gradual reduction of their monthly bond and mortgage backed security (MBS) purchases when the nation’s economy has recovered sufficiently.

The Fed currently purchases $85 billion in bonds and MBS in an effort to keep long term interest rates low.

If the Fed should reduce its purchases, mortgage rates would be likely to rise. 

Investors viewed the Fed’s announcement as positive news and bond prices fell, which caused mortgage rates to rise, but mortgage rates finished the week slightly lower than last week.

Continuing Economic Turmoil In Europe May Encourage Lower US Mortgage Rates

In global news, the European Union (EU) threatened to withdraw its promise of aid to Cyprus banks if they cannot raise funds required as a condition of the bailout.

A one-time tax on bank deposits was suggested, but ultimately rejected as Cypriots nixed the idea of taxing their savings, even on a one-time basis.

Cyprus banks provide a tax shelter for foreign citizens, and the banking system in Cyprus is disproportionately large compared to its size.

Failure of this banking system could create serious repercussions for global financial markets.

The EU has set today, March 25 as a deadline for Cyprus to find the funding required for the bailout to be given.

Investors could seek safe haven in bonds if the EU withdraws its offer of a bailout to Cyprus banks, which usually creates downward pressure on mortgage rates.

If the EU offers Cyprus banks a bailout, then investors may respond positively and buy more stocks which would likely cause mortgage rates to rise.

Upcoming Economic Reports Could Affect Mortgage Rates

Other economic news scheduled for next week includes Treasury Auctions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

The Department of Commerce issues its monthly New Home Sales report on Tuesday.

This report measures sales of new privately owned single family homes, and indicates buyer interest in new homes and also future demand for goods and services used by homeowners.

 

How To Spot And Treat Mold In Your Home

March 22, 2013

How To Spot And Treat Mold In HomesThe first sign of mold you notice may be a musty smell in your home.

After looking around, you spot what looks like mold — don’t panic!

You can remove unhealthy mold from your house without it costing a small fortune.

Check To Be Sure It’s Really Mold

Mold can look many different ways, which depends on the type.

Some are grayish-white or black and can look like a dirty smudge.

If you’re in doubt that a spot is mold, you can do a test with chlorine bleach.

Simply put a drop on the spot. If the color immediately fades away, you have mold.

Mold Infestation Ususally Means Leaks Too

Mold needs moisture to grow.

If you find mold, you know that you probably also have a water problem in your home.

So first, you’ll need to find the source of the leak and repair it.

After that, you can begin getting rid of the mold.

How To Kill Mold

A lot of people think mold clean up has to be expensive.

The truth is that most mold problems can be eliminated with chlorine bleach.

Bleach is a strong chemical, so for safety you’ll need to wear gloves, an air filter and goggles while you clean.

Remember, when cleaning with bleach you need to work in a well-ventilated area, and never mix bleach with anything that contains ammonia.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends using bleach to kill mold on hard, non-porous surfaces.

Killing mold with bleach is a simple process:

  • Thoroughly soak the area in full strength bleach.
  • Let it soak for fifteen minutes.
  • Scrub the area with a mixture of one-part chlorine bleach, three-parts water and one teaspoon of dishwashing soap.

Finishing The Clean-up

Once everything has been washed, you’ll need to do another inspection of your home.

Look for moldy papers, clothes or anything porous that could be a good home for mold.

These things will need to be bagged and thrown away.

Allow two to three days for the surfaces to dry.

Then, continue to inspect the areas for mold re-growth, and pay attention for any moldy odors.

Congratulations, you have eliminated the mold problem in your home and saved a lot of money by doing it yourself.

If you’d like additional maintenance tips or are looking to buy a new house, contact a licensed real estate professional right away!

Fed Meeting Statement Reveals Good News For Real Estate

March 21, 2013

Fed Meeting Minutes ReleasedThe Federal Reserve’s statement after yesterday’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting left no doubt as to the Fed’s dual commitment to keeping long term interest rates down and encouraging economic growth.

No changes to the Fed’s current bond-buying program were made during today’s FOMC meeting.

The Fed’s monthly purchase of $85 billion in bonds and MBS works by boosting bond prices, which typically helps with keeping mortgage rates lower.

The Fed reaffirmed its position that it will not withdraw or reduce monetary easing until the unemployment rate is substantially lower.

Unemployment Rate Improving Nationally

Fed predictions for the national unemployment rate improved; December’s outlook for 2013 estimated the unemployment rate at between 7.4 to 7.7 percent; the Fed now expects unemployment rates of 7.3 to 7.5 percent by the end of this year.

February’s jobs report likely influenced this revision as the unemployment rate fell from 7.8 to 7.7 percent.

The Fed notes that while employment rates are improving, they remain elevated which supports the Fed’s decision not to modify its bond purchase program in the near term.

Lower unemployment rates suggest that more people will be financially prepared for buying homes or refinancing their existing mortgage loans, and the unemployment rate is also expected to fall due to growing numbers of baby boomers leaving the workforce.

Lower Inflation Rates Boost Consumer Purchasing Power

The Fed slightly revised its December forecast for 2013 economic growth of between 2.3 to 3.0 percent.

Now the Fed predicts economic growth to range between 2.3 and 2.8 percent in 2013, but negative influences including a higher payroll tax and government spending cuts are expected to slow the rate of economic growth.

Concerning inflation, the Fed expects an inflation rate of between 1.3 and 1.7 percent this year and for inflation to remain below 2 percent through 2015.

Lower inflation rates allow consumers more discretionary spending power, which can further boost the economy and improve consumer confidence in making big ticket purchases including homes and related items and services in Utah and around the country.

Fed Keeping Tabs On European Economic Issues

Fed officers are continuing to monitor economic developments in Europe, and expressed concerns that the situation remains fragile.

Commenting in a press conference held after the FOMC meeting, Fed Chair Ben Bernanke characterized economic issues in Cyprus as “difficult”, but said that the Fed doesn’t expect these developments to have major impact on U.S. financial markets.

Its plan to keep short term interest rates near zero until unemployment rates reach 6.5 percent or the inflation rate exceeds 2.5 percent further support the Fed’s plan to keep its monetary easing policy intact for the near term.

Unless unexpected or catastrophic events occur which would cause sudden or rapid economic changes, the Fed appears unlikely to announce major changes in its policy.