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June 24, 2016

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Getting to Know the Neighbors: 3 Tips for Building Good Relationships

Getting to Know the Neighbors: 3 Tips for Building Good RelationshipsOne of the factors involved in feeling truly comfortable in your community is the relationships that you’ve been able to establish with the locals in your neighborhood, but it can be hard to know how to nurture a good relationship. Whether you’re moving to a new home soon or are wondering how to make some nearby friends, here are some simple tips for ingratiating the ones that live closest to you.

Offer up Your Favorite Dish

It might seem like a bit of a risk, but one of the best ways to get to know your neighbors is to knock on their door and bring along your favorite treat as an offering. Whether it’s your famed banana bread or your best chocolate chip cookies, simply showing up on the doorstep with treats in hand will ensure your neighbors know that you want to get to know them, and they’ll likely be happy to return the favor down the road!

Throw A Little Party

If you don’t want to go through the trouble of taking treats over to all of your neighbors, you may want to consider throwing a party or backyard barbecue at your home for a more effective means of meeting everyone. By putting flyers around the community, you’ll easily interest other neighbors in your newfound presence on the block. As well, if you don’t want to go through all the planning of a big party, you can also make it a potluck style meal so everyone can share their own dish.

Make A Habit Of Neighborhood Walks

It’s certainly the least complicated of all the other options, but short walks through your neighborhood may also produce the most success in getting to know more about your neighbors. If you have a pet or a child, these tend to be automatic conversation starters, but a simple smile or ‘hello’ will also do the trick in making your face familiar. It also means you’ll get to know people over time and will be able to build a solid relationship.

It can often be hard to know how to integrate into a new community, but a simple smile or knock on the door can mean a lot when it comes to building a friendship with your neighbors. If you’re currently on the hunt for a home in a specific neighborhood, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

June 23, 2016

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How To Host A Successful Open House

How To Host A Successful Open HouseFrom fixing up all the minor repairs to cleaning the house top-to-bottom, there are a lot of small details that go into organizing the perfect open house. However, in the rush to organize everything, there are a number of to-do’s that are easy to forget about. If you’re currently prepping your home and don’t want to miss the important stuff, here are some things you should contemplate before setting the date.

The Outside Look

The first thing potential homebuyers will notice when they arrive at your home is the outside, and that’s why it’s so important not to neglect it. Before organizing your open house, make sure the lawn is mowed, any unsightly hedges are trimmed and that your entrance area and flowerbeds are well maintained. Since potential homebuyers will see the outside before anything else, there’s no sense in losing them for having a disheveled lawn before they’ve even walked through the door.

Effectively Market The Event

Many home sellers want to believe that their house will sell itself, but if no one knows about your open house or bothers to show up, there’s no chance of getting any offers. While your real estate agent should be featuring your home on their website, you may also want to hand out flyers to your neighbors and make a few posts on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to get the word out. There are no assurances when it comes to drumming up interest, but spreading the word with as many people as possible will likely find a few interested parties.

Use The Five Senses

It may not be the most common advice, but engaging potential buyers on a number of different levels can actually enhance the appeal of your home. Playing a little music can be a good way to make them feel comfortable, and you may want to do a little baking beforehand since the sense of smell can have a powerful impact. It may seem a little bit quirky, but there’s nothing to make people feel comfortable and at home like the scent of freshly baked treats and a little music.

There’s plenty of cleaning and organizing when it comes to an open house but it’s also important to look at the big picture when it comes to prepping for your home showing. If you’re nearly ready to put your home on the market, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

June 22, 2016

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How to Market Your Home to Renters Online

How to Market Your Home to Renters OnlineMany people think that marketing their home is best left to the realtor since they have the expertise and knowledge to succeed at selling. However, there are plenty of ways that you and your realtor can approach the marketing for your home for an even more positive impact. If you’ve made the decision to put your home on the market as a rental, here are a few tips so you can be sure to find the right renters.

Make Use Of Social Media

Sites like Craigslist have long been popular for finding a place to rent, but in the times of social media, there are plenty of other ways to reach people who are looking for apartments or homes. Instead of having to rely on traditional means of marketing, take to Twitter or Facebook to post about your home rental and include a few pictures with a brief description. Not only will this reach all your friends and followers, it will ensure that they can pass the information along too.

Create A Home Website

There are many old-school means of marketing a home to interested parties, but the tricks don’t necessarily change when it comes to finding an ideal renter. If you’re entrusting your home to the reliability of renters, a professional website with a respectable realtor is still one of the best means of attracting the right crowd. With a selection of professional photos and a complimentary description, you should have a few good options in no time.

Splurge On Professional Pictures

There’s a reason that professional photography is expensive, but when it comes to marketing your home online, a good picture is one of the best tools you have in finding your audience. Because a professional photographer knows all the small stuff about lighting and accentuating your home’s best features, they’ll be able to provide you with the kind of images that are sure to capture attention. In addition, a professional photograph can go a long way towards getting the rental price you’re asking for.

There was a time when renters walked the neighborhood to find the best rental options, but with so much of the search having gone online, there are other ways to market your home to potential candidates. If you’re planning on purchasing a second home and are putting your own up for rent, you may want to contact one of our local real estate professionals for more information.

June 22, 2016

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How to Market Your Home to Renters Online

How to Market Your Home to Renters OnlineMany people think that marketing their home is best left to the realtor since they have the expertise and knowledge to succeed at selling. However, there are plenty of ways that you and your realtor can approach the marketing for your home for an even more positive impact. If you’ve made the decision to put your home on the market as a rental, here are a few tips so you can be sure to find the right renters.

Make Use Of Social Media

Sites like Craigslist have long been popular for finding a place to rent, but in the times of social media, there are plenty of other ways to reach people who are looking for apartments or homes. Instead of having to rely on traditional means of marketing, take to Twitter or Facebook to post about your home rental and include a few pictures with a brief description. Not only will this reach all your friends and followers, it will ensure that they can pass the information along too.

Create A Home Website

There are many old-school means of marketing a home to interested parties, but the tricks don’t necessarily change when it comes to finding an ideal renter. If you’re entrusting your home to the reliability of renters, a professional website with a respectable realtor is still one of the best means of attracting the right crowd. With a selection of professional photos and a complimentary description, you should have a few good options in no time.

Splurge On Professional Pictures

There’s a reason that professional photography is expensive, but when it comes to marketing your home online, a good picture is one of the best tools you have in finding your audience. Because a professional photographer knows all the small stuff about lighting and accentuating your home’s best features, they’ll be able to provide you with the kind of images that are sure to capture attention. In addition, a professional photograph can go a long way towards getting the rental price you’re asking for.

There was a time when renters walked the neighborhood to find the best rental options, but with so much of the search having gone online, there are other ways to market your home to potential candidates. If you’re planning on purchasing a second home and are putting your own up for rent, you may want to contact one of our local real estate professionals for more information.

June 21, 2016

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3 Things to Consider Before Renting to Students

3 Things to Consider Before Renting to StudentsWhether you have a second property that you’re going to move into or you’re planning on being away from your dwelling place for a while, you may be considering putting your home on the market in order to boost your financial outlook. While students comprise one demographic that is always entering the rental market to scoop up available properties, here are some things you may want to consider before deciding on a younger renter.

Will Your Home Be Rented Consistently?

Many students will require a place to rent out since most of them don’t have the money savings or stable income to purchase a home, but if you’re doing this to make ends meet on your properties, renting to student may not be the best way. While some students may plan on hanging out over the summer, there are those who will be heading home in order to live with their parents and save money for the Autumn semester. A contract’s a contract, but a renter can always flee the coop if it’s inconvenient.

Will They Take Good Care Of Your Home?

From furniture to family mementos, most people’s home is pretty personal to them, and that’s why it can be of supreme importance to have a renter that will respect your home and take good care of it in your absence. While there are plenty of responsible students in the world, you should ensure before settling on anyone that it’s someone you really trust who won’t damage your house or wake up the neighbors every Saturday evening.

What Rental Price Are You Looking For?

If you’re trying to make financial ends meet with your property, you’ll probably want to charge the maximum amount you can while still having a renter in your home. The risk with students is that they may not be able to pay the dollar amount you’re looking for so that you can effectively maximize your investment. While this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re taking the financial brunt, it’s important to get the monthly amount that your living space can garner on the market.

There can be a number of downfalls when it comes to renting to students, but there’s also the possibility that you’ll have a responsible renter who will stick around for more than a couple seasons. If you’re currently on the market for a second home, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

June 6, 2016

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 6, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - June 6, 2016Last week’s housing related news was limited to Construction Spending and Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates survey, but labor reports suggested an economic slowdown may be in the works.

Construction Spending Slips in April, Mortgage Rates Mixed

According to the Commerce Department, overall construction spending slipped in April to -1.80 percent as compared to March’s reading of +1.50 percent and May’s expected reading of +0.70 percent. Residential construction spending was 1.50 percent lower, which doesn’t help ongoing shortages of available single-family homes. Builders have repeatedly cited labor shortages and lack of developed lots as obstacles to building more homes. Year-over-year construction spending was 4.50 percent higher.

Freddie Mac reported higher rates for fixed-rate mortgages while the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was one basis point lower at 1.87 percent. Rates for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage averaged two basis points higher at 3.66 percent; rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgages were three basis points higher at 2.92 percent. Average discount points were unchanged for all loan types at 0.50 percent.

Labor Reports Indicate Slowing Jobs Market And Economy

According to the Non-farm Payrolls report for May, U.S. jobs increased at their lowest rate in five years with 38,000 new private and public sector jobs added. Temporary hiring also hit its lowest reading in seven years, which was seen as a negative as temporary jobs often transition to permanent positions.

Analysts said that May’s extremely low reading for jobs created indicates that a revision is likely. This inconsistency was supported by the national unemployment rate of 4.70 percent, but the lower jobless rate was attributed to workers leaving the labor force.

ADP’s May reading for private sector jobs rose to 173,000 jobs against expectations of 165,000 jobs and April’s reading of 268,000. This reading was further evidence that the Non-farm Payrolls report was likely inaccurate.

Last week’s new jobless claims fell to a five-week low of 267,000 as compared to expectations of 279,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 268,000 new claims.

What’s Ahead This Week

Economic news scheduled for this week include a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on Monday; this speech could foreshadow the Fed’s decision to raise or not raise the Fed’s target federal funds rate during its FOMC meeting later this month.

Readings on job openings and consumer sentiment will be released along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

June 6, 2016

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 6, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - June 6, 2016Last week’s housing related news was limited to Construction Spending and Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates survey, but labor reports suggested an economic slowdown may be in the works.

Construction Spending Slips in April, Mortgage Rates Mixed

According to the Commerce Department, overall construction spending slipped in April to -1.80 percent as compared to March’s reading of +1.50 percent and May’s expected reading of +0.70 percent. Residential construction spending was 1.50 percent lower, which doesn’t help ongoing shortages of available single-family homes. Builders have repeatedly cited labor shortages and lack of developed lots as obstacles to building more homes. Year-over-year construction spending was 4.50 percent higher.

Freddie Mac reported higher rates for fixed-rate mortgages while the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was one basis point lower at 1.87 percent. Rates for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage averaged two basis points higher at 3.66 percent; rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgages were three basis points higher at 2.92 percent. Average discount points were unchanged for all loan types at 0.50 percent.

Labor Reports Indicate Slowing Jobs Market And Economy

According to the Non-farm Payrolls report for May, U.S. jobs increased at their lowest rate in five years with 38,000 new private and public sector jobs added. Temporary hiring also hit its lowest reading in seven years, which was seen as a negative as temporary jobs often transition to permanent positions.

Analysts said that May’s extremely low reading for jobs created indicates that a revision is likely. This inconsistency was supported by the national unemployment rate of 4.70 percent, but the lower jobless rate was attributed to workers leaving the labor force.

ADP’s May reading for private sector jobs rose to 173,000 jobs against expectations of 165,000 jobs and April’s reading of 268,000. This reading was further evidence that the Non-farm Payrolls report was likely inaccurate.

Last week’s new jobless claims fell to a five-week low of 267,000 as compared to expectations of 279,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 268,000 new claims.

What’s Ahead This Week

Economic news scheduled for this week include a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on Monday; this speech could foreshadow the Fed’s decision to raise or not raise the Fed’s target federal funds rate during its FOMC meeting later this month.

Readings on job openings and consumer sentiment will be released along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

June 3, 2016

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Looking to Renovate?: 4 Renovations That Are Cheaper in the Summertime

Looking to Renovate?: 4 Renovations That Are Cheaper in the SummertimeIt’s often necessary to make a few small renovations before putting your home on the market, but it can be surprising to learn that summer can be a less expensive time for many common fix-ups. If you’re wondering what you should renovate in the summer months, you may want to consider a few of the following for the sake of economy.

Take On The Lawn

In many cases, often-difficult weather conditions that the winter months can provide make a lot of things difficult, and tackling the state of your lawn is certainly among these. Since curb appeal is very important when it comes to the overall impact of your home, the summer months are the optimal time to deal with any changes you want to make to the lawn, gardens or even your walk-way or front stoop.

Fix Up The Kitchen

A kitchen renovation may be long overdue but this is another one you’ll want to put off until the summer. While the warmer seasons afford the possibility for many outdoor, evening meals, this option may not exist in the cold throes of the winter, depending on your location. Instead of hustling off to restaurants where the costs will quickly add up, summer will provide a more affordable opportunity for upgrading.

Add On Extra Space

Whether your doubling your garage or adding on an extra room, this is the kind of work that can bring an influx of cold air into your house and will take a little longer given the discomfort. Instead of completing renovations that deal with the elements in the cooler months, spring for the summertime when the temperature and timeline will be a little milder.

Paint The Exterior

Few things will have a more positive impact on the overall look of your home than a coat of paint, but taking on this task in the winter can be a recipe for disappointment with the sudden snow and storms that may come along. Instead of chancing it and extending the completion of this task, save it for summer when the weather will be more predictable.

There are countless renovations under the sun, but there are some that may end up being more affordable if they’re completed in the summer months. If you’re fixing up your house because you’re planning on selling in the near future, contact your trusted local real estate professional for more information.

June 2, 2016

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Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Expands to All Metro Areas

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Expands to All Metro AreasMarch home prices were again dominated by the Northwest with Portland, Oregon posting a year-over-year gain of 12.30 percent followed by Seattle, Washington’s year-over-year gain of 10.80 percent.

Denver, Colorado rounded out the top three cities with a year-over-year gain of 10.00 percent. San Francisco, California, which consistently posted double-digit gains in recent months slipped to a year-over-year gain of 8.50 percent. This may indicate that prices in high cost metro areas are nearing their peak.

S&P Dow Jones Chair David M Blitzer attributed outsized price gains to the shortest supply of available homes since the mid-1980s. Homes for sale account for only two percent of U.S. households. To put rapidly increasing home prices in context, the S&P Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index was 11.50 percent below its peak in March, 2006.

Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index posted a 5.40 percent gain year over year, which was equal to its year-over-year price gain in March 2015. Month-to month home prices gained 0.90 percent; analysts had estimated year-year growth of 5.10 percent and a month-to-month gain of 0.70 percent. All cities in the 20-City Housing Market Index posted gains in month-to-month and year-over-year readings.

Pending Home Sales Exceed Expectations

Pending home sales in April supported trends noted in Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index. Regional results for pending home sales in April rose by 1.20 percent in the Northeast while pending sales were unchanged in the Midwest. The South posted pending sales gain of 6.80 percent and the West recovered with an 11.40 percent rise in pending sales for April.

Based on April’s pending home sales readings, real estate pros expect a jump in closed sales in May. Home buyer demand remains resilient according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors. Mr. Yun also said that the key to continued expansion of home sales is providing buyers sufficient supplies of affordable homes. Builders may provide relief by increasing construction, but have cited shortages of labor and developed land as constraints on new construction. Active demand for high-end homes has also focused construction on higher priced homes.

Mortgage applications are also increasing, which indicates that more homes are being purchased by owner-occupant buyers than investors. Relatively low mortgage rates and waning investor interest could provide buyers relying on financing a leg-up in competing for available homes. 

June 1, 2016

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Did You Know?: 4 Ways That a Real Estate Attorney Can Make Your Home Purchase Easier

Did You Know?: 4 Ways That a Real Estate Attorney Can Make Your Home Purchase Easier It is common for home buyers to take steps to keep their out-of-pocket expenses to a minimum, and many will try to avoid paying for optional services for this reason. While you may not want to pay for all optional services, there are some that can be truly beneficial to you even if they are not required. After learning more about the services provided to you by a real estate attorney, you may be ready to seek out these professional legal services for your upcoming purchase.

Explaining the Contract

A real estate sales contract can be confusing to understand because parts of it use real estate or legal jargon. Your real estate attorney can review the contract for you to ensure that your rights are protected, and he or she can also help you to better understand your obligations and requirements under the contract.

Assisting With Title Research

A real estate attorney can also assist you with researching the title. Everything from liens and covenants to easements and more may impact your ownership of the property. The real estate attorney will provide you with more information to ensure that you have title to the property free and clear.

Helping You With the Mortgage Documents

A mortgage is a legally binding agreement. You will be contractually bound by the terms of the mortgage. From the monthly payment obligation to the ability of the lender to foreclose on the property if you do not follow through on the terms of the mortgage, there are many legal nuances to consider. The real estate attorney can review these documents on your behalf before you sign them.

Representing You at Closing

Your closing is both a financial and a legal process. This is where you will sign all of the mortgage, title and sales documents to finalize the purchase. Generally, after closing, you will own the property and will be contractually tied to the mortgage. While many documents will be available for your attorney to review before closing, there may be last minute changes or other documents available at closing that your attorney has not reviewed. Your attorney can represent your interests and answer your questions at the closing table.

You do not need a real estate attorney to assist you throughout the purchase process. However, you can see that there are many beneficial services provided to you by an attorney. Contact your trusted local real estate professional for more information.

Chris Brown
Chris Brown is the premier expert on HARP loans and Government FHA and VA loans. Please visit The Mortgage Chili Blog