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May 27, 2016

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4 Tips to Staging Your Home on a Budget

4 Tips to Staging Your Home on a BudgetMany people think that staging a home effectively is a matter of money, but there are easy ways to dress it up and make it shine that don’t come with a high cost. If you’re looking for some economical tips that will go a long way in making a positive impression, here are a few ways to get your home prepared.

Pack Away The Personal

There are certain unique features in any house that can have a positive impact on potential homebuyers, but personal items will actually make it harder for guests to imagine themselves in your home. For a cost-free save, ensure that you pack away personal mementos and pictures so that guests aren’t distracted by the details of your life.

Keep It Clutter Free

An untidy home will have an instantly negative impact on the perception of your visitors, so you may want to enlist the help of your entire family to clean it from top to bottom. Instead of keeping papers and magazines that have been sitting around for years, sift through any coffee table piles and bedroom corners and discard all the things that will catch the eye too easily.

Take Out The Toolbox

If you’ve been postponing a few minor fix-ups like a damaged shelf or a loose door, now is the time to head to the hardware store and get these jobs done. Potential homebuyers will be looking at every aspect of your home, and maintenance will figure heavily into how interested they are, so an inability to deal with the small details can cue them to a home they shouldn’t invest in.

Do A Deep Clean

Cleaning the house, especially a sizeable one, can be the bane of many a homeowner but there’s no other time that cleaning properly is more important than when you’re staging it. While a dirty, dusty house may mean your guests won’t pay attention to your home’s best features, a newly clean home will provide visitors with a blank canvas from which to draw their conclusions.

From major overhauls to unique decorations that draw the eye, there are many great ways to stage a home, but making the small fixes and doing a deep clean are easy to do and don’t require a lot of cash. If you’re preparing to put your home on the market, you may want to contact one of our local real estate professionals for more information.

May 26, 2016

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Why Home Buyers Should Hire Their Own Home Inspector and How to Choose One

Why Home Buyers Should Hire Their Own Home Inspector and How to Choose OneWhen you’ve found the perfect home and you’re preparing for all of the final details to be sorted, there are a few important things that should not be forgotten about. As a home inspection is among the last steps in the transfer of the home, here’s why it’s very important to find the right person for the job.

Assessing All The Elements

Purchasing a home is among the most important and expensive decisions you will ever make, and for this reason it’s necessary to hire a professional that has experience with how a home should function. Because there are so many things that make a house run smoothly, the right inspector will be able to assess any major issues for you so that you’re not forced to pay a high price for fix-ups when the deal is already set in stone.

What The Inspector Will Look For

There are a number of things a home inspector will look at that encompass all of the main functioning systems of a house, and this should determine if your home will be a good investment for you. There will be items that need regular or routine maintenance that will be identified, but the most important issues like a cracking home foundation or mold can be a major expense. From start to finish, a home inspector will be able to give you a written report of any minor and major issues that will help you determine the value of your investment.

How To Find The Ideal Inspector

One of the most important factors when it comes to the right inspector is experience, and no piece of paper can make up for this. While your inspector should certainly have professional certification from organizations like the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI) or the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO), they should have a number of years under their belt and have seen enough to know what to look for.

There are a lot of things to think about when buying a home, but finding the right inspector can go a long way in positively impacting your purchase. If you’re currently on the market for a home and are considering your options, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

May 25, 2016

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4 Tips to Staging Your Home on a Budget

4 Tips to Staging Your Home on a BudgetMany people think that staging a home effectively is a matter of money, but there are easy ways to dress it up and make it shine that don’t come with a high cost. If you’re looking for some economical tips that will go a long way in making a positive impression, here are a few ways to get your home prepared.

Pack Away The Personal

There are certain unique features in any house that can have a positive impact on potential homebuyers, but personal items will actually make it harder for guests to imagine themselves in your home. For a cost-free save, ensure that you pack away personal mementos and pictures so that guests aren’t distracted by the details of your life.

Keep It Clutter Free

An untidy home will have an instantly negative impact on the perception of your visitors, so you may want to enlist the help of your entire family to clean it from top to bottom. Instead of keeping papers and magazines that have been sitting around for years, sift through any coffee table piles and bedroom corners and discard all the things that will catch the eye too easily.

Take Out The Toolbox

If you’ve been postponing a few minor fix-ups like a damaged shelf or a loose door, now is the time to head to the hardware store and get these jobs done. Potential homebuyers will be looking at every aspect of your home, and maintenance will figure heavily into how interested they are, so an inability to deal with the small details can cue them to a home they shouldn’t invest in.

Do A Deep Clean

Cleaning the house, especially a sizeable one, can be the bane of many a homeowner but there’s no other time that cleaning properly is more important than when you’re staging it. While a dirty, dusty house may mean your guests won’t pay attention to your home’s best features, a newly clean home will provide visitors with a blank canvas from which to draw their conclusions.

From major overhauls to unique decorations that draw the eye, there are many great ways to stage a home, but making the small fixes and doing a deep clean are easy to do and don’t require a lot of cash. If you’re preparing to put your home on the market, you may want to contact one of our local real estate professionals for more information.

May 17, 2016

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Avoiding Home Buyer Remorse: 5 Tips for a Happier Homeowner

Avoiding Home Buyer Remorse: 5 Tips for a Happier HomeownerThe rush of excitement that comes with finding the home you’ve been looking for is ideal, but just because it seems like the perfect place, it doesn’t mean there aren’t other factors to consider. Instead of getting hit with buyer’s remorse, here are some tips so that your home purchase doesn’t become something you’ll regret.

Forget About The Competition

If you’re contemplating a house and happen to be dragged into a bidding war, it’s important to take a step back and determine if it’s really the right home for you. It can be easy to get carried away and up your offer, but make sure you determine what the home is really worth to you.

Take A Second Look

If you’ve been to a lot of home viewings and have finally found a place you feel good about, it can be easy to overlook the minor details. Instead of trusting your memory, make sure you visit the home a couple of times before putting in an offer so you’ll be aware of any major flaws you might have missed the first time around.

Visit The Neighborhood

The instant appeal of a home that seems perfect for your family can be unexpected, but it’s worth considering the neighborhood you’re going to be living in to ensure it’s livable. A home is one thing, but local amenities and an area your family feels comfortable will come to be equally important.

Avoid A Fixer-Upper

The kind of home you can fix up might make for a fun project for the DIY person, but biting off more than you can chew in an effort to save can be a mistake. A few small renovations may not be a big issue, but a home that needs a lot of changes will likely end up being more of a burden once the deal is sealed.

Stick To Your Purchase Price

Many people get so overwhelmed when they find a unique place to settle that their price point flies out the window. However, instead of making allowances for a purchase price you can’t really swing, keep what’s affordable in mind and be sure you don’t veer too far above it.

It can be exciting to find the kind of home you’re looking for in a center you love, but it’s important to pay a price that’s affordable and get the home you really want. If you’re currently looking for real estate options in your area, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

May 16, 2016

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 16, 2016

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week December 21 2015Last week’s economic news included reports on retail sales and consumer sentiment along with weekly releases on new jobless claims and mortgage rates.

Retail sales jumped 1.30 percent in April as compared to the March reading of 0.30 percent. Retail sales excluding the automotive sector rose from 0.40 percent growth in March to 0.80 percent growth in April. Both retail sales reports exceeded expectations. Growth in consumer spending suggests higher confidence in economic conditions and may lead potential homebuyers to consider buying rather than renting their homes.

Consumer sentiment jumped in May to a reading of 95.8 as compared to an expected reading of 89.5 and April’s reading of 89.0. This reading further supports easing of consumer concerns over current economic conditions and could bode well for housing markets as the peak sales season continues. May’s reading was the highest in nearly a year according to the University of Michigan, which conducts the Consumer Sentiment Survey.

Mortgage Rates Fall, New Jobless Claims Rise

Housing markets received a boost as average mortgage rates reported by Freddie Mac fell. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by four basis points to 3.57 percent; the rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was five points lower at 2.81 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was two basis points lower at 2.78 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for all three types of mortgages.

In spite of good economic news, lower mortgage rates and higher consumer sentiment, new jobless claims jumped to a 14-month high of 294,000 new claims from the prior week’s reading of 274,000 new claims and expectations of 270,000 new claims. Analysts said this increase could indicate softening of labor markets. Putting last week’s urge in claims in perspective, new claims remained below the benchmark reading of 300,000 new claims for 62 consecutive weeks, which is the longest period since 1973.

Labor laws in New York State likely influenced the jump in claims as certain school workers are allowed to file for unemployment benefits during spring break. A strike by some telecommunications workers likely contributed to the abrupt rise in new jobless claims. Analysts noted that New York allows striking employees replaced by their employers while on strike to collect unemployment benefits, and that new claims were near historically low levels in all other states.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index and Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued. Monthly reports on inflation are also expected.The National Association of Realtors® will release its report on existing home sales. Weekly reports on new jobless claims and mortgage rates will also be released.

May 13, 2016

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3 Ikea Hacks That Can Be Done in a Weekend’s Time

3 Ikea Hacks That Can Be Done in a Weekend's TimeWhether you’re moving into your first apartment or preparing to purchase a second home, Ikea is a favorite for those trying to economically fill up the extra space in their home. While Ikea may have plenty of inexpensive options that you might not think can be dressed up, there are actually a lot of simple pieces that you can add to for a stylish, DIY look that will take no time at all.

Cue The Cocktails

The popularity of the bar cart has seen a resurgence, but many of these decorative pieces can be quite pricey for the person who isn’t sure they want to commit to the cost. Instead of shelling out of for this overpriced piece, purchase the BYGEL utility cart from Ikea for less than $50 dollars and spray paint it in the color of your choice. While this will serve as a basic bar cart, it will easily look the part with some glasses, liquor bottles and an ice bucket.

Bring On The Board Games

With its four square legs and flattop, the LACK table is one of the plainest items in IKEA, but this inexpensive table can be fixed up as part of a fun activity with your kids. Once you’ve purchased your own brightly colored table, pick up some paint and using stencils paint the family’s favorite board game right onto its surface. Whether it happens to be backgammon, chess or Monopoly, this will add a lot of personality to the family room.

Create Your Own Sitting Table

The EXBY ALEX shelf is a relatively simple shelving unit that attaches to a wall for extra storage space, but it can also serve as a perfect starting point for an item that’s completely different. Instead of attaching this shelf to the wall, add a set of legs so the unit will serve as a cabinet without any need for wall mounting. While this will still serve as an understated piece, it can say a lot more about your room than the average wall cabinet.

Many people head to IKEA for the economical furniture options, but it’s also a great place for coming up with your own home DIY projects that are sure to make for a unique look. If you’re planning on purchasing a home and are looking for interesting furniture to fill it with, you may want to contact your trusted local real estate professional for more information.

May 9, 2016

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 9, 2016

Closing Paperwork: How to Read and Understand the Truth-in-Lending Disclosure Statement

Mortgage rates fell across the board last week according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey. Other economic news included reports on construction spending, public and private sector employment and national unemployment.

Construction Spending Grows in March

The Commerce Department reported that the growth rate for construction spending fell in March to 0.30 percent/Analysts expected a reading of 0.70 percent based on February’s upwardly revised growth rate of 1.0 percent. Construction spending was propelled by a 1.50 percent increase in residential construction spending; this is good news for would-be home buyers who’ve been shut out of the market due to high demand and low inventories of available homes.

Housing market analysts have repeatedly said that new home construction is the answer to short supplies of homes and high buyer demand. Year-over-year, construction spending is up 8.0 percent overall; residential construction spending grew by 7.60 percent year-over-year.

Mortgage Rates Dip

Average mortgage rates were lower last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by five basis points to 3.61 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was three basis points lower at 2.86 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped six basis points to an average of 2.80 percent.

While any drop in mortgage rates is welcomed by home buyers, the high demand for homes continues to drive prices up and has raised concerns about affordability of single-family homes in many communities.

Jobs Growth Slows

The national unemployment rate held steady at 5.0 percent in April, but job growth slowed in public and private sectors. ADP reported private sector jobs increased by 156,000 jobs as compared to 194,000 jobs added in March. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Non-Farm Payrolls increased by 160.000 jobs as compared to expectations of 203,000 jobs added and March’s reading of 208,000 jobs added. Non-Farm payrolls measure public and private sector job growth.

New jobless claims rose by 17,000 to 274,000 new claims, but remained below the benchmark of 300,000 new claims for 61 consecutive weeks. Analysts projected that new claims would grow by 265,000 new claims based on the prior week’s reading of 257,000 new claims. The less volatile four-week rolling average of new jobless claims indicated that 258,000 new claims were filed. The labor force participation rate dropped from 65 percent to 63 percent in March. Retiring baby boomers contributed to some but not all of this workforce decline.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims along with a report on consumer sentiment.

May 6, 2016

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4 Neglected Home Maintenance Tasks That Are a Must

4 Neglected Home Maintenance Tasks That Are a MustThere are a number of home maintenance tasks that are easy to forget about in favor of more obvious renovations, but forgetting to do some of them can end up costing you a lot down the road. If you’re hoping to keep your home in tip-top shape, here are a few tasks that you shouldn’t forget about.

Sealing Off Access Points

Small rodents and insects can wreak havoc on your home if they gain access, so ensure that you maintain the foundation of your home and seal off any areas where these pests might get inside. Check all the windows and doors, and survey the foundation of your home, making sure to patch up any areas where sealant or mortar has come loose.

Cleaning The Shingles

The reality of algae eating away at your roof shingles can be an unpleasant, expensive renovation, so clean your roof on a regular basis before any black streaks can take your shingles with them. Simply mix together hot water, bleach and detergent and spray this from your garden hose on a cooler day so you can save your roof from rot. This will also save you the cost of having to hire a professional

Maintaining Your Wood Deck

There are few things that will age your yard like a poorly maintained deck, so take the time to re-stain and seal your deck so it doesn’t quickly see the effects of time and weather. While harsh weather can have an ill effect on your deck’s appearance, properly maintaining it will mean you can avoid the high cost of replacement that will be required.

Keeping It Clutter Free

Many homeowners get pretty comfortable in their home, and this can often mean that many boxes of unused items get stored away. Instead of keeping old items though, do a clean out once every 6-12 months to get rid of the things you don’t use. By having a clean basement and garage, you’ll also have the ability to notice many other maintenance issues that might not be visible with all the extra stuff.

There are a number of maintenance tasks around the home that people often forget, but neglecting to complete them can often times cost a pretty penny down the road. If you’re doing a few home renovations before putting your house on the market, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

May 5, 2016

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How to Determine the Price of Your Home for Sale

How to Determine the Price of Your Home for SaleMany people rely on the price they paid for their home as a starting point for selling, but with the ever-shifting tides of the real estate market, the price paid is not always the best metric to go by. If you’re putting your home up for sale and are looking for the ideal price point, here are some ways you can arrive at a number that will keep potential buyers interested.

Check Out Your Neighborhood

Your house may have a lot of different features than the homes of your neighbors, but checking out what real estate in your area is selling for can still be a good means of determining the price you’ll be able to ask for. Instead of just perusing the pricing, ensure you’re looking at the listings for what’s been successfully sold in your neighborhood as only this will allow you to determine the conditions of the market and what people will be prepared to offer.

Complete A Home Inspection

Instead of being surprised by repairs that need to be completed after an offer price has been accepted, organizing a home inspection before your home is sold can make a difference in the price you’re able to ask for. Not only will this provide you with a determination of what needs to be repaired or overhauled, it can be a boon to potential buyers who won’t have to worry about your inspection revealing any hidden flaws.

Utilize Your Agent’s Advice

Even if you’ve done your research and carefully considered the value of your home, it can still be complicated to come up with the right price, so be sure to enlist an agent who will be able to determine a fair amount with you. Since your agent has no attachment to your home, they’ll be able to objectively strike the right balance between what won’t sell and what’s too low. The right price, after all, may mean you’ll get to spend a lot less time selling it.

There are a lot of factors that go into arriving at the proper asking price for your home, but by organizing a home inspection and being aware of what’s going on in the market, you should be able to arrive at a reasonable sum. If you’re planning on putting your home on the market soon, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

May 4, 2016

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Thinking about Renovations?: 5 Considerations Before Hiring a Home Improvements Contractor

Thinking about Renovations?: 5 Considerations Before Hiring a Home Improvements ContractorWith the pre-summer enthusiasm and the milder weather, springtime can be one of the best times of the year to take on home renovations that aren’t as easy in other months. If you happen to have some projects in mind and are considering taking the work on yourself, here are a few questions you’ll need to ask.

What Can You Take On?

If you have specific renovations in mind for the coming months, it’s very important to decide what you can reasonably take on and what you could pass on to a contractor. While some projects and fix-ups may be easier to complete on your own, some will require a greater degree of expertise.

What’s Your Skill Level?

You may have something that you think you can take on yourself, but if you’re new to renovating, it may be worth hiring a contractor who will be able to complete the job without incident. It can be a great learning experience to do many fix-ups on your own, but this can take a lot of time and energy too if you don’t know the details.

What’s Your Price Point?

Before deciding to hire a contractor, it’s important that you’ve thought about the potential costs associated with what you want to do. It can be pricy to hire someone if you have a lot that needs to be done, but someone else’s expertise can also end up being worth the money spent.

Do You Have A Timeline?

Many people renovate in the spring and summer months, and this means that your ideal contractor may not have a lot of time available. While this may end up working out for you, you’ll want to consider when you want it done so your expectations are not unreasonable.

Is A Second Opinion Helpful?

It’s great if you can handle all your home renovations on your own, but no one will be able to offer you the knowledgeable opinion that a contractor will. While a professional will undoubtedly be able to complete the work you’re requesting, they may also have helpful suggestions for you that may make for an even better home improvement.

Spring is an ideal season for home renovations, but before taking anything on you’ll want to carefully consider whether or not you’ll need to hire someone. If you’re renovating to put your home on the market, contact your 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