Real Estate Blog
Friday, April 05 2013
Changes in the availability and pricing of technology have brought the "smart home" from the richest tiers of homeownership to a quickly growing group of users.
According to the Atlanta Constitution-Journal, smartphone and tablet apps let homeowners "turn lights on and off, let in a delivery person or see whether their kids are doing their homework — from anywhere in the world."
The Digital Life system developed by AT&T Mobility, now available in eight markets, lets you do everything from operate the garage doors to make sure your children are doing their homework, company executives say. And Comcast's XFinity package offers features from home security to Internet features like Facebook and Internet radio service Pandora on your TV.
Insurance companies are even getting into the act, giving users of these systems discounts on their insurance, with the amount based on the type of monitoring service and features, industry officials say.
"The moment that the savings are really showing (on insurance and utility bills), that's when this really becomes a no-brainer," says telecommunications analyst Roger Entner.
Source: "New technology monitors home from phone" (Chicago Tribune, 3/31/2013)
Friday, March 22 2013
Deep clean your house and you’ll brighten rooms and help maintain your home’s value.
Deep cleaning your house is that top-to-bottom, take-no-dust-bunny-prisoners, mother-in-law-quality cleaning that truly maintains the value of your home. Here are frequently overlooked areas that a little spit and polish wouldn’t hurt.
De-bug the light fixtures
See that bug burial ground within your overhead fixtures? Turn off the lights and carefully remove fixture covers, dump out flies and wash with hot soapy water. While you’re up there, dust bulbs. Dry everything thoroughly before replacing the cover.
Vacuum heat vents and registers
Dirt and dust build up in heat vents and along register blades. Vents also are great receptacles for coins and missing buttons. Unscrew vent covers from walls or pluck them from floors, remove foreign objects, and vacuum inside the vent. Clean grates with a damp cloth and screw back tightly.
To deep clean brass door hinges, handles, and cabinet knobs, thoroughly wipe with a damp microfiber cloth, then polish with Wright’s or Weiman brass cleaner ($4). Dish soap shines up glass or stainless steel knobs. Use a Q-tip to detail the ornamental filigree on knobs and handles.
Replace grungy switch plates
Any amateur can wipe a few fingerprints off cover plates that hide light switches, electric outlets, phone jacks, and cable outlets. But only deep cleaners happily remove plates to vacuum and swipe the gunk behind. (OK, we’re a little OCD when it comes to dirt!) Make sure cover plates are straight when you replace them. And pitch plates that are beyond the help of even deep cleaning. New ones cost less than $2 each.
Neaten weather stripping
Peeling, drooping weather stripping on doors and windows makes rooms look old. If the strip still has some life, nail or glue it back. If it’s hopeless, cut out and replace sections, or just pull the whole thing off and start new. A 10-ft. roll of foam weather stripping costs $8; 16-ft. vinyl costs about $15.
Replace stove drip pans
Some drip pans are beyond the scrub brush. Replacing them costs about $3 each and instantly freshens your stove.
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/maintenance-repair/home-cleaning-secrets/#ixzz2O0mqzjb6
Thursday, February 21 2013
There is a long list of household chores the beginning of each season. If you break it down with one chore a day and bundle a short, easy list on a day off from work, then it can become manageable. After all, you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time!
So first, think of your personality. If you put the worst chore first, would you be happy to get that one over with, or would you simply never start working on the list at all? Order the list to fit your comfort zone.
- Walk around the yard and take a notebook with you. Write down any lawn or outdoor buildings which require maintenance. Be sure to make specific notes, so you will not be scratching your head later trying to figure out your notes. Remember painting as well.
- Get rid of all the old stuff you have not used in a year. Garage sales are great motivators.
- Switch the clothes in the closet from heavy winter to spring.
- Check the roof. Are there any loose or deteriorating shingles? Are the gutters in need of repair?
- The outdoor furniture is calling; pull it out of storage and enjoy watching the flowers begin to grow!
- It may seem silly to think of the upcoming frost, but checking the furnace or heaters now makes sense, instead of having a failure at the worst possible moment.
- Check the screens on all the doors and the assemblies for the sliding glass doors.
- If you use contractors for replacing gutters and other outside household services, now is actually the time to take advantage of that. The fall is when they are typically the most busy.
- The kids will be spending a lot of time on the swing set, is it well maintained?
- The leaves are falling, sigh, time to rake. Make the activity more festive and have a contest to see which family member can gather the most. Remember the gutters!
- When is the last time you checked the insulation in the attic? Do any shingles need replacement after the summer sun?
- Now is the time to aerate the soil, in the front and back yards.
- It’s a perfect time to get a lot of the detailed “spring” cleaning done inside the house. Holidays are approaching and folks will be dropping by for short visits and lengthy meals. Move furniture, vacuum underneath, check the foyer closet for clutter, to make room for heavy coats and umbrellas. Give the whole house a white glove test!
- Change clothes in the closet from summer to winter.
- Check supplies to keep the walks free of ice; shovel, dry ice, salt, etc.
- Check decorations for the holidays.
Thursday, September 27 2012
Choosing a color for your repainting job is harder than it seems. Follow these suggestions in picking the right paint color to make sure that you can achieve the look that you want for your home.
Any home decorator will tell you that repainting is one of the fastest and most affordable ways to radically change the look and feel of a room. With just the right shade, a room can feel anywhere from warm and welcoming to cool and tranquil.
Don’t take this task too lightly, though; choosing a color of paint is perhaps the trickiest part of redesigning a home. You only need to look at a an entire set of paint chips to realize that picking one out of a fishbowl is not the way to go with this. If you want to make sure that you select the right hue, pay attention to these tips.
1. Determine what kind of mood you want the room to have. Each room in the house might represent a certain feeling you want people to experience in them, so choose carefully. For instance, if you like having people over for meals all the time, go for bright colors to evoke warmth. Family rooms are made for relaxing, so blues and greens may work best for them.
2. Choose a certain object that you plan on keeping in the room and draw inspiration from it. Whether it’s a pillow or a piece of art, it can serve as your basis for the main color of the room. If you want, you can also use this color in different saturation levels by looking up its “family” in paint samples in the hardware store.
3. Consider the room’s lighting when choosing colors. Different colors project various effects when exposed to certain kinds of light, so make sure that you take into account the kind of light you have or plan to install. Incandescent lights accentuate yellow and other warm tones, fluorescent lighting tends to shed an intense bluish hue and daylight presents colors in their proper forms.
4. Use a color wheel. A color wheel displays hues according to what complements them the most. You can use it as your guide in knowing which colors go together and which ones don’t.
5. Don’t forget the ceiling. A white ceiling can be a bit distracting if your walls are a different color. Make sure that, whatever color you use on the walls, you choose paint that’s a couple of shades lighter for the ceiling. To be sure that you’re still on the right track, consult a paint color strip or take the same paint that you used on the wall and add white to it to get a brighter tinge.
6. Select the right finish. One color can have various projections when you use different finishes for it. A matte or flat finish can work well for the wall itself, but use a semi-gloss or satin finish for the trim. This will not only add depth to a room, but will also create the impression of various textures in the same shade.
The most important advice that you can get when picking paint colors is to take your time in choosing the color you really want. You may reach the point of frustration in your quest to choose one shade, but what’s worse is if you start painting a room and stop halfway when you realize it’s not the look you were going for in the first place.
Monday, September 17 2012
Retirees are increasingly flocking to cooler climates and smaller towns than sunny, southern havens in states like Florida or Arizona that generally are popular retirement hot-spots. Baby boomers are looking elsewhere, from Maine to Washington.
"Boomers and retirees these days are considering a much wider range of destinations for retirement, often choosing states that don't commonly come to mind, such as Maine and Montana," says Mary Lu Abbott, editor of Where to Retire magazine. "Yes, the Sun Belt remains popular, but many people prefer a four-season climate and enjoy the changing of seasons. They seek towns that are safe and have active, appealing downtowns and good hospitals nearby, and increasingly they're looking for places with a lower cost of living and lower overall tax rate."
As they retire, baby boomers are increasingly looking at places that are familiar to them, such as where they’ve once vacationed or spent time at as a child, David Savageau, author of "Retirement Places Rated," told the Associated Press. They’re looking for places that are walkable and have volunteer opportunities and college courses, he adds.
Florida and golf communities are "the old view of retirement," Savageau says. "And it's kind of dying out, the desert Southwest and South Florida. That was for our parents; for us it might be somewhere closer to home, a college town, a ski resort or a historical area that gets some kind of tourism in season."
Source: "Cooler Climates, Small Towns Become Popular Retirement Destinations for Baby Boomers," Associated Press (Sept. 16, 2012)
Monday, December 26 2011
New-home construction and building permits — a future gauge of construction — surged last month, slowly helping to pull the new-home market out of one of its worst years for home building.
Builders broke ground on more homes in November, a 9.3 percent increase over October, reaching the highest level since April 2010, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. Year-over-year, new-home starts were up 24.3 percent in November.
Home construction increased to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 685,000 homes in November. However, while it’s an improvement, the rate is still below the 1.2 million home pace that economists consider healthy for the new-home sector.
November’s increase was mostly driven by construction of multi-family homes with at least two units, which soared 25.3 percent in November. Construction of single-family homes increased 2.3 percent for the month.
Building permits jumped 5.7 percent in November, the highest increase since March 2010, with the increase mostly driven by apartment construction permits.
Builders Feeling More Confident
Meanwhile, for the third consecutive month, builder confidence in the new-home market continued to edge up, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for December. The index is at its highest point since May 2010.
While the index reached 21 in December, it is still far below 50, a reading which indicates more builders view conditions as good rather than poor. The index hasn’t reached that point since the housing boom in April 2006.
“While builder confidence remains low, the consistent gains registered over the past several months are an indication that pockets of recovery are slowly starting to emerge in scattered housing markets," Bob Nielsen, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, said in a statement. "However, the difficulties that both builders and buyers continue to experience in accessing credit for new homes are holding back potential sales even in areas where economic conditions are improving."
Source: “Apartment Construction Spurs 9.3% Jump in Housing Starts, But Level Remains Low,” Associated Press (Dec. 20, 2011); “U.S. Nov. Housing Starts +9.3% to 685K; Consensus +0.3%,” Dow Jones International News (Dec. 20, 2011); and National Association of Home Builders
Tuesday, May 03 2011
We hope the article below will be of interest. In today’s economic climate all savings can add up so that we can stretch our dollars further. I have started to combine trips so that I can save somewhat with the current high gas prices. We hope you will enjoy reading this article. -RT
You can help save the planet while also saving cash, according to the Alliance to Save Energy.
The average U.S. household spends about $3,425 to power a car and $2,175 on home energy costs--in other words, about $5,600 on energy costs per year. That number is likely even greater with rising fuel and utility costs.
In honor of Earth Day, the Alliance to Save Energy is offering up some pointers on how to trim those yearly expenses with some easy ways to go “green.” Here are a few of its tips.
In your car:
- Use cruise control. Cruise control on the highway can help you maintain a constant speed, which can help save gas.
- Use the overdrive gear. By using the overdrive gear, your car’s engine speed goes down, which not only saves gas but also reduces engine wear and tear.
- Slow down. Driving anything above 60 miles per hour is decreases your gas mileage rapidly. The Alliance equates it to every 5 mph over 60 mph that you drive is basically like paying 24 cents per gallon for gas.
In your home:
- Swap out the light bulbs. Replace old incandescent bulbs with energy efficient options such as compact fluorescent lights, which can shave up to $50 off your electricity costs over the lifetime of each bulb, even factoring in the higher purchase price of the bulb.
- Plant a tree. Properly positioned trees outside your home actually have been found to reduce a home’s energy use, even up to 50 percent during the summer months and 15 percent in the winter.
- Get a tax break. Uncle Sam is offering 2011 tax breaks of up to $500 for energy efficiency home improvements, such as with Energy Star windows, insulation, or energy efficient heating and cooling equipment. Learn more.
Source: “Already-Soaring Gas Prices Make Energy Efficiency an Apt Way to Honor Earth Day While Saving Money, Says Alliance,” Alliance to Save Energy (April 19, 2011)
Friday, April 01 2011
The do-it-yourself home improvement market has faced a 21 percent drop from 2005-2010, according to the latest research from market researcher Mintel. Yet, that’s not due to lack of will on home owner's part, but more about lack of money, according to the survey.
More than a quarter of DIYers surveyed said they would undertake a major home renovation or addition to their home if they had the funds.
Nearly 40 percent of DIYers say that making a major home improvement is the best long-term investment they can make.
However, with the sagging housing market, many home owners have opted to put off major renovation projects, but forecasters are already seeing signs that is changing.
“We forecast growth to accelerate in 2011 and, presuming a stabilization of the housing market, to remain positive through 2015,” says Bill Patterson, senior analyst at Mintel. “Pent-up demand, ongoing need for repair and maintenance, retro-fitting, and renovations from boomers approaching retirement and demand from millennials should all propel DIY spending.”
Wednesday, March 16 2011
Buyers have a long list of what they want when home shopping, but one of their biggest desires: A good deal.
"And no matter where a seller prices their property, they're looking to negotiate," says Patricia Szot, president of the MetroTex Association of REALTORS®.
But that’s not all they want. Bankrate.com recently asked real estate professionals to chime in on the top desires of their buyers when home shopping. Here are four things that made the list of top home buyer preferences:
1. Homes that are in good condition. "There's not a lot of flexibility in that," says Ron Phipps, president of the National Association of REALTORS®. Many buyers now take the attitude: "I'd rather spend the money getting into the house" and not have to spend more money later, Phipps says. One of the major reasons is that "buyers have limited amounts of cash," he adds. "Even if they want to do a fixer-upper, they don't have the money to do it."
2. A bargain with incentives. Buyers are looking for a good deal, even when considering bank-owned properties, says Joan Pratt, real estate broker with RE/MAX Professionals in Castle Pines, Colo. "They want the short sales and the foreclosures and they want them to look like they're owner-occupied," she says. "They don't want to paint. They don't want to put carpet in. They don't want to clean."
And they aren’t only asking for a low price but they also want incentives to buy too. As such, sellers are offering everything from gift cards for new furniture to paint to financial assistance at closing.
3. Outdoor living areas. Homes with screen porches, outdoor kitchens, two-way fireplaces are becoming increasingly competitive in the marketplace as more buyers say they want more outdoor living space.
4. Open kitchens. "The wall between the kitchen and the family room is evaporating," Phipps says. "The kitchen is becoming part of the gathering space.” (See Buyers Want Cozy, Connected Kitchens)
Source: “9 Items Homebuyers Desire in 2011,” Bankrate.com (March 2011)
Thursday, March 10 2011
Remodeling kitchen trends are creating stylish kitchens with cleaner lines, built-in dining, and pops of color, according to a recent article in RISMedia.
Here are some recent trends in kitchens across the country.
1. Built-in dining areas. Eat-in kitchens are in high demand as more remodelers are opting for extensions in counters that resemble a table, either in lower or higher height to the countertop. The counter extension is different than bar seating because diners can sit around the edge and face one another, and not just sit in a row. The counter extension saves space, offers an extra buffet service, and more kitchen storage, says Deanna Carleton of Kitchen Design Group.
2. Dressing up the kitchen with lighting. An affordable way to upgrade a kitchen is just by switching out the lights, designers say. For example, hand-blown glass shades on pendant lights, contemporary drum shades, and chandeliers can quickly update a kitchen. Layers of light continue to be popular, such as with a ceiling lighting fixture combined with under-counter lighting as well as ambient lights behind a glass-front door, designers say. LED under-counter lighting and LED recessed ceiling lights are also popular.
3. Pops of color. Neutral colors in the kitchen is the safe preference, but more kitchens are adding bolder pops of color--such as in persimmon or pomegranate--to spice up the kitchen. Colored knobs, kitchen accessories, and even appliances are bringing in these pops of color. Designers say pops of color can also be brought in by the fabric choice in kitchen window seats, the upholstered seats, or window valances.
4. Striving for simplistic luxury. Clean lines and transitional designs are “in” while ornate Tuscan and French country kitchen styles are falling out of favor in the kitchen. Betty Nairn of Cabinet-S-Top in Granger Township, Ohio, says “simplistic luxury” is the kitchen trend nowadays.
Source: "8 Areas to Pay Attention to When Updating Your Kitchen," RISMedia (March 5, 2011)
Tuesday, February 15 2011
February is a great time to accomplish simple tasks that will add to the value and appearance of your home. We hope that you are enjoying the unique experience of being a homeowner! We have done a little research and have compiled a list of quick, easy projects that you might enjoy!
If you need additional tips or advice, please feel free to call us anytime at 812-499-9234 for Rolando and 812-499-0246 for Kathy. We would be happy to hear from you and would love to offer any guidance that we can!
FIVE QUICK AND EASY HOME IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS
A few changes to the landscaping of your home can make a world of difference! You might want to consider planting some fruit trees in the backyard, adding a touch of color with some bright and unusual flowers or perhaps finally starting the vegetable garden you've always dreamed about.
Add a touch of color:
Feeling creative? Why not give the family room, bedroom or bathroom a whole new look? By focusing on the improvement of one room at a time, you'll find that what can seem like an overwhelming job becomes fun and simple. Repainting a single room can be inexpensively completed over a single weekend.
Bright and beautiful:
Replacing the light fixtures in your house with personally selected pieces can drastically increase your home's beauty and value. Choose a cohesive look for the entire house, or decorate room by room! The installation of new fixtures is generally a quick do-it-yourself task.
Tile it up:
While it might seem like a daunting task, installing new tile in a kitchen or bathroom can be easily accomplished with a little know-how and the right supplies. Your local home improvement warehouse will have everything you need to revamp and personalize the flooring of your choice!
The beauty beneath:
Always dreamed of having beautiful hardwood floors? Choose a room, pull up the carpet, and you'll be on your way to accomplishing just that! Repairing, refinishing and staining the floor is a simple step-by-step process that you can achieve without the heavy expense of installing new wood panels.
While it might seem like a daunting task, installing new tile in a kitchen or bathroom can be easily accomplished with a little know-how and the right supplies. Your local home improvement warehouse will have everything you need to revamp and personalize the flooring of your choice!Replacing the light fixtures in your house with personally selected pieces can drastically increase your home's beauty and value. Choose a cohesive look for the entire house, or decorate room by room! The installation of new fixtures is generally a quick do-it-yourself task. Feeling creative? Why not give the family room, bedroom or bathroom a whole new look? By focusing on the improvement of one room at a time, you'll find that what can seem like an overwhelming job becomes fun and simple. Repainting a single room can be inexpensively completed over a single weekend.
A few changes to the landscaping of your home can make a world of difference! You might want to consider planting some fruit trees in the backyard, adding a touch of color with some bright and unusual flowers or perhaps finally starting the vegetable garden you've always dreamed about.
Friday, January 21 2011
Existing-home sales rose sharply in December, when sales increased for the fifth time in the past six months, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.
Existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 12.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.28 million in December from an upwardly revised 4.70 million in November, but remain 2.9 percent below the 5.44 million pace in December 2009.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said sales are on an uptrend. “December was a good finish to 2010, when sales fluctuate more than normal. The pattern over the past six months is clearly showing a recovery,” he said. “The December pace is near the volume we’re expecting for 2011, so the market is getting much closer to an adequate, sustainable level. The recovery will likely continue as job growth gains momentum and rising rents encourage more renters into ownership while exceptional affordability conditions remain.”
The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $168,800 in December, which is 1.0 percent below December 2009. Distressed homes rose to a 36 percent market share in December from 33 percent in November, and 32 percent in December 2009.
“The modest rise in distressed sales, which typically are discounted 10 to 15 percent relative to traditional homes, dampened the median price in December, but the flat price trend continues,” Yun explained.
Total housing inventory at the end of December fell 4.2 percent to 3.56 million existing homes available for sale, which represents an 8.1-month supply at the current sales pace, down from a 9.5-month supply in November.
NAR President Ron Phipps said buyers are responding to very good affordability conditions despite tight mortgage credit. “Historically low mortgage interest rates, stable home prices, and pent-up demand are drawing home buyers into the market,” Phipps said. “Recent home buyers have been successful with very low default rates, given the outstanding performance for loans originated in 2009 and 2010.”
According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage rose to 4.71 percent in December from 4.30 percent in November; the rate was 4.93 percent in December 2009.
A parallel NAR practitioner survey shows first-time buyers purchased 33 percent of homes in December, up from 32 percent in November, but are below a 43 percent share in December 2009.
Investors accounted for 20 percent of transactions in December, up from 19 percent in November and 15 percent in December 2009; the balance of sales were to repeat buyers. All-cash sales were at 29 percent in December, compared with 31 percent in November, but up from 22 percent a year ago. “All-cash sales have been consistently high at about 30 percent of the market over the past six months,” Yun said.
Single-family home sales jumped 11.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.64 million in December from 4.15 million in November, but are 2.5 percent below the 4.76 million level in December 2009. The median existing single-family home price was $169,300 in December, down 0.2 percent from a year ago.
Existing condominium and co-op sales surged 16.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 640,000 in December from 550,000 in November, but remain 5.2 percent below the 675,000-unit pace one year ago. The median existing condo price was $165,000 in December, which is 7.4 percent below December 2009.
Performance by Region
Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast jumped 13.0 percent to an annual pace of 870,000 in December but are 5.4 percent below December 2009. The median price in the Northeast was $237,300, which is 1.4 percent below a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the Midwest rose 11.0 percent in December to a level of 1.11 million but are 4.3 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $139,700, up 3.3 percent from December 2009.
In the South, existing-home sales increased 10.1 percent to an annual pace of 1.97 million in December but are 2.5 percent below December 2009. The median price in the South was $148,400, unchanged from a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the West surged 16.7 percent to an annual level of 1.33 million in December but remain 1.5 percent below December 2009. The median price in the West was $204,000, down 5.6 percent from a year ago.
Thursday, January 06 2011
FIVE TIPS FOR DO-IT-YOURSELF WORK AROUND THE HOME
· Make a list: Spend some time taking stock of the kinds of maintenance and improvement projects you'd like to begin. A well-considered list will help you to set reachable goals.
· Assess your skills: Make sure that you carefully consider which projects you are fully capable of completing. For example, unless you have sufficient experience with electrical, plumbing or construction work, you should probably leave those tasks to the professionals.
· Establish priorities: Which projects are most important to you? Which projects will be the most costly? Which is more important: timeliness, quality or cost? Before beginning any do-it-yourself project, it is always wise to determine specific goals and priorities so that you are fully prepared when it comes time to begin.
· Create a budget: For each project that you want to complete, make certain that you have a firm budget in place. Allowing for unexpected circumstances (such as errors or the need for additional materials) in your budget will keep you from overspending.
· One step at a time: When it's time to begin, remember to pace yourself! Rome wasn't built in a day, and your new garden terrace will take time as well. Complete one task at a time, and soon you'll feel the wonderful sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that doing-it-yourself can bring!
Thursday, October 21 2010
Friday, May 14 2010
Real estate can be an engine or a brake for the U.S. economy. And today, it's mostly slowing things down.
"The housing market, since it was the epicenter of the crisis, is also central to the feeble recovery," says Ethan Harris, an economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Everything is interconnected: Employment is closely tied to construction spending, which is 25 percent below what it was in 2006. And because property values remain low, many people are mired in debt and can no longer rely on home equity to help them out of it.
The decline in property values is also preventing small businesses from using equity to expand. And lower property values mean lower property taxes, which dents government spending on everything from teachers to police officers.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, Conor Dougherty (05/10/2010) http://www.realtor.org/RMODaily.nsf/pages/News2010051004?OpenDocument
Monday, May 10 2010
Unmarried women accounted for 21% of home purchases in 2009, while unwed males were 10% of the buyers, according to a National Association of Realtors report in November. It's a dramatic shift from 1981, the first year the numbers were tracked, when single women and men each accounted for 10% of home sales.
Still, some industry professionals have been slow to take note of females' robust activity. Single women have held steady at the 20 % mark for more than five years, yet when the Urban Land Institute hosted its annual real-estate conference in late April, analysts had to remind the audience to expect big numbers from young, single female buyers.
"I've given some of my [home-building] clients lessons on how to be gender friendly," said Brooke Warrick, president of the market research firm American Lives. He reminded sellers to treat young women as viable buyers, not bystanders, by doing something as simple as handing them a brochure when they enter a for-sale home.
His advice to real-estate developers: "Make sure to pay enough attention to these women. You want these women."
These women tend to stake their claim on homes in the 1,700-square-foot range predominantly in the Washington, D.C., California and Texas markets, Warrick said.
After segmenting the market, Warrick noticed that young women, especially those rooted in secure industries like health care, make more money than their male peers.
Though not quite rooted in a stable industry, freelance video producer Sara Barger, 26, pursues buying homes as a way to safeguard her net worth.
26-year-old owns three homes
Earning roughly $90,000 a year, the American University graduate bought her third Washington property in three years in January when she closed on a four-bedroom $350,000 foreclosed townhouse in Columbia Heights. Barger rents out three of the bedrooms as well as her two condominiums to supplement her income and subsidize her monthly $5,866 mortgage, condo and tax expenses. After her rental income, she ends up owing about $625 a month, including utilities.
"I think people put way too much emphasis on the long term," Barger said of the ease with which she approaches purchasing. "You have to look at it the same way as a 401(k). It's a gamble, but it's something tangible. At least I can get some utility."
Relatives contributed $5,000 to Barger's first two purchases. Her father loaned her $50,000 for the third and she repays him in $1,000 monthly installments. She said that buying properties that needed work was one of her strategies, as was working a full-time job throughout college.
Barger's broker, David Bediz of Coldwell Banker subsidiary Dwight & David, began to see women taking a more active role in real estate five years ago. But he said the company's 20-something clients are still pretty much split evenly down the gender line.
From the 1920s almost through to the present, the predominant female homeowners were widowed seniors, according to Richard Sylla, financial historian at New York University's Stern School of Business.
Although pop culture tends to portray women as eager shoppers, women may have taken the lead in home purchases in recent years because of their thrifty habits, some say.
"Men are much more interested in consumption," said Walter Molony, a spokesman for the National Association of Realtors.
Barger said she observed such indiscretion in spending among her male friends, noting that quite a few who have hit 30 are now reeling in the debt they racked up in their early 20s.
"The last three boyfriends I had, I've broken up with because they were dirt broke," Barger said. "I don't need you to pay for me. I need you to go out and do things."
Inspired by women's interest in personal finance, in January 2009 Amanda Steinberg established DailyWorth.com, a free newsletter tailored to teaching women how to manage their money. Steinberg said her readership doubled to 20,000 in the last three months and that their interests lie mostly in protecting their assets. Of the eight topics offered in a recent preference poll, 79% of 500 respondents checked off "saving" as one they would like to read more about, whereas 45% chose "frugal shopping."
Steinberg said she's pretty sure she knows why her readers are swiping less and budgeting more. "I think it's the fact that more and more women realize that a man is no longer the financial plan."
Sunday, April 25 2010
New Home Sales soared by 26.9% in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 411,000. Relative to a year ago, sales were up 23.8%.
In addition, the numbers for February were revised up to an annual rate of 324,000 rather than the original reported figure of 30.8%. So relative to where we thought sales were they climbed 33.4%.
This is by far the most significant economic number of the week. Inventories of homes for sale fell by 2.1% to 228,000. That drop, combined with the faster sales pace, lowered the months of supply metric down to 6.7 months from 8.6 months in February. Over the last year, inventories are down 27.2%, and a year ago months of supply stood at 11.3.
Read the rest of the story here: http://tinyurl.com/3326rov
Monday, April 19 2010
A new national survey gauging attitudes toward housing finds that two-thirds of Americans (65 percent) still prefer owning a home, despite the challenging economic environment and the housing downturn. The Fannie Mae National Housing Survey, conducted between December 2009 and January 2010, polled homeowners and renters to assess their confidence in homeownership as an investment, the current state of their household finances, views on the U.S. housing finance system and overall confidence in the economy.
"Despite the recent downturn in the housing sector, Americans continue to value homeownership and think about their homes in ways that go much deeper than the financial investment," said Mike Williams, President and CEO, Fannie Mae. "The public also strongly believes in the importance of upholding the financial commitment involved in buying and owning a home, even during these challenging times when home values have fallen."
Survey Shows More Cautious Approach among Consumers
The survey revealed that homeowners and renters alike are taking a more cautious approach to homeownership. Nearly a quarter of renters polled (23 percent) say they will buy a home later than once planned. In addition, Americans with traditional, fixed-rate mortgages with predictable payments are significantly more satisfied than those with other types of mortgages. Respondents cited non-financial reasons such as safety (43 percent) and quality of local schools (33 percent) as driving factors in wanting to own a home, ahead of financial considerations.
"Consumers are still committed to owning a home, but are showing increased cautiousness, regardless of whether they rent, own their homes outright or have a mortgage," said Doug Duncan, Vice President and Chief Economist, Fannie Mae. "They are rebalancing their attitudes toward housing and homeownership by adopting a more realistic, long-term approach, and are less willing to take risks. This focus on sustainable housing is better for the economy, better for the housing market and better for America's families."
A majority of consumers (60 percent) believe that buying a home today is harder than it was for their parents, and nearly seven in ten (68 percent) think it will be even more difficult for their children. Most respondents (88 percent) also believe that walking away from an underwater mortgage is not acceptable, but those who know someone who has defaulted are more than twice as likely to have seriously considered stopping payments on their mortgage.
Key Survey Findings
The following key findings illustrate broad consumer perspectives on a range of related issues, including: current attitudes toward the economy and housing; present conditions for homeownership; owning versus renting; the present climate for borrowing; current mortgage satisfaction; the impact of being "underwater" on borrowers; and attitudes toward defaulting. In some instances, data are compared to a 2003 study on housing by Fannie Mae.
Housing and the Economy
- Eight in ten respondents consider homeownership important to the economy.
- Only 31 percent think that the economy is on the right track, but 44 percent expect their personal financial situation to improve in the next year. Delinquent borrowers are even more optimistic about the future, with 63 percent expecting they will be in a stronger financial position in the next year.
- Nearly two-thirds of respondents (64 percent) think it is a good time to buy a house, and nearly one in three (31 percent) think now is a very good time to buy a house. This is nearly as many who said it was a good time to buy in 2003 (66 percent), well before home prices peaked.
- Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) think housing prices will go up or stay the same over the next year, including 37 percent who think prices will increase and 36 percent who feel prices will remain about the same.
Desirability of Homeownership
- Seven out of ten respondents (70 percent) said they believe buying a home continues to be one of the safest investments available. This compares to 74 percent who think putting money into a bank account (money market or savings account) is safe. In contrast, only 17 percent believe buying stocks is a safe investment.
- Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of survey respondents prefer owning to renting, citing non-financial reasons such as safety (43 percent) and quality of local schools (33 percent) as driving factors in wanting to own a home, ahead of economic considerations.
- Americans with 30-year fixed-rate mortgages are significantly more satisfied (93 percent) than those with other types of mortgages (76 percent for those with hybrid ARMs and 68 percent for those with ARMs).
Renters' Views on Renting and Homeownership
- Nearly eight in ten renters (79 percent) participating in the survey believe that renting has been positive for them and their families.
- The two most common reasons cited by renters for choosing to rent instead of buy are: the belief that their credit history is not good enough to qualify for a mortgage (54 percent) and that they would be unable to afford the purchase or upkeep of a home (47 percent).
- Nearly seven in ten renters (67 percent) plan to buy a home at some point in the future.
- Less than half (44 percent) of those who currently rent said they would buy a house if they were to move, and 23 percent said they would purchase a new home later than they planned.
Challenges Facing Homeowners
- Most respondents (60 percent) believe it is harder for them to get a mortgage in order to purchase a home than their parents. Nearly seven in ten (68 percent) think it will be harder for the next generation.
- Survey respondents cited poor credit (22 percent), their income (19 percent), job security (15 percent) and having enough for a down payment (also 15 percent) as the top obstacles to obtaining a home loan.
- The majority (76 percent) expressed some degree of confidence that they would receive the information they need to choose the right loan if they bought or refinanced a home today, although only 47 percent said they are "very confident."
Attitudes about Delinquency
- Nearly nine in ten Americans (88 percent), including seven in ten who are delinquent on their own mortgages, do not believe it is acceptable for people to stop making payments on an underwater mortgage, while eight percent believe it is acceptable.
- However, when asked if financial distress makes stopping payments on an underwater mortgage acceptable, 15 percent of respondents said yes, or nearly double the eight percent who believe it is acceptable generally.
- Both delinquent mortgage borrowers and those current on their mortgage payments are more than twice as likely to have seriously considered stopping their payments if they know someone who has already defaulted.
From December 12, 2009 — January 12, 2010, Penn Schoen Berland, in partnership with Oliver Wyman, conducted 3,451 telephone interviews with Americans age 18 and older.
This included a random sample of 3,051 members of the general population, including 887 homeowners, 1,110 mortgage borrowers, 908 renters, and 338 underwater borrowers (those who report owing at least 5% more on their mortgage than their home is worth). The overall margin of error for the general population sample is +/- 1.77% and larger for subgroups.
An additional oversample of 400 random national delinquent borrowers was also polled. The margin of error for the delinquent oversample is +/- 4.9% and larger for subgroups. Delinquency was defined as not having made a mortgage payment in the past 60 or more days.
For more information about the survey, visit http://www.fanniemae.com/about/housing-survey.html
Wednesday, December 16 2009
Home building rose 8.9 percent in November to an annualized rate of 574,000, the U.S. Commerce Department announced Wednesday.
The rate was still 12.4 percent below what it was in November 2008, but the increases were nationwide, with the Northeast leading the trend with housing starts rising 16.4 percent. Housing starts rose 12.3 percent in the South, 3 percent in the Midwest and 1.9 percent in the West.
Analysts attributed the increase to the extension and expansion of the home buyer’s tax credit. David Crowe, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders, is cautiously optimistic. “The new credit will have an impact as we move into 2010 and consumers plan for that credit availability, and builders begin to answer expected demand in the spring," he says.
Source: CNNMoney.com, Hibah Yousuf (12/16/2009)
Thursday, August 27 2009
New U.S. home data out Tuesday suggests the U.S. may be easing out of its 3-year housing slump.
The U.S. home prices index is made up of home prices in the 20 largest U.S. cities, and while Evansville isn't one of them, an Evansville mortgage banker says home sales here are following suit.
The for sale signs still litter neighborhoods, but the housing market is busy making its comeback.
"We have definitely seen a big increase in the number of purchase transactions we're doing over the last few months," says Shannon Curry-Bartnick, President of Mortgage Masters.
Curry-Bartnick says part of this "rise from the slump" comes as people's fears subside and they take advantage of the many incentives out there. The most talked about one being the 1st Time Home Buyer Credit.
"It's a really great opportunity to get a tax credit back, get yourself into a new home, and right now, there are historically low interest rates," Curry-Bartnick explains.
To be eligible, you either have to be a first time home buyer or have not owned a home in the last three years.
The credit is worth ten percent of the home's value, up to $8,000.
Home buyers have to close the deal by November 30th to get their credit.
If you're anxious to take advantage of the first time home buyer credit, but have a less than stellar credit history, Curry-Bartnick says you're not completely out of luck.
"There is more leniency there for things that may have happened in your past but that you may have remedied or overcome. You would potentially still be eligible," she explains.
In addition to the first time home buyers credit, Curry-Bartnick lists off dozens of other deals and loans that can save a buyer money.
"There's the FHA loan, Rural Housing loans, VA loans, and conventional loans," she explains.
Not to mention bank-owned and foreclosed upon homes coupled with low rates. Buyers can walk away with a steal.
"We look at each person individually and find out what's well suited for their situation," Curry-Bartnick says.
To find out what you qualify for, Curry-Bartnick recommends sitting down with a mortgage banker. She says consultations are typically free.
But as NEWS 25 also learned, the Evansville housing market is not problem free, and there are hurdles that are keeping many deals from closing.
NEWS 25 will investigate those hurdles in a follow up story Wednesday.