Tuesday, January 5, 2021
Friday, December 4, 2020
1. Too Many Decorations
You don’t want to be that house in the neighborhood that goes overboard with the decorations. There is such a thing as too many lights!
The Solution: Less is More
Cut down on the decor (and your electric bill) by trying these DIY outdoor Christmas decorations.
2. Thinking Size Doesn't Matter
As much as people will tell you otherwise — when it comes to Christmas trees, size does matter. Newsflash: Bigger is not always better! A grand tree in a 900-square-foot apartment will feel overwhelming, while a mid-size tree in a large living room will appear out of place and awkward.
The Solution: Stick to Scale
Keep the size of your space, and the height of your ceiling, in mind when selecting a tree. For petite pads, try using a tabletop tree to create a festive vignette for your entry console. If you have soaring ceilings in your living room, but aren’t ready to commit to a 10-foot tree, get creative with your placement. Set up your tree in the kitchen — Santa will appreciate the convenience to his milk and cookies!
3. Red and Green Everything
There is certainly nothing wrong these traditional holiday colors but why stick to the same old thing when there are so many other color combinations to choose from?
The Solution: Try New Colors
Mix things up around the holidays and don’t be afraid to break out of the red and green box.
4. Pet Hazards
Around the holidays, it’s important to keep the safety of our furry friends in mind. The main things to look out for is your pet getting tangled in holiday lights and potential eating hazards such as the water in the Christmas tree stand, plants (poinsettias, holly and mistletoe), and candy left out in the open.
The Solution: Remove Dangerous Items
Avoid poisonous plants if you have pets and don't leave food unattended. Take every precaution you can for the safety of your pets as well as those who may be visiting because the last thing you want is an emergency trip to the vet.
5. Dry Christmas Tree
There's nothing sadder than a Christmas tree that starts to wither away before the big day arrives. Alternative and plastic trees are fine but how do you make sure your real tree lasts through the holidays?
The Solution: Water Frequently
Fresh-cut Christmas trees require a lot of water to stay fresh so it's best to keep the bottom few inches of the stump submerged at all times. Follow these tips if you want to keep your living tree for years to come.
Monday, November 9, 2020
Winter is traditionally real estate's slow season. Between the cold weather and the holidays, the housing market typically plunges into a hibernation of sorts, with both buyers and sellers shelving any major real estate moves until spring.
This winter's real estate market, however, is shaping up to be unlike any other before it—and, contrary to what some may have feared, is slated to be an excellent time to sell a home. In fact, Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, predicts “it will be one of the best winter sales years ever.”
Why? Chalk it up to a perfect storm of low mortgage interest rates, sparse housing inventory, plus a pandemic that's fundamentally changed how, when, and where buyers are shopping for homes.
So if you've assumed you should put your home-selling plans on hold until spring, read on for a surprising reality check on all the reasons this winter could be a great time to put your house on the market.
Pandemic lockdowns have created pent-up buyer demand
While spring is typically real estate's busy season, the "silent spring" of 2020 saw the housing market grind to a near halt amid pandemic-mandated lockdowns. This, in turn, created pent-up demand to purchase property that is only now being unleashed.
“We currently see buyers sticking around in the housing market much later than we usually do this fall,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist at realtor.com®. “If that trend continues, we will see more buyers in the market this winter, too. So this winter is likely to be a good time to sell.”
"There are plenty of people in the pipeline ready to hit the market this late autumn and winter," Yun agrees.
Many real estate agents have noticed this glut of eager buyers first-hand.
“Winter is usually a slower season, but this year we're not seeing any sign of letting up,” says Matt van Winkle, a real estate broker and owner of Re/Max Northwest Realtors in Seattle. “The selling season was delayed because of COVID lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, so several months of usual busy sales periods were delayed.”
This buyer demand likely won’t wane anytime soon.
“We will see an extended purchase season in 2020 and into 2021,” says Shelby McDaniels, channel director of corporate home lending at Chase.
Lockdowns are forcing many buyers to upsize their homes
COVID-19 has not only created pent-up demand, but many buyers are also in the market purely because they're working/schooling from home and realizing their space is no longer big enough—particularly now that the temperature's dropping so they can't easily escape to their back patio to catch up on emails alone.
“With people spending so much time in their homes, including working from home and virtual schooling, there's a great emphasis on being happy there," says Matt Curtis, owner of Matt Curtis Real Estate, in Huntsville, AL. Lack of space is a complaint agents hear more often now.
And if people are allowed to continue working from home rather than commuting to an office, they might also realize that they can shop for homes farther outside cities—great news for home sellers who live in more remote areas.
Housing inventory is low
Although buyers are plentiful, the number of homes for sale is way lower than usual. According to realtor.com’s Monthly Housing Market Trends Report, in September, national housing inventory declined 39% over last year.
“Because the number of homes available is currently at a record low, even if we see some improvement, which I expect, there will still be relatively few homes for sale,” Hale says. “That will keep upward pressure on home prices and help ensure that homes continue to sell quickly."
"Inventory is low, so the overall advantage is with the seller,” agrees Yun.
Tracy Jones, a real estate agent with Re/Max Platinum Realty in Sarasota, FL, says buyers have so few homes to choose from these days that they’re feeling forced to make quick decisions about whether to make an offer, or risk losing out on the chance. Nationally, homes spent an average of 54 days on the market in September, 12 fewer days than last year, according to the realtor.com trends report.
“The buyers I have worked with this year only had a handful of homes to look at,” Jones says. “They had no time to wait and talk about it, and they had to fight other buyers if they wanted to buy them.”
Sellers can get top dollar for their homes
It's simple supply and demand: Low supply and high demand are bound to drive up home prices, so sellers stand to make a killing.
Across the country, median home listing prices jumped 11.1% in September compared with a year ago, to $350,000, according to realtor.com. Price per square foot increased by 13.9%.
“Sales prices and home values remain strong,” McDaniels says. And since there are so many offers on the table, “sellers can call the shots regarding terms of contract and repairs.”
The only challenge sellers face with such low inventory—if you can even call it a challenge—is dealing with too many offers at once, says Curtis.
“The challenge they face is navigating multiple offers and not accepting an offer too quickly to help ensure they get the most money for their home,” he says.
Mortgage interest rates are low
Although buyers will face stiff competition, it's not all bad news for them. For one, despite high home prices, record-low interest rates mean they'll save a ton of money.
Interest rates on a 30-year fixed-rate loan were 2.8% as of Oct. 22, according to Freddie Mac.
This “boosts buyer home purchasing power,” Hale says. “In fact, despite double-digit increases in home prices this year compared to last year, today's home buyers are likely actually paying slightly less on their mortgage each month, thanks to much lower mortgage rates.”
The Federal Reserve has continued to lower interest rates this year to keep the economy going during the COVID-19 crisis, says McDaniels.
“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, economists and real estate professionals predicted mortgage interest rates would remain below 4% in 2020,” she says. “This means buyers that might have waited will consider entering the market this year.”
Any economic shift likely won’t be felt until spring
Although unemployment continues to rise due to COVID-19 layoffs, Hale says this could affect the real estate market, but the effects likely won’t be felt for a few months.
“A worsening unemployment rate would lead to a slowdown in the housing market and home sales, but I don’t expect that to happen immediately, more likely in the spring,” Hale says. This could create a slower start to the spring home-buying season.
Plus, if another round of stimulus money appears, this would fuel consumer spending.
“This would be a good thing for the housing market and the economy at large,” Hale says.
Monday, September 21, 2020
Offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and backed by the agency’s Rural Development Guaranteed Housing Loan Program, these mortgages are designed to help buyers with moderate or low income purchase property outside cities.
They accomplish this by offering several key benefits—such as low or no down payments and looser qualifications for income and credit history.
“More people should absolutely consider using USDA loans to finance their homes,” says Jan Hadder, regional vice president of the builder division at Silverton Mortgage in Columbia, SC. “If you’re not living in the city, this can be a great option to finance your home."
USDA loans could be a boon to the wave of buyers who are currently contemplating fleeing cities right now.
As it happens, searches for homes in rural ZIP codes jumped more than 15% this May, compared with a year ago, according to realtor.com® data.
Yet many Americans aren’t aware of USDA loans, or assume that they don't qualify. They may also have other assumptions about these mortgages that aren't true or in step with recent changes in the terms.
If you want to avoid overlooking this hidden financing gem, here are a few things to know about USDA loans today.
You don't have to buy a house in the boonies
The biggest misconception about USDA loans is that you have to live in the middle of nowhere.
In reality, homes qualify as long as they're located outside a metropolitan area. In fact, communities with populations of up to 35,000 may be fine. The USDA offers an online map where you can search for properties that are eligible for the loans.
Matt Ronne, a loan originator at Motto Mortgage Preferred Brokers in Athens, TN, says USDA loans are a “vital asset” to home buyers in his area of southeastern Tennessee.
“It has been a high-demand product,” he says. “My county, McMinn, and most of the surrounding counties are 100% eligible for this type of financing, as long as those clients meet the credit, income, and property requirements.”
You don't have to be destitute—and income limits recently increased
"Many people think that the USDA loans are meant to be subsidized housing, or that they are only intended for use by those with very low income,” says Gwen Chambers, a mortgage loan originator at Motto Mortgage Superior in Germantown, TN.
But that's not the case. There are actually two types of USDA loans. Direct housing loans are for low-income individuals; guaranteed loans are designed for moderate-income buyers.
The USDA recently increased its income limits for loans, allowing more home buyers to be eligible. In most locations, the income limit for households with one to four people is $90,300, and $119,200 for households of five to eight people.
USDA loans are easier to get than ever
The income limits have been raised, Hadder says, and some elements of the application process for certain USDA loans have been relaxed.
For example, in response to COVID-19, the period for which certificates of eligibility are valid has been extended for some borrowers, and some parts of the application process will be streamlined, including credit reviews and loan processing.
Although the specifications vary by lender, borrowers typically need a minimum credit score of 640, whereas conventional home loans often require a credit score of 700 or higher.
“These new loan changes are designed to make it easier for a borrower to qualify for a USDA loan,” Hadder says.
Because certain parts of the application process will be waived or relaxed, she says, "borrowers will hopefully have a better chance of getting approved.”
USDA loans aren't just for first-time buyers
Another misconception about USDA loans, Ronne says, is that they’re just for first-time home buyers.
“USDA only allows a borrower to own one property at a time, so using the USDA loan program allows for additional purchases in the future, as long as the current home is sold, or will be sold prior to closing on the new one,” he says.
As long as buyers continue to qualify, they can use the USDA program as many times as they want, Chambers says.
USDA loans have great interest rates
Mortgage interest rates for traditional loans have dropped to record lows in recent months, and now hover around 3%. The rates for USDA loans, however, are even lower.
As of Sept. 1, interest rates for Single Family Housing Direct Home Loans are 2.5% for low- and very low-income borrowers.
“The rates on USDA loans are often very competitive, and the fees are relatively low,” Chambers says. “In my community, consumers often find USDA loans to be their go-to loan of choice.”
USDA loans carry few added costs
In addition to low interest rates, USDA loans offer families the opportunity to own a home with few out-of-pocket expenses, like closing costs.
In addition, certain USDA loans offer 100% financing with no down payment, welcome news in today’s uncertain economy.
“Now, more than ever, because of the potential instability in the workforce over COVID-19 and possible future furloughs, layoffs, and cutbacks, having money in the bank to fall back on in case of emergencies has never been more important,” Ronne says.
“Personally, as a mortgage broker, I never want to see a buyer exhaust their savings for a down payment when they may not have to, especially a first-time home buyer,” he says.
More investment in rural communities benefits homeowners
The USDA loan programs can also give rural homeowners a boost indirectly. The agency recently announced new initiatives to increase private investment in rural communities across the country, Hadder says.
This includes changes to four of its business loan programs to standardize the requirements for loan processing, credit review, loan service, and loss claims.
These measures could help rural homeowners. New investment could add new jobs to an area, create better schools, and boost local economies.
This could increase property values and attract new residents to the area—all good news for local homeowners.
Friday, August 21, 2020
Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Wondering how to meet the neighbors after moving to a new town? In the past, you would have baked an apple pie and popped on over, but come on, that's so 1950s. What do people do now?
After scouring the craftiest corners of the Internet—from Pinterest to Etsy and beyond—we learned that meeting the neighbors today can be as simple as printing out a few pun-filled flyers, attaching a memorable munchie or gift, then dropping them on doorsteps to work their magic. Here are a few creative ways to meet the neighbors that you can buy for just a few bucks, or (if you're a hands-on crafter) use as inspiration to make your own knockoff.
They're guaranteed to make a memorable first impression.
Pop over with a snack
Who doesn't love popcorn?
Download a printable template, edit with your new info and attach to a package of microwave popcorn. Clever, right? Also not too costly, and easy to put together when you're also trying to unpack a billion boxes.
Make 'em melt with s'mores
Even total shut-in neighbors will be tempted to warm up to you once they read one of these cards paired with a bag of marshmallows, a bar of chocolate, and a box of graham crackers. Or, maybe you give a different s'mores component to each of your neighbors and invite them over to share at your firepit.
Share whatever you're great at
Maybe popcorn or campfire treats aren't your thing. No judgment! These handcrafted tags allow you to gift whatever you desire. Homemade cake's the example given here, but maybe you want to show off your soap-making skills or the dahlias in your new backyard.
Make 'em laugh
Hand out these cards to show off your sense of humor and indicate how your expectations are honestly pretty low for a neighbor: Just please don't be a serial killer. Hopefully, they have a funny bone.
Kick-start some good karma
Pile some cookies on this "giving plate" and pass it on! Since the whole point of the plate is to "pay it forward," this gesture paints you as a generous soul—and a great addition to the neighborhood.
Hold a housewarming party
Why wait to be invited to the block party when you can throw your own party right now?
If you're the extroverted type, don't stop at simply saying hi. Ask them over already, using these customized housewarming party invites.
Feed their coffee addiction
Seriously, who doesn't like a free travel mug?
It's coffee's world. We just live in it, so why not hand out travel mugs to your new neighbors? They will think of you every morning on their way to work.
Just give 'em cookies
These free printable tags don't bother being cute, they just get right to the point: We're new here. We give cookies. Trust us, it works.
(you could download printable templates at etsy.com)
Monday, April 27, 2020
Home Price Growth Slowing Down, but Not Dropping—at Least Not Yet
As the coronavirus pandemic drags on, it continues to take a toll on the housing market, as home price growth continues to soften and the number of new homes for sale plummets, according to the most recent realtor.com® data.
The median home list price was up just 0.3% year over year on realtor.com in the week ending April 18 in the 100 largest real estate markets. The previous week it was up 0.8%, the week before that it was 1.6%, and there was a 2.5% rise in the week prior to that.
"We're seeing prices slow down. They haven't dropped, but they have slowed down significantly," says realtor.com Senior Economist George Ratiu. "Prices are likely to decline moderately over the next months and a lot steeper later."
The national median home price held steady at $320,000, virtually unchanged for the past six weeks. While most real estate experts believe prices will remain strong, with no fire sales like around the Great Recession, this spring buying season definitely won't be as strong as in previous years.
After all, about 26 million Americans filed for unemployment in the first five weeks of this crisis.
Many buyers, about 38%, are simply waiting for the health and economic crisis to pass to purchase a home, according to a recent realtor.com survey. The survey was conducted April 15–17.
“Pricing your home the way you did two months ago is impractical," says Ratiu. "In a normal market, a lack of inventory pushes prices up. In the current market, the lack of inventory indicates sellers are not confident they can sell their homes at top dollar.”
The number of new listings on realtor.com has continued to fall. Sellers worried about having buyers inside their homes, not being able to fetch a good price, and moving during a pandemic are pulling their homes off the market. Many would-be sellers are deciding to wait until the crisis is over to put their properties up for sale.
The number of new listings dropped 42% in the week ending April 18 compared with the previous year. The prior week the number of listings fell 47%, and they were down 31% in the week before that.
"Sellers are reacting [to this crisis] by choosing not to put their homes up for sale," says Ratiu.
In another sign that COVID-19 has upended the housing market, homes are sitting on the market for six days, or 10%, longer than last year. That's the biggest increase since 2013.
article source: https://www.realtor.com/news/trends/home-price-growth-slowing-coronavirus/