Everyone needs a vacation at some point, and worrying about your home should be the last thing on your mind while you’re out of town. Here are 4 ways to boost home security when you’re not around.
1. Enlist The Help Of Others
Even if you’re only gone for a short amount of time, asking someone you trust to keep an eye on your home can offer a big-time boost in security.
Hiring a house-sitter to collect your mail, mow your lawn, and make your house look lived in can be a great option for longer vacations, as physical changes to your property can tip-off burglars that you’re out of town.
For short trips, it is worthwhile to ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your home and to report any suspicious activity to the authorities. Having someone who is aware you’re not around can nip crime in the bud, as they’ll be less hesitant to call the police if they notice any unexpected guests around your home.
2. No Give-Aways!
Sharing your vacation photos on social media can be a convenient way to share your experiences with your friends, but it’s best to do so after you’ve returned home. The fact that you’re not around is information that can easily fall into the wrong hands on the web, making you a target for crime.
If you decide to change your voicemail greeting while you’re away, be careful that it does not explicitly state that you’re out of town. It’s fine to tell callers that you’re unable to accept calls for a period of time, but they do not need to know it’s because you’re a thousand miles away.
3. Leave It To The Pros
If you’re looking for a security measure that’s even more reliable than your neighbors, it may be worthwhile to install a home alarm system. Houses that lack security systems are burglarized more often than ones that have an alarm installed, making them a worthwhile investment for frequent travelers.
4. Don’t Forget Internal Threats
It’s not only outside threats that you have to consider before heading on vacation! Make sure you prep your home for your absence by unplugging any appliances (toaster, computer, TV) that are at risk of a power surge.
If you live in a cold climate and your pipes are at risk of freezing, ask someone you trust to stop by your home every few days to run the water. Make sure to show them where the water main shut-off is in case a pipe bursts while you’re away.
Interested in more neighborhood safety advice? Contact your trusted real estate professional today!
Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued were released Tuesday. Housing starts rose to 1.189 million in June against expectations of 1.165 million starts and May’s downwardly revised reading of 1.135 million starts, Housing starts rose by 4.80 percent on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. This is good news for housing markets, but analysts said that demand for homes continued to exceed available supplies.
Building permits issued also rose in June to 1.53 million as compared to May’s reading of 1.136 million permits issued.
Existing Home Sales Increase: National Association of Realtors®
Sales of previously-owned homes rose three percent year-over-year and reached their highest level since February 2007 in June. Existing home sales rose by 1.10 percent in June to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.57 million sales. Analysts forecasted a reading of 5.48 million sales of pre-owned homes based on May’s reading of 5.51 million sales.
Analysts said that first-time home buyers are returning to housing markets and helped boost June sales and cited changing buyer demographics that suggest a return to owner-occupant home sales. First-time buyers accounted for 33 percent of pre-owned home sales in July, which was their highest reading since 2012. First-time buyers are important to housing markets as their purchases of existing homes enable current homeowners to sell their homes to buy larger homes or to relocate.
Mortgage Rates Rise, New Jobless Claims Fall
Mortgage rates rose across the board last week according to Freddie Mac’s weekly report. Rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.45 percent, which was three basis points higher. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage also rose three basis points to 2.75 percent; rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 2.78 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed-rate mortgage and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
New jobless claims sustained their streak and fell last week to 253,000 against predictions of 260,000 new claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 254,000 new claims filed. Analysts hailed declining jobless claims as a strong indicator that the economy and labor markets continue to improve. New jobless claims have remained below the key reading of 300,000 for 73 weeks. The four-week rolling average of new jobless claims fell by 1250 claims to 257,750. This reading is considered less volatile than week-to-week readings and offers evidence of steady improvements in labor markets.
Next week’s scheduled economic news includes the S&P Case-Shiller Housing Market Index, readings on new and pending home sales and the FOMC committee’s post-meeting statement on Federal Reserve monetary policy decisions. Analysts widely expect the Fed to hold firm on its current federal funds rate of 0.25 to 0.50 percent.
Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released along with a reading on consumer confidence.
Selling your house can be hard. Emotionally, because it’s become your home, but also economically. If your home isn’t selling, there are usually specific reasons which means there are ways to amend them and make your home more appealing to potential buyers. Here’s a short list of reasons why your home might be stalling on the market.
You Didn’t Spread The Net Wide Enough
No longer is it enough for a sign on your front lawn and word of mouth to carry the brunt of your marketing. With the world moving increasingly online, you need to address social media when advertising your home. Think Facebook. And be sure to use professional photos of your house whenever advertising it, so that it is properly and engagingly represented.
You Didn’t Make Your Home A Blank Slate
People on the hunt for a new home want to be able to picture themselves in the house (or apartment, or condo) they’re being shown. This means your house needs to be a blank slate. If there are idiosyncratic rooms, paint them neutral colors and keep the furnishings simple. Remove personal items from all areas being shown photos, achievements, etc. Open up the space by moving furniture out first.
You Are Not Available Enough or Are Too Available.
Potential buyers can be easily discouraged before they even get into your home. Make sure your house is accessible for as many viewings as you can manage even at odd hours to accommodate them. But you should not go to the showing itself. Having the previous owner around hinders people’s ability to assess the home objectively because they know it’s not objective for you. That discomfort can lead to them not asking the questions they needed to, and being deterred from the purchase.
You Didn’t Talk To The Buyers That Walked
It’s inevitable there will always be buyers that are interested but unwilling to make the final commitment, so use those buyers to your advantage. If you can, reach out and ask what made them turn away. There could be external factors (literally, elements outside your home) that negatively impact a buyer’s decision. If you learn that from almost-buyers, or even from your neighbors you’ll be able to find a fix or adjust the price accordingly.
If your home is listed but not selling, sometimes it can feel like it’s the universe rising against you. But often there are concrete reasons and simple solutions to get your home’s appeal up. And remember, in the end, the best way to find out why your house isn’t selling is to talk to your local real estate agent, who has the expertise to help.
We’re told not to judge a book by its cover, but there’s no such rule in the housing market. Curb appeal is the external attractiveness of a home, and if you’re in the market for a house that first impression has a lot to do with your final decision. Alternatively, if you’re looking to sell, it’s an easy area to boost the attractiveness of your home.
Essentially, ensure your home is accessible and inviting to make it appeal to potential buyers. It’s like making new friends, and how you’re much more likely to approach someone who is smiling. Help your home smile by spending a little time and money on outdoor seating, open spaces and color. Note that homes that have personality make stronger first impressions, so also try to put some of yourself into the exterior of your home.
A Place To Sit
Outdoor seating inspires relaxation, providing a great first impression. Potential buyers can pause and get a sense of the community without feeling rushed. They’ll take in the external features of your home in comfort, and will be primed to imagine themselves sitting out there as new homeowners, sunning or sipping tea.
An Open Entrance
Open your home up literally. Creating an uncluttered space in front of your home will help direct and draw buyers. Use pathways and lighting (lamps, candles) to clearly guide the way into your home. A well-lit pathway is not only visually appealing, but safer and a confusing entrance could deter buyers before they even reach your house.
A Dash Of Color
Color draws the eye. Add flowers to the front of your house, or paint the shutters brightly to attract attention from the street. This will also help your home look tidy and put-together.
A Strong Front Door
The front door is the focal point of anyone walking up to your house. Why not paint it your favorite color, or decorate it with something that gives an idea of the interior, like a funky door-knocker or a wreath? Make sure the door is clean and everything works (knob, bell, hinges) to complete the look.
A Personalized Mailbox
If you have a mailbox out front, you can give it the same personalizing treatment. Paint it, or plant it in a flowerbed. Keep it clean, functional and inviting, and it’ll add to the overall impression of your house.
Riff off these easy, cheap projects to increase your home’s curb appeal. Contact your local real estate professional for more information.
Making the decision to purchase a home is one of the most significant investments most people will make in their life, and this automatically means there are a lot of questions that need to be answered before putting any money down. If you’re considering making the leap, here are some insights into some of the common questions you might have.
How Much Should You Put Down?
While many homebuyers have the option of putting as little as 3% down in order to purchase a home, there are benefits to saving up for a down payment and putting in 15 or 20%. Because your interest rate will be higher on a lower down payment, putting more down can mean a lower overall price tag and monthly payment.
Fixed or Variable Rate Mortgage?
While a fixed rate mortgage can be good for homeowners who are new to the market due to its stability, a variable rate can be hard to rely on because it can change all of the time. Fixed rates can end up costing more than variable rates in the event of low interest rates, but it’s important to determine your comfort level with the market is before deciding on your mortgage type.
How Will The Lender Assess You?
There are a number of different factors that lenders will assess you on including your income, personal debt load, employment and credit history. While it’s important to be in the good books for these reasons, a lower credit score does not mean you will not be able to qualify for a mortgage; it simply means that you may need to provide a higher down payment.
What Will The Monthly Payment Be?
One of the conundrums of home ownership is being able to determine what you’ll actually be paying per month to purchase your home, but this number is dependent on the size of your mortgage, your interest rate, and the frequency of your payments. There are also many handy online tools you can use to provide some estimates but it’s best that you consult your mortgage specialist about this.
Most homeowners, particularly those that are new to home ownership, have many questions when it comes to purchasing a home, but by being aware of what a lender looks at and what you should put down, you’re well on your way to a healthy attitude towards ownership. If you’re currently considering buying a home, contact your local real estate professional for more information.