Buying Small, Living Large: 4 Big Pros to Buying a Smaller House or Condo

Buying Small, Living Large: 4 Big Pros to Buying a Smaller House or CondoAre you on the hunt for a more efficient living space? Whether you’re a first-time buyer or downsizing from a larger home, buying small can still mean living big. Let’s explore four positives to living in a smaller, more intimate house or condo.

You’re Going To Save Money

The first, most obvious and most exciting reason is that you’re going to save money. The home itself will cost less than a larger one, especially if there is less land or property included. Even better: the money you save on space can be re-invested in quality. Losing a bedroom or two but having brand-new appliances? It might be a fair trade.

It’s Much Easier To Customize

Are you excited to renovate and customize your home to suit your family’s tastes? A smaller space is going to be far easier to make changes to. And while you may think that this limits your options, that’s not the case. As long as you buy with renovations in mind, you’ll be all set.

Bear in mind that some upgrades won’t work with a smaller home. For example, you may not be able to add that large deck or patio you’ve always wanted. Before you buy a small home, make sure it suits your future vision.

Living Small Is More Energy Efficient

Yes, it’s true: living smaller means using less energy. Much of the energy we use in our homes is for heating and/or cooling our living space. The smaller the home, the less energy needed for either. Depending on where you live, that difference can mean a lot of energy — and money — saved.

Cleaning Is A Lot Less Of A Chore

The smaller the space, the less of it there is to clean. It’s as simple as that. Even if the difference in cleaning time is as short as an hour each week, it adds up. Over ten years, that small one-hour difference becomes a total of more than three weeks! So if you’d rather not spend extra weeks or months cleaning your home, a smaller space is a big plus.

If you want to leave a smaller footprint, a great place to start is with a smaller new home. Contact your real estate agent today to learn more about small houses and condos in your local area.

Real Estate Investing: How to Find — and Hang on to — Great Rental Tenants

Real Estate Investing: How to Find -- and Hang on to -- Great Rental TenantsIt’s great news if you have enough financial capital that you have the option of investing in a rental property, but being able to afford it is only half the battle. Since you’ll need to find and keep the right renters in order to make a profit, here are some ways that you can ensure your property will be a financial benefit.

Price It Right

It’s important to turn a profit, but overpricing your property may mean that you’ll have limited options. Instead of making it a guessing game, take a look at the rent in the neighborhood and read through the listings to determine a potential price. This will enable you to find the ideal tenant who knows your apartment is worth what you’re charging without pricing yourself out of the market.

Keep It Clean

A lived-in home can be quite time consuming to show well, but it’s very important to clean up before potential renters see it. While a spick-and-span space that is clutter free will give viewers the sense that you’re a responsible landlord, a disorganized area full of stuff will probably lead them to look elsewhere.

Go With Your Gut

It may be one thing for a potential tenant to have good references and ample income, but it’s important to think about more than what a person looks like on paper when choosing a tenant. Instead of going for the sure bet, choose a tenant that you feel you can trust as they might just be the least likely to let you down.

Deal With The Details

There are numerous stories about bad landlords, but it’s important to attend to the needs of your tenants so that you can avoid a high turnover rate. While the wrong tenant can be difficult to deal with, the right tenant will be someone that will behave responsibly and will expect the same from you. This means you’ll have to fix minor repairs and replace leaking faucets in a timely manner, and you’ll be able to expect the same courtesy when it comes to paying on time.

Having a rental property can be a very beneficial investment, but it’s important to be a good landlord and set the right rental price so that you can retain good tenants. If you’re currently searching for an investment property, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

4 Misconceptions About Reverse Mortgages — and Why You May Decide You Want One

4 Misconceptions About Reverse Mortgages -- and Why You May Decide You Want OneWith so many mortgage products available on the market, it can be hard to know which ones will serve you best as a homeowner. As a result, there are many mistruths surrounding the reverse mortgage products. If you’ve heard of this homeownership option and are wondering what it can do for you, let’s clear away some of the misconceptions.

You Must Own Your Home

It can certainly be helpful to own your home outright if you’re looking into a reverse mortgage, but it’s not actually necessary. Instead, it’s important for you to have a high amount of equity in your home so that lenders can be sure that you’re a solid financial bet. While the balance you should have on your home varies based on a number of conditions, it’s important to talk to your lender for the specific details involved.

Few Conditions Apply

You may have heard that any homeowner who acquires a reverse mortgage must be 62 years of age or older, but because a reverse mortgage is a mortgage product, there are a number of requirements involved in order to apply. In addition to having enough equity in your home, it must be your primary residence and you will have to prove that you can pay the property taxes, insurance charges and any maintenance costs consistently.

Home Ownership Is Relinquished

Due to the nature of reverse mortgages, many people believe that this type of loan gives the bank ownership of your home. However, the homeowner retains ownership because they are borrowing money against the value of the equity in their home. This means that as long as the payments on the home are maintained, the home will continue to belong to the homeowner.

Expensive Loan Fees

While reverse mortgages can come with more expensive rates because the monthly payments are deferred, it’s important to talk to a mortgage lender about these details to determine what they’ll mean for you. The associated fees will depend on the price of your home, your loan type and your interest rate, so you’ll need to be aware of what the costs are to you before moving forward.

There is a lot of information out there regarding reverse mortgages, but it’s important to do the research so you can be aware of how this product can benefit you. If you’re currently considering this type of mortgage, contact your trusted real estate professionals for more information.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 21, 2017

Last week’s economic releases included readings on housing starts, building permits issued and the National Association of Home Builders/ Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. Fed Chair Janet Yellen testified before the House Finance Committee and consumer spending and core consumer spending reports were also released. Mortgage rates and new jobless claims were little changed week-to-week.

Home Builder Sentiment Slows as Industry Faces Obstacles

NAHB reported lower reading for its January Housing Market Index. January’s index reading was two points lower at 65 than December’s reading. Builders surveyed for the index cited ongoing shortages of buildable lots and labor, they also said that housing regulation were causing home prices to rise as new home prices are adjusted to compensate for feels associated with new construction. Any reading above 50 for the NAHB Housing Market Index is considered more positive than negative.

Builder concerns could raise additional issues for housing markets as a persistent shortage of homes for sale has driven prices up and caused fierce competition among home buyers. First-time and moderate income home buyers have been sidelined in favor of cash buyers in ultra-competitive metro areas. There was some evidence that rapidly escalating home prices may be approaching their peak. Home prices in San Francisco, California increased more slowly in recent months and were unchanged in January.

Housing Starts Lower; More Building Permits Issued

Fewer new homes were started in January as compared to December. 1.246 million homes were started in January as compared to December’s reading of 1.279 million new homes started. Winter weather can cause fluctuations in housing starts; more building permits were issued in January than for December. 1.246 million permits were issued for January as compared to December’s reading of 1.228 million permits issued.

Home builders were also concerned about rising mortgage rates as reducing affordability for would-be home buyers; Fed Chair Janet Yellen indicated in her testimony before the House Finance Committee that economic conditions are normalizing and that the Fed would likely continue to raise the target federal funds rate as economic conditions continue to improve.

Mortgage Rates Fall, New Jobless Claims /Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week. Average mortgage rates were two basis points lower at 4.15 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages; the average rate for 15-year fixed rate mortgages was four basis points lower at 3.35 percent. 5/1 adjustable mortgage rates were three basis points lower at 3.18 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims were higher last week with 239,000 new claims filed as compared to an expected reading of 242,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 234,000 new jobless claims.

Whats Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on new and previously owned home sales and consumer sentiment index. Freddie Mac will report mortgage rates and new weekly jobless claims will be released as usual.

5 Things Nobody Tells You About Selling Your First Home

5 Things Nobody Tells You About Selling Your First HomeIt’s often so exciting to think of buying a new home that homeowners forget about the sale, but there are a lot of details involved in putting a home on the market. Whether you’re just considering selling or are readying to put your home up, here are some things you might not know about the process.

Marketing Strategy Is Important

The days of putting a sign on the front yard and waiting for buyers are gone, so it’s important to have a strategy that will successfully highlight your house. Whether you decide to make a website, use social media or invest in a professional photographer, ensure you’re prepared to put your home out there.

The Right Price Is Everything

You have the ability to change your asking price at any time, but it’s best to hit the market with a price that is both reasonable and competitive. This will not only prevent your home from lingering on the market, it will make it more likely you’ll get the offer you’re looking for.

Fixing It Up Is Important

You might want to avoid minor fix-ups before selling your home, but maintenance issues can impact the offers you’ll receive. Instead of leaving these for the next homeowner, put time aside to do paint touch-ups, repair doors or insulate the windows so the small things don’t affect your offer.

Prepare To Pack

It’s great to receive an offer on your home, but packing up can be one of the most stressful aspects of moving. Instead of leaving this to the last minute, do some preliminary ‘spring cleaning’ to discard the stuff you won’t use and pack up the stuff you won’t soon need. This will make moving out a little smoother.

Be Ready For An Open House

It can be a pain to stage your home and leave on short notice to accommodate an interested homebuyer, but a good open house is one of your best bets for selling your home. This means your house should be clean and clutter free all the time so only a few last-minute fix-ups will be required.

There are a lot of things involved in selling your first home, but by completing the little fix ups and choosing the right price, you’ll be well on your way to an interested buyer. If you’re currently getting ready to put your home on the market, contact your real estate professional for more information.

DIY Weekend Projects: Replace Your Tired Light Fixtures With Newer, Modern Options

DIY Weekend Projects: Replace Your Tired Light Fixtures With Newer, Modern OptionsThere are a variety of cool, modernized light fixtures that will be sure to jazz up any living space, but these trendy items can often come with a high price tag. Instead of going out and spending a bundle, how about staying inside over the weekend for a unique do-it-yourself project? If you’re looking to make a new light fixture, here are some fun designs to put at the top of your list.

Get A Grater Light

The cheese grater may be better known as an every-day kitchen tool, but there’s no reason you can’t use this strange gadget for your very own light. Whether you decide to place your light in the kitchen or the living room, you can get a unique, updated look by taking a number of graters and attaching them to a piece of wood that is affixed to the ceiling. The bulbs will be placed inside each grater to achieve a cool, cascading light effect.

Add Some Ribbon

Changing up the look of your home doesn’t require a grand gesture, and this means that even doing something small will make a big difference. If you have an old lamp with an aging lampshade, make a visit to the craft store for some ribbon that you can use as an accent. Whether you decide to cover the entire lampshade with a particular color or you just want to create a neat effect, this is an easy way to add some vibrance without replacing anything.

Break In The Bamboo

From updated lava lamps to paper lanterns, there are a lot of unique styles out there that you can instantly modernize, but a bamboo lamp can add instant impact. In order to get this earthy and inspiring look, purchase some bamboo strips and flex them into place so that you have an orb. Once you’ve settled on a design you like, you can utilize wood glue to maintain the shape and a cord kit to install a light in the middle. This may require a little bit of patience, but the ambiance it creates will be worth it.

There are plenty of striking light fixtures out there that can add a lot of character to any space, but there are many options for doing it yourself that will come at a more economical price. If you’re currently staging your home and are planning to sell, you may want to contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

The 2017 Mortgage Rate Outlook: Here’s What the Experts Are Saying

The 2017 Mortgage Rate Outlook: Here's What the Experts Are SayingThe post-election period is often one of uncertainty, and the time since the 2016 election has been no different with regards to market force and the financial world. With a new administration taking office, there are many questions regarding how Donald Trump’s presidency will impact the market and your mortgage. If you’re wondering what the predictions are for the coming year, here are a few things the experts are considering.

An Increase In Rates

Due to an expected hike in rates by the Federal Reserve, it’s unlikely that potential homebuyers will be able to get the low interest rates of previous years. While higher rates are likely, the proposed tax plan and budget of Donald Trump may lead to increased inflation and could also have an impact on rates down the road. The low rates of previous years certainly made homeownership a more feasible option, but it’s still a good time to get into a home before they rise even more.

Less Red Tape

The money invested into regulations is something that Donald Trump was highly critical of in the run up to the election, and this may mean many opportunities for home ownership that did not exist before. While a poor credit history can make or break a mortgage application, in a time of loosening regulations there will likely be more available mortgage products for those who have a less than stellar financial situation.

Privatizing Loan Programs

There is the possibility that government-sponsored home loan organizations like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will come under new ownership. While this may provide an opportunity for potential homeowners, because the risk will be taken on by private owners – and not the government – this may lead to higher rates. As Jordan Levin of the California Association of Realtors says, “I can say with a pretty good level of confidence that it will increase the cost of borrowing because there’s going to be more risk from those pools being borne by the private sector and they’re going to want to be compensated for that additional risk that they’re bearing.”

While the economic policy of the coming years has yet to take shape, the mortgage rates are on the rise and the regulations surrounding home ownership are likely to loosen. 

Trying to Sell Your Home Without a Real Estate Agent Is a Big Mistake — Here’s Why

Trying to Sell Your Home Without a Real Estate Agent Is a Big Mistake -- Here's WhyWhether you’re new to the real estate game or you’ve bought and sold a home before, there are many details involved in selling. It can be enticing to think about taking on the responsibility yourself and going it alone, but there are a number of reasons it’s wise to use a real estate agent. Before you make a decision on selling your home, ensure you consider all the details you’ll have to deal with.

Misunderstanding Of The Market

It’s entirely possible for a home seller to look at the MLS listings and determine a price range for their home, but the right real estate agent will have a wealth of knowledge to draw from. In all likelihood, they will be familiar with the neighborhood and may even have sold a few homes in it. This means they’ll be able to determine the right offer for your home and ensure it’s feasible on the market, which may mean a higher price and a shorter selling time.

It Takes Time

While a real estate agent will get a certain percentage of the price for helping you sell your home, you won’t be getting paid anything to do the legwork. However, it’s easy to underestimate how much time it can take to market your home, arrange open houses and deal effectively with all of the negotiating. It may be enticing to do it on your own, but what it might save in money, it may end up eating in time.

The Closing Details

If you’ve determined the price of your home and you’ve received an offer, it can be a great feeling to know that you’ve taken the right steps. However, what happens after you receive an offer is one of the most important parts of selling your home, and a real estate agent will be able to guide you through counter offers and lowering your price if needed. While it may seem like this will be easy enough to navigate, having an agent who’s waded through the waters can help to simplify things.

Selling your home on your own may seem like a money saving opportunity, but the right real estate agent will be able to navigate the market and do the legwork for you while still getting a good offer. If you’re currently preparing to put your home on the market, contact your local real estate professional today for market tips.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 13, 2017

Last week’s scheduled economic readings were limited and included new jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates survey. In other news, all types of mortgage applications rose by 2.30 percent this week as compared to the prior week.

Mortgage Rates Lower, Home Loan Applications Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates for fixed rate and 5/1 adjustable mortgages; the average rate for 30-year fixed rate mortgages dropped two basis points to 4.17 percent. Average rates for 15-year mortgages also dropped two basis points to 3.39 percent. 5/1 adjustable mortgage rates averaged 3.21 percent, which was also two basis points lower than the previous week. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for the three types of mortgages tracked in Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, this small drop in mortgage rates caused all types of mortgage applications to rise by 2.30 percent on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Refinance applications rose two percent from the prior week, but remain 40 percent lower year-over-year. The dearth of refinancing applications was caused by two factors including many refinances were completed recently when rates were lower and homeowners currently discouraged by higher mortgage rates.

Weekly Jobless Claims Fall

Last week’s initial jobless claims fell to 234,000 as compared to expectations of 249,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 246,000 new claims. This was the lowest reading since 1973 and when compared to the benchmark of 300,000 new claims, shows that the economy continues to strengthen. Last week’s reading was the second lowest since recovery from the recession got underway in 2009 and represented the 101st consecutive week that new jobless claims were lower than the 300,000 new claims benchmark. According to Labor Department data, this week’s reading sustained the longest-running consecutive period of new jobless claims below the benchmark level.

The four-week average of new jobless claims is viewed by analysts as less volatile than the week-to-week reading, but it showed similar results last week as it fell by 3750 new claims to 244,250 initial claims and reached the lowest level of new claims filed in 44 years.

Whats Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic releases include readings on inflation and core inflation, the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index and Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued.

2017 Home Decor Trends: Stay on Top of Modern Trends With This Handy Guide

2017 Home Decor Trends: Stay on Top of Modern Trends With This Handy GuideNow that 2017 is here, it’s time to consider which upgrades you will make to your home. If you don’t have any major renovations planned, you can still tackle smaller projects or theme rooms. In today’s post we’ll explore some of the home decor trends expected to be popular in 2017.

Paint Colors: Confident, Composed & Comfortable

According to the color experts at paint company Behr, 2017’s trend colors express confidence, composition and comfort. If you plan on painting accent walls, rooms or even your entire home this year, these are worth exploring. Confident palette colors include the bluish-green Jade Dragon, the fiery red Hot and Spicy and more. The Composed Palette is a bit muter, with blues and grays like Laid Back Gray and Polished Aqua. For those that love pastels, the Comfortable Palette has many soft notes. Life is a Peach and Everything’s Rosy are two great light link options.

Replacing DIY With Artisanal

If you’ve owned your home for a while, you may find that over time your do-it-yourself projects have added up. While DIY upgrades are fun and cost-effective, if they don’t match or pair well they can throw off continuity in your decor. Consider 2017 a chance to replace some of your older DIY items with similar ones created by artisans. You can always gift, sell or repurpose yours to ensure they find use in a new home.

Enjoy Saving Energy With Heated Floors

Heated floors are one of 2017’s decor trends that combine luxury with responsibility. It might be tough to imagine that heated floors actually save energy, but it’s true. In-floor heating can actually heat entire rooms with less energy than other central solutions. Still using electric baseboard heaters in small areas like bathrooms? Consider heating your floors instead.

Climbing Plants Are The New Art

If you’re struggling with how to fill a blank space on a wall, consider climbing plants. Indoor vines like the Pothos (or Devil’s Ivy) can add a lively splash of green to a wall area. Or, consider using creeper vines that grow upwards. Even a small shelf with a few attractive potted plants can set off an entire wall. The more life you can add to your home, the better!

With so many colors, upgrades and DIY upgrades to choose from, 2017 is set to be a great year for home renovators. For more insight into value-boosting decor upgrades, contact your local real estate agent.