Thinking About Downsizing? Here’s What You Need to Know About Life in a Condo

Thinking About Downsizing? Here's What You Need to Know About Life in a CondoThe shift from home living to condo life may seem like a minor one, but there are plenty of things that will differentiate your lifestyle other than size when it comes to making a condominium purchase. If you’re contemplating this move and wondering about some of the things that this might entail, here are a few factors that are worth considering.

The Fees You’ll Have to Pay

While a smaller condo is unlikely to have the same associated costs as a large home, you will be paying a monthly condominium fee that will be covering maintenance and insurance so that many repairs and upgrades won’t have to be paid out of pocket. While this cost will not cover each and every maintenance issue that can occur in a condo, it should keep you covered for many standard home costs. When purchasing a condominium, it’s important to read about what this monthly fee entails.

The Life of Central Living

Life in the suburbs can often mean that you’re far away from the amenities of the city, but many condominiums are built in areas that are full of restaurants, pharmacies, cultural centers and grocery stores which are only a short distance away. If you don’t mind getting into the car to run your errands, this might not be that important to you, but if you enjoy the exercise and like having amenities close by this type of living situation can be a welcome change.

Less Room for Stuff & Storage

Condo life can certainly eliminate many of the responsibilities of having a home, but if you’re downsizing there’s a possibility that you may have to get rid of a large number of items to successfully fit into your new space. If you’ve thought about the decision a lot and are convinced that condo living is the right choice, it’s still worth considering how much storage space you will have in your new home so that you can plan for this change, and shift your living style to fit the demands of a smaller space.

There are a lot of things to think about if you’re planning to downsize into a condo, but if you’ve considered the space you’ll have to work with and the conveniences that will make your life easier, you’re probably already prepared for the shift. If you’re curious about condo living and options available in your area, you may want to contact a local real estate agent for more information.

Existing Home Sales Fall More Than Expected

Existing Home Sales Fall More Than Expected

Sales of previously owned homes reached 5.36 million sales on a seasonally adjusted annual basis and fell by 3.40 percent in October according to the National Association of Realtors®. Rising home prices and a shortage of available homes strained housing markets. Concerns over potentially higher mortgage rates may have sidelined home buyers as concerns over an anticipated rate hike by the Federal Reserve persisted. Many analysts expect the Federal Reserve to raise rates at its December meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, which oversees the Fed’s monetary policy. Raising the target federal funds rate would cause consumer interest rates and mortgage rates to increase as well.

Shortage of Available Homes Could Lead to “Inventory Crunch” Next Spring

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors®, cited concerns over the shortage of homes for sale. He said that a persisting shortage of available homes could lead to an inventory crunch during next spring’s peak selling season.

Home prices increased by 5.80 percent year over year to an average of $219.600. Rising home prices impacted decreasing sales in the West and South while home sales held steady in the Northeast, where home price growth was the slowest.

First-time Home Buyers Lag in Home Purchase Numbers

Although first-time buyers represented 31 percent of home buyers in October, which was a two percent increase over September’s participation, first-time home buyers usually represent approximately 40 percent of buyers of existing homes. First-time buyers are important to housing markets as they generate sales of homes by homeowners wishing to move up or relocate.

First-time buyers can be adversely affected by home prices and mortgage rates; a shortage of first-time buyers could create further slowdowns in home sales. There is good news due to steady job growth, which is important to those who are considering buying a home. Strict mortgage credit requirements are showing signs of relaxing and home builders are encouraged by current and future housing market conditions.

The National Association of Realtors® forecasts that 2015 sales of pre-owned homes at a level of 5.3 million sales, which would be the highest sales rate since 2007. Sales of existing homes are expected to rise by 3 percent in 2016, but mortgage rates and affordability will continue to influence actual sales and overall health of housing markets in the New Year.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 23, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week November 23 2015

Last week’s economic events included reports the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, Housing Starts and the release of minutes for the most recent meeting of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee. The details:

NAHB: Builder Confidence in Housing Markets Dips

The National Association of Home Builders reported that builder confidence dropped to a reading of 62 as compared to October’s revised reading of 65. Any NAHB reading above 50 indicates that more builders are positive about market conditions than not. NAHB’s assessment of housing market conditions is based on readings for three aspects of current and future market conditions. November’s reading of 67 for current housing market conditions was three points lower than October’s reading of 70. Expectations for market conditions for sales of single family homes over the next six months fell by five points in November to a reading of 70. Builders’ sentiment about prospective buyer foot traffic in new single family developments rose by one point to 48.

Home builders started more new homes than at any time since September 2007; analysts cited wage growth and low unemployment figures along with high demand for homes as driving builder confidence in housing markets. Demand for homes continued to exceed homes available for purchase, which is a driving force for builder confidence.

NAHB Regional Builder Confidence Readings 

Regional readings provide a snapshot of regional housing market conditions on a month-to-month bases and on a three month rolling average. The monthly readings for November were lower except for the Western region, which gained one point for a reading of 77. The Northeastern region held steady with a reading of 52; the Midwest’s reading also decreased by one point to 59 and builder confidence in the Southern region fell by five points to 62.

Monthly regional readings for home builder confidence can be volatile due to regional economic conditions; the NAHB provides a three-month rolling average for its four U.S. regions. In November, the Northeast region reported a reading of 50 which was three points higher than October’s reading. The Midwest region was unchanged from October’s reading of 60; the South also reported no change from its October reading of 65. The Western region posted an increase of 69 to 73 over the three months between August and November.

Housing Starts Lowest Since Spring Floods

According to the Commerce Department, housing starts fell by 11 percent to an annualized reading of 1.06 million in October. This was the lowest reading since last spring, when construction was adversely impacted by flooding. September’s reading was adjusted to 1.19 million starts. Meanwhile, building permits issued rose by 4.10 percent to an annual rate of 1.15 million starts in October.

While housing starts fell by 18.60 percent in the South, permits issued rose to their highest level since 2007. The South is the most active region for home construction and accounts for half of all new home construction in the U.S.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Lower

Mortgage rates fell across the board last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by one basis point to 3.97 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell two basis points to 3.18 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was five basis points lower at 3.03 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage and 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims also fell last week to a reading of 271,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 270,000 new claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 276,000 new claims filed. Lower jobless claims indicate further strengthening of labor markets, but seasonal hiring may have positively impacted the reading for new jobless claims.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic news releases include several housing reports. Existing Home Sales, the S&P Case-Shiller Housing Market Index, FHFA House Prices and New Home Sales will be posted along with regularly scheduled reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. There will be no economic reports released on Thursday or Friday due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

How Do I Know If I Am Ready To Buy A Home?

How Do I Know If I Am Ready To Buy A Home?

As you’ll see in this video, you can find out by asking yourself some questions:

  • Do I have a steady source of income (usually a job)?
  • Have I been employed on a regular basis for the last 2-3 years?
  • Is my current income reliable?
  • Do I have a good record of paying my bills?
  • Do I have few outstanding long-term debts, like car payments?
  • Do I have money saved for a down payment?
  • Do I have the ability to pay a mortgage every month, plus additional costs?

If you can answer “yes” to these questions, you are probably ready to buy your own home.


Remodeling 101: How to Create a Proper Budget for Any Renovation, Large or Small

Remodeling 101: How to Create a Proper Budget for Any Renovation, Large or SmallWhether you’re readying to put your home on the market or you haven’t updated your space in a while and want to modernize, approaching renovations can be a struggle. With so many things to fix up, both large and small, it can seem overwhelming to prioritize, set the money aside and get to work. If you’re having trouble figuring out where to begin with budget, here are some tips for how to properly prioritize so you can maximize your renovation expenditures.

Determine What Is Most Important

Whether it’s the tile floor in your bathroom or the outdated kitchen sink, if the need for an upgrade in a certain part of your home has been staring you in the face for a while, you’ll want to begin there. By determining your first priority and the no-frills cost assessment of completing it, you can arrive at the cost of what renovating the item will mean. Once you’re in the ballpark, you can then move on to any additional features or accessories that may perk up your basic renovation.

Add A Little Extra To The Budget

The downside of any budget is that costs will always come along that were not predicted, and they can entirely break the bank and your original projections. Instead of hoping for the best, add some extra money to the outline of total expenses for your renovation so you can be prepared for some of the hiccups that will come along. This will ensure that you have the financial wherewithal to complete the renovation and won’t be disappointed in the final outcome for your finances.

Consider Where You Can Cutback

Whether you’ve been dreaming of a new living room set for a while or replacing the flooring in the kitchen, you can update the area of your choice while still economizing in other ways. For example, if you’re going for modern eclectic in your living room, you may want to splurge on an updated couch, but you may be able to save by purchasing a retro coffee table online or a unique side chair that’s secondhand to go along with it. This may provide a unique upgrade, without all the expense of in-store purchases.

It can be hard to know where to begin when it comes to revamping your house, but it’s important to start with what you really can’t live without and move outward from there. If you’re curious about home renovations and how they can improve the market value of your home, you may want to contact your local real estate professional for more tips.

What Are the Advantages to Paying off Your Mortgage Early? Here Are a Few That Might Entice You

If you're looking into fixed term mortgages, you might be wondering whether there's any reason why you should take the full term to pay off the loan. In a lot of cases, paying off a mortgage before it comes due is a great decision. If you're considering paying off your mortgage early, you'll experience a variety of benefits – here are just a few of them.If you’re looking into fixed term mortgages, you might be wondering whether there’s any reason why you should take the full term to pay off the loan. In a lot of cases, paying off a mortgage before it comes due is a great decision. If you’re considering paying off your mortgage early, you’ll experience a variety of benefits – here are just a few of them.

You’ll Save Thousands In Interest Payments

By and large, the single biggest advantage of paying off a mortgage early is the money you’ll save in interest. The longer you take to pay off your mortgage, the more you’ll pay in interest overall. In fact, on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, you’ll pay as much in interest as you do in principal over the course of the loan – but if you pay off a $300,000 mortgage five years early, you’ll save $60,000 in interest charges, assuming an interest rate of 5.5 percent.

You’ll Greatly Improve Your Credit Score

A mortgage is quite a sizeable debt, and the longer it takes you to pay off your mortgage, the longer it’ll weigh down your credit score. Paying off your mortgage early will boost your credit score quite substantially, which means you’ll be able to take out loans to buy an investment property and start earning income on a second home. And with your first mortgage paid off, you’ll have a significant amount of new money coming in.

You’ll Free Up Your Cash Flow

Once you’ve paid off your mortgage, you’ll free up a great deal of monthly income – which you can invest into mutual funds, a savings account, trips around the world, or a college fund for your children. With so much extra cash available every month, you’ll be able to save, invest, and spend more freely – and that means you’ll meet your financial objectives sooner.

Paying off a mortgage earlier than expected may seem like a daunting challenge, but with discipline and a solid plan in place, it’s very possible. And best of all, paying your mortgage off early offers a number of great advantages that extend beyond just the financial. It’ll offer a variety of lifestyle advantages and give you a great deal of financial freedom.

Want to learn more about how the mortgage process works, or discover great new strategies for paying off your mortgage sooner? Contact your local mortgage professional today to schedule a consultation.

It’s Not Just a Mortgage: Understanding the Financial Implications of Buying a New Home

It's Not Just a Mortgage: Understanding the Financial Implications of Buying a New HomeWhen it comes to home ownership, the biggest buzzword of them all is mortgage and it’s often all people think about when it comes to price. While the ‘m’ word will be a large part of the expense that goes into owning a house, it’s important to be aware of all of the other costs that are aligned with having a home. From taxes to utilities, here are some of the other items that you won’t be able to do without once you’ve made the big purchase.

The Perils of Property Tax

Outside of the mortgage, one of the other more marked expenses you’ll be paying when you delve into home ownership is property tax, which will be determined by the place you live in. While this amount can be quite pricy or more modest, you’ll be able to determine how it will impact your bottom line by dividing it into twelve monthly costs per year.

All the Utilities that Matter

In a small apartment where many utilities are often included, power and heat might seem like a minor cost, but a bigger space means a bigger cost when it comes to the basic necessities of home life. From heating your home during a cold winter to using the stove, this can be a significant cost if you have a sizeable living space.

The Necessity of Insurance

Insurance may seem like something you can forgo if you’re in an apartment building, but when you’ve already invested considerably in the purchase of a house, it’s very important to protect your assets. With insurance, you can often customize a package that will best serve the interests of your home in case something goes wrong.

Don’t Forget About Maintenance!

One of the great things about having a landlord is that you don’t have to worry about small fix-ups like your cabinet falling off or your kitchen sink springing a leak. Unfortunately, when purchasing a home you become your own landlord and this means that the responsibility for all the issues that arise is in your hands, so you‘ll have to pay out of your own pocket.

There are a lot of costs that go along with purchasing a home, but by being prepared and knowing what they are you can make a more informed decision. If you’d like to know more about other costs associated with home ownership, you should consider contacting your local real estate expert for more information.

Embracing a Bidding War: How to Choose the Best Offer for Your Home

Embracing a Bidding War: How to Choose the Best Offer for Your HomeWhen the market is hot some sellers are lucky enough to be in a situation where they see multiple offers come through on their property. Now the only decision left is which one to choose.

It may be easy to look at the amounts offered and go with the highest one, but that is not always the wisest choice. There are several smaller factors that could mean the difference between a winning and losing bid.

Have Any Of The Buyers Been Pre-Approved For A Mortgage?

While an offer that comes in above the asking price can be very tempting, there is a risk that the entire sale can fall through if the buyer is not approved for a mortgage that large.

An easy way for a buyer to set themselves apart from the rest is to make sure they are pre-approved for a mortgage large enough to cover their asking price. This not only decreases the chances of the sale falling through at the last minute, but also shows which buyer is truly serious about purchasing the house.

Take A Close Look At The Terms

The amount being offered on a home should not be the deciding factor in a bidding war, especially if the offers are all so close. Taking a hard look at the terms in the contract will provide a better idea of which buyer should be taken seriously.

Which buyer has put up the most earnest money? A buyer who has deposited a low amount of earnest money may be more willing to walk away from the sale at the last minute, causing a severe headache. Are any of the buyers asking for appliances or fixtures to be included in the sale? These are the small things that can make the choice between offers that much easier.

Negotiate To Have Contingencies Waived

Many buyers will put a list of contingencies into the contract to give themselves an out on buying the home. These include waiting until their own home is sold, having the place inspected by a contractor or attorney reviews of the paperwork.

If only one buyer is willing to waive these contingencies that could be the person whose offer should be taken seriously. Other small factors to look at include closing dates that match up or offers that are made in cash.

A real estate professional in your area can help get multiple buyers interested in your home and assist with going through the offers to find the right one. Don’t try to do this alone, find a professional today.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 16, 2015

The Fibromyalgia Diet: Healthy Eating Ideas That Could Help You Feel BetterLast week’s scheduled economic news was sparse due to no scheduled releases on Monday and the Veterans Day Holiday on Wednesday. A report on job openings was released on Thursday along with regularly scheduled weekly reports on jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s report on mortgage rates.

Mortgage Rates, Weekly Jobless Claims Rise

Mortgage rates rose last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose to 3.98 percent from last week’s reading of 3.87 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose to 3.20 percent from the prior week’s reading of 3.09 percent; the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was also higher at an average of 3.03 percent as compared to the prior week’s average rate of 2.96 percent. Discount points were unchanged for all three types of mortgages at 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims rose last week to 276,000 claims filed against the expected reading of 268,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 276,000 new jobless claims filed. The Labor department reported 5.53 million job openings on September, which was the second highest reading since the inception of the job openings report in 2000.

The Labor Department also reported that the quits rate held steady at 1.90 percent for the sixth consecutive month. Fed Chair Janet Yellen has said that the Fed considers the quits rate an indicator of economic strength; if workers have enough confidence to quit their jobs for new jobs, this a strong economy. The quits rate has held steady for six months, which could signal to the Fed that the economy is not yet ready for a rise in interest rates that analysts expect to occur in December.

U.S. News recently cautioned that a combination of rising home prices and interest rates could quickly cool housing markets as first-time and moderate income buyers are priced out of the market and other would-be buyers find it difficult to qualify for the mortgages they need to finance home purchases. Recent hikes in mortgage rates are a likely response to the anticipated Fed rate hike in December.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic reports include the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, Housing Starts and minutes from the most recent meeting of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee. The minutes may provide additional insight into how Fed policymakers are approaching the decision about raising the target federal funds rate.

Goodbye, Junk! 5 Tips for Reducing the Amount of ‘Stuff’ You Need to Move to Your New Home

Goodbye, Junk! 5 Tips for Reducing the Amount of 'Stuff' You Need to Move to Your New HomeSwitching houses? Then now is the perfect time to finally go through all the clutter and make some tough decisions about what needs to move and what needs to go away.

There is no point in waiting until after a move to go through the junk lying around, as tempting as it may be, so here are five ways to decide what should find a new home before a move.

Start With A Trip To The Dump

Before starting the move, grab some garbage bags and do a sweep of the house, making sure to toss out anything that needs to go to the dump. This will clear up the home of anything unnecessary and makes it easier to throw out some items when there’s no decision making pressure.

Decide What Furniture Will Be Replaced In Advance

A new home often means new furniture. By deciding in advance which items will be purchased new, homeowners can prepare to either sell or give away their older furniture before they move. Saving space and cutting down one extra step after moving in.

Sell Or Donate What You Don’t Need

Holiday decorations are the perfect example of items that are only taken out once a year and tend to be replaced before they are ever reused. There are probably similar boxes or shelves in every home filled with items that will never be used again but are still held onto.

Now Is A Good Time To Go Through The Closet

Clothes are not looked at as seriously as other objects when clearing space because they can easily fold down or be tucked away. It’s simpler for most people to just throw all their clothes in a box or travel bag before moving, but this is the perfect time to finally go through and donate anything that doesn’t fit or is never worn.

Be Patient With Children

It is hard for kids to part with their toys, even ones they haven’t used in years. These are part of their identity and telling them what they need to throw out can impact them emotionally and make a move that much harder. Sit down with the children and have a long talk about moving and donating items to see if they are ready to go through their things.

Thinking about buying a new home? The service of a real estate professional can go a long way in finding you the home of your dreams in the budget you are looking for.