What Are the Hot Home Decor Trends for 2013?

hot home decor trends 2013Just like fashion designs and hair styles, home decor trends are constantly changing and evolving. Each new season brings a new must-have feature for your home.

In order to keep your home looking fresh and chic, what are the hot trends for 2013 that you can incorporate into your decor?
Here are a few ideas:

Bright Paint Colors
Vibrant (and even neon) hues are very popular in fashion at the moment and they also look really chic on your walls. If you are looking for a way to freshen up a dull room, a bright pop of color can really do the trick.

It doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you keep the rest of the room neutral and use the bright color as an accent.

Original Artwork
Decorating your home with unique and original works of art from funky local artists is a hot trend this year. You could find such pieces at a local art fair or on online craft auction websites.
You could also check out a local art school or university art program in your area, where you can buy some student artwork at cheap prices.

1920s Inspired Designs
With the Roaring 20s being revitalized on the silver screen in the show Boardwalk Empire and the film The Great Gatsby, designs from the 1920s are becoming more popular. Why not incorporate some gorgeous Art Deco furniture or decoration into your home?
Check out auctions to find authentic vintage pieces for cheap prices.

Simple Wood
Another hot trend for 2013 is unfinished exposed wood furniture, with a very natural texture and feel. These simple wood pieces give your home a natural beauty that compliments any color. It works well with neutral accents to give the home a very peaceful and welcoming atmosphere.

Stripes and Graphic Prints
Crisp patterns, graphic prints and stripes are popular at the moment in everything from fabrics to wallpaper to furniture. If you really want to make your home décor look cutting edge, incorporate some of these eye-popping graphic designs into your décor.
These are just a few of the hottest home décor trends of the year 2013. Which ones will you incorporate into the décor of your home?
For more information about buying or updating your home, please contact your trusted mortgage professional today!

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 22, 2013

mortgage-rate-watchLast week’s economic news was a mixed bag with retail sales and housing starts coming in lower than expected, but home builder confidence in housing markets increased.

Weekly jobless claims fell, and Fed Chair Ben Bernanke testified before the Senate, saying that falling gold prices were an indication of increasing confidence in the economy, but that it was “way too soon” to say when the Fed’s quantitative easing program would be reduced.

Monday: Retail sales for June came in lower than expected at 0.4 percent. Economists estimated a reading of 0.9 percent based on May’s reading of 0.5 percent.

Tuesday: June’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) came in as expected at 0.5 percent against May’s reading of 0.1 percent. The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for July gained five points for a reading of 57, which exceeded expectations of a reading of 52. Builders cited a short supply of existing homes and falling materials prices as factors contributing to June’s stronger reading.

Wednesday: Housing starts in June fell to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 836,000 against expectations of 950,000 and May’s revised reading of 928,000. Regional weather and a surplus of unused building permits were seen as contributing to fewer housing starts in June; analysts did not see the dip in housing starts as a sign of softening housing markets.

Thursday: Fed Chair Ben Bernanke testified before the Senate as noted above and was careful to emphasize that economic data received after the last FOMC meeting indicated that it is “way too soon” for the Fed to change its monthly volume of Treasury bonds and MBS purchases. This is good news for mortgage markets, and possibly for mortgage rates, which fell this week.

Freddie Mac reported that average rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by 14 basis points to 4.37 percent; average rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by 12 basis points to 3.41 percent; these rates include average discount points of 0.7 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 ARM was 3.17 percent with discount points of 0.6 percent. The 5/1 ARM provides an affordable alternative to rising fixed mortgage rates.

Friday: No significant economic news noted.

What’s Coming Up
This week’s schedule includes Existing Home Sales on Monday; on Tuesday, the FHFA releases its Home Prices report. New Home Sales will be released on Wednesday; Thursday brings weekly jobless claims and the Durable Goods report. The week will finish with the Consumer Sentiment report on Friday.

Can That Killer Home Theater Add Value To Your Home?

awesome home theaterMany home owners dream of having a home theater – an entire room of the home dedicated to enjoying television and film. These rooms are usually equipped with a large flat screen television or projector, comfortable seats, mood lighting and perhaps even a bar or a snack fridge.

They are very comfortable and the perfect place to relax after a hard day. They are also lots of fun for entertaining, as you will be able to watch the big game or the hottest new release with your friends in style.

However, will spending the money on renovating your home to create a theater room be a smart investment? Does this type of home improvement add a lot of value to the property, or will it turn off potential buyers?

Buyers Interested In Tech-Equipped Homes

These days luxury home buyers are becoming much more tech-savvy and they are demanding more networked or ‘smart’ homes than ever before. They are looking for a house which is outfitted with the latest in technology, so a modern home theater will be a desirable selling point. If you are targeting your home to this luxury market, the home theater could give you an edge over the competition.

It is difficult to determine the amount that the home value is affected when you add a high tech home theater, but most real estate professionals will agree that when there are many houses for sale at any given time, the one with an impressive home theater room will be more likely to sell first.

Don’t Take Over Valuable Home Space

The only situation in which the home theater could detract from the value of the home is if it overpowers a medium sized or smaller home that just barely had enough space in the first place. If your home cannot spare the extra room, taking up a lot of space with a home theater will mean fewer bedrooms or living spaces and a potential decrease in value.

However, you might be able to get around this problem with clever solutions that allow you to conceal the home theater unless it is being used. You could hide the large screen behind specially designed cabinets and set up the furniture so that the room can be a living space when not in use as a theater.

Remember that a home theater system is something that will generally only increase the value of your home for certain buyers, as opposed to something like a bathroom renovation or a garage which will be valuable to almost every buyer.

To find out more about upgrades that affect the value of your home, contact your trusted home financing professional today.

FOMC Minutes Reveal Fed May Curb Economic Support Program Before Year End

FOMC Minutes Reveal Fed May Curb Economic Support Program Before Year EndFOMC Minutes Suggest QE Tapering by Year-End

The minutes for June’s meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) suggest that committee members are mostly in agreement that the current quantitative easing program (QE) should begin winding down by year end, but the committee minutes are very clear concerning the committee’s intention to monitor inflation and ongoing economic and financial developments before taking action to reduce the current rate of QE.

The Fed currently purchases $85 billion monthly in Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities (MBS). Investors fear that if the Fed rolls back QE too soon or too fast, it could cause long term interest rates such as mortgage rates to rise faster.

The Fed minutes indicate that factors the Fed will continue monitoring before making changes to QE include:

  • Labor market conditions
  • Indicators of inflationary pressures
  • Readings on financial developments

FOMC members also agreed that the Fed would not sell MBS it has accumulated after the economic support program ceases. When the Fed ceases QE, demand for mortgage-backed securities is expected to fall. If the Fed were to sell off MBS holdings in addition to stopping QE, MBS prices could fall sharply. In general, when MBS prices fall, mortgage rates rise.

The FOMC minutes indicate that the Fed intends to maintain the Federal Funds rate at 0.000 to 0.250 percent “for a considerable time after the monthly asset purchases cease.” To be clear, the minutes do not reveal any specific dates for starting to wind down the program.

Concerns over financial conditions in Europe highlight the Fed’s intention to monitor global economic developments were discussed. Potential “spillover” of negative sentiments in response to Europe’s economic woes to U.S. financial markets were seen as a potential threat to the U.S. economic recovery.

Committee members found that although the economy showed moderate improvement since its last meeting, the national unemployment rate remains high at 7.60 percent. Members also noted that the numbers of long-term unemployed and those working part time jobs but wanting full time jobs remain higher than average. These conditions traditionally keep consumers from buying homes.

Housing: Upside-Down Mortgages Decreasing

Due to rapid increases in home values, the committee noted that fewer homeowners were under water on their mortgage loans. This is good news as homeowners can rebuild household wealth as their home equity increases. Having home equity also provides homeowners with the flexibility to sell or refinance their homes.

While housing is driving the economic recovery, high unemployment will likely keep the Fed from changing its QE policy in the short term.

Now may be a very good time to take advantage of still historically low mortgage interest rates before they rise. If you have specific questions on purchasing or refinancing your home mortgage loan and how these changes may affect you, please contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

Is It Possible That Your Gender May Influence Your Home Mortgage Approval?

mortgage approval underwritingIf you are applying for a joint mortgage on your property with your spouse or partner, the name that goes first could have more of an impact than you might think.

A 2010 study by the Woodstock Institute showed that mortgage lenders were inclined to show favoritism when men were the lead borrowers on joint applications. The study was undertaken within the Chicago area and it tracked joint applications for refinancing as well as home purchases. Over 250,000 applications were studied in the year 2010.

Surprisingly, the study showed that home purchase applications that listed the female partner as the primary borrower were 24 percent less likely to be approved.

When it came to mortgage refinancing, the application would be 39 percent less likely to be approved if a woman was in the primary position. The study was controlled in order to account for the size of the loan and the borrower’s income.

What Does This Mean?

The researchers at Woodstock are still carrying out more studies and analyzing their findings, but they say the results so far are quite troubling. They theorize that the discrimination might be totally unconscious and a symptom of wider discrimination against women.

Many lenders have declined to comment, but Terry Francisco, President of Bank of America, claimed that there was no policy in the mortgage underwriting process that would differentiate based on the order of the applicants names in the documents.

The findings are not complete enough at the moment to draw any conclusions. Additional data will be collected, such as age, credit scores, property values and much more in order to provide a more full and complete picture.

Increase Your Chances of Getting Approved

Regardless of the findings of this study, there are a number of ways that you can make your mortgage application more likely to be approved no matter what your gender. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t change jobs right before applying. Lenders want to see financial stability, so it is better if you have been with the same employer for as long as possible.
  • Repay your other debts, including your store cards, credit cards, overdrafts and more.
  • Check your credit report. If there are any errors that are making your credit score lower than it should be, you may be able to correct them.
  • Avoid making any large purchases on your credit cards while you are applying for a mortgage. When the lender looks at your credit, this could affect their calculations of your debt to income ratio.

To find out more about getting the best home mortgage approval to buy or refinance your property, please feel free to contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

The Best And Worst Times Of The Year To Sell Your Home

The Best And Worst Times Of Year To Sell Your HomeDoes the time of year when you put your home on the market affect how well it will sell? What about the final sales price?

According to many studies in housing trends, the answer is yes. The time of year when you sell your home can have an effect on how many people are interested and how much the home will sell for.

Of course, if you need to move and sell your home at any point of the year, you will still be able to find buyers and negotiate a price that works for you. In some areas of the country, the currently swift moving housing market can help overcome poor timing.

However, if you have the ability to plan for a more advantageous time, it makes sense to make the most of your flexibility.

The Best Times Of The Year To Sell A Home

One of the best times of the year to sell your house is in the late spring and early summer — like right now.

The school year is over for most families, and many people will be looking to purchase a home that they can move into over the summer and get settled before school begins again in the fall. Housing sales peak during this time, as studies show that 60% of people tend to move during the summer.

If you can sell your home during the spring or early summer period, it will typically be on the market for a shorter amount of time and you may have many more offers to choose from.

The Worst Times Of The Year To Sell A Home

One of the worst months of the year to sell a home is December. There are a number of reasons why trying to sell a home during the Christmas holidays can be difficult.

Most people aren’t thinking of moving this time of year. Their energies are focused on decorating their houses, preparing for the holidays, visiting friends and family and enjoying their time off work.

Another difficult time is the beginning of the school year, typically in September.

Children will have just started school and most families will not be considering moving at this point. If you attempt to sell your home during this time of year, you will be much less likely to get the the same pool of buyers that you might see in a more “move friendly” time of year.

Of course, these are just guidelines to help you plan your next home sale. No matter what time of year it is, if you need advice on selling your home, call your trusted real estate professional right away.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 15, 2013

Mortgage RatesThe Fed’s release of the minutes for the June FOMC meeting was the most noteworthy economic event last week; the minutes repeated the Fed’s recent statement concerning the wind-down of its current monetary easing policy.

The minutes indicated that about half of meeting participants wanted to end the quantitative easing (QE) policy by year end, while “many others” preferred to end the program in 2014.

This split suggests that days are numbered for the Fed’s monthly purchase of $85 billion in Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities (MBS). The minutes also revealed that the Fed would not be selling off MBS as QE is ended. This would likely prevent additional potential for mortgage rates to increase as demand for bonds would decline when the Fed stops its monthly purchases.

Mortgage Rates Typically Rise When Bond And MBS Prices Fall

U.S. financial markets showed little reaction to the Fed minutes. The Dow Jones Industrial Average saw a quick gain of about 40 points that quickly retreated. The Wall Street Journal interprets the lackluster response to the Fed minutes as investors growing accustomed to the eventual end of the QE program; it’s also possible that the markets interpreted the FOMC minutes as “old news,” as the minutes contained information included in the Fed statement given after June’s FOMC meeting.

The FOMC minutes reported that details of tapering the QE program will be given by Chairman Ben Bernanke during his customary press conference after the Fed presents the FOMC meeting statement. The minutes also asserted that the Fed will closely monitor economic and financial developments as part of their decision-making for ending QE.

The minutes stated that the current Federal Funds rate of 0.00 to 0.25 percent will remain in place for some time after QE is ended.

Mortgage rates rose last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage moved to 4.51 percent from last week’s 4.29 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose to 3.53 percent from 3.39 percent. Discount points for both types of loans rose from 0.70 percent to 0.80 percent.

Rising mortgage rates suggest that borrowers may soon return to adjustable rate mortgages or hybrids such as the 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage, which was reported at an average rate of 3.26 percent with discount points of 0.70 percent.

What’s Coming Up

On Monday, retail sales for June will be released. This is an important indicator for the general economy. Tuesday’s news includes NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for July.

On Wednesday, Housing Starts for June will be released. Thursday’s news includes weekly Jobless Claims and Leading Economic Indicators. No economic news is scheduled for Friday.

Go Green By Faking It With Artificial Grass

home improvement tipsThe summer heat is starting to take its toll on you and your thirsty lawn. Homeowners spend hundreds of dollars every summer striving to grow healthy grass and keep it green.

If you’re sick of trying to maintain a manicured lawn, then you can go green another way. Install artificial turf.

The Grass is Always Greener

Today’s artificial grass is made out of polypropylene, nylon, or polyethylene threads that are sewn into a mesh backing that allows for water drainage. This is then usually laid on top of compacted gravel and tied down at the perimeter.

Modern artificial lawns can mimic many varietals of grass and some even have a thatch layer to give it a more realistic look.

Sick Of Maintenance

Homeowners have many reasons for wanting to be free of their demanding lawns, such as high summer water bills and the constant use of pesticides. With a fake lawn, you won’t have to water, which is especially good for high-heat areas, you won’t have to mow and you can quit worrying about how the weather will affect it.

Considering The Costs

While installing artificial grass can cost a bit up front, it’ll be maintenance free for the next 15 to 20 years. You won’t have to worry about water bills, purchasing grass seed, buying fertilizer or getting gas for the lawnmower, which can add up to a couple hundred dollars every year.

Potential Drawbacks

While a maintenance-free yard does have some appeal, there are a few drawbacks to take into consideration. Fake lawns don’t absorb pet waste, so you have to hose them off regularly.

They can also heat up in direct sunlight. Planting shade trees will help with this issue. And, artificial lawns cannot be recycled, which is an issue that the industry is looking to remedy.

Saving water and reducing the use of pesticides is great for the environment. However, you have to like the look of artificial grass and make sure you’re ready for the investment.

If you’ve been considering going green by switching to year-round green grass, talk with a local installer for grass options and cost comparisons.

7 Smart Tips To Painting Your Own Home This Summer

painting your homeWinter may have taken a toll on your home’s exterior this year. You’ve been noticing the cracking paint for months, but you don’t want to shell out the big bucks to hire a professional painter.

Don’t fret! With the weather warming and the nice summer weekends, it’s the perfect time to tackle that project of painting your home.

While this might seem like an insurmountable task, especially if you have a multi-story home, it’s not. It just takes the right tools and a bit of hard work. Below are step-by-step instructions to having the outside of your house looking shiny and new.

Test For Lead

Homes built before 1978 could have used lead paint, so be careful if you have an older home. They make kits that test for lead paint. If your home tests positive, then ensure you take the necessary precautions to keep yourself and your neighbors safe.

Scrub It Up

You need to wash the exterior of your home before painting. Mildew thrives under new paint, so kill it with a solution of water and phosphate-free cleaner.

Scrape And Sand

Take a scraper to your home’s exterior to remove any peeling paint. Spraying water under the paint as you scrape helps speed up the process. Then sand down any rough spots, so that you have a smooth canvas.

Apply The Primer

Paint on the primer immediately after you’ve prepped the wood. This will provide and even base for your topcoat of paint.

Buy Some Caulk

You’ll need to caulk all the joints to prevent water penetration and air leakage. Plus, caulk does a great job of filling in blemishes in your siding.

Pick Out Your Paint

Choose a water-based latex paint. It’s easier than applying oil-based paints. However, if your home already has an oil-based paint, you’ll have to stay with it. Once you’ve selected your favorite paint color, just grab a brush or rent a sprayer to start painting your home.

Maintain your exterior.

Be sure to check your home annually for any potential problems. Replace cracked caulk, remove mildew and patch any peeling paint before it spreads.

Utilize the beautiful summer weekends to get started on painting your home. Understand that this process normally takes two weekends, so be patient. Plus, by not hiring a professional, you’ll save a significant sum of money and have bragging rights when you receive compliments on the condition of your home.

Free Yourself From Your Mortgage With This Simple Plan

free yourself from your mortgageWhat if you could accelerate the mortgage payment on your home so that you own your property several years earlier than your 15 or 30 year term?

Making your final mortgage payment and owning your house is an incredibly good feeling and there is a simple way that you can bring about that rewarding day much sooner.

By making one extra mortgage payment every year, you will be able to pay off your mortgage years earlier without putting a lot of stress on your present day finances. Although it might not seem like a lot, just one extra payment per year can help you to significantly reduce the length of your mortgage.

For example, if you have a 30 year mortgage with a fixed rate, it could be possible to pay off your loan in 25 years instead of 30 when you make an extra payment per year. You will also very likely be able to save thousands of dollars over the years in interest charges.

How to Fit the Extra Payment Into Your Budget
If you think that your budget is too tight to squeeze in the extra yearly payment, it’s time to start thinking about what adjustments you can make. With a bit of clever budgeting, you can find the extra cash needed.

First of all, break the extra payment down by dividing it by 12. For example, if your monthly mortgage payment is $1600, you will need to save an extra $133 per month to be able to make a full extra payment every year. Or, you could think of it as $33 per week or $4.75 per day.

Surely you can survive on $4.75 per day less than you are spending right now, right?
There are many ways that you could find this extra money. It’s the difference between eating at a restaurant or cooking at home once or twice per week, bringing home-brewed coffee to work in a thermos rather than going to the expensive coffee shop, or cancelling a cable TV package that you never watch. Take a look at your budget so that you can determine where you can cut your expenses.

Once you make your goal of an extra payment every year, not only will you see that the savings program was easier than you thought it would be, but you might decide to accelerate even more so that it will be even sooner when you have the satisfaction of owning your home.

For more information about the optimal plan for the mortgage on your home, feel free to contact me by phone or email.