How To Handle Common Homeowner Challenges

buying-a-fixer-upper-homeIt takes hard work to achieve the American Dream of homeownership. Everyday people work to save for a down payment and build a good credit score. When you turn the key to your first home or dream home, the sweat equity feels well worth it.

But the hard work of buying a home continues long after hanging family photos and hooking up a big-screen TV. There are challenges that property owners are unprepared to handle. These are three of the more common ones you may want to be ready to manage.

Leaking Pipes

Plumbing does not last forever and at some point, it will begin to leak. For people who have wells on their property, copper pipes can wear thin faster. That’s because the pH of well water can tend to be on the more acidic side and corrode pipes quicker.

Many homeowners are ill prepared to deal with pipes that spring a leak. If a leak goes unchecked, the water can cause other damage or hazardous mold growth behind walls and under floorboards. While one solution is often having a plumber make an expensive emergency call, there are other simple solutions.

Take a piece of an old bicycle tire tube and fasten it tight over the leak using a pair of hosepipe screw clamps. These clamps wrap around the pipe and can be closed over the rubber and leak using a screwdriver. If you do not have these items handy, it may be in your best interest to spend less the $5 and get them sooner rather than later.

Moisture In The Bathroom

The single most destructive force to any home is not rodents or termite infestations. Water can do more damage than the average homeowner might imagine. A poorly ventilated bathroom can create one of the most hazardous problems.

When moisture seeps behind walls or under the floor, it can spur on dangerous mold growth. These health hazards often go undetected and sick family members may not know the root cause is hidden behind the walls.

Overly moist bathroom walls from hot showers are a telltale sign that you need improved ventilation. Start immediately by opening a window when showering and enlist the help of a professional to properly vent the bathroom. The difference could be thousands of dollars in ripping out walls and rebuilding, not to mention your health.

Power Outages

There are two types of power outages that homeowners would be wise to prepare for — short ones and long ones. If your power is interrupted for a few hours or half of a day, keep the refrigerator shut and enjoy the time without television noise. A few inexpensive battery-operated lanterns or candles will provide enough light.

But if you are hit by a long-term outage, there are things you can do ahead of time to be prepared. Many homeowners in areas that suffer annual severe weather incidents purchase generators. Small ones can be set outside and run electricity to important items. Even a modest generator can help a homeowner through a week-long outage.

If you don’t have a backup generator, the time is now to prepare. They will fly off the shelves when the lights go out.

The joy of homeownership is coupled with ongoing challenges. Planning ahead can save time, money and help keep your dream home in tip-top shape.

Whether you are interested in buying a new home or refinancing your current property, your trusted home mortgage professional is available to help you find the most current and beneficial financing options.

3 Green and Gorgeous Trends in Home Design

Depositphotos 5892794 MThese days, people want energy-efficient homes that look great. To answer the call of passionate environmentalists, developer are rising to the occasion and designing home features that minimize waste, save energy and reuse reclaimed materials. The results are gorgeous, green homes that help move the sustainable living trend forward.

Hidden Solar Panels

Solar panels are a great way to save energy, but not everyone loves the optics. A series of solar panels on the roof may save you money on your utilities, but it can detract from the natural shape of your home. As an alternative, innovative in-roof solar panels are installed level with the roof line.

This is accomplished by designing a deeper roof so the solar panels are flush with your shingles or other roof material. Of course, this requires some forethought, but it’s not impossible to retrofit your existing home to take advantage of the clever development.

Reclaimed Materials

Deconstruction involves the “un-building” of a house. Specifically, when buyers or developers tear down a structure before building a new one, they attempt to reuse, salvage or donate as many materials as possible. Otherwise, all this material ends up in a landfill.

Reclaimed brick brings a rustic character to a new home. It also adds a historic appeal and interest to an interior or exterior space. Wood siding and beams reduce further deforestation and often give you beautiful hardwoods and rugged lumber that has stood the test of time. Reclaimed flooring often nets you thicker wood slabs that you can refinish for a powerful visual effect.

Bamboo is the ultimate sustainable building material. This fast-growing wood results in light-colored, unique wood floors. Although its’s softer than traditional hardwoods, it’s a great wood substitute that can regenerate in three years with minimal pesticides or fertilizers.

Large Windows That Conserve Energy

In the past 20 years ago, windows have gotten larger – and more energy-efficient than ever. High-performance glazing and innovative frames hold in heat in winter and cool air in summer.

Steel windows now open up and require fewer mullions to support larger glass panes, which reduces construction materials and air leakage. This means that green-minded homeowners can enjoy floor-to-ceiling views of the ocean or mountains without paying a huge utility bill or expending vast amounts of energy.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure contact your trusted home mortgage professional to learn about current financing options.

Differences Between A Short Sale And A Foreclosure

care-sunt-cartierele-unde-gasesti-cele-mai-ieftine-garsoniereIf you’re looking to get a non-traditional deal on a new home purchase, you may encounter either a short sale or a foreclosure. These two terms refer to sales that are not usual. As a homebuyer, it’s important to understand the differences between them and how each one might affect your buying experience.

What’s A Short Sale?

A short sale is a situation where the owner has a strong motivation to hurry up and sell their home. In so doing, they’re willing to sell for less than what they owe on the house. Homeowners have a variety of reasons why they might do a short sale. Their reasons might include a personal emergency, or they might be trying to protect themselves against a future foreclosure.

In a short sale, the owner’s lender has to be apprised of the plan. In many cases, the lender is supportive of the short sale, since it keeps them from having to go through the long and expensive process of a foreclosure.

Short sales can represent great deals for buyers. However, since this type of sale is so unusual, the process of buying often takes a much longer time than a regular home purchase. You’ll need to be patient, but if the sale does go through, your patience can certainly pay off.

What’s A Foreclosure?

A foreclosure is a situation where the owner’s lender is forcing the sale of the property due to unpaid mortgage payments. The lender is essentially taking back ownership of the property. The bank then puts the home up for sale as a foreclosure, and is the official seller of the property.

A foreclosure property may offer a good deal for a buyer, but the process may be long and drawn-out. Since the seller is the lender, they are not in any particular hurry to sell a property, and the transaction can be very complicated.

If you’re interested in buying a short sale or a foreclosure, you should be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional for pre-approval and financing options. It’s also important to utilize the resources of a trusted real estate agent that specializes in these types of transactions. These professionals can help you to successfully navigate through the red tape that often occurs with short sales and foreclosures.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 11th, 2019

board-of-the-federal-reserveLast week’s economic news included Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Fed Faced with Public Mistrust of Institutions

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powel said in a speech to a group of teachers that the Federal Reserve is paddling against a current of public mistrust of the institution. Mr. Powell assured his audience that the Fed was “working in a non-political way” to support the economy.

Mr. Powell said that the Fed was working to earn public trust and said that the Central Bank must be accessible to ordinary Americans and lawmakers. In support of his remarks, Chairman Powell cited three meetings he had with lawmakers and a possible meeting at the White House.

Publicity of a recent dinner with President Trump caused speculation that the Fed may be influenced by the administration. Analysts connected last Monday’s White House dinner with the Fed’s sudden reversal of its plan to raise the target range of the federal funds interest rate. Chairman Powell said that he wanted the nation’s prosperity to be widely shared; he cited “education and mobility” as key components of achieving his goal.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates with a decrease of five basis points across the board for the three types of mortgages it tracks. Rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 4.41 percent, rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 3.84 percent.

Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 3.91 percent. Last week’s mortgage rates were approximately the same as for a year ago, but analysts said that less buyer competition and more available homes this year would encourage would-be homebuyers into the market.

First-time jobless claims were lower than the prior week at 234,000 new claims filed but were higher than the expected reading of 225,000 new claims filed, which was based on the prior week’s reading of 253,000 new claims filed. The reading for the four-week rolling average of new jobless claims gained 4,500 claims for a reading of 224,750 new claims filed over the most recent four weeks. Analysts said that although the four-week average was higher, it remained near historic lows.

What‘s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on inflation, retail sales and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims are also scheduled.

5 Home Renovations That Really Raise Values

bathroom-remodelThere are many home renovation projects that can increase the comfort and visual appeal of a dwelling. Owners who plan to sell their home in the future, however, prefer to focus on projects that will return a healthy profit at closing.

Here are 5 renovation projects that positively impact a home’s resale value.

Conversions

It’s easy for real estate agents to convince buyers to bid higher on properties with more bedrooms. Redesign the attic to easily add an extra bedroom without committing to a major construction project. This strategy works well for smaller homes or those in neighborhoods with multiple homes for sale. Converting a basement into a bonus room or den is another way to use extra storage spaces to increase property value.

Floors

Outdated, stained, or damaged flooring repels potential buyers. High-quality, stain-resistant carpets in neutral colors are the best options for those looking to sell. Other alternatives include hardwood floors and easy-to-clean laminates. Avoid shag carpets, bright colors, or unusual patterns so the property appeals to a wide variety of potential buyers.

Kitchens

For real estate agents, kitchens rank high on the list of value-building remodeling projects. Most home shoppers base their decision on the condition of the kitchen. Update stale or out-of-fashion paint, install new cabinet doors, refresh countertops, and replace old appliances to encourage a higher sale price. Renovators with limited funds should focus the majority of their dollars on kitchen projects.

Bathrooms

After the kitchen, bathrooms have the greatest impact on home values. As long as the plumbing is in working condition, bathroom renovations don’t require a large investment to add value to the home. Refurbish dingy sinks and bathtubs, refresh existing grout, and update fixtures for a quick boost before putting a home up for sale.

Landscape

The exterior of a home is just as important as the inside. Investing in landscaping increases curb appeal and can make a home more interesting to certain buyers. For example, adding a dog run in the backyard is an excellent perk for pet parents. In neighborhoods with older residents, a small deck or hot tub can be an eye-catching extra.

Strategic use of home renovations can improve living conditions and increase property values. Your trusted mortgage professional is ready to help you if you want to access some of the equity in your home for more costly home improvements.

Tips For Selling Your Home In The Winter

documents-needed-to-apply-for-a-mortgageWinter typically isn’t one of the busier home buying seasons – those seasons are reserved for spring and summer. But to think that you can’t sell your home at market value during the winter months is being naive. In fact, you can even use some of the characteristics that define the season to your advantage.

For instance, because winter isn’t a hot selling season, there’s typically less inventory during this time of year. That said, if your home stands out in the listings, you have a better chance of getting on that coveted “short list” of buyers.

Here’s a look at some tips on how to do it:

Make Your Home Look Inviting

This is essential for selling your home at any period of the year, but it’s perhaps most important during the winter months. That’s because colder temperatures and shorter days have the tendency to make a property look a little dreary from the outside.

There are a few ways to enhance your home’s curb appeal during the winter months:

Exterior lights: Shorter days mean less daylight, so make sure your home is well-lit so that buyers can see all of its features in periods of low light.
Easy to navigate: Always ensure that your driveway and any walking paths are clear. This makes it easier for potential buyers to safely access the home and more closely observe the condition of the driveway, sidewalks, etc.
Decorate it appropriately: Don’t overdo it, but some seasonal decorations can add a nice touch.
Turn Up The Heat

Ideally, you want would-be buyers to walk in from the cold into a warm, cozy environment. So crank up the thermostat, make a fire in your home’s fireplaces (if applicable) and brighten any dark areas of the home. This helps create a comfortable interior environment as well as show off some of your home’s amenities.

Think Spring And Summer

As you know, your home is bound to look different during the summer months than it will during the winter. Hence, we’d encourage you to make sure that this is noted in your listings. Include exterior photos of your home during the warm weather months so would-be buyers can see the green grass, flowers in bloom and leaves on the trees.

Sometimes, envisioning how a home that is being shown in the winter will look at other times of the year can be difficult. Don’t waste the opportunity to include a few photos of your home at other times of the year.

Don’t be nervous about selling your home in the winter – just know how to showcase it to capture buyer interest. The buyers are out there in the winter, it’s just a matter of making your home stand out. Your trusted real estate agent is just the person to help you make sure your home is buyer-ready any time of the year!

And don’t forget to contact your trusted home mortgage professional for advice on financing options. You’re going to want to have a place to call home after you sell your current property!

Complete These Repairs Before You List Your Home

do-it-yourself-kitchen-remodeling-ideasThere are several things to do when you prepare to list your home for sale. One of the projects you’ll need to do is complete certain repairs. Your home should be in the best possible condition before your real estate agent shows it to potential buyers.

While your home doesn’t need to be perfect, here is a list of repairs you should strive to get done before you open your home to showings.

Front Steps And Deck Issues

The front entrance and back deck should be in good shape for curb appeal and safety. Replace or repair wooden steps that pose a danger or feel unstable. Hammer down any nails on the deck that have popped up over the years. Reinforce loose railings and hand rails. Refinish decking that has dried, cracked or peeling paint.

Sticking Or Noisy Hinges And Sliders

Buyers will likely be opening doors, drawers, windows and cupboards. Don’t let them be disappointed. Go through your home and identify doors, windows and drawers that don’t open and close smoothly. Lubricate hinges, drawer sliders or window sashes as necessary. Tighten loose screws on door hinges to ensure the door swings easily.

Cracked Or Broken Window Panes

Windows in disrepair often signal that the home hasn’t been well-maintained. Replace or repair cracked or broken windows or window glass that’s clouded over from loss of insulation.

Stained Carpets

Buyers’ eyes may instantly be drawn to visible stains on your carpet. Have carpets professionally cleaned with added stain removal services. Camouflage any stains that won’t come out with an area rug or a piece of furniture. Alternatively, consider replacing carpets that are in extremely poor condition.

Broken Tiles And Peeling Flooring

Flooring in poor condition often ruins the look of the room and is a safety hazard. Replace chipped or cracked floor tiles. Repair any corners where the flooring has begun to peel up.

Electrical Issues

Go through your home and make sure all the sockets, outlets and wall switches are in proper working order. Have a certified electrical technician do the work; otherwise the work may not be approved on home inspection report.

First impressions are extremely important when it comes to selling your home. Don’t assume that buyers will be able to look past needed repairs. Instead, take care of these issues before your agent shows your home.

Your trusted real estate agent is available to help you prioritize the home repairs that really matter to buyers. Your trusted home mortgage professional is ready to assist you with your financing for your next home. Be sure to get pre-approved before you start your new home search.

What’s Going On With Mortgage Rates This Week

federal-reserveLast week’s economic news included readings on sales of previously owned homes and weekly readings on average mortgage rates and new jobless claims. A scheduled report on sales of new homes was not available due to the government shutdown.

National Association of Realtors®: Sales of Pre-Owned Homes Lowest in 3 Years

Sales of previously owned homes fell in December and failed to meet expectations. 4.99 million pre-owned homes were sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis; analysts predicted 5.10 million sales based on 5.33 million sales in November 2018. December’s reading showed the lowest number of sales since November of 2015.

Sales of previously-owned homes fell 6.40 percent month-to-month and were 10.30 percent lower year-over-year. Inventories of previously-owned homes also slipped in December with a 3.70 months supply of homes as compared to 3.90 months supply of available homes in November. Real estate pros consider six months supply of homes for sale as an average inventor.

Real estate pros said that lower buyer traffic in all regions of the U.S. could indicate less interest from buyers, but on a positive note, fewer buyers also remove the high rates of competition seen in the recent past.

Lower mortgage rates are well-timed for the upcoming spring sales season. Real estate pros were hopeful that lower mortgage rates will hold and entice more buyers into the market.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims

Freddie Mac reported no change in average interest rates for fixed rate mortgages. The average rate for 30-year fixed rate mortgages held at 4.45 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was also unchanged at 3.88 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged three basis points higher at 3.90 percent. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims fell to 199,000 new claims filed. Analysts expected 218,000 new claims to be filed based on the prior week’s reading of 212,000 new claims filed. Last week’s reading represented the first time since 1969 that new jobless claims fell below 200,000, but analysts were wary of potential impact of the government shutdown on new jobless claims. The shutdown ended on Friday until February 15, but politicians seemed unenthusiastic about future shutdowns.

What‘s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include Case-Shiller Home Price Indices and readings on pending home sales, construction spending and the post-meeting statement from the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee.

Labor sector readings on private and public employment and the national unemployment rate will also be released. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released on schedule.

4 Signs You’re Going To Need A Bigger House

buying a brand new homeThere comes a time in every young homeowner’s life when they need a bigger house. When you buy a starter home, it’s unlikely that will be your forever home. But how do you know when it’s time to spend the time and effort to upgrade to a larger home?

Here are four signs you’re gonna need a bigger house!

1. You Have To Move Stuff To Get To Other Stuff

In a house where there is enough room for everything, you can move freely and access all your things without having to rearrange furniture. If you find yourself constantly pushing other things aside in order to get to what you want, there isn’t enough space in your home.

2. You’re Always Misplacing Things

The key to organization is having a spot for everything. But if you’re short on space, everything can’t have its own spot. That’s when things get lost or misplaced. If you repeatedly misplace your belongings, you probably need a bigger house.

3. You’ve Got A Growing Family

Do you have a little one on the way? As your family grows, your need for space will increase. It’s hard to imagine that a small baby will take up much space, and they don’t. It’s the baby accessories that take up the space; the high chair, the playpen, the walkers, the crib, the toy chest and more. It’s all fantastically fun, but you are going to need a bigger house.

4. You Just Feel Cramped

You and the other members of your family should each feel like you have space to be alone, spend time on hobbies, and have private conversations. If you just feel cramped all the time or you feel like you don’t have any privacy, it could be because your house is too small.

When you finally realize that the problems aren’t with you, but with the size of your house, it’s very liberating. Now you have the answer to the issues. All you have to do is go out there and find a bigger house to move into.

Whether you are looking to purchase a larger home or refinance your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss financing options.

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Grows After Lowest Level in 3 Years

builder-outlook-positiveAfter two months of declining builder confidence, the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index gained two points in January with a reading of 58. Component readings of the HMI were also higher with builder confidence in current market conditions rose two points to an index reading of 63. Builder confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months rose three points to 64.

The index for buyer traffic in new housing developments rose one point to 44. While index readings above 50 indicate positive market conditions, the index reading for buyer traffic is typically lower than 50.

Lower Mortgage Rates Compel Home Buyers to Act

Falling mortgage rates contributed to the uptick in home builder confidence, but affordability continued to impact first-time and moderate-income home buyers. Robert Dietz, NAHB chief economist, said: “Builders need to continue to manage rising construction costs to keep home prices affordable, particularly for young buyers at the entry level of the market.”

Analysts suggested that builders could consider offering deeper discounts and incentives to buyers to increase sales of new homes. Homes not sold during November and December added to current inventories of new homes available, which provides home buyers with more choices and less competition for homes.

Home Builders Expect More Buyer Traffic

Lennar Corporation, a major home builder said that increased buyer traffic indicated that 2019 home sales would increase and that improving economic conditions were expected to improve housing market conditions and home sales in 2019.

Builders expect to face continued headwinds in 2019; affordability tops the list, but relatively low inventories of homes in some areas dampen buyer enthusiasm. Single-family housing starts are also expected to be lower than the long-term yearly average. As economic conditions improve for would-be home buyers, a slim supply of homes and high home prices present obstacles to buyers.

Your trusted home mortgage professional is one of your best partners in your next home buying or refinancing transaction. Be sure to contact them to discuss market conditions in your area.