Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What to Expect When Buying a Home During the Holiday Season

If you're looking at buying a home during the holidays, you most likely have the immediate need for a home - be it relocation, or a new job opportunity, or otherwise.

While you may think this time of year may not be the best for house hunting, there actually are some distinct advantages for looking.

The Sellers Mean Business

Just like you, home sellers this time of year typically want business to move quickly due to immediate need.  This means: a faster negotiation period, and greater willingness on their behalf to agree to concessions.  Even if you make a lower offer, they may be more willing than normal to work with you.

Less Competition

Not a lot of people are out looking for homes this time of year, so this reduces your chances of multiple offer bidding wars (which occurs a lot more in the spring and summer).  Less competition often means, also, a bigger discount on your housing budget.  Work with an experienced real-estate agent in your area to determine what housing price range you could be competitive in this time of year.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

How to Maximize Your Holiday Dining Room Space

The dining room is the home of festive dinner parties, especially during the Thanksgiving holiday.  How can you maximize your dining room space to accommodate your party needs?  Here's our interpretation of some tips from the Zillow Blog.

1. Clear Your Space

Move out the non-essential pieces in your dining room for the holiday season.  In some cases, this may mean you're only leaving your table and chairs.  Less is absolutely more during a crowded party, as more space = more comfort.

2. Set Up a Buffet

No need to stack all your food on the table.  Set up a buffet-style dining experience by serving your food in the kitchen on either a table or on the counter, letting guests arrange their own place in a spacious area.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

30-Year-Fixed Mortgage Rates Fell 16 Points

Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed mortgages tumbled to their lowest rate in about six months this week, according to Zillow Blog. The current rate borrowers were quoted at 4.06% this week, down from 4.22% last week.  It might be a good time for summer 2013 buyers to re-finance.

This fall occurred steadily last week, leveling off at 4.12% this past weekend, and then dropped again to yesterday's rate.

Graph Courtesy of Zillow Blog

How to Warm Up an Older House

If you live in an older home, there is a good chance that your home may get a little chilly come the winter months.  Here's some tips on a few ways to get your older home a little better insulated so you can stay warm and cozy, courtesy of our friends at Zillow.

1. First, get an energy audit

The first step in any good retrofit of your older home is to get an energy audit done.  An energy audit will show you just exactly where and how you are losing your heat - by warm air escaping, or cooler air entering.

Some utility companies do this for free, so check with your local providers first to see if that is the case.  If not, you may want to hire a professional auditor.  Professional auditors often do more than just locate your problem sources.  They may suggest plans of action for your specific problems.

If an audit is too costly, you can try to find the leaks yourself by simply using the smoke from a stick of incense.  Wave it near windows, doors, and anywhere else there might be a gap.  You can then tell if it blows inwards, or gets sucked outwards - both are a sign of a leak that you can treat with some insulation.

Monday, November 18, 2013

What to Expect When Purchasing a Foreclosed Home

If you have never been through the purchase process of buying a foreclosed home, there are a few things you need to expect.

1. Know in what stage of foreclosure the property is

There are 3 stages that a foreclosed property can be in, and each have their own unique challenges.

At this stage, the owner technically still owns the property, but knows that there is a potential for foreclosure.  This could be for any number of reasons, but most likely it has to do with them not being current on their payments, leading their credit to be in danger.

The challenge with this stage is the timeline is often tricky.  Sellers may be expected to either close quickly, or be negotiating with a bank on a short sale scenario.  Be prepared to be patient in these cases.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Where Home Prices Will Be in the Next 5 Years

Prospective home buyers and sellers are often curious where the market is believed to be heading within 5 or so years.  A useful tool in determining this is the Home Price Expectation Survey.

The Home Price Expectation Survey is performed every quarter by Pulsenomics. A nationwide panel comprised of over one hundred economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists are surveyed on where prices are headed over the next five years.  These results are then averaged and comprised into a single number for our viewing.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Why Waiting to Invest in Real Estate Isn't a Good Move

Amongst savvy investors, it is a common mentality that waiting to invest could have a far worse impact on your finances than making a bad investment.

It does sound a little backwards, on the surface.  However, as findings from blogs like The Simple Dollar and Lifehacker have found, when it comes to investment, an extra couple of percentage points will not make a significant impact on your intermediate-term investing.

No one wants to make a bad investment.  Waiting for the "right moment" to invest, however, is actually a bit counter productive, according to The Simple Dollar:

[I]t will take a very long time for a poor investment choice to have a significant negative impact on you, but it doesn't take much time at all for the choice to not invest to have a negative impact on you.

Let’s say, for example, that you’re able to put aside $100 a month for retirement. You can either start putting money aside right now in a investment chosen at random that earns 6% per year (on average), or you can give it six months of study and choose a much better one that returns 7% per year.

How long before the 7% investment catches up with the 6% investment?

A little over 11 years.

The same premise is exactly true in real estate.  The right time to invest in a home truly is now, and that is typically the correct answer.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Home Inventory Up 2.1% year-over-year: Increase Expected to Maintain

As of November 4th, housing inventory is greater in 2013 than it was November 4, 2012.  This may come as a surprise, after an aggressive spring and summer market, so I'll say it again.  We have more inventory now than we did a year ago last week.  This will make for the third consecutive week of increased housing inventory.  This indicates a bottoming out of inventory earlier in the year.

According to Calculated Risk Finance, these trends are right in line with what we typically see seasonally - low point of inventory in late December through early January, with a peak in mid-to-late summer.  That said, the "sellers market" we saw earlier this year is now more of a "balanced market".

This graph, compiled by Housing Tracker with the weekly inventory from 54 metro areas from 2010-13, indicates just this.  Most likely, the seasonal decline will be less than normal at the end of this year.  The year-to-year change should continue to increase.