October 27th, 2016

The Younger Half

Posted by at 11:10 am

A recent Zillow survey showed half of all U.S. home buyers in 2016 were younger than 36 – with first-time buyers accounting for 47 percent of those purchases. While they may be a tad older than first-time buyers of the past, it’s clear Millennials are emerging from their parents’ basements and looking for homes of their own. Another survey found first-timers make up 52 percent of those planning to buy in 2017. In 2015, first-timers made up only 33 percent of prospective buyers. Those who actually do plan to buy a home are not only tech-savvy, they’re tech-bred. They use mobile devices for everything – from planning vacations to researching stocks to checking the Twitter status of celebs. It’s not a stretch to say this age group isn’t capable of conducting personal financial management without the aid of a digital device...
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The best time to buy? Right now

Posted by at 12:58 pm

If you can find what you’re looking for, the best time to buy a home is almost always right now. One of the best kept secrets in the real estate market is that there is no “best time of year” to do home shopping. Don’t try to time the market – it’s impossible. The right time to buy is when you find the best available house in your price range. The common belief – maybe better called a common hope – is that house prices are correlated to interest rates. When the rates rise, the prices of homes for sale must fall, because otherwise those homes will become less affordable – right? Sorry. There’s no strong relationship between house prices and interest rates. No one can predict how long today’s historically low interest rates will last. Not everyone fits the...
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Beat the chill bill with simple heat savers

Posted by at 11:36 am

The news is out – the winter of 2016-17 is going to be a cold one! But with a few simple home upgrades, you can conserve heat like a bear in hibernation and slash your energy bill at the same time.   The first place to look is in the attic. Is your insulation evenly distributed? There should be about 6 inches everywhere – more if you live in a colder climate. The Department of Energy and many states offer financial incentives. Use the sunshine to your advantage. Leave drapes or blinds on the east side of your home open in the morning, and on the west side in the afternoon. Otherwise, close draperies to trap solar heat inside. Next, lower the hot water heater thermostat to 120 degrees. That’s still optimal for laundry or dishes, and don’t worry, your...
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October 18th, 2016

Feeling the Heat

Posted by at 10:32 am

Rising commodity prices and a colder winter are expected to put a chill on American household heating budgets during the winter of 2016-17. Last year’s mild temperatures and low energy prices brought some of the lowest energy prices of the decade, but set the country up for increases that could cost homeowners and renters hundreds of dollars this year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The increases will differ depending on where you live and how you heat your home. East of the Rockies, the Northeast and Midwest should be 17-percent more frigid, while the South will be 18-percent colder. The West, however, should be about 2-percent warmer. As a result, natural gas users – more than half of all U.S. homes – should expect a bill about 22 percent higher than last year. Propane and heating oil users will feel...
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Fall into great deals on a new home

Posted by at 11:37 am

Fall can still be a great time to buy a home, with the wind of the summer season still at your back. The weather may be getting colder, but even with only a 4.7-month inventory of existing homes available, the market might be hotter than you think. Buyers will find the “move before school starts” competition has dropped out of the hunt, content to wait until the sun shines again. Lots of families don’t like to move in the rain or snow. And as the buying competition drops off, many sellers, in turn, get more serious and more motivated. Maybe they overestimated their home’s market value, and they’d rather make a sale than wait another six months. They may drop prices to elicit more offers. By late 2016, you can expect a new influx of sellers who up until now had been thwarted by negative equity...
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Being a Landlord Rules

Posted by at 1:39 pm

In today’s hot rental market, you may be considering becoming a landlord as a way to make extra money. Perhaps you can afford to move into a new home before selling your old one, and want to see if the old abode goes up in value before you put it on the market. This is fairly common for newly married professionals, who no longer need two places to live, but can now look at one of the properties as an investment. If you can secure significant rent, the extra house might be able to “carry itself.” You can pay the old home’s mortgage, taxes and insurance with the rent. In some situations, you may realize a tidy profit. And of course you can become a professional landlord, who buys and rents out property to help fulfill rental demand. In this tight housing market, the demand is...
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