Mismatched marketplace

Posted by at 11:26 am

The record-low supply of homes for sale continues to be a nationwide trend, due mostly to a mismatch with buyer demand. Sales inventory tumbled 8.9 percent nationally between 2016 and 2017, and as of Q2 2017, had fallen for  nine consecutive quarters. Bidding wars are to be expected with most offers, especially in larger metropolitan areas and their suburbs. However, the competition is mostly born out of a lack of homes at the low end of the market, where there is most demand. After the housing crisis, investors bought up a huge percentage of the existing starting home inventory, perhaps thinking of “flipping” the homes when prices recovered. But today, those investors are collecting high rents on those homes, leaving little incentive to sell. The remaining starter homes are in huge demand. New construction isn’t filling the void. While homes priced between $200,000 and $250,000...
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A flood of insurance

Posted by at 10:28 am

Following the record damages from hurricanes Irma and Harvey, insurers are sounding the alarm bells – development across the country has turned many areas into potential flood zones.   It’s not entirely surprising. While areas like Coastal Florida require all homeowners to have flood insurance because of the high risk, most U.S. homeowners don’t live in areas prone to heavy flooding – or so they thought. Residential development eats up absorbent grasslands in and around cities, and also leads to the addition of more non-porous structures like roads and foundations, which can block the natural flow of stormwater runoff. Unless you live on a hilltop, insurers recommend at least some flood insurance. Administered by the federal National Flood Insurance Program and available through many insurances agencies, a flood policy costs about $500 a year for $250,000 of coverage. For a lot of families, an extra $500...
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Exploding home values mean refis, remodels

Posted by at 11:25 am

The low supply of houses on the market in the home stretch of 2017 continues to ramp up demand, jolting home prices “through the roof.” Most current homeowners can count on rising values for the foreseeable future! Cash-out refinances and other home equity loans are ways to pay for repairs or remodels that can push home values even higher. Updates and improvements can be used to enhance personal comfort, maintain property value – or even increase the chance of getting top dollar when an owner does decide to sell! Many of today’s first-time home buyers go smaller or older by necessity – just to get a foot in the door. They can build their dreams with the help of home equity! For homes built before 1940, updates to roofing, gutters and HVAC trend high on the list, along with abatement of toxic...
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September 14th, 2017

Plan to maintain financial control

Posted by at 10:38 am

Sometimes the pressure of monthly bills can make you feel like you’re losing control of your personal financial situation. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently released a comprehensive list of strategies and advice to help prevent catastrophic financial breakdown. Start with a plan. Make a list of all bills and due dates to help assess financial obligations. To help get a total picture of monthly bills, set up a calendar to identify the weeks you have the most money due. The CFPB has a template you can use. Use the calendar to weigh the risks of falling behind on each different bill. While not ideal, this may prevent you from losing your car or house, having utilities shut off, or getting into serious default on a loan. Try calling your creditors if you think you’re going to miss a payment...
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Don’t let clogged drains stop you

Posted by at 4:25 pm

Many homeowners just assume they cannot do any sort of plumbing on their own. The term “plumbing” can be somewhat intimidating – but it literally means moving water from place to place. Clogged drains, then, are plumbing’s natural enemy. Stuck drains, like most plumbing problems, can be prevented through proper use and regular maintenance. Don’t let clogged drains stop you. Hard water – water with high mineral content – can leave deposits to clog pipes over time. Consider installing a traditional sulfur softener. These units require cutting the pipe, so it’s probably best to hire a professional plumber for this one. It will avoid a lot more visits from a pro in the future. You can also install a do-it-yourself unit that breaks up deposits from outside the pipe with electronic pulses, but will need a nearby outlet or a...
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Home insurers can “non-renew” for too many claims

Posted by at 8:44 am

If you have a home mortgage loan, then your lender is going to require you to carry homeowner’s insurance. It may be the biggest purchase you’ve ever made, but the lender has a lot invested in that home too – and wants its investment protected. But be warned. Insurance is not a maintenance plan – home insurance coverage is designed for sudden and unexpected large losses. Homeowners who file more than one claim unrelated to weather in less than three years can expect to be “non-renewed.” Non-renewal is not cancellation. Insurance companies cannot cancel a policy that has been in force for more than 60 days except for failure to pay the premium, fraud, or serious misrepresentation in the application. But like any business, an insurer “reserves the right to refuse service to anyone,” so long as they provide you with...
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July 17th, 2017

Adding up the costs when selling

Posted by at 4:30 pm

The price of selling a home is about $15,190, according to a recent study.by Zillow. The price? But isn’t selling about making money? Sellers often forget there is also going to be money going out – staging, painting, landscaping and cleaning. Then there are the big chunks – the real estate agent’s fee and the closing costs. Since 63 percent of today’s sellers have never sold before, the “price of selling” can be a big surprise! Let’s start at the top. Most real estate agents’ fees are paid through a commission. Usually about 6 percent of the purchase price, the commission is subtracted from the proceeds of the home sale. The problem is thinking of the commission as something you are losing. A good agent builds the commission into the price of the home, and adjusts accordingly. The amount collected...
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Plan for a smooth move

Posted by at 2:30 pm

You’ve signed the closing docs, and the deal is done. Now it’s time for the big move. With or without movers, pacing and planning are the keys to a safe and successful transition. It begins What about the days before the move? You might want to consider deep cleaning the new house. The walls, floors, counters and baseboards will never be this exposed again. Run a load or two through the dishwasher and washing machine. Dust high sills and don’t forget the refrigerator. A bug bomb is a good idea. Even if you can’t see them, they might be there. You can accomplish this only one time and still have time to clear any noxious fumes before children or pets show up. Plan ahead If you always have a “moving plan” in the back of your mind, it can lessen the...
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Self-Managed Homeowners Associations

Posted by at 2:32 pm

With the skyrocketing price of homes today, many homeowner association neighborhoods are looking to save where they can. Some have found they can maintain desired aesthetic standards at a lower cost with self-management, where neighbors agree to share administrative duties instead of paying a professional management company. This can mean a huge savings for the growing number of HOA communities. HOAs maintain standards for landscaping and cleaning of common areas, and enforce rules for upkeep on the membership’s homes. HOAs often protect property values by not allowing neighborhood problems to fester. Majority Rules Some self-managed HOAs are governed strictly by the majority rule. In America, the one-voice, one-vote concept is quite popular, especially considering some recent election results! In such “pure” democracies, community spirit is often enhanced. In an increasingly stratified society where folks often just stay in their own homes...
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May 4th, 2017

Tracking credit trends

Posted by at 12:54 pm

  Opinions differ on credit scoring’s new trend toward “trended data” – where borrowing and making payments on your credit accounts is carefully tracked over time. The nation’s leading credit reporters – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – are switching to the VantageScore trended data system this fall. Meant to provide more context to debt load, it’s supposed to give lenders a more holistic view of a person’s credit behavior. Mortgage-backing giant Fannie Mae already requires underwriters to use trended data when assessing home loan applications. Historically, credit card reports only contained the balance, the amount of available credit and if a borrower was making payments on time. Before trended data, some credit users could “game” the system, by opening more credit cards, and not using them. By keeping utilization low and paying bills on time, scores would improve, regardless of the amount...
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