November 17th, 2017

Seniors no longer a niche market

Posted by at 9:18 pm

Fueled by the baby-boomer generation, the population of Americans 65 and older is growing exponentially, and will become a major part of the housing and mortgage industries over the next several decades. According to the latest report from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, one out of three U.S. households in 2035 will be headed by someone over 65. That’s an estimated 79 million people! Real estate agents and mortgage lenders who plan sales strategies with an eye on the aging will doubtlessly see more success. One unexpected backlash of the exodus to the suburbs over the last 40 years is the growing number of retirees realizing their neighborhoods no longer fit their needs. In a recent survey from Freddie Mac, seniors said they need major renovations in order to stay in their current homes as they age –...
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October 26th, 2017

2018 Housing market: A New Frontier?

Posted by at 7:07 pm

Heading into the back stretch of 2017, analysts predict more of the same for the 2018 housing market – moderate economic growth, solid job gains and low mortgage interest rates. Same old, same old – or is it? Could new construction rev up the housing market wrapping up the second decade of the 21st Century? Economists say low supply is driving high prices right now, but homes are selling fast; continuing to average 30 or fewer days on the market. Some potential buyers have acceded to  the sticker shock, but in most markets, they’ve shown a willingness to spend more. Builders report first-time buyers are skipping the traditional starter home and jumping straight to that new, move-up home instead. Waiting longer to buy a first home has increased the median age of a first-time homebuyer, and many are already higher...
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October 19th, 2017

Parks Enhance Urban Framework

Posted by at 9:59 am

Parks play increasingly important roles in the modern urban landscape. As America upgrades and expands its roads, sewers, and utilities, it needs also to improve green infrastructure; the ecological framework needed for environmental and economic sustainability. By planning and managing urban parks in concert with other development, cities can reduce flood control and storm water management costs, protect biological diversity, provide recreation and increase civic engagement. Appealing to humans’ intuitive love of nature and open space, a well-designed park improves the public health and brings together people of all ages and cultures. Best of all, it’s free to visit anytime. New homebuyers regularly rate access to parks among the Top 10 most important considerations in their decision-making process. Mostly funded by property taxes, parks generally do well in local bond and levy elections. In the old days, green space simply had...
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October 2nd, 2017

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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September 25th, 2017

A flood of insurance

Posted by at 5:28 pm

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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September 19th, 2017

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 15th, 2017

Equifax breach affects millions

Posted by at 5:05 pm

Vigilance is the watchword after 143 million consumers had personal data hacked from the computers of Equifax, one of the three large firms that handle credit reporting in North America. The FBI, Federal Trade Commission and Congress are investigating. But the incident drives home the point that today’s consumer must become his or her own chief privacy security officer. Identity theft experts say the best thing to do is be more on guard than ever about personal and financial information. Check your credit score – it can be done for free once a year at annualcreditreport.com. Watch bank and credit card statements for unusual charges, and don’t open suspicious emails. Consumers can go to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com for updates on the company’s internal investigation, as well as check to see if their information was potentially exposed (almost everyone’s was). The company is...
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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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September 8th, 2017

Virtually impossible to stop tech revolution

Posted by at 2:27 pm

The Tech Revolution continues to pick up speed   –  and the array of new gadgetry to help real estate industry pros is no exception! In the 1990s and 2000s, cellphones and smartphones freed agents from their office chairs (and chained them to their cars). Who knew that was just the beginning? Now drones soar high overhead, offering professional-quality listing photos from unprecedented perspectives. How about the virtual real estate broker? The concept has been around since at least 1987, when the movie “RoboCop” showed a home tour guided by an agent who popped up on screens as shoppers moved from room to room. With instant messaging apps like Skype and FaceTime, buyers can take home tours without actually being present. One company offers a robot that tours homes for you with a camera, broadcasting videos that can be streamed online. Some...
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August 23rd, 2017

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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