August 16th, 2017

Buyers explore longer commutes

Posted by at 12:50 pm

  Stopping short of saying it’s a “major” trend, extreme commuting – or at least extended commuting – is becoming an established feature of the American workplace. About 21 percent of workers commute more than 60 minutes each way to their jobs. More than half of these drive the whole distance alone. Extreme commuters – defined as people who spend 90 minutes or longer getting to work each way – are still rare, making up only about 3 percent of the work force. But the numbers are rising. By coincidence, many companies today are bringing telecommuting workers back to the office, demanding more collaboration and contact with customers. U.S. workers who performed all or some of their work at home fell from 24 to 22 percent between 2015 and 2016. With soaring prices, many commuters say they are willing to sacrifice...
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August 15th, 2017

Millennial concerns constrain home ownership

Posted by at 11:59 am

If you’re 35 or younger and you own your own home in America, you are somewhat of a rarity – a lot of your peers haven’t gotten there yet. Only about 35 percent of young adults in the U.S. are homeowners, an all-time low. In fact, a recent U.S. Census report found that a full third of America’s young adults still live at home with one or both parents – more than the amount who cohabitate with a partner or live alone. There are many reasons America’s young adults are struggling. Along with facing the highest home prices in history, Millennials are shouldering some serious student loans – borrowers who graduated in 2016 will pay back an average of $37,000. Many took out those loans at the height of the crisis – at some pretty high interest rates. Terms as...
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August 10th, 2017

Odds are there is no housing bubble

Posted by at 11:04 pm

In the post-crisis era, it can be hard to believe there’s no negative outcome lurking behind today’s soaring housing prices. But new analysis of data from 14 developed countries shows there’s minimal risk of a dramatic decline in home prices any time soon, despite current fears of a “bubble-bursting” correction. The research comes as housing prices set new records nationwide, surpassing their 2006 peaks in almost all areas of the country. The median house price jumped 6.5 percent in June to an all-time high of $263,800 – the 64th straight month of year-over-year price increases. But the study showed sustained increases in real house prices have been the norm since 1950, rather than the exception. While there is always a chance of a correction, odds are it won’t happen. Simple models put the chance of a 20 percent (or more)...
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July 25th, 2017

Home insurers can “non-renew” for too many claims

Posted by at 3:45 pm

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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July 6th, 2017

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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June 15th, 2017

Universal appeal

Posted by at 8:17 pm

Everyone likes the idea of building a home exactly to specifications – often without thinking of the future – and future buyers. Here’s the news. The house is probably going to outlast you. And most people don’t end up living in the same home forever. Unless you pan to retire (and die) in your current home, a universal approach to remodels and maintenance makes good fiscal sense. The old concept of universal design was synonymous with “senior accessible” or “handicapped friendly.” And it is all of that. But it can be so much more. It’s about thinking ahead, considering angles. Seeing problems with access and usage before they happen. How many folks do you know who moved into homes without taking time to consider clearances, heights and angles? Big plans for furnishings, add-ons and creature comforts can be spoiled by narrow doorways or...
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June 5th, 2017

Self-Managed Homeowners Associations

Posted by at 9:35 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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April 25th, 2017

A gift horse: The home seller’s curse

Posted by at 11:32 pm

So, you put your home up for sale, with a listing price based on local comparables. As luck would have it, a buyer comes along within days – maybe even hours – and meets that price. Heck, maybe they even throw in an extra 2 or 3 percent for good measure. This is probably one of those times referred to in the phrase: “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” But sometimes, when everything goes right, we have trouble accepting it. It’s a curse The “curse of the first offer” is well-known to real estate agents who have been around for a while. The seller’s reaction to an early offer? Almost inevitable: “Maybe we should wait and see if we can get more.” Today’s seller is probably right about one thing: There will be other offers. In marketplaces around...
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