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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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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