Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Americans Believe Real Estate is Best Long-Term Investment

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According to Bankrate’s latest Financial Security Index Poll, Americans who have money to set aside for the next 10 years would rather invest in real estate than any other type of investment.
Bankrate asked Americans to answer the following question:

“Which would be the best way to invest money you did not need for more than 10 years?”


Real Estate came in as the top choice with 25% of all respondents, while cash investments (such as savings accounts and CD’s) came in second with 23%. The chart below shows the full results:
Sterling White, co-founder of Holdfolio, gave one reason as to why real estate may have ranked so high.
"Houses are tangible. You can physically see and feel the product. So you know where your money is going."
July’s poll also found that for the “26th consecutive month, Americans’ sense of financial well-being improved when taking into account debt, savings, net worth, job security, and overall financial situation.”

Bottom Line

There are several reasons, both financial and non-financial, as to why homeownership makes sense. It is nice to see that Americans have returned to a belief in homeownership as the best investment.



Monday, April 25, 2016

Selling Your Home? Make Sure the Price Is Right!

In today’s market, where demand is outpacing supply in many regions of the country, pricing a house is one of the biggest challenges real estate professionals face. Sellers often want to price their home higher than recommended, and many agents go along with the idea to keep their clients happy. However, the best agents realize that telling the homeowner the truth is more important than getting the seller to like them.
There is no “later.”
Sellers sometimes think, “If the home doesn’t sell for this price, I can always lower it later.” However, research proves that homes that experience a listing price reduction sit on the market longer, ultimately selling for less than similar homes.

John Knight, recipient of the University Distinguished Faculty Award from the Eberhardt School of Business at the University of the Pacific, actually did research on the cost (in both time and money) to a seller who priced high at the beginning and then lowered their price. His article, Listing Price, Time on Market and Ultimate Selling Price,published in Real Estate Economics revealed:

“Homes that underwent a price revision sold for less, and the greater the revision, the lower the selling price. Also, the longer the home remains on the market, the lower its ultimate selling price.”

Additionally, the “I’ll lower the price later” approach can paint a negative image in buyers’ minds. Each time a price reduction occurs, buyers can naturally think, “Something must be wrong with that house.” Then when a buyer does make an offer, they low-ball the price because they see the seller as “highly motivated.” Pricing it right from the start eliminates these challenges.
Don’t build “negotiation room” into the price.

Many sellers say that they want to price their home high in order to have “negotiation room.” But, what this actually does is lower the number of potential buyers that see the house. And we know that limiting demand like this will negatively impact the sales price of the house.

Not sure about this? Think of it this way: when a buyer is looking for a home online (as they are doing more and more often), they put in their desired price range. If your seller is looking to sell their house for $400,000, but lists it at $425,000 to build in “negotiation room,” any potential buyers that search in the $350k-$400k range won’t even know your listing is available, let alone come see it!

One great way to see this is with the chart below. The higher you price your home over its market value, the less potential buyers will actually see your home when searching.

A better strategy would be to price it properly from the beginning and bring in multiple offers. This forces these buyers to compete against each other for the “right” to purchase your house.
Look at it this way: if you only receive one offer, you are set up in an adversarial position against the prospective buyer. If, however, you have multiple offers, you have two or more buyers fighting to please you. Which will result in a better selling situation?

The Price is Right

Great pricing comes down to truly understanding the real estate dynamics in your neighborhood. Look for an agent that will take the time to simply and effectively explain what is happening in the housing market and how it applies to your home. You need an agent that will tell you what you need to know rather than what you want to hear. This will put you in the best possible position.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

91.5% of Homes in the US have Positive Equity

CoreLogic’s latest Equity Report revealed that one million borrowers regained equity in their homes in 2015. The outlook for 2016 remains positive as well, as an additional 850,000 properties would regain equity if home prices rose another 5% this year. 

The study also revealed:

·         95% of homes valued over $200,000 now have a positive equity position
·         87% of homes valued under $200,000 have entered a positive position
·         The 11.5% growth in home equity in Q4 marked the 13th consecutive quarter of double digit gains
Below is a map showing the percentage of homes with a mortgage, in each state, that have positive equity. (The states in gray have insufficient data to report.)


Significant Equity Is On The Rise

Anand Nallathambi, President & CEO of CoreLogic, believes this is great news for the“long-term health of the U.S. economy.” He went on to say:“The number of homeowners with more than 20% equity is rising rapidly. Higher prices driven largely by tight supply are certainly a big reason for the rise, but continued population growth, household formation and ultralow interest rates are also factors.”Of the 91.5% of homeowners with positive equity in the US, 72.6% have significant equity (defined as more than 20%). This means that nearly three out of four homeowners with a mortgage could use the equity in their current home to purchase a new home now.The map below shows the percentage of homes with a mortgage, in each state, with significant equity.

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many homeowners who is unsure of how much equity you have in your home and are curious about your ability to move, meet with a local real estate professional who can help evaluate your situation.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Designing an Outdoor Dining Space



Whether your home is a house in the suburbs or a high rise in the city, taking advantage of the outdoors is a great way to expand your livable space. If you are working with a large backyard, your possibilities may be endless, but even the tiniest balcony can be transformed into a functional area. There is nothing quite like enjoying a delicious meal al fresco, so here are a few tips to consider when designing an outdoor dining space.

Determine Your Function

Depending on the square footage of your outdoor area, consider what you will be using it for. Are you creating a dining space on a cramped balcony, or do you have a sprawling back yard with room for several areas? Smaller spaces can be tricky, so try to find furniture that can double as storage, like a bench with space beneath or a table with drawers or an extra shelf. For larger spaces, consider separating areas with rugs or using potted plants to establish borders between the dining and lounging spaces.
If dining will be one of the main uses of your outdoor space, be sure to consider proximity to the kitchen or grill. Having a clear path between the cooking area and the dining area will make serving much easier and help prevent trips, drops and spills.

Find Your Color Scheme

Consider what your focal point will be to help determine your color scheme. If your outdoor space overlooks the ocean or a beautiful landscape, then choosing neutral materials will create fewer distractions from the view. Alternatively, if you’re working with an urban setting, bring in a bit of color with potted plants and vibrant seat cushions or pillows. Ultimately, your space should be a reflection of your own style, but should also complement the surroundings.

Know Your Environment

With many different materials to choose from, selecting the right outdoor furniture can be tough, but considering your environment is a great place to begin narrowing down the list. If your space gets a lot of direct sunlight, metal furniture may not be your best choice as it can get hot and uncomfortable to touch. Additionally, if you are near the ocean, salt water in the air can be harsh on metal surfaces and require additional treatment and cleaning to maintain.
If you live in an area that experiences all the major seasons, you will want to consider if you will need to store your furniture for the winter. Plastic, resin, or wicker patio furniture can be a bit lighter weight than other materials and easier to put away for the off season.

Know Your Surroundings

Is your outdoor space small and intimate or large and sprawling? For smaller spaces, less can be much more. Be careful not to force a small space into something it can’t handle, like cramming an eight-seat table into a 4-seat space. Bistro tables can be an excellent fit for city balconies and smaller patios as they don’t take up too much space and can be easily moved around. Forcing too much furniture into a small space will make it feel even smaller and may deter you from enjoying it.
For larger spaces, be careful not to overdo it! Ask yourself what you are most likely to use the space for before you plan a 50-person dinner party. Large spaces are often best utilized by sectioning into several areas. For example, an outdoor dining space, a lounge area, room for the kids to play, and a pool can coexist in a very comfortable way by sectioning each area as if it were a room inside your home. Create obvious walkways between each area, and utilize area rugs, planters or potted plants to give the illusion of borders for each area. If you need a bit of privacy, a trellis covered in vines is the perfect divider to create a more intimate outdoor dining area.

Know Your Audience

Is your outdoor dining space for you and your spouse, or do you have a large family or entertain frequently? If you pride yourself as the host with the most, make sure your outdoor dining layout allows for a smooth cooking and entertaining experience. If your grill is the primary cooking space, make sure it is safely separated from the crowd, but also close enough that you can cook and entertain at the same time. If you plan to mostly cook inside, try to plan the dining space in close proximity to the indoor kitchen to avoid long trips back and forth and easy access to the refrigerator.

Have Fun with It

There are a million different ways to design an outdoor space and it really just boils down to your own personal style. Inspiration is often just a few clicks away, or you can view hundreds of patio dining sets at PatioLiving.com.

By Aaron Lewis

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Things People Forget to Do Before They Move



You packed everything perfectly, including that dining room chandelier, the big-screen TV, the vintage ’70s “Dukes of Hazzard” T-shirt collection. You even got your dog’s medical records from the vet. But something’s keeping you awake at night as your move draws nigh. You know you forgot something.


Don’t worry, keep packing. We assembled this handy checklist of things people often forget to do—or don’t even realize they should take care of—so you can make sure you’re covered and can move and settle down in your new digs with ease.
 

1 month before: Cancel recurring charges

Taking care of a gym membership or other subscription services may fall by the wayside during the madness leading up to moving day. Worse, those recurring charges will keep mounting on your credit card while you’re in the throes of unpacking. Get a jump on canceling these at least a month before your last expected day of use, especially since many gyms require a 30-day notice.
Can’t get out of your contract or transfer your gym membership to a facility by your new home? Sell it through online classifieds such as GymTransfer (yes, most gyms allow this!). Don’t forget to unload any prepaid class cards, too.
On the flip side, important recurring charges on your credit card—such as mail-order medications—might be canceled if your address change hasn’t caught up with billing information. So compile a list of charges and make the effort to call these companies and give them a heads up to avoid disruption in service.

2 weeks before: Call your car insurance company

The Department of Motor Vehicles advises people in the process of moving to closely manage their car insurance during the transition, as states have varying levels of required coverage. Even if you’re staying in the same city, rates can differ from neighborhood to neighborhood. So call your insurer well before the move to find out the parameters and deadlines for updating coverage at your new address.

2 weeks before: Change your address early

Most people know the U.S. Postal Service offers an online form to quickly change an address for all of your mail, but that doesn’t mean you should wait until the last minute to fill it out.
“To make sure mail arrives at your new home in time for your life there, complete the form about two weeks before your move,” says Desmond Lim, founder of QuikForce, an on-demand website that links people with professional movers. That way “you should see the first of your forwarded mail by the time of move-in.”

1 week before: Organize your finances

Important financial tasks are often forgotten in the whirlwind of moving, says consumer finance expert Kevin Gallegos, vice president of Phoenix operations for Freedom Financial Network. Since losing track of bills among piles of boxes is all too easy, Gallegos recommends setting up systems before a move that can easily transition from old home to new. For monthly bills such as phone, rent, or mortgage, it can really help to set them up for autopay, which you can typically do through your bank or the billing company.
“This can help ensure on-time payment during a hectic time,” he says. Whatever system you choose, decide which household member will be responsible for paying which bills. And as moving often incurs unexpected costs, be sure that you’ll have enough money in designated accounts at time of payment.

1 day before: Snap pictures of your electronics

Those cables in the back of your TV and modem that keep your life wired? They don’t make sense now and will make even less sense when they are tangled in a box. A simple solution is to snap a picture of the setup before you take your electronics apart—and coil the cords and label them with masking tape, for good measure.

1 day before: Pack your plants

Do you have a special plant (maybe that hydrangea you planted for your child’s birth or your mom’s prized azaleas)? To make sure you aren’t forced to leave it behind in your rush, make a list of what plants you want to take with you and put a plant plan in place. Don’t put your shovels into the moving van until the last minute—you’ll need them to carefully dig up root balls. Buy large buckets beforehand and use them to transport each plant.

1 day before: Stock a go-to box

Jen Sandlin, an agent with Cornerstone Real Estate in Boston, reminds movers to “set aside one box for the first 24 hours” in your new home. “Pack paper towels, cleaning supplies, clean sheets, towels, paper plates and silverware, toilet paper, and maybe even a bottle of bubbly to celebrate all your hard work, picnic-style.”