Making the decision to buy a new home is a life-altering event…in a good way. But the process can be daunting. Take the following advice from CNNMoney into consideration before heading out on your home-buying journey.
- Melissa Kellerman
Buying or selling a home can be a stressful experience without the security of a trusted REALTOR in your corner.
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I will guide you through every step of this rewarding process with professionalism and dedication. My attention to detail, strong communication and 100% effort will deliver the results you deserve. It is my mission to build lasting relationships and earn repeat referrals. The key to this is providing my clients with personalized service before, during and after every transaction. I am here to help you with all of your real estate needs.
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Friday, January 27, 2012
Thursday, January 26, 2012
During his State of the Union address on Jan. 24, President Barack Obama called on Congress to approve new legislation that would give all homeowners who are current on their mortgages the opportunity to refinance at record low mortgage rates.
According to a follow-up article by Nick Timiraos in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), administration officials declined to immediately outline specifics of how the program would work, stating that details would be forthcoming as the legislation emerges in the coming days. In theory, however, the new legislation is intended to give responsible homeowners a chance to refinance without “red tape” or a “runaround from the bank,” as the President said in his speech.
The existing refinance program, which was unveiled in 2009, limited opportunities to borrowers with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This newest proposal would remove such limitations.
As Timiraos explains in his WSJ piece, while mortgages have fallen to their lowest recorded levels, many borrowers haven't been able to qualify because they owe more than their homes are worth, while others feel that refinancing isn't worth the upfront costs. According to CoreLogic, an estimated 28 million homeowners could cut the interest rates on their loans by more than one percentage point if they could refinance.
Some are speculating that the new refinance legislation would involve the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are already responsible for backing nearly nine in 10 new loans, reports the WSJ.
Refinancing has been particularly limited in five states that have seen the biggest home-price declines: Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan and Nevada. In those states, some 6.4 percent of borrowers with credit scores between 680 and 719 refinanced in 2010, compared with 9.7 percent of borrowers in the remaining 45 states, according to Federal Reserve data.
To read the complete Wall Street Journal article, visit online.wsj.com.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
If you’re like many homeowners, the start of the new year finds you ready to finally tackle those home-improvement projects that have lingered on your wish list. But where do you begin?
First, prioritize those renovations that will have a maximum impact, both in terms of aesthetics and investment values. Also prioritize the projects that will enhance the livability and enjoyment of your home.
Next, decide whether or not it makes sense to handle these projects on your own or call in a professional for help. According to the experts at Sears Home Services, while taking on home remodeling yourself can seem daunting , enlisting the right help can make the process simple and seamless.
Here are three areas of the home to put at the top of your list this year:
According to the National Association of REALTORS®, one of the best investments in a home is a bathroom renovation. Remodeling a bathroom that's more than 25 years old substantially increases the value of your home. While your bathroom may not need a complete makeover, updating cabinets, lighting, tiling or countertops can go a long way toward improving design and functionality. Or, consider a few quick fixes, such as a new towel bar, shower-curtain rod, robe hooks or showerhead.
The kitchen is the heart of the home. And kitchen renovations don't need to be dramatic to be impactful—updates such as new countertops, cabinets, appliances or flooring can all dramatically improve the kitchen. These improvements can also help yield increased functionality and space throughout the kitchen. For a simple refresh, homeowners can give their kitchen a new look by replacing the hardware on cabinets, painting or updating fixtures.
A great way to upgrade an area of your home and pull a room together is to install new floors. There are myriad options to choose from: carpeting, tile, laminate, porcelain or ceramic tile, vinyl or hardwood. Consult a home-improvement retailer or flooring expert to help make the best choice and to ensure proper installation.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Friday, January 20, 2012
On average, an approximate one-quarter-million homes and offices have at least one room damaged by a frozen pipe per year. In order to ensure your home stays safe and your pipes don’t freeze, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)® suggests three easy-to-remember steps: Foam, dome and drip.
Foam: Insulate pipes exposed to the elements or cold drafts. For as little as $1 per 6’ of insulation, you can stop pipes from freezing and save energy. By keeping your water warmer, you reduce the amount of energy needed to heat water in the cold, winter months.
Dome: Place an insulating dome or other coverings on outdoor faucets and spigots to reduce the likelihood of water pipes freezing, expanding and causing a costly leak.
Drip: Allow a slow drip from your faucets to reduce the buildup of pressure in the pipes. Even if the pipes freeze, the released pressure in the water system will reduce the likelihood of a rupture. If you are going out of town and suspect the temperature will drop, turn off the water and open all of the taps to drain the water system. This way pipes won’t freeze and you won’t return home to a mess.
Your local home improvement store will have all of the tools and expertise you will need to complete these steps. Foam, dome and drip your way to a safe winter season free of costly home repairs.
For more information, visit www.greatwinterweatherparty.org.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Housing Market to Perk up in 2012- GREAT NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!
There appears to be signs of life out there for the housing market.
The up-and-down ride for real estate the past few years was seen again in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to a survey of HouseHunt real estate agents across the country. There are pockets of good news offset by bad, with home values and prices basically bumping along the bottom of the grid on a perceived never-ending rocky road.
But most of the surveyed agents are optimistic moving forward, and the majority say that buyers are out there and activity is up, but pricing remains stagnant, and in some cases inched downward a little more throughout the year.
"I've been just as productive now as I was in the heyday of real estate except that the prices are 50 percent less," said Chris Cochran, a broker-owner from Riverside, Calif. "It's good news for buyers and bad news for sellers because sellers are losing equity by the minute and buyers are able to get a fairly-priced home and a really, really low interest rate."
Cochran said that the inventory in his region of Southern California is crowded with short sales, which fuels a buyer's market mentality. He added that prices were flat during 2010 and the first three quarters of 2011 before edging down late in the year. A breakdown of listings, he said, were 65 percent short sales, 10 percent REOs and the rest investor-owned "flips."
Looking forward, he thinks the housing inventory will increase and prices will again drop slightly before stabilizing in the middle of 2012 with a slight uptick in the final few months.
"The banks that have this so-called ‘shadow inventory' just need to put it on the market and get rid of it," Cochran said when asked how he would get real estate rolling again. "Once we get rid of all that inventory, supply and demand will take over and prices will go back up."
Decreased prices haven't been a big problem recently in the Naples area of Florida, said agent Dawn Amato, whose territory is Marco Island. She said that homes that were previously reduced by around $50,000 are now reduced "by a couple thousand, if that."
"We're not getting near as many reductions as we did in the past," Amato said. "It's been turning around steadily over the past year. The office I just left sold over $200 million in 2011. That's just one office. People feel the bottom of the market is here, so they're buying, and eager to do so."
Amato, who said she's "openly optimistic" about 2012 and beyond, said a tight inventory of available houses is the main problem in her area. That scenario leads to faster sales and even prompted some 'price wars' the final two months of 2011.
"If it's on the water with a view and it's priced right, it could be sold in days," Amato said. "Same scenario, but priced too high, maybe a few weeks."
Overall, 22 percent of HouseHunt agents said the average time for houses on the market was 60 days or less, down from 26 percent in the previous quarter. Regarding inventory, figures were identical in the third and fourth quarters, with 68 percent saying supply was good and 32 percent reporting a tight market. The only significant difference from the third quarter to the fourth was 42 percent saying they were getting at least 95 percent of a listing's asking price, compared to 51 percent previously.
On the Boise outskirts of Meridian, Idaho, agent Jeff Stewart said inventory and foreclosures have been declining for a number of quarters, with short sales diminishing toward the end of 2011. Prices are basically stable, he said, and the average time houses are staying on the market has decreased "from eight to nine months of inventory" to a little less than three months.
"The market is actually better of late," Stewart said. "We actually have a shortage of good properties. I think people are confident that we’ve hit bottom. In fact, in some of the areas I cover, prices are ticking up a bit, and I think it bodes well for a slow curve of stabilization."
An upward trend also was reported by agent Kevin Bergin, who works in the Long Beach Island, N.J., shore area. Bergin said levels in his office for the year were back to 2008 levels, with 60 percent of house visits turning into sales.
"I think buyers generally feel better about the economy, the low interest rates and prices being down 15-20 percent," he said. "People are still very discouraged about the government on both sides of the aisle, but they feel that now is a good time to buy a second home."
Of Bergin’s clients, 10 percent were first-time buyers and 25 percent were buying a primary residence. The assessed value vs. the asking price remains an issue, he said, but "most of the people looking now aren’t the same tire-kickers as there were two years ago when they were just asking for ridiculous prices."
Overall, prices in his area are down 7 percent from 2010, Bergin said, but he’s optimistic about 2012.
"If the current trends and the way people are thinking continue and interest rates stay low, which they probably will, it’s going to be a pretty good year," Bergin said.
Optimism also is what Wanda Hardee is clinging to as the new year begins. The agent who works in the Anderson, S.C., area said she had two "big closings" in December to ring out 2011 on a high note. But while she said that "things are picking up here," Hardee added that it’s hard to get sellers to price their homes correctly because of increased competition from foreclosed properties.
"Foreclosures are still pretty prevalent here and we’re starting to see more and more in the higher-priced end," Hardee said, adding that another obstacle to home sales has been the difficulty of some people being able to secure financing.
Still, she said she loves the business and only knows one way to tackle it.
"We’re going gung ho," Hardee said. "With real estate, just like anything else, you have to have a positive attitude. We’re going to make it work."
Additional results from HouseHunt’s fourth quarter survey include:
• Sixty-five percent reported that they were getting multiple offers, the same figure as the previous quarter.
• Twenty-nine percent said customers were first-time buyers, up slightly from 27 percent in the previous quarter.
• Fifty-one percent reported a negative price appreciation, compared to 58 percent in the third quarter and 64 percent in the second.
For more information, visit www.househunt.com.
Twice as Many Housing Markets Seeing Positive Recovery
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
According to REALTOR® Ginny Zukowski, the “money pit” can not only be a home that has hidden repair costs, but homeowners insurance policies may require the repairs to be made before they will write a policy. Also, banks are not accepting all appraisals and often require a second and sometimes third appraisal before they will provide a loan. This can lead to a lower price than the original appraised amount and less than the contract price.
To help potential homebuyers, Zukowski reveals the following tips:
Tip 1: Be prepared for the new changes and have open communication with the real estate agent and lender. Try to meet with them together and find out all of the upfront cash that will be needed to purchase the home. Buyers will need to pay for all inspections, appraisal, good faith money, and provide a down payment. With new private mortgage insurance, this could be several thousand dollars.
Tip 2: Once the buying process starts, be prepared for the closing to take some time. If it is a short sale, this could be four-to-five months. The loan process is also taking longer, around 45 days on the average, and additional delays often occur.
Tip 3: Be on the lookout for properties that will soon need a new roof or A/C. Home insurance policies can require new ones before they issue a policy and the mortgage lender requires homeowners insurance. This can cost the buyers more upfront dollars.
Tip 4: Before putting in an offer, ask the REALTOR® to explain all the possible things that could require more time and money at or before closing. As an example, the bank may require additional appraisals. A bank-approved appraiser may be required.
Tip 5: Be sure the REALTOR® goes over all of the fine print before an offer is submitted. Be aware of all the possible things that could go wrong and how it could impact the buying process up front.
With a real estate professional to help both buyers and sellers navigate the process, you can be know what to expect in the home buying process...and what to avoid.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
A recent national survey conducted by GfK Roper Custom Research finds that less than 50 percent of homeowners surveyed know that they are responsible for repairs to the water line on their property. Further, the report goes on to state that one-third of all homeowners responding actually assume that their local utility is responsible for the cost of a burst water line between their house and the street, when this is usually not the case.
"One of the challenges of homeownership is that the potential for expensive repairs is always out there," says Tom Rusin, chief executive officer of HomeServe USA. "The fact that homeowners don't know about their responsibilities in these situations serves to make unexpected and expensive repairs harder to handle."
To protect yourself in the case of an unexpected emergency, homeowners can be prepared with a service repair plan that helps cover the cost of expensive water service line repairs. Typically the homeowner is responsible for the water service line from the curb or well casing all the way to the home, connecting to the water heater, sinks, showers and more. Temperature changes, shifting soil or the age of the line can all cause the line to become damaged. Many times this results in a loss of water pressure or a loss of water altogether. In other instances, the effects will not be noticed until there is a spike in the water bill due to an underground leak. Repairing a water service line can cost more than $2,000.
A well-protecting plan provides consumers thousands of dollars in coverage for a low monthly fee and will dispatch a contractor to make any necessary repairs should a problem arise.
For more information, visit www.homeserveusa.com.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
January 28, 2012 - 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Freedom Financial Services Expo Center || 3650 N. Nevada
Get smart at the PikesPeakParent Education Fair! PikesPeakParent.com in conjunction with Colorado League of Charter Schools & District 49 invites you to attend. From public schools to charter academies, you’ll get face-to-face with over 40 of the region’s top choices in education. Find the best educational fit for your family in time for Spring 2012 enrollment!
Enter to win a $500 cash prize!
2011's foreclosure rate lowest since recession began
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
photo by By Beverly & Pack