Uphill Battle: Buying a Home Amid Rising Rates - 04/13/2022
A “pre-approval letter” is like a license to buy a home; without it, a seller won’t take a buyer seriously. A pre-approval is a statement from a specific lender on how big a mortgage loan they’ll extend. Keep in mind though that pre-approval letters have a short shelf life. After a couple of years of flat and...Read More

Making the Landing Come Alive - 01/07/2009
After years of as a busy and involved mother, my client became an empty-nester. She hadn’t updated her home for many years and felt ready for a change. She wanted to make her home more enjoyable for herself and her husband, in addition to preparing it for an eventual sale. The improvements, if done correctly, would not only add beauty...Read More

Shorten Your Loan - 05/29/2013
Three hundred and sixty. In degrees, that number may not seem like much – like making a quick 360-degree turn. But measured in months, 360 can feel like an eternity, particularly for borrowers who commit to a 30-year mortgage loan. Fortunately, for those who dream of a mortgage-free future arriving sooner, there are effective ways to...Read More

Toxic Loan Rx - 11/11/2009
In 2010, the most taboo "f" word in the American vernacular will have more than four letters. Indeed, "foreclosure" will be on the minds and lips of millions more homeowners than ever before - due to the fact that many toxic loans are scheduled to reset in the next few months, including numerous option-ARMs. The good news is that there are...Read More

House Swap - 12/10/2008
Downsizing from your family home when you've hit your 50s, 60s or even 70s doesn't mean you have to relocate to an apartment, townhouse or condominium. You can make a switch to a smaller house that offers you fewer rooms - the ones you really want and in the size and condition you need, as well as all the key amenities. Switching homes also...Read More

Keeping a paper trail, even when eClosings are electronic - 10/07/2020
A lot less paper and ink are now involved home sale transactions since the virus crisis has dramatically accelerated eClosings, the industry term describing how the necessary contracts can be signed and sent from one party’s computer to another. In some states allowing electronic notarization, home buyers/sellers can sign by simply...Read More

Giving a Room a Purpose - 07/02/2008
“I have an unused room in my home and I don’t know what to do with it. Can you help me?” asked my empty-nester client. Her children were either off to college or well-established in their professional lives, and my homeowner found herself with new decorating frontiers. Now that her children had flown the coop she wanted to...Read More

Gambling to win a lower rate - 07/27/2022
Back in early July of this year, mortgage rates were roughly double where they sat at the same point in 2021. But the path to today’s loftier level hasn’t been a straight ascent up. “Rates move when the financial markets move, “explains Jeffrey Loyd, of Mortgage Acuity in Hackensack, NJ. For instance, when...Read More

Buying new construction amid scarce inventories - 02/24/2021
Suddenly, significant numbers of buyers want a new home. Pending sales contracts on new construction swelled to record numbers in late 2020. A perfect storm of low-interest rates, favorable buyer demographics, and increased desire in suburban developments is fueling demand, notes Robert Dietz, chief economist, National Association of...Read More

Hearing aids for noise sensitive home buyers - 08/12/2020
If a tree falls in a forest, but no one is there to hear it, does it still make a noise? Recent homebuyers irked by the creaking footsteps of their condo neighbor or the rumbling of trains would answer that question with a resounding “yes.” “People have different reactions to sounds,” says Bonnie Schnitta,...Read More

Sizing Up the Right Condo - 12/23/2009
When it comes to buying the right condominium, the first rule of real estate – location, location, location – certainly applies. But a secondary rule that can be just as important is often overlooked, say the experts: namely, that size does matter. Indeed, many condo hunters willing to sacrifice square footage and a spatially...Read More

Attentive Ownership - 11/25/2009
For those who appreciate maintenance-free homeownership, the appeal of living in a condo building, townhome development or other multifamily community is obvious: A simple monthly assessment fee to your homeowners' association and worries like lawn care, snow removal and common-area repairs are taken care of. But HOAs, like the board members...Read More

Baby boomers with suburban homes face choices - 11/04/2020
Suburban living is in style again, thanks to a pandemic-related preference for lower density living. And that’s significant for Baby Boomers, who raised their family in these newly desirable homes with a yard – but not too large, and are located at a distance – but not too far—from the city. Using 2020 data,...Read More

All the Single-Family (Homes) - 11/14/2012
Is the dream of owning a single-family home withering away? Possibly, according to a new report from Pike Research, a part of Navigant’s Energy Practice that shows that Americans are moving to multi-family homes, rather than single-family homes. This is a big change from the behavior over the last 50 years. “The 1950s to 1970s...Read More

It Takes a Down-Payment Village - 05/15/2019
More homebuyers are getting help making a down payment – usually from a generous Mom or Dad. Don’t have deep-pocketed parents? With benevolent friends, cousins, aunts and uncles, and others, you can still get down payment help, albeit from lots of sources giving smaller amounts. It’s relatively easy – and now socially...Read More

Sellers: Think spring in February - 12/18/2019
No doubt you’ve heard that utterance since it’s common knowledge that the real estate market comes to life in spring. Sellers, though, might have an advantage if they turn intention into action to list early in the season. In fact, there’s less preparation time than you might think. In many markets, as in the...Read More

Keeping Your 4K Ultra HD TV? Put It In Writing - 02/10/2016
Gourmet cooks covet their ovens and clean freaks dote on their front-loaders, but most Americans would probably agree there’s one appliance they love above all others: the TV. And when the attachment not just emotional, but physical – like a big screen TV attached to a wall – the smart homeowner need a plan for what...Read More

Putting Home to Work - 07/30/2008
Thomas Dolan thinks that it’s smart to work in the same building that they live in. Paying twice as much as you need to in energy-related costs is just “silly and wasteful,” argues Dolan, an Oakland, Calif. architect who founded the nonprofit Live/Work Institute. Although commuting to work has become a part of the...Read More

The Real Estate of Marriage - 04/03/2013
Marriage and home buying seem to go hand in hand, as the National Association of Realtors recently reported the highest share of married couples and lowest share of single buyers in almost twelve years. Of all 2012 homebuyers, the NAR found that 65 percent were married and 16 percent were single. There are two important factors involved,...Read More

Seniors Fixing to Stay Put Need the Right Fixes - 09/08/2021
Comfortable in their home, many seniors never want to move. About one-half get their wish and can stay home until they die, according to Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research {CRR}. But a fall or illness that makes living in their home unmanageable forces others out. Sometimes small fixes, like installing grab bars...Read More

Sniffing out scents that turn-off buyers - 01/29/2020
With many buyers starting their home search online, good visuals are vital in enticing them to book a showing. Once they’re inside, though, the unseen can sour their favorable first impression. “When a potential buyer walks into a home, it takes less than ten seconds to determine if they want to continue,” says John...Read More

Reverse mortgages can help some owners, not all - 05/13/2020
Homeowners aged 62 and over have a special financial lifeline available: The ability to borrow against their home equity with a “reverse mortgage.” Allowing owners to receive funds and not pay back the loan until they leave the home, reverse mortgages hiked in popularity during the last economic crisis, circa 2008. But...Read More

Cost Containment on New Construction - 05/05/2021
With demand high and supply low, buyers on a budget face increasing challenges finding the right home at an affordable price. Those whose hearts are set on new construction face even greater challenges, with pricing also escalating from climbing costs for supplies like lumber, paint and flooring. Indeed, in March, the National...Read More

Rate Shopping Pays Off - 06/07/2023
If they comparison shop rates at different lenders, borrowers can “potentially save $600 to $1200 annually,” according to mortgage agency Freddie Mac. Looking at borrowers with similar down payment, credit and financial profiles between 2010 and 2021, when rates didn’t see rapid escalation, Freddie Mac found that similar...Read More

How to Protect Yourself as a Renter - 08/28/2008
As millions of Americans struggle with declining home values and rising foreclosure rates, many are rediscovering the benefits of renting. By trading in their mortgages for monthly payments to their landlords, renters sidestep a host of hassles including property taxes, homeowner's insurance and major maintenance costs. But with these...Read More

How You Can Help Your Market? - 08/13/2008
Hampton Lake, a 908-home subdivision in Bluffton, S.C., is a gated private community, but in recent months residents have seen outsiders strolling around as if they owned the place. The visitors, usually couples with their children in tow, come and eat the food the residents have carefully set out, including elaborate breakfasts and...Read More

Rules For Rebounding - 06/05/2013
The housing downturn touched all areas of the country, but came down particularly heavily in Miami. Now, the market there is healing, and many former distressed homeowners have healed their personal finances, too. “We have lots of borrowers here who have gone through short sales and foreclosures,” says Miriam Gilmore, a loan...Read More

4 Home Shopping Tips - 09/05/2017
It’s not easy to be sure-footed through every step, especially for first-time buyers. But experts can provide guidance on navigating the twisting path, ending at the right new home for you: 1. Meet Lenders This is not the fun part. Most real estate agents insist buyers get “pre-qualified” – meaning lenders estimate...Read More

Mixing Work And Pleasure: Growing Popularity Of Short-Term Rentals - 11/24/2021
The pandemic upended Americans’ relationships with their homes. Many, forced to stay home, decided that they didn’t like what they had, and looked to put down roots in a more comfortable home. Others went in the opposite direction, not wanting to call any place home for long. Now, companies like Sentral, Landing, Mint House...Read More

Rental Realities Are Shifting - 01/27/2021
The apartment market upended in 2020, with rates landing higher in some places and toppling from tip-top levels in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Boson, Seattle and New York. The re-shuffling results from the surge in remote work and job losses, with many migrating for lower-costs. Now, apartment shoppers face a...Read More

Could moving maximize remote work savings? - 09/23/2020
For many of those forced to work from home during COVID-19, the shelter-in-place order hardly feels like house arrest. Surveys show up to half love the time and money saved from ditching their commute. No surprise, then, that some remote workers are hoping to maximize the savings by making work-from-home permanent, moving to a less...Read More

Renters Now Pay By Credit Card - 01/20/2021
The COVID economic fall-out left millions of renters financially struggling. In response, more landlords are taking credit card payments, and a significant number of tenants have met their rent for at least one or two months by putting it on plastic. While the credit card option served as an emergency lifeline to many, renters...Read More

Rising Values Hindering Affordability - 02/19/2014
As value and equity increase for homeowners it becomes more difficult for new buyers to enter the market Good news and bad news often comes in pairs, and such is life in real estate. Take a couple recent reports from the National Association of Realtors. The good: The bulk of the nation’s metropolitan areas showed...Read More

Need Assistance? Apply Soon - 02/13/2013
In February 2010, President Obama initiated the Hardest Hit Fund for homeowners struggling to pay mortgage bills in certain states after the housing crisis. While the program had assisted 94,000 families by December 2012, “We think the program can reach about 400,000 families,” says Andrea Risotti, spokesperson for the U.S....Read More

Reading Between the Lines: Floor Plans Crucial to Listings - 08/11/2021
Increasingly, buyers have multiple ways to view a home: in-person, a virtual tour, a 3-D tour, a slide show. But a relatively simple two-dimensional drawing – the floor plan -- offers unique insights into how you’d live within those lines. The public is becoming more familiar with floor plans, which are distinct from a...Read More

Style Before Sale Price - 06/20/2012
Before real estate prices plummeted in many markets, homeowners typically remodeled to increase house value. Improving aesthetics and livability was important, but not the top priority. Now, two reports – the National Association of Home Builders’ “Remodeling Market Index” and home design website Houzz.com’s...Read More

Fitness for the Home - 10/21/2009
So the economy has you rethinking that gym membership, and now you'd like to start working out at home - but you don't know where to put all that cumbersome exercise equipment. Or perhaps, you already have the equipment, but your Nordic Track has become just another interesting focal point in the family room and your exercise bike serves as a...Read More

Breaking the Bank - 02/27/2013
Rent payments, utility bills, groceries and transportation – the numerous costs of living can make it difficult to stay on track financially. A recent survey by website Rent.com of 1,000 U.S. renters found that although 74 percent of renters keep a monthly budget, 61 percent still spend more money than they make each month. According...Read More

Happy New Home – Prepare to Reno - 04/06/2016
At the top of the wish list for most homebuyers: a home that’s move-in ready, no renovation required. Sellers and their agents work hard to deliver the dream. Houses prepared for sale these days are often dutifully de-cluttered (thank you, Marie Kondo), freshly painted and whistle-clean. Often, a home is at least partially staged with...Read More

New Rules for Mortgage Interest Deduction - 11/11/2015
The Internal Revenue Service has a keen interest in your mortgage interest. One of the big perks of homeownership is the deductibility of mortgage interest, allowing owners to whittle down the amount of their gross income subject to tax. That’s the broad-brush rule, but like just about all tax matters, there are...Read More

Bigger Share of Newly Constructed Homes on the Market - 03/30/2022
This year, home seekers who do buy are more likely than ever to purchase a new home – literally. Redfin reports that in December of 2021, newly constructed homes represented a 34.1 percent share of all homes for sale, a record high. Such a big portion is new construction, primarily because there’s such a very low supply of...Read More

Down Payment Help is Available for Select Buyers - 04/28/2021
Money for a down payment – from a few thousand dollars in low-cost areas to more than $25,000 in pricey housing markets – is available from non-profits, city, counties, and states at levels close to what was available pre-pandemic, reports the website downpaymentresource.com. The site counted 2,305 programs at the end of...Read More

Hang on to your home a while longer - 01/15/2020
Simply by not making a move, some homeowners are piling up wealth. Because owners now stay an average of 13 years in their home, five years longer than in 2010, according to research firm Redfin, fewer homes are going up for sale. In turn, the scarcer “for sale” inventory helps push up prices. When they do sell, owners who...Read More

Real Estate Lifeguard - 01/15/2014
Not to be mistaken for flood insurance, which covers your property in case of actual water damage, underwater mortgage protection insures a home if the value of the property falls below the amount owed on the mortgage. This circumstance is often referred to as ‘negative equity,’ ‘underwater’ or...Read More

Cover from the Costs of Cold - 11/26/2008
Feel that icy chill run down your neck? If it's not the first sting of Old Man Winter rounding the bend, then it's the fear that grips you upon realizing how expensive it will be to heat your home when he arrives. But there are ways to stave off high utility bills and keep your abode at a comfortable temperature this cold season, provided you...Read More

Finding Function Through Furniture - 05/06/2009
A busy working mother with a demanding job called me for advice. She and her husband had lived in their home for several years but didn't feel "moved in." She had some furniture she liked but thought she might need to buy a few more pieces. As we toured the home, I noticed that they had a room off to the side of the kitchen that was...Read More

FHA: Pay Down Debt First - 05/09/2012
If you’re thinking about applying for a mortgage loan from the Federal Housing Administration – or refinancing your current loan – you may soon have a new roadblock. If you owe more than $1,000 in debt that’s in collection, an FHA loan will be off limits to you starting this summer, due to a controversial new rule...Read More

Number of Green Homes Continues to Grow - 10/26/2011
The number of newly built homes may have ebbed during recent years, but green homes certainly are gaining ground. A full 25 percent of new single-family homes built in the U.S. in 2010 earned Energy Star qualification, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, an increase from 21 percent of homes in 2009. Overall, about 1.2...Read More

Projects for a Perfect Next Summer - 09/13/2017
It may seem a bit premature to think about getting your house ready for next summer when this summer has just past. But now is the ideal time to get your outdoor projects completed before the 2018 summer begins. While the sky’s the limit in terms of what you can tackle, here are a few to get you started: • Remember to follow an...Read More

What’s Affordable? Check Your Own Paycheck’s Power - 02/09/2022
Affordability is one consideration every homebuyer contends with. Whether it’s a family with $80,000 in total income or a retiree who’s amassed a multi-million dollar nest egg, certain homes are available to them only if they can swing the expense. That’s why the “affordability index” has long been a staple...Read More

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