Away from the curb appeal - 10/05/2022
Location has long played a key role in influencing home values. But ideas about what makes for a desirable location morphs over time, often influenced by events and lifestyle changes. The pandemic pushed the importance of nearby parks and open spaces – already rising as a desirable feature – to a key amenity for both home...Read More


Will Local Laws Ban Short-Term Rentals? - 09/28/2022
Homes are expensive. That’s why many buyers want a home that helps pay for itself, through short-term rentals (STRs) arranged by platforms like Airbnb or VRBO. Buyers, though, will need to find more than a home in a popular area, or with an extra room or two to accommodate overnight guests, since local laws may thwart their STR...Read More


That old house: Will buyers love it or level it? - 09/21/2022
Homes don’t have to die of old age. But just as high blood pressure or inactivity impacts humans’ longevity, older homes have their own predictors on whether a buyer will purchase it to live in or tear it down. Homes which haven’t been updated and located in highly desirable neighborhoods without nearby buildable...Read More


Some sellers have iBuy option - 09/14/2022
A fast, cash offer is a home seller’s dream. In 2021, not only did many sellers enjoy quick cash bids, but often above their home’s list price. Sellers of certain homes can still secure a cash offer – in fact they can arrange it by contacting an “iBuyer.” But the offer will likely be below the price...Read More


Reverse mortgages help for shrinking retirement fund - 09/07/2022
The Dow has dived, but home prices have mostly held their big gains from the past couple years. For retired homeowners, their home equity [calculated by subtracting any mortgage balance owed from the current value of a home] provides some emotional comfort compared to their shrinking investment portfolio. Now, some financial experts...Read More


Closing credits stretch buyers’ purchase power - 08/31/2022
You’ll know if buyers are gaining purchasing power in your market when sellers bend to some buyer requests. Now, with rising rates, buyers can particularly benefit by asking sellers to contribute part of their closing costs – even in lieu of slashing the asking price. Closing costs can be hefty, up to six percent or so of...Read More


Better insulation puts money into homeowners’ pockets - 08/24/2022
Financial planner Gregory Lawrence has a suggestion for homeowners on how to earn a healthy return: Improve the insulation in your home. But because it’s rather humdrum, admits Lawrence, most people aren’t enthused, says the Estero, FL based owner of Lawrence Legacy Group. Now, though, he expects investing in better...Read More


Pay less upfront for a security deposit - 08/17/2022
With the average rate nationwide for a one -bedroom apartment jumping to $1,129 early this year, renters everywhere are finding themselves financially stretched. Not only must their earnings and credit record meet a landlord’s standards, but they also need a month or more of rent upfront for a security deposit. The security is...Read More


Getting a boost from a mortgage guarantor - 08/10/2022
In this price-spiraling housing market, the only way many have been able to purchase is with a cash gift from family or friends. Now, with higher interest rates squeezing affordability further, buyers need another boost to reach mortgage approval. But this time it’s not cash, but a good faith promise that’s...Read More


Financial rewards for renewing renters - 08/03/2022
These days, homeowners and renters face the same problem: a shortage of available, affordable places to buy or lease. The only answer, for both groups, is to stay put. “Over the last 12 months, renters with expiring leases chose to renew about 58 percent of the time – which is the highest we’ve ever seen,”...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


Higher rates carry a possible tax perk - 07/20/2022
Mortgage rates are climbing to levels not seen in years. Back then, though, higher rates carried a sweetener: Homeowners typically deducted mortgage interest, lowering their federal income tax bill. But since tax reform in 2017, only 11% of filers itemize, and use mortgage interest as well as another homeowner perk – property...Read More


What’s wrong with this home? - 07/13/2022
Older homes, particularly those that haven’t been updated, are the wallflowers of this market. While buyer demand is still so strong that homes go under contract quickly, there’s less competition for the wallflowers, providing an opportunity for less deep-pocketed buyers, especially first-timers. Buyers can help ensure...Read More


Fixes for today’s remodeling frustrations - 07/06/2022
Dust, delays, cost over-runs. Remodeling is trying under the best of circumstances. Now, with record remodeling projects underway and continued supply snafus, it’s particularly vexing. Homeowners can benefit if they employ strategies for this unique remodeling environment, shares Kurt Clason, owner of NH-based Clason Remodeling...Read More


New vacation home loan fees complicate purchasing - 06/29/2022
Americans developed a voracious appetite for homes during the pandemic, with many going for “seconds”– sparking record high vacation home purchasing. But this March, vacation home sales dropped “sharply for the second consecutive month,” according to Redfin, although sales remain up 13% compared to...Read More


Be your own expert on whether an ARM will squeeze - 06/22/2022
More – but still a minority – of mortgage seekers are willing to gamble. The better they assess their personal risk, the less likely that they’ll regret rolling the dice. In May, some 10% of borrowers opted to trade a lower initial interest rate on an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) rather than take a higher rate that...Read More


Honest information sells homes in flood zones - 06/15/2022
Sellers aim to present their home in its best light. So, it’s only natural that if a home is in a flood zone, sellers hope that fact escapes notice. Counter-intuitively, real estate agents say buyers are reassured with information about the risks. For one thing, if an unsuspecting buyer does fall in love with the home, he’ll...Read More


Finding the space: adding an extra home in your backyard - 06/08/2022
With rents and home prices escalating ever higher, the need for affordable housing grows more pressing. But in communities across the country, many don’t want lower price homes or apartments nearby, with that sentiment so commonplace that it’s earned its own acronym, “NIMBY”. Ironically, points out Laurie...Read More


The value of outdoor rooms - 06/01/2022
Especially since the pandemic, homebuyers value kitchens, entertaining areas, and cozy places to relax. Increasingly, though, the best of these features isn’t located in one of the rooms or square footage cited in a listing – because they’re outdoors. Indeed, outdoor rooms are hard to define. For one, the cost,...Read More


Finding Your (Less Than Perfect) Dream Home - 05/25/2022
Hoping to buy a home you’ll love living in? Be prepared to sacrifice what you can live without. “I’ve seen more buyers making compromises since about February of 2021,” says Maggie Lee Wells, of Keller Williams in Franklin, TN. Now, with interest rates ticking up, but the supply of homes remaining low, real...Read More


Talk of the Town: Affordability Spurs Townhomes’ Popularity - 05/18/2022
Buyers interested in single-family homes across the country are all encountering the same problem right now: Nothing is affordable. But many are finding an acceptable alternative in a townhome, says Hunter Andre, of realty firm Baird & Warner in Chicago. Buyers earning ten to fifteen percent below the median household income in a...Read More


Ways to save on flood insurance - 05/11/2022
Homeowners purchase flood insurance because they believe it’s needed, or because their mortgage lender requires it. In either case, especially the latter, no one likes spending a lot for the protection. Just as the public perception of flooding risk is changing from the news images of disasters, experts are also reassessing...Read More


55 plus communities enjoy booming interest - 05/04/2022
Baby Boomers are now senior citizens, with the older edge in their seventies. But “they see themselves as younger,” says Deborah Blake, principal of consulting firm Ipsum Group. That mindset, along with the sheer numbers of Boomers, is driving an uptick in “55 Plus Active Adult “communities. While 55 is the...Read More


“These Mortgages Are Keepers?” - 04/20/2022
We may not hold many fond memories from the last couple of pandemic-ridden years, except for one notable exception: the record low mortgage rates. With the Federal Reserve beginning to steadily drop rates in 2020 that yearsaw an average rate of 3.11 percent on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, and rates dipped further to their lowest level...Read More


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


Old Homes for Young Buyers - 04/06/2022
Millennials born between 1981 and 1996 may crave modern, multi-functional rooms. But, according to a recent report from the government-sponsored mortgage firm, Freddie Mac, they’re likely to buy homes reminiscent of ones that were built near or before they were born. Younger Millennials purchase homes that average 41 years old,...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


Winning The Home Buying Race - 03/23/2022
The housing market is now a game of musical chairs. And it’s only buyers who stake their claim before others and end up with keys to a new home. How quick did successful buyers have to be in 2021, a year with sparse listings that promises to repeat itself in 2022? The National Association of Realtors {NAR} found that it took a...Read More


“How Big a Bite of Monthly Income Should a Mortgage Take?” - 03/16/2022
Getting mortgage pre-approval is a necessary step that allows homebuyers to make a serious offer, but the total loan amount given in pre-approval can be misleading. Instead, borrowers should “work backward from that number” taking the price of the home, property taxes, and the likely homeowner insurance charges and figuring...Read More


Income Tax Wrinkles For Home-Based Employees - 03/09/2022
Pandemic-bred remote workers transformed the housing market; fleeing to suburbs and far-flung locales. Now, income tax preparation is transformed for many of these WFH employees. Specifically, remote employees who’ve relocated to a different state than the one their employer is based can face hitches on their state tax bill. And,...Read More


Home Sellers: Are You Ready For Your Close-Up? - 03/02/2022
Before it’s listed or a potential buyer steps in, sellers should pour their best effort into making their home picture-perfect. After all, when the home is photographed – usually about a week before listing – is when hundreds of potential buyers will see it. The better the home looks in online video tours and slide shows,...Read More


“Sell, Retire, Rent… Could That Work?” - 02/23/2022
High home prices are a gift to aging homeowners whose retirement nest egg is skimpy. Except that when retired owners sell and pivot to the buy-side, high prices on even much smaller homes can erode much of their sale profit. The other choice is to invest sale proceeds and rent instead of buy. “Especially with today’s...Read More


It Takes a Village: The Appeal of Master Planned Communities - 02/16/2022
It’s been a pronounced seller’s market throughout most of the country, but that’s more or less the norm for a certain segment– the “Master Planned Community” or [MPC]. Typically in suburban locations where large portions of land are available, MPCs offer a mix of housing options, as well as...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


A New Job Could Delay Home Buying - 02/02/2022
If you’re one of the millions of Americans who’ve participated in the “Great Resignation,” and apply for a mortgage in the next couple of years, remember how you convinced your new employer you were perfect for the job. Repeating that argument effectively could win you loan approval. The pandemic-led upheaval in...Read More


Home Color Trends Veer Green - 01/26/2022
This year, home interiors that register with trend-conscious buyers will be warmer; with greens and earthy tones encroaching on the antiseptic, stark grays, and neutrals that have long-reigned. Each year, paint manufacturers unveil their “color of the year,” which their research shows reflects the mood of the country and...Read More


“Owners Win Big From Price Rises” - 01/19/2022
It’s a lucky time to be a homeowner. According to research firm CoreLogic, owners gained an average of $51,500 in equity from the end of 2020 through 2021. That’s the highest ever, due to record home price rises. {Home equity is determined by the current value of a home minus any outstanding mortgage balance owed.} The...Read More


Absentee Sellers Make a Home More Appealing - 01/05/2022
With properties averaging far fewer days from listing until purchase, recent times haven’t been a reflection of a “normal” housing market The speed at which houses are moving has prompted more sellers to invert the “normal” practice of selling first and then moving out. Instead, real estate agents report...Read More


A New Model of the Middle-Class Subdivision - 12/29/2021
America needs more affordable homes. And that’s a big reason why manufactured homes, which are built in a factory and transported to a site, are hitting record numbers, with more than an estimated 100,000 produced this year, about one-tenth the number of site-built homes. A big impetus for growth in the past few years, explains...Read More


Which Price Is Right? - 12/22/2021
Each buyer has his list of priorities that he looks for in a home, whether it’s an ample kitchen or a prime location. But, there’s one feature every home shopper cares about: the price tag. So it may seem a bit odd that on the sites that compile MLS home sale listings around the country, Zillow and Redfin, that the...Read More


Can We Interest You In Moving Here? - 12/15/2021
Thousands of home shoppers are no longer limited to search parameters in a specific geographic area. Remote workers without the hassle of a commute now have the freedom to find a home that offers certain advantages, whether it’s lower living costs, proximity to open spaces, or a family-friendly environment. Lately, smaller cities...Read More


Learning from the Mistakes of Frenzied Buyers - 12/08/2021
Sellers are routinely advised to clear away anything, like family photos, that identify their home as uniquely their own. And buyers with awareness of this tactic may find it easier to stick to a budget. “It’s easy for consumers to feel ownership of a home, especially when they enter it, touch countertops, and open...Read More


Profit From A Home Sale Sooner: If You Have Some Place To Go - 12/01/2021
Don’t buy a home unless you are relatively sure you’ll be there for three years—or better yet, five to seven. Financial advisors have long dispensed this advice because it takes time to recoup the cost of purchasing a home. Besides the charges for a moving van, closing costs on securing a mortgage are about two to...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


Inheriting a Preference for Homeownership - 11/17/2021
Buying your first home is a long, hard slog. Did you know that the bulk of first-time buyers are now between the ages of 31 and 40? Additionally, the Urban Institute finds that whether young adults can buy before age 40 is influenced by whether their parents are homeowners. Even when controlling for factors like education, marital...Read More


How Much Color Helps a Home Sell? - 11/10/2021
Buyers want to find a place that they can easily envision themselves living in. But first, they have to be interested enough to tour a home and rank it among their favorites. That idea explains the findings of a recent Zillow survey of 1,300 prospective homebuyers who said they were more interested in visiting a home they viewed online...Read More


Seniors Save Their Housing Wealth for Their Kids - 11/03/2021
Now and in the years ahead, Baby Boomers and older Americans are passing down trillions of dollars to their heirs, according to Federal Reserve data. And it’s not just those with surnames like Buffett, Bloomberg and Bezos who stand to receive money when wills are read. If your parent or grandparent is a homeowner, there’s...Read More


What Would an Expert Do to Sell Your Home? - 10/27/2021
Home sales slow in autumn, but thinking about selling kicks into high gear, as owners prepare to list early the next year. Now, owners of “ordinary” homes – near the median price and of a typical style for the area – can tap experts other than local real estate agents for input on what improvement could help them...Read More


Time For a Bath That Sells - 10/20/2021
We’ve de-cluttered and worked on the yard and garden. Now, especially since it won’t be disrupting as much homeschooling and remote work as 2020 saw, households are doing more ambitious kitchen and bath remodeling, according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA). Drawn by rising home sale prices, homeowners are...Read More


Flood Insurance Changes to Better Reflect Risk - 10/13/2021
What are the odds that your home will flood? Given the number of extreme storms making headlines, you may answer that question differently now than you did several years ago. Now, FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program {NFIP}, the federal program most owners get flood coverage from, has revamped its premiums effective October...Read More


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