A Fair Approach to Multiple Bids - 06/09/2021
Sellers are enjoying an unprecedented luxury of choice, with scarce inventories prompting bidding wars in many parts of the country. But that enviable position involves the responsibility of making a fair choice, defined by federal law as not discriminating against any buyer based on his/her race, color, national origin, religion, and...Read More


Where the First-Time Buyers Are - 09/10/2014
The homeownership rate fell to 64.7 percent in the second quarter of 2014, matching a nearly 20-year low, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. One reason: fewer first-time buyers. The percent share of first-time buyers in July was 29 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors, up 1 percent from June but still well below...Read More


Historically High - 04/04/2012
Despite home value declines, property taxes continue to make up a high share of local tax revenues According to most recent S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, home prices are near 2003 price levels. That said, property taxes remain historically low. U.S. Census Bureau data of state and local tax collections for the final quarter...Read More


In Today’s Market, Tapping Equity Can Be a Smart Move - 07/13/2011
At first glance, a home equity line of credit might seem so 2006. But despite tighter post-bust lending restrictions, HELOC can be a smart borrowing option for homeowners who fit the right criteria. While today’s HELOCs are not vastly different than those of recent years, their limits and restrictions have drastically changed, says...Read More


Found Money: Financing Home Improvements - 03/09/2016
Home improvement stores should be crowded this spring, as record numbers of homeowners tackle project they’ve been putting off. “In most markets across the country, rising house prices are bringing more homes to the market and increasing sales, which is a large driver of home improvement activity,” says Chris Herbert of the...Read More


Wait It Out? - 04/06/2011
In some neighborhoods, the new "normal" is distress: So many foreclosures dot the landscape that all vales are negatively impacted, no matter how pristine their condition. "If a seller can, he may decide to monitor the market and wait [to put his home up for sale," notes Ralph DeMartino, president of the Miami Association of...Read More


4 home shopping tips - 11/27/2019
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...Read More


Young Buyers Like A New, Improved Version Of Home - 11/02/2016
Who’s going to be buying the millions of homes Baby Boomers raised their families in? The kids who grew up in those homes – millennials. According to the National Association of Realtors 2016 study on generational housing trends, millennials account for slightly more than one-half of all buyers. But they won’t be...Read More


Locking Out Rate Risk - 07/21/2010
"Do you want a lock?" That may seem like a logical question for your insurance agent to pose, but you can expect it from your mortgage lender, too. He's not asking about bolting your door but rather if you want to secure your mortgage rate. Interest rates fluctuate, influenced by economic trends. So, conceivably, the rate that's...Read More


Friendly Advice - 01/30/2019
Anyone thinking about making a big real estate decision, whether it’s to buy instead of rent, or sell before prices drop, should consider whether their Facebook connections are stoking their expectations for housing. Even when Facebook friends live a significant distance away –too far to rationally expect that their housing...Read More


Markets Set to Go Boom - 12/24/2014
Baby boomers are staying in the work force longer, but they’re eyeing their retirement housing needs now. Here are the markets poised to attract them A low cost of living and, of course, sunny weather are the keys to attracting baby boomers in retirement. But as many boomers remain in the work force and delay retirement, many of...Read More


Back to Basics - 04/29/2009
With neighborhoods across the country filled with spectacularly low-priced properties for sale, and with interest rates at historic lows, prospective first-time homebuyers may once more feel the time is ripe to buy. But while real-estate experts see this as a good thing, they also advise caution: That same sense of urgency to get while...Read More


Moving in on the Best Deals - 03/16/2011
Buying a home starts a ripple of purchases, from signing for cable to hooking up with the electric company. A little time spent reviewing economical choices can have a big pay-off. "Anything you can do to reduce your costs means you'll save each month," explains Jim Chilsen of the Citizens Utility Board, a Chicago-based consumer advocacy...Read More


All Ages Home - 07/18/2018
One in five American families now consists of adults from different generations – grandparents, parents and children; or parents with adult children – according to the Pew Research Center. But home-related legalities are still rooted in the days when the nuclear family was the dominant model. “Not thinking through all...Read More


Best Cities for Newlyweds - 04/11/2012
The vows are spoken and the ceremony is over. Next step: a move to Texas? According to a survey from Rent.com, three different Texas cities – Austin, Dallas and Houston – are among the Top 10 places in the country for newlyweds. The thriving art scene in Austin ranks it at No. 1, with Dallas at three and Houston at...Read More


A Higher Cost for Living Larger - 04/13/2016
For renters, the math is simple: A 1-bedroom for $1,585 is cheaper than a 2-bedroom for $1,833 and a lot less than a 3-bedroom for $2,048. But from the perspective of a landlord intent on making the most money out of every square foot, the larger units are a relative bargain. Look at the cost per square foot: an effective rate of $1.96...Read More


Where is the Most Secure Place to Live? - 01/06/2010
As American families embark on 2010, few things are more important than simply being able to make ends meet. And some places are better than others to do so. Farmers Insurance Group’s sixth annual Most Secure U.S. Place to Live survey pinpoints some of the country’s best places to work, pay the mortgage and raise a...Read More


When Selecting Apartments, Renters Make Fast Choices - 01/20/2016
Apartment hunters place a high priority on something they can’t really see when they step into a unit – fast Internet connectivity and cell phone reception. Renters of all ages want to be able to live easily online wherever they choose to physically live, explains Caitlin Sugrue Walter, director of research for the National...Read More


Saving for a Rainy Day? - 02/11/2015
Although a majority of Americans maintain a household budget, just 38 percent have enough savings to pay for unexpected expenses according to a recent Bankrate.com report. This lack of savings is problematic for the Americans’ financial well-being because even small expenses like an emergency room visit or car repair can undermine...Read More


The Hallmarks of a Great Market - 01/14/2009
With so much national media coverage of real-estate stories, one might think there was a national real-estate market. But there really isn’t. Realtors know that like politics and the weather, all housing markets are local. What’s happening in Manhattan isn’t necessarily what’s happening in the South Bronx just a...Read More


Doors open for VA, FHA homebuyers - 12/07/2022
Rising mortgage rates have pushed many homebuyers out of the market. But their absence has provided FHA and VA buyers to step in. When rates were in the low single digits and sellers had their pick of competing offers, they hied away from buyers using FHA and VA financings. “There is less risk, and in some cases less cost, for a...Read More


Which Buzz Works Best? - 04/10/2013
Real estate agents know that key words in home listings like “beautiful,” “dream home” and “must-see” are commonly used to target homebuyers. However, a new study reveals homebuyers prefer listings that include descriptive terms and factual information rather than subjective descriptors. A study conducted...Read More


Optimistic About Ownership - 03/09/2011
Regardless of the prolonged real estate slump, the dream of homeownership hasn't faded, according to a recent Fannie Mae survey. Fifty-one percent of homeowners and renters reveal that the housing crisis has not impacted their desire to buy, and approximately 27 percent indicate the recent slump and actually made them more likely to buy -...Read More


Take It From the Bank - 08/12/2009
With sales of foreclosed homes continuing to drive the residential real-estate market, many prospective homebuyers can’t help but look to bank-owned properties as their best and least costly opportunity to enter the fray. It’s easy to understand why. Banks and other lending institutions generally price repossessed properties...Read More


Retirees Should Plan Before Renting - 09/26/2018
Here’s how the American “dream” has traditionally worked: Rent as a young adult, while saving for a down payment; buy a home and maybe buy again a couple of times; leave when advanced age means you require care or can’t maintain your home. Now, though, a significant number of households age 55 and over are...Read More


Holding Back on Holiday Spending - 11/26/2014
Americans are getting back to budget basics this holiday season. Seventy-two percent of Americans say they’re setting a budget this shopping season, up from 65 percent in 2013, according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. The increase in consumer budgeting may lead to a decrease in consumer spending...Read More


Paging Mr. Rogers - 10/14/2015
Neighborhoods matter to homebuyers, who seek a particular area for its easy commute, stable property values, quality schools, among other amenities. But the people living next door or down the street might not figure into the equation of what makes a neighborhood desirable. In the 1970s, 30 percent of Americans spent time with...Read More


The New Renter Economy - 08/07/2013
Rising rents used to push renters into homeownership, but not anymore. In this post-housing crisis economy, renting is now a long-term venture. The national homeownership rate has dipped to 65 percent, the lowest level since 1995. Today, renting is not just for the young urbanite. Renters now are more likely to rent a single-family...Read More


All Together Now … and Later? Families Consider Multi-Gen Living - 11/25/2020
Thousands of adults have felt more like children this pandemic year because they’ve returned to their childhood home --some with a spouse and a child or two of their own in tow. Whether they’ve moved back to escape crowded urban life or enlist help watching the kids while they work remotely, they add to the...Read More


The Non-Payment Plan - 11/24/2010
A contract is a contract - that's the way most Americans see it. When it comes to mortgages, nearly six-in-10 (59 percent) Americans believe it's wrong for homeowners to deliberately stop making payments and surrender their home to the lender, according to Pew Research Center survey of nearly 3,000 adults earlier this year. However,...Read More


For Mortgage Price Break Comparison Shop, Talk to Your Bank - 05/18/2016
When you’re sitting in front of a mortgage lender, anxiously hoping for approval, remember this: You’re not just a borrower, you’re a customer, too. If you’re applying for a mortgage where you bank, you might see the institution’s gratitude for your loyalty expressed with a discount on your mortgage rate or...Read More


Million-Dollar Advice - 02/16/2011
It wasn’t till recently, after more than 10 years in the business, that Chad Rogers, a real estate veteran who starred in the first three seasons of the Bravo reality hit “Million Dollar Listing” reality TV star, purchased his first home – a Beverly Hills condo. With his expert knowledge and recent personal...Read More


Still Paying High Rates - 10/17/2012
Despite record-low mortgage interest rates available for the past few years, far too many borrowers are holding onto high-interest loans. That’s the alarming conclusion of a recent CoreLogic study, which reveals that approximately 69 percent of American homeowners had mortgage interest rates higher than 5 percent and a third had rates...Read More


Vacation Home sales Soar while investment home sales decline - 04/15/2015
Vacation home sales increased nearly 60 percent over 2013, according to a new survey from the National Association of Realtors Vacation home sales reached peak levels in 2014 while investment home sales decreased for the fourth consecutive years, according to the National Association of Realtors’ 2015 Investment and Vacation Home...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


Boost Your Appeal - 06/26/2013
Every home needs an “ah-ha moment” says Scott Grams, executive director of the Illinois Landscape Contractors Association. “You have to invest in that moment,” he says. Homeowners attempting to sell their homes in today’s real estate market need every competitive advantage they can muster. According to a study...Read More


Claiming Your Credit - 03/10/2010
1. Complete IRS Form 5405 to determine your credit amount. Download one at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f5405.pdf (Note that although the form is titled "First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit" it is the correct form for both the $8,000 first-time buyer credit and the $6,500 repeat buyer credit.) 2. Claim your credit amount on line 67 of the...Read More


Property Tax Burden - 01/08/2014
Property taxes are a burden for homeowners in these tough economic times. But, they are also an important revenue source for governments, making up 34.6 percent of total local revenues, and nearly 64 percent of local own-source revenue. A recent study released by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center examined property tax rates across...Read More


Lease of Mind - 11/19/2008
If you're not ready to buy a house or take on the responsibilities of home ownership just yet, renting a residence can be a smart choice - provided you do your due diligence and research lease opportunities carefully. Indeed, smart tenants know that terrific rental units rarely fall in your lap. To prevent renter's remorse, you have to dig a...Read More


New Wave of Foreclosures - 01/30/2013
Foreclosure activity in December 2012 was at its lowest level since April 2007, down 21 percent from 2011, according to the “Year-End 2012 Foreclosure Market Report” by RealtyTrac, real estate data and listing site. That’s good news for the country as a whole, but foreclosures remain especially high in some areas. In...Read More


Buying & Selling Dollar Deals - 03/19/2014
They say there’s no romance without finance. For many, there’s also no residence without financing. But more homebuyers than you’d think actually prefer pure cash transactions in which the balance is paid in full without mortgage loan borrowing. In fact, based on new data recently released by RealtyTrac, deals...Read More


A little bit of staging, a lot more money - 06/04/2008
“What an incredible view!” I gasped as I walked into my client’s house. This two-story, hill-hugging home overlooked an expanse of rolling hills with views of the sapphire-blue bay beyond. The neighborhood was dotted with unique custom homes, all situated to capture the view – a combination of bohemian and upscale...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


New Ideas, Options For Renter’s Insurance - 05/02/2018
“New and improved” is a popular label on everything from detergents to wrinkle creams. But insurance, particularly renter’s insurance, what could add zest to this product, which many renters don’t even purchase unless required by their landlord? A greater number of renters has made insurers compete harder, notes...Read More


Buyers Energized By Utility Costs - 11/01/2017
“We’ve found the perfect home! It has above-code attic insulation!” You don’t hear that phrase, or anything like it, because we focus on more eye-catching features, like new kitchen cabinets. But research shows that buyers pay more for energy efficient homes. One study this year by the University of Texas (UT),...Read More


Making a Luxurious Living Room - 08/06/2008
“When my guests come over they always walk right by my living room. No one ever wants to sit with me!” complained my client. Although there was plenty of seating and her arrangement honored the traditional focal point, her guests tended to shy away from the fireplace area. She also felt like the room didn’t reflect her...Read More


Shining Light On Selling Solar Home - 07/12/2023
Home buyers typically like solar panels; part of a trend favoring green features, with the added benefit of utility cost savings. The warm regard for solar is evidenced by research from Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory and Fannie Mae, that owners in California, Oregon, Connecticut and Mass, who’ve bought solar systems recoup their...Read More


Save, Toss Or Store? - 07/04/2012
No wonder moving is ranked as one of life’s most stressful events. It puts one of life’s most complicated relationships to the test: the bond between people and their “stuff.” Moving forces a “take it or leave it” decision on every item in the home. It’s a choice that proves impossible for some...Read More


Homes Pulled From Listings Pull-In Buyers - 04/26/2023
With a shortage of homes for sale in most markets, serious buyers keep a constant watch on the latest new listings. But sometimes, the right home could have been listed months ago, and the discouraged seller “de-lists,” or takes it off the market. The chances that a seller will welcome a buyer after he’s stepped away...Read More


Mission: Buy Affordable Vacation Home - 07/20/2016
It’s not just kids who wish summer vacation would never end. Last year, some 920,000 American adults turned that dream into reality by buying a vacation home. In locales where recreation depends on sunny, warm weather, most of the vacation home buying occurs from spring to early fall, says Adam DeSanctis, spokesperson for the...Read More


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