Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Mixed news from the housing front, in the form of new construction Housing Starts bouncing higher, yet new Building Permits moving lower. Existing Home Sales rose somewhat unexpectedly in February, marking the largest monthly gain since March 2004 and the highest pace of sales was the highest since April of 2006. Overall, not bad reports, considering how the media still wearily beats away on their housing bubble drum. But it wasn't all great news - overall sales are off 3% from last year, the inventory of existing homes on the market rose slightly to a 6.7 month supply, and the median price of a home declined slightly to $212,800. Many experts feel it is likely the housing market saw its worst days during August of last year, but although stabilizing, the housing market still has a ways to go.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
(ARA) - In today’s buyer’s market many homeowners are hesitant to put the “for sale” sign in the front yard -- even if they are not happy with their current home. Instead, wise homeowners are sinking their dollars into remodeling -- to increase their homes’ values and their own enjoyment.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Thursday, March 15, 2007
(ARA) – With the country going green, many homeowners are looking for eco-friendly materials when building or remodeling their home. And as more homeowners struggle with high utility bills and become more concerned about the environment, many are building and updating their homes to be more eco-friendly.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
(ARA) – Perfectly manicured, emerald green lawns flanked by floral beds. Acres of granite counter top and gleaming stainless steel appliances. And everywhere you look are surfaces clean enough to eat off -- that’s the appeal of the model home.
There’s a reason why model homes look the way they do. Builders know that everything they do to make a house look visually appealing amounts to actual dollars, and often thousands of dollars, added to the sale price. The same principal applies to your home.
Whether you’re planning on selling, or just sprucing up your house to make it more enjoyable to live in, mimicking the ideal appearance of a model home can yield impressive results. Here are some tips and trends to help make your house a showplace:
* Start with curb appeal. This is especially important if you’re planning on selling. First impressions are lasting ones and unmown grass or shabby planting beds make the kind of statement you want to avoid. Keep grass well trimmed and planting beds watered. If you don’t have a green thumb, choose easy-to-grow flowers, like petunias, to add pizzazz to your landscaping.
* Cleanliness is essential. Whether you’re selling your home or living in it, keeping it clean is a top priority. Clean homes are better preserved, more healthful places to live. And homebuyers rank dirty houses at the top of their turn-offs list. You probably take care of the kitchen and baths regularly, but don’t forget the need to shampoo the carpet occasionally, especially if it is worn or old. And take the time to do the windows -– you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes to your home’s appearance, both inside and out.
* Cut the clutter. Living in a cluttered environment is harmful on so many levels –- from your home’s sell-appeal to your own self esteem. Decreasing clutter opens up the visual space in your home and can inspire greater decorating creativity.
* Take care of repairs as quickly as possible. Some things simply can’t wait, like a leaking roof. But try not to put off small repairs that may not seem consequential –- like the toilet that needs the handle jiggled every now and then. Small repairs can become big problems if they add up or get worse with time –- and they always do.
* Put your decorating dollars into the rooms and trends that give the biggest payoff in both your enjoyment of your home and appeal to potential buyers. Focus on the kitchen and baths. No penny spent in those rooms is ever wasted, whether you’re simply dressing up the bath with new towels or installing granite counter tops in the kitchen. Granite counter tops are a must in model homes, as are gleaming clean baths.
* Consider adding an interior designer touch, such as a custom wall mural. Increasingly popular among designers, wallpaper murals are popping up in model homes across the country. Designers are using them to enhance kitchens, brighten baths and create bold statements in common areas of the house, according to Murals Your Way, makers of easy-to-install custom wallpaper murals. “To have someone paint a mural costs thousands,” states interior designer, Lisa Fields who installed a wallpaper mural depicting Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam in a hallway ceiling. “I love being able to have the same look while staying within budget.” For more wallpaper mural ideas, visit www.muralsyourway.com.
Mimicking the design techniques and selling features of a model home can help you maximize your enjoyment of your home as well as its resale value.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Monday, March 12, 2007
Mortgage applications rose 3.2% the week of Feb. 19 on a seasonally adjusted basis to 626.1 from 606.6 the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. And applications were up 8.8% on an unadjusted basis compared to the same week last year.
What's In For ...
A versatile, upscale kitchen with a large island and sitting area that can serve as a cooking station and entertaining area is in high demand. Cover the island with slab surfaces — granite, stone, concrete, limestone, soapstone and marble are popular choices. When it comes to appliances, stainless steel and white are still in, but black fixtures are outdated.
Upscale, finished basements with high ceilings are popular because the added square footage can increase the value of your home. Today, homebuilders are creating basements with 9-foot ceilings to make room for home theater systems, which are also hot on the market.
Lots of cabinets and storage space, residential flooring and a refrigerator are musts for garages these days! Hidden and even underground garages are becoming popular, giving homeowners more space for extra rooms, back yards or swimming pools.
What's Out For ...
Selling your home "as is" is out. If you aren't ready for major home renovations, little changes can help. Coordinate fixtures throughout your home, paint the walls with warm colors, make an inviting entryway or clean-up the yard. Buyer incentives are also out. Gimmicks only confuse buyers. If you want to give an incentive, deduct the cost of your freebie from your asking price.
Tim Carr, architect and consultant with Timothy Walton Carr Consulting, contributed to this article.
To learn more home-buyer and -seller trends, contact me or visit http://teresabutler.com
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
According to Policy Matters, a non-profit research institute, one in every 71 households in Ohio filed for foreclosure in 2005 — quite an astounding statistic. Predatory lending is especially prevalent among first-time homebuyers and consumers unfamiliar with home financing. How can you avoid the pitfalls of predatory lending as a prospective homebuyer?
According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), homebuyers need to ask the right questions when shopping for the least expensive loan. Questions such as:
*What is my credit score? Can I have a copy of my credit report?
*What is the best interest rate today? Do I qualify?
*Is the loan's interest rate fixed or adjustable?
*What is the term (length) of the loan?
*What are the total loan fees?
*What is the total monthly payment? Does this include property taxes and insurance? If not, how much more will I need to pay for taxes and insurance?
*Is there an application fee? How much is refundable if I don't qualify?
*Are there any prepayment penalties? If so, what are they and how long do they last?
It's important to understand all the details of your loan before signing anything — and ask questions! Also, the NAR offers these other strategies that homebuyers can follow to protect themselves from predatory lending:
*Check out lenders with the Better Business Bureau®, government Web sites or other consumer groups. How long has the lender been in business? Have consumers filed many complaints? Does the lender belong to a trade association with ethics requirements for its members?
*Ask for an estimate and compare with other lenders.
*Refuse to participate in transactions that may be fraudulent.
*Avoid unnecessary contract extensions that could cause your loan commitment to lapse.
*Get educated on the value of your home by asking your Real Living agent for a comparative market analysis.
*Review the HUD-1 closing settlement statement before closing. This statement itemizes all charges imposed upon a borrower and seller for a real estate transaction. Upon request, homebuyers have the right to see this information 24 hours before the loan closing.
*Report possible violations to appropriate federal, state and local officials.
If you're considering a home purchase and want to make sure you'll be safe from predatory lending, working with a Real Living agent is a wise move. Contact me or visit http://teresabutler.com for more information.
A fresh listing number can re-energize the sale of your home.
If your home has been on the market for more than six months, your Multiple Listing Service (MLS) number can make it look stale compared to newer listings. It may be a good idea to take your property off the market for a few weeks, or even a month. This will give you a chance to improve your home’s general condition, and then re-list your property with fresh changes and a new MLS number.
For more home-selling advice, contact a Teresa Butler or visit http://teresabutler.com today.
Monday, March 05, 2007
There are a handful of laws today governing agency relationships designed to help you relax and feel comfortable with your home-buying or -selling transaction. Keep in mind these laws differ from state to state, and agency policies differ among real estate companies. Read on to learn about the basic types of agency relationships.
Buyer or Seller Agency:
When you choose to be represented by a real estate brokerage in the purchase or sale of a home, the buyer or seller's agent and the brokerage must act on behalf of and promote your best interests, be loyal and obey your lawful instructions, disclose material facts to you, maintain confidential information (which includes anything that could have an adverse effect on your transaction), act with reasonable skill and care when answering your questions, present all offers in a timely fashion, be accountable for handling funds and paperwork, and execute all other duties as outlined in your buyer's agency contract or listing agreement.
A dual agency is formed when the same agent and brokerage who represents the seller also represents the buyer. Agents and brokers who become dual agents must maintain a neutral position between the buyer and seller. This means that they may not support the position of one client over the other, or disclose any personal or confidential information to the other party without written consent. Dual agents must also disclose any material defects of the property and prepare and present all offers and counter offers to each party.
In Company Split Agency:
On occasion, the buyer and seller will each be represented by two different agents from the same brokerage. In this case, the agents may each represent the best interests of their respective clients. Or, depending on the company policy, the agents may both act as dual agents and remain neutral toward both parties. When either situation occurs, the broker will be considered a dual agent.
A common misconception about agency relationships is that they are automatically established at the first meeting between a brokerage and a homebuyer or seller. However, these relationships are typically established when agents disclose whose interests they are serving, which is usually done through an agency disclosure form. The state law mandates that agents must disclose their representation before they show you any properties.
When considering a home purchase or sale, it's key to understand the differences among the various agency relationships. If you have any questions, contact me at 614-565-8161 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can provide you with a detailed explanation of these relationships and show how they'll affect your transaction.