Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Owners Spending Less on Housing



The percentage home owners with mortgages who spent 30 percent or more of their household income on housing, including mortgage payments, taxes, insurance, and utilities, was 37.6 percent in 2009, almost unchanged from 2008. At the same time, the median home price dropped about 6 percent, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Renters weren’t so lucky. The number of renters spending 30 percent or more of their household income on housing-related costs rose to 51.5 percent of all renters in 2009, rising from 50 percent in 2008, according to the Census.


Two factors affected housing affordability:


· Median household income, adjusted for inflation, fell 2.9 percent in 2009 as unemployment rose.

· Median monthly housing costs, including rent and utilities, rose 3 percent in 2009 from $818 to $842.

 

Source: USA Today (09/29/2010)

Monday, September 27, 2010

What's New in New Housing Design



Here are the products grabbing the attention of the home building and remodeling industries, according to Bill Millholland, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Case Design/Remodeling in Maryland, and Jamie Gibbs, a New York-based interior designer:



· Appliance Drawers. Small warning drawers, modest-sized dishwasher drawers for small loads, refrigerator drawers and microwave drawers.


· Counter-depth refrigerators. Some are only 24 inches deep.


· Motion-detecting faucets. Like you'd find in the restrooms of businesses.


· LED (light-emitting diode) lighting. These are used under cabinets and in ceiling fixtures as a longer-lasting, more efficient alternative to compact fluorescent lamps and incandescent bulbs.

· Electric heated floors. A nice touch in bathrooms,

· Showers with multiple heads and body sprays. Bathtubs are out.




Source: The Washington Post (09/25/2010)







Saturday, September 25, 2010

Home Buying and Selling Tips for Fall


HGTV’s real estate site Front Door says the weeks between now and the end-of-the year holidays are the best ones to find a bargain. Here are some of their tips for fall buyers and sellers:

Fall Sellers:


· Replace faded summer plants with fall-blooming flowers and add autumn decorations to the home.

· Expect low-ball offers and be prepared with higher counter offers.
· Freshen up listing photos by shooting pictures that make it less obvious that the seasons have changed.
· Price the home to sell. A price that is a little lower than the competition may be a winning move.
· Be willing to show the property and hold open houses whenever potential buyers are ready.


Fall Buyers:

· Look for motivated sellers who have a reason to move on by the end of the year.
· Explore new constructions. Builders are often particularly interested in selling before the new tax year.
· Beware of fall maintenance issues. Consider overflowing gutters and leaf-covered lawns warning signs.
· Shape offers carefully. Even in this market it is possible to turn sellers off with a too-low bid.


Source: FrontDoor.com (09/16/2010)


Banks to Review Rejected Loans



Some banks are launching a “second look program” to review loans that have been denied in order to identify circumstances that might persuade underwriters to reverse their decisions.

The Financial Services Roundtable, a trade group of 100 financial companies, including Bank of America Corp., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., and U.S. Bancorp. Bankers say these programs are starting to loosen the logjams that have made it so hard for both home buyers and small businesses to get loans.



"I don't think of it as being looser. I think of it as making good judgments," says Stephen D. Steinour, chairman, president and CEO of Huntington Bancshares Inc.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Ruth Simon (09/23/2010)


Thursday, September 16, 2010

10 Reasons to Buy a Home


Time magazine is being overly pessimistic in its recent cover piece that called into question the benefits of homeownership. In fact, now is a great time to buy. And, what's more, tomorrow will be a great time to own, because the fundamental strength of homeownership hasn't changed.

Why is now a great time to buy? Here are 10 reasons:



1. You can get a good deal. Prices are down 30 percent on average. They're at a level that makes sense for people's income.


2. Mortgages are cheap. At 4.3 percent on average for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, your costs to own are down by a fifth from two years ago.


3. You can save on taxes. When you add up the deductions for mortgage interest and others, the cost of owning can drop below renting for a comparable place.


4. It'll be yours. The one benefit to owning that never changes is that you can paint your walls orange if you want (generally speaking; there might be some community restrictions). How many landlords will let you do that?


5. You can get a better home. In some markets, it's simply the case that the nicest places are for-sale homes and condos.


6. It offers some inflation protection. Historically, appreciation over time outpaces inflation.


7. It's risk capital. If the economy picks up, you stand to benefit from that, even if you're goal is just to have a nice place to live.


8. It's forced savings. A part of your payment each month goes to equity.


9. There is a lot to choose from. There are some 4 million homes available today, about a year's supply. Now's the time to find something you like and get it.

10. Sooner or later the market will clear. The U.S. is expected to grow by another 100 million people in 40 years. They have to live somewhere. Demand will eventually outpace supply.





Source: Wall Street Journal, Brett Arends (9/16/10)






Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Pros and Cons of Corner Properties



Some people see a corner lot as an asset, but an equal number believe it is a liability.

Pluses of these properties include more flexible design options, shorter driveways, sunnier interiors, and more on-street parking. The negatives are a small and not-very-private backyard, more noise, more streetlights and headlights, and a greater need to look out for dogs and children.



Additional maintenance demands, which bring higher costs, discourage some would-be buyers of corner properties, said Steve Hovany, president of Schaumburg's Strategy Planning Associates, a real estate planning consultancy.



But some buyers like corner homes anyway. A corner home "is a rare home," said Ray Hartshorne, partner with Chicago's Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture. "It's a home that's distinctive in a world that makes distinctive homes more valuable."



Source: Chicago Tribune, Jeffrey Steele (09/03/2010)