Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pending Home Sales Up in Nearly All Regions


Pending home sales mostly increased across the country 148jpduring the month of July, with all regions except for the Midwest experiencing contract signing gains.

The National Association of REALTORS®’ Pending Home Sales Index, which is based on pending sales of existing homes, hit 105.9 in July, up from 102.5 in June. This marks the third consecutive month that the index is above 100, a score that is considered to be the average level of contract activity.

Regionally, the Northeast saw the biggest gains in pending home sales, with a 6.2 percent jump from 83 in June to 89.2 in July. The South experienced a 4.2 percent increase to an index of 119, while the West’s index rose 4 percent to 99.5 in July.

The Midwest – the only region that did not post gains in pending home sales last month – experienced a slight decline, falling 0.4 percent to 99.5.

The overall increase in pending home sales can be contributed to favorable housing conditions, according to NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

Yun cited lower interest rates, moderate price growth, and an increase in housing inventory as reasons for the PHSI’s climb.

“The increase in the number of new and existing homes for sale is creating less competition,” Yun said, “and is giving prospective buyers more time to review their options before submitting an offer.”

The improvement of the job market is also helping family finances and giving more people confidence to enter the housing market, Yun said.

Despite the increase in the PHSI, housing sales in 2014 are still below 2013 levels. Yun said he expects existing-home sales to be down 2.1 percent this year, falling from 5.09 million sales of existing homes in 2013 to approximately 4.98 million sales in 2014.

Source: NAR

Pending Home Sales Up in Nearly All Regions

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

3 Tricks for Finding the Perfect Asking Price

MC910217019[1]Determining the perfect asking price involves psychological reasons as much as practical reasons, The Wall Street Journal reports.

“When you set a list price, you’re sending a signal to the market,” says Michael Seiler, professor of real estate and finance at The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va.

But pricing a home can be a “delicate balance,” says Mike McCann, a real estate professional with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Fox & Roach in Philadelphia. You have to balance the comparables with sellers’ unrealistic expectations about what their home is really worth. Sellers often want to price a home higher than what the market can bare. On the other hand, some sellers or agents may be tempted to set the asking price low in the hopes of generating a buyer frenzy and quick sale.

What strategy works? Research offers a few insights into setting the right asking price.

  1. Getting too precise means you won’t budge. Pricing research suggests that setting an exact asking price — such as $795,475 — sends the message to buyers that the price is less negotiable than, say, a round number like $800,000. “Those using precise pricing show confidence in the price,” Seiler says.

  2. The number nine can be a big influence. Pricing a property at $499,900 rather than $500,000 can subconsciously influence a home buyer. The home “seems way cheaper,” Seiler says. Even if the home winds up selling above the asking price, the buyer will feel like they got a great deal with the initial lower asking price, Seiler says. “The goal is to make it stick in their head that you’re getting a bargain,” Seiler says. “It’s the way our brain looks at numbers.”

  3. Going low doesn’t always mean a higher selling price. While setting a lower asking price may generate a frenzy of offers, it won’t necessarily translate into a higher sales price. “It creates a havoc that doesn’t serve anyone well,” Rebecca Walter, a real estate professional with Redfin in Portland, Ore., told The Wall Street Journal. The lower price won’t necessarily increase what a buyer will offer, since some buyers may compete in other ways, like paying in all cash or waiving the inspection to produce a quicker sale, Walter says.

Source: “Strategies for Setting a Price for Your Home,” The Wall Street Journal

3 Tricks for Finding the Perfect Asking Price

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Study: Friendly Neighborhoods Reduce Risk of Heart Attack

Knowing your neighbors may be good for your heart — and not just emotionally — according to a new study by psychologists at the University of Michigan. The more social connecSONY DSCtions you have in your neighborhood, the less likely you are to die from a heart attack, according to the study, which was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The study is based on assessments of social connectedness for more than 5,000 adults in urban, suburban, and rural areas over a four-year period. By the end of the four years, 148 of the more than 5,000 adults had heart attacks.

“Each unit of increase in neighborhood social cohesion was associated with a 17 percent reduced risk of heart attacks,” says lead author Eric Kim, a psychologist and doctoral student at University of Michigan. “If you compare the people who had the most versus the least neighborhood social cohesion, they had a 67 percent reduced risk of heart attack.”

The researchers controlled for factors like optimism, age, race, income, marital status, education, mental health, and known risk factors for heart attacks such as diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.

Kim says that maintaining friendly neighbor relations could be good for your health because neighbors may be more likely to check in on one another and notice any potential health problems, share any health-related information, lend money, or share resources. “I also really believe in how helpful emotional support can be in buffering against toxic effects of stress,” Kim says.

While Kim’s team focused on the positive elements of a neighborhood that “might perhaps be protective or even enhancing of health,” past studies have mostly focused on how negative factors in a neighborhood — such as density of nearby fast food outlets, violence, noise, and poor air quality — can impact health. For example, a 2003 study in the American Journal of Public Health found that “boarded-up housing” often correlated to higher rates of gonorrhea in a neighborhood and premature death due to cancer or complications of diabetes. A study from University of Pennsylvania researchers found that abandoned buildings in an area could lead to isolation and hamper social relationships and feelings of mutual trust in an area, which also could lead to poor physical health of residents who live nearby.

Source: “Always Talk to Strangers,” The Atlantic (Aug. 19, 2014) 

Study: Friendly Neighborhoods Reduce Risk of Heart Attack

Monday, August 25, 2014

Add curb appeal to your home inspired by architecture

19576338_web(BPT) – When you drive through your neighborhood, you may notice a variety of architectural styles. There might be a traditional colonial with evenly spaced windows. Down the road may be an ornate Victorian. On the corner there may be a craftsman home with an inviting front porch. Others may include a mixture of different styles combined to create a unique home.

If you want to give your home a fresh new look, it’s easy to update your curb appeal based on the style of architecture you like. No matter the type of home you live in, you can find affordable and unique ways to create a new look for your home.

“A versatile product like trim is a great way to make your home stand out. With a cedar wood grain texture on one side and a smooth finish on the other, a reversible product like MiraTEC Treated Exterior Composite Trim offers even more creative options than traditional wood trim and it works with any type of siding, stone or brick,” says Bob Merrill, executive vice president, sales and marketing, for JELD-WEN, inc. “Traditional wood trim can split, crack and rot over time, but MiraTEC trim was designed to resist moisture rot and termites, so your home will look great for years to come. Plus it’s easy to handle, cut and nail.”

To give your home the look and feel of a colonial, trim can be used to create decorative shutters that are characteristic of this home style. Victorian homes have complex designs with multi-faceted rooflines and ornate details. To add unique Victorian details to your home, trim can be machined into brackets, spindles and gingerbread scrolls. For an added touch, don’t forget to use bright splashes of color.

Craftsman homes are influenced by the arts and crafts movement and often feature front porches with tapered columns, nature-inspired colors and exposed rafter tails and beams. To give your home a distinctive craftsman style, plain porch posts can be transformed with tapered column wraps made from trim. If you have deep roof eaves, trim can also be used to create decorative rafter tails and beams.

To learn more about trim and affordable ways to add curb appeal to your home, visit

Add curb appeal to your home inspired by architecture

Study: Rental Payment History Can Help Boosts Credit Scores

The addition of rental payment data to credit files may help more potential renters become home owners.

Experian became the first credit reporting agency to add on-time rental payments to its database. It recently conducted an analysis to determine how the added rental information has aided consumers’ credit files.

From Renters to Home Owners:

The study found that subprime and nonprime residents saw the greatest positive score impact by the addition of rental histories. Nineteen percent of the study participants that were considered subprime moved to at least one higher – or less risky – risk segment by the addition, opening them up to more affordable credit and additional credit opportunities, the study noted.

For the previous unscoreable, adding the rental data has now allowed them to have a credit score, with the majority now falling in the least risky prime category too, Experian’s analysis shows.

“Consumer financing rapidly changed during the economic upheaval, and regulatory changes forced lenders to tighten the standards for the underwriting process,” says Genevieve Juillard, president of Experian Consumer Information Services. “This excluded many Americans from the opportunity to attain credit due to a limited or no credit history. Residents who pay their rent on time month after month should be rewarded and not overlooked simply because they rent instead of own the place they call home.”

Source: Experian

Study: Rental Payment History Can Help Boosts Credit Scores