Date Archives: March 2013

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March
27

Lending is tight, and with the way the market is moving, it may be getting even tighter. But that doesn't mean your dreams of that three bedroom colonial should be dashed to pieces. According to Michael LitznerBroker of Century 21 American Homes, it just means you need to impress your lender. Below are Litzner's top tips: Maintain job security. "If possible, you should stay at your current job while building up your credit and zeroing in on that mortgage," says Litzner. Your lender will want to analyze your work history, and make sure you are reliable and have a steady stream of income. If you know you need to switch jobs soon, put off your home purchase until you are securely in your new position.Escrow Fluff your credit. Your credit is key for securing a mortgage. If yours isn't up to snuff, spend a year or so working on it before talking to a lender. How can you work on your credit? Pay down any credit card balances and stay on top of your bills. "You should also check your ratio of credit available to credit used," recommends Litzner. Trim your spending habits. "You are trying to prove to your lender you can manage your finances and debt," says Litzner. "Blowing a huge chunk of your salary on a new car or that stunning living room set will raise a few eyebrows." Avoid excessive credit card purchases while gearing up for a mortgage application. Save. This goes hand in hand with trimming your spending habits. Saving for your down payment will be very helpful when it comes to applying for a mortgage. Aim for 20 percent of the amount of home you can afford. "A large down payment will prove to lenders that you're serious, that you're a good saver, not to mention that it will give you immediate equity and reduce your monthly payments from the get-go," explains Litzner. While securing a mortgage is a tricky process, it's not impossible-and impressing your lender is only going to help. For more information on impressing your lender, please contact Century 21 American Homes at 1-800-270-6318. Century 21 American Homes is one of the fastest growing real estate brokerages serving Long Island, Queens and Brooklyn. To find out more about an exciting career in real estate contact us at careers@c21amhomes.com.
March
9

Price and proximity to work are key concerns for first-time home buyers, while trade-up buyers tend to be most focused on the design of the home and the neighborhood, according to "Characteristics of Home Buyers," an analysis of the recently released 2011 American Housing Survey (AHS) by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The biennial survey, which is conducted in odd-numbered years by the Census Bureau, covers about 6.8 million home sales that occurred in 2009 and 2010. NAHB's analysis additionally compares the homes that buyers purchased with what they say they want using results from "What Home Buyers Really Want," a new consumer j0308926 preference survey published by the association. "Among first-time home buyers, price was the most frequently cited reason for selecting a particular house, with a 38 percent share. At 30 percent, proximity to work was the most frequently cited reason for choosing a specific neighborhood," says David Crowe, NAHB's chief economist. "The majority of trade-up buyers (36 percent) cited the design of the home as the primary reason for selecting a particular house, with 28 percent citing the looks and design of the community as the reason for choosing a specific neighborhood." New homes provide buyers the opportunity to choose finishes, fixtures, flooring and more. And they are apt to have the other elements that buyers want including open design, up-to-the-minute kitchens and baths, and features such as a laundry room and walk-in pantry that help with organization and storage. More than 90 percent of the sales reported in the 2011 AHS were existing homes, a significant increase from previous years. "Sales of new homes were very low in 2009 and 2010 due to the unique circumstances surrounding the Great Recession and the housing market crisis. We expect that situation to turn around as the housing market recovery takes hold," says Crowe. "More than half (55 percent) of the people surveyed for "What Home Buyers Really Want," NAHB's consumer preferences study, said they would prefer to purchase a new home rather than an existing home." There's good reason for that preference. New homes provide buyers the opportunity to choose finishes, fixtures, flooring and more. And they are apt to have the other elements that buyers want including open design, up-to-the-minute kitchens and baths, and features such as a laundry room and walk-in pantry that help with organization and storage. There is also growing interest in single-story homes, and energy efficiency continues to be a concern. In fact, nine out of ten buyers surveyed would prefer to purchase a home with energy-efficient features and permanently lower utility bills rather than to buy a home without those features that costs two to three percent less. New homes today definitely fit that description, and as a group are the most energy- and resource-efficient homes ever built. Increasing numbers of homes nationwide are being constructed to the ICC 700 National Green Building Standard (NGBS), which is the only residential green building rating system approved by ANSI as an American National Standard. These homes have lower operating costs due to cost-effective energy and water efficiency practices and the use of lower maintenance materials. Additional NAHB analysis of information from the 2011 AHS shows that energy costs are about 10 percent lower in new homes, even though new homes tend to be larger. The average annual cost of energy was $2,478 for all single-family homes and $2,240 for those built after 2008, which were new when the information was compiled. Average maintenance costs were 56 percent lower for new homes. Average annual maintenance costs for homes built after 2008 were $241 compared to $547 for all single-family homes. "No matter what their preference for location or style, financially qualified buyers are likely to find a new home with the features they most want," says Crowe. "The housing market is strengthening in most areas of the country, and home builders are eager to help buyers achieve or further their homeownership goals."
March
5

Those interested in buying a home know that a mortgage may be involved. But what about if you plan to build your new home? The majority of us can't afford the costs of building a new home outright, and getting a mortgage for a home that doesn't technically exist yet can be a difficult process. This is where a construction loan comes in. "A construction loan is a short-term loan that you can use to front the cost of building your home," says Michael LitznerBroker of Century 21 American Homes. "These loans are set for a specific length of time, typically around one year." When construction on your home is complete, the homeowner then refinances by applying for a new loan to pay off the initial construction loan. "These second loans are called 'end loans,'" Litzner explains. While construction loans are helpful, they can be difficult to get. Below are some of the strict qualifying requirements that must be met before you can be considered. A Large Down Payment – Construction loans require a much larger down payment than a traditional loan. The cost can fall anywhere between 20 and 25 percent. "Down payments are particularly high with building loans because your lender wants to see that you have some skin in the game," Litzner notes. "They want to know you won't walk away if things head south."

The Right Builder. In order to receive a construction loan, you need to have a licensed general contractor on board. "If you're planning on doing the building yourself, you will run into problems," says Litzner. A qualified builder provides you with the reputation that allows the lender to have confidence in your project. j0308928

  Details. "Before you can be approved for a construction loan, you will need to supply the lender with a ton of details, from floor plans to what type of insulation you plan on installing," states Litzner. "Talk to your builder and plan out as much of the home building process as you possibly can. This will also allow you to be more organized when it comes time to build." An Appraised Home Value. Before you can build, you need to get your future home appraised. "This may seem ridiculous-your home doesn't even exist yet!-but your lender needs to know the future value of your home before they will lend you the funds to build it," Litzner says. They don't want to lend you more than the home will be worth in the long run. For more information on home loans, please contact Century 21 American Homes at 1-800-270-6318.  To view available new construction properties "Click Here". Century 21 American Homes is one of the fastest growing real estate brokerages serving Long Island, Queens and Brooklyn. To find out more about an exciting career in real estate contact us at careers@c21amhomes.com.
March
5

j0396174Many in the housing industry are wondering not only what today's home buyers really want, but also what they are ready to leave behind in light of current economic realities. A new study recently released by NAHB, What Home Buyers Really Want, was designed to answer these questions, and more specifically, to provide the most current and accurate information on buyer preferences so that NAHB members can deliver the home (and community) that today's buyers want and are willing to pay for. So what do home buyers really want? The first answer is energy efficiency. Four of the top most wanted features involve saving energy: 94 percent of home buyers want energy-star rated appliances, 91 percent want an energy-star rating for the whole home, 89 percent want energy-star rated windows, and 88 percent want ceiling fans. The second message buyers are sending is they want help keeping their home organized. The laundry room is wanted by 93 percent of buyers; in fact, 57 percent consider it essential and would be unlikely to buy a home without it. This shows that most buyers want to keep the dirty laundry contained in a room and away from plain view. Moreover, nine out of ten buyers want a linen closet in the bathroom to help keep towels and toiletries organized. Space in the garage to store bikes, sports equipment, or gardening tools also ranks high on the buyers' wish list: 86 percent want it. And a walk-in pantry in the kitchen is something most buyers care a lot about as well (85 percent). What features should builders be careful about including in a typical new home? First and foremost, an elevator. Seventy percent of buyers reject it, meaning they would be unlikely to buy a home that included it. Interestingly, four of the next five most unwanted features are not about the home itself, but about the community. For example, 66 percent of buyers do not want to live in a golf course community, 56 percent reject the idea of living in a high density community, 48 percent do not want a gated community, and 44 percent would not buy a home in a mixed use community. More than half of all buyers also discard the option of having only a shower stall in the master bathroom with no tub (51 percent), and many are saying 'no' to two-story spaces as well. About 43 percent of buyers do not want a two-story family room and 38 percent feel the same way about a two-story entry foyer. Many buyers now consider these large, open spaces as energy-inefficient – the last thing they want for their homes. A complete outdoor kitchen is not an important priority to many buyers either, as 31 percent flat out discard the possibility of washing dishes, cooking, and keeping food refrigerated outdoors. For most buyers (62 percent), an outdoor grill will suffice.
March
1

Consumer complaints and lawsuits regarding home improvements are on the rise according to Ripoff Reports; a homeowner that does not do their homework before embarking on a project could find themselves with poor workmanship, inferior products, health and safety issues or even legal problems. So what's a homeowner in need of a fix up to do? Hammer   "Start by reviewing the three most common mistakes people make when embarking on a home improvement project," says Dave Harrison, chief marketing officer of Champion Windows, Sun-rooms, Roofing and Home Exteriors, one of the nation's leading home improvement companies. No.1: Buying Only on Price Your home is probably one of the most expensive items you own, so making improvements is not the place to budget shop.- "Make sure you are getting quality products professionally installed. A properly done home improvement should only have to be done once," added Harrison, "and remember the old adage 'you get what you pay for'." No. 2: Not looking at the Long Term Investment Benefits When your home improvement project is finally over, you should be getting more than an upgrade to your home; you should also see an increase in your home's value. When you do it right you can reduce energy and maintenance costs and increase comfort and pride in your home, and never have to worry about it again for as long as you own your home. On the flip side a poorly executed project can lower the value of your home, have to be re-done in several years and even put your family's health at risk. For example, water damage from faulty windows could cause mold. No. 3: Not Knowing How to Screen a Contractor "I've seen many independently owned contractors close their businesses after a short year or two," said Harrison. "When selecting a contractor to work with it is important to get a sense of who they are, what products they use and how long they have been in business." According to Harrison there are four essential questions to ask during this screening process: - Who designs it? - Who builds it? - Who installs it? - Who guarantees it? "When you don't get the correct answers to these four questions you may end up with an inferior investment, expensive surprises, property damage or even lawsuits and liabilities," says Harrison. "Ultimately, the answer you want is that there is a single source of accountability for your project. Having one company design, build, install and guarantee the product and work can save you time, money and hassles in the long run." Make sure you have a contractor relationship you can trust for the long-term. This long-term relationship starts with a quality product and professional installation and includes a lifetime warranty from a company that has longevity and provides you with a sense that they will still be in business five or ten years down the road. -You should also ensure that your warranty is transferable, applies to all systems, applications and materials, and is non-prorated. A non-prorated warranty is considered to be the most valuable as it means that the manufacturer or seller will replace or repair the item at no cost to the buyer if there is a problem with a product.

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