Date Archives: February 2014

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February
27

A majority of more than 100 forecasters says they expect large-scale investors to sell off the bulk of homes in their portfolios in the next three to five years, boosting inventory and potentially contributing to a smoother market ahead, according to the latest Zillow® Home Price Expectations Survey. On average, panelists also says they expected nationwide home value appreciation of 4.5 percent this year, with a steady slowdown in appreciation rates each year through 2018.   Home Values Expected to Rise Through 2018The survey of 110 economists, real estate experts and investment and market strategists asked panelists to predict the path of the U.S. Zillow Home Value Indexi through 2018 and solicited opinions on investor activity and federal monetary policy. The survey was sponsored by leading real estate information marketplace Zillow, Inc. and is conducted quarterly by Pulsenomics LLC.   Throughout the recovery, large-scale investors have purchased thousands of homes nationwide, particularly lower-priced vacant and foreclosed homes, fixing them up and keeping them in their portfolios as rental properties. This investor activity helped put a floor under sales volumes during the depth of the housing recession, but also created competition for many would-be buyers and contributed to rapid price spikes in some areas.   Panelists were asked to assess the impact to the market if these institutional investors were to significantly curtail their activity this year. Among those panelists expressing an opinion, 79 percent says the impact would be significant or somewhat significant. Panelists were also asked when they thought these investors will have sold the majority of homes in their portfolios. Among those with an opinion, 57 percent says they expected this to occur in the next three to five years.   "Real estate investors, both large and small, played a crucial role in helping to stabilize markets during the darkest days of the housing recession, but a decline in investor activity now isn't necessarily a bad thing, and could have real benefits for buyers," says Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries. "Buyers entering the market in the next few months will not be competing with cash-rich investors like they were last year which should be some small solace given the higher prices and mortgage rates that they will encounter. The gradual decline of investor activity should be viewed as another sign of the market slowly returning to normal, and I agree with the panel's expectations that there will not be a rush for the exit by institutional investors."   Panelists were also asked when the Federal Reserve should end its ongoing stimulus efforts, known as "quantitative easing." Since September 2012, the Fed has been purchasing tens of billions of dollars worth of Treasury bonds and mortgage securities each month, which has helped keep mortgage interest rates low and stimulate demand. The program is now being wound down.   "Mortgage rates have been riding a rally in U.S. Treasury securities caused by volatility in emerging markets in recent weeks, so the impact of Fed tapering on the housing market has been minimal thus far," says Pulsenomics Founder, Terry Loebs. "More than 70 percent of the experts want to see the monetary stimulus reduced to zero before the end of this year, and the current pace of tapering will get us there. Of course, whether Janet Yellen's Fed will maintain the current pace as new economic challenges arise remains an open question."   Appreciation Expected to Normalize through 2018   On average, panelists says they expect nationwide home value appreciation of 4.5 percent through the end of this year, a pace that exceeds historically normal annual appreciation rates of around 3 percent. This appreciation is expected to slow to roughly 3.8 percent in 2015 and 3.3 percent by 2018, rates much more in line with historic norms.   Based on current expectations for home value appreciation during the next five years, panelists predicted that overall U.S. home values could exceed their April 2007 peak by the first quarter of 2018, and may cross the $200,000 threshold by the third quarter of 2018.   The most optimistic groupii of panelists predicted a 5.6 percent annual increase in home values this year, on average, while the most pessimisticiii predicted an average increase of 3.4 percent. The most optimistic panelists predicted home values would rise roughly 10.6 percent above their 2007 peaks by the end of 2018, on average, while the most pessimistic says they expected home values to remain about 4.5 percent below 2007 peaks.   For more information, visit www.zillow.com. Published with permission from RISMedia.
February
24

Whether it's the chill of winter or the heat of summer, our natural instincts are to adjust the indoor temperature so it is comfortable through every season. But if your home has any drafts or air leaks, expect indoor temperatures to fluctuate dramatically. Leaks and drafts can hinder the performance of your heating-ventilation-air conditioning (HVAC) equipment and cause your utility bills to skyrocket. Why? Conditioned air continually escapes the home due to the gaps within the building envelope, and HVAC equipment will work overtime to reach the thermostat's set temperature. What's more, the U.S. Department of Energy suggests that air leakage contributes to potential moisture problems that can affect occupant health and the home's durability. While traditional stop-gap solutions, such as placing runners by doors, may provide some relief, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends homeowners take a comprehensive approach. First, detect where the air leaks are within your home. A certified Home Energy Rating System Rater will be able to help you identify such areas as well as help assess your ventilation needs for indoor air quality. Once all sources of air leaks have been identified, air sealing techniques and materials can be applied. Caulking and weather-stripping are two of the most popular and common techniques that can help address air leaks. However building experts will suggest considering solutions that go further in terms of air-sealing. A recent study by the Building Science Corporation showed that heat transfer was much lower in a home equipped with spray foam insulation than with other, more traditional materials such as fiberglass or cellulose. The reduction, about 15 percent, indicates minimal thermal transmission and better block of heat transference, which can have a significant impact on how homeowners heat and cool their home. Installed by professionals, spray foam insulation, like that available from Icynene, works well in all climates to completely seal the building, filling every gap to stop air leakage and help reduce the strain on HVAC equipment. Spray foam insulation both insulates and air seals the entire building envelope letting homeowners cut their monthly heating and cooling bills by as much as 50 percent in some cases. As a long-term solution, spray foam insulation helps maintain a comfortable temperature year-round while helping to control monthly heating and cooling expenses. Thanks to spray foam insulation's air-sealing qualities, homeowners can reduce the size of their heating and cooling equipment since less effort is required to heat or cool the home, according to InsulationSmart.com. While air leakage can cause energy bills to sky-rocket, a well-insulated home and economical winterizing can help you get through the cold winter months. Learn the five easy steps to choosing the right insulation by visiting www.icynene.com.
February
21

Home may be where the heart is, but buying a house can easily become a headache. To keep hassles to a minimum, take time to independently evaluate each professional you'll need, from lender to real estate agent to home inspector to title agent. Choose client-focused, experienced pros who are appropriately licensed. Here are additional tips, based on my team's interviews with consumers and highly rated service providers: Mortgage lender Before you start looking at homes, find a reliable lender to preapprove you for financing. This is especially important now, given more stringent government regulation of home financing. Seek a responsive bank or mortgage professional who keeps the terms of the agreement consistent, or gives fair warning of changes, and who communicates well so that paperwork flows in a timely way. Real estate agent Look for agents who'll communicate with you promptly throughout the process. Avoid an agent who steers you only to his or her own listings or those of the company.  Make sure the agent you hire has the computer skills and web savvy to set up automated searches so you're notified quickly of new listings. Confirm that an agent is properly licensed and in good professional standing. All states require that real estate agents be licensed. Home inspector Look for inspectors who go beyond state regulatory requirements (though not all states require inspectors to be licensed), receive continued education and belong to a professional organization, such as the American Society of Home Inspectors. ASHI requires that members adhere to a code of ethics that prohibits receipt of referral fees. Ethical inspectors don't take kickbacks from contractors who repair problems an inspection uncovers, or receive money from real estate agents who refer their clients. Be sure to schedule an inspection early enough in the process that there's time to deal with repair issues or other problems. To prevent last-minute problems at closing, closely monitor that the sellers take care of any agreed-upon repairs stemming. Title agent Inquire about licensing, which is required for title agents in all states, and request a full list of charges.   Angie Hicks is the founder of Angie's List, a resource for local consumer reviews on everything from home repair to health care.  Distributed by MCT Information Services Published with permission from RISMedia.
February
17

With all eyes focused on the Olympics, young athletes all over the country are gearing up to improve their own game. U.S. News and World Report polled America's 2014 Olympian women to get an inside look at what keeps them fit and focused: • Work out with a buddy – Sharing workout routines with a friend keeps you motivated and provides encouragement. "Best of all, it keeps you committed," said figure skater Ashley Wagner. • Ignore the competition – Alpine skier Stacey Cook tries not to worry about competitors. "You stand the best chance of winning if you put your energy into improving your personal best." • Skip the last run – When practicing, the final time down the mountain is the most dangerous, said snowboarder Arielle Gold. "If you're tired, skip that last run or you open yourself up to injury." • Stop a cold in its tracks – Half pipe snowboarder Kelly Clark swears by ginger tea. "At the first sign of a cold, chop some raw ginger, steep it in boiling water and add some honey and lemon." • Defog the goggles – While you're on the chairlift, put your fogged up goggles under your armpit inside your jacket. According to freestyle skier Heather McPhie, "it works every time." • Soothe dry, cracked hands – Intense cold over many hours does a number on your hands, notes ice dancer Meryl Davis. She says, "Oil of Olay, which is made for faces, does a better job of healing my hands than any hand lotion I've tried." • Stay hydrated – We don't sweat as much when exercising in cold weather, said bobsledder Elana Meyers. "But dehydration causes stomach cramps, so drink 2-3 glasses of water at each meal, and more during every workout." • Listen to your body – Work through soreness, but not pain, said ice hockey's Julie Chu. "If it's pain, pinpoint where it's coming from, and treat it right away." Published with permission from RISMedia.
February
13

In today's low inventory housing market you need to think creatively when pursuing a new home. Here are a few tips to help you during the process!
February
11

(MCT)-We are at the peak of the flu season - and, based on information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, high flu activity is likely to continue for several weeks. So what can you do to minimize the damage of the flu to you and your environment? Quite a few things: Flu Season Likely to Continue through March -Don't work if you are sick. Many people who are catching the flu are of school-going or working age, 5 to 65, and it appears to be the H1N1 strain we saw in 2009, which affected a similar population at that time. Thus, if you are sick, avoid spreading the flu by not going to school or work while you have a temperature, and wait 24 hours after your temperature breaks before going back. Contact your doctor if you have high fevers or shortness of breath.   -Get the flu shot if you haven't gotten it yet. CDC recommends that providers continue to provide flu vaccinations throughout the flu season, which can last as late as May.   -If you do get the flu, ask your doctor for antiviral drugs. These medications now have been shown to work if started up to five days after the flu starts, and appear to reduce the severity and duration of the flu, as well as reduce viral shedding. The antiviral drugs can be taken whether you received the flu shot or not.   -Make sure that you get the flu shot if you are pregnant. This Influenza A H1N1 in 2009 was particularly hard on pregnant women, who were four times more likely to be hospitalized from flu than non-pregnant women that year.   -Expect the flu season to last until at least the end of March. A CDC report notices that peak weeks of flu activity have occurred in January through March during 90 percent of the past 20 seasons.   -The flu shot does help. Even though some people who received the flu shot are getting the flu, overall statistics do show a 17 percent reduction in hospitalizations last year attributed to the flu shot.   -A surprising risk factor for this flu season is obesity - similar to that seen in 2009. This season there has been more hospitalization among obese adults. As of this week, obese people have made up 45 percent of adult hospitalizations - yet another reason to have a long-term plan to bring your weight to normal if it is not.   Other people at high risk for serious flu complications, who should strongly consider a flu shot if they haven't gotten one yet, include those with underlying medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease and neurological conditions; pregnant women; those younger than 5 years or older than 65 years of age; and anyone with a weakened immune system.   Drs. Kay Judge and Maxine Barish-Wreden are medical directors of Sutter Downtown Integrative Medicine program in Sacrament, Calif.   ©2014 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.) Distributed by MCT Information Services   Published with permission from RISMedia.
February
9

THE SCHEDULE

schedule

THE TEAM

  • Chuck Berkeley
  • Cory Butner
  • Adam Clark
  • Nick Cunningham
  • Andreas Drbal
  • Aja Evans
  • Jazmine Fenlator
  • Chris Fogt
  • Jamie Greubel
  • Steven Holcomb
  • Lolo Jones
  • Chris Langton
  • Steve Langton
  • Elana Meyers
  • Abe Morlu
  • Justin Olsen
  • Johnny Quinn
  • Dallas Robinson
  • Curt Tomasevicz
  • Lauryn Williams
February
8

This season has been one for the record books, chilling even areas that usually escape winter's worst. To be sure you're ready for the next flurry of cold, ice or snow, take some time to check a few things:  
Winter Storm Prep• Find your water shut-off valve. Pipes that freeze may also burst. If they do, you'll need to quickly shut off the water supply or risk thousands of dollars in water-related repairs later. If you can't locate the shut-off valve, ask a plumber for help. In addition, review your homeowners insurance policy to see what's covered in case of water damage from burst pipes or other causes. • Examine your roof. The long icicles that look wonderful in photos may signify an ice dam. To avoid this, make sure your attic is properly insulated and ventilated. This will prevent excess heat from melting snow, which trickles down until it re-freezes at the cold edge of the roof, creating a dam. Another important precaution is to clear debris from gutters and downspouts. • Check your sump pump. To test whether your pump can properly drain melting snow or ice, pour a few buckets of water in the sump pit and see what happens. • Arrange for snow removal. Before you're snowed in, take time to research and connect with a reputable local snow removal company. Consider asking to be put on a list for automatic plowing when snow reaches a certain height. If you own a snow blower, make sure it's working. If you don't have one, consider asking a neighbor if you can use theirs in exchange for sharing fuel and maintenance costs. Also, keep some de-icer on hand. • Prep your ride. Winter driving carries with it the risk of having a breakdown, running off the road or getting stuck. Just in case, prepare an emergency kit and other supplies. Stock a snow shovel, ice scraper and brush, jumper cables, flashlight, blanket or sleeping bag, bag of sand or kitty litter, warm clothing, water, nonperishable food, can of tire inflator and a first-aid kit. When bad weather is forecast, fill up your gas tank and make sure tires are properly inflated.  
  Published with permission from RISMedia.
February
7

When you're a homeowner, the threat of low temperatures, snow and ice come with many concerns, one of the most feared being burst pipes. Not only does a burst pipe result in water spilling into your basement or home, if your house is on the market, the water damage can be detrimental when it comes to selling your home.   Burst PipesPipes that are exposed to the weather-and unprotected-are vulnerable to bursting in a light freeze because of the wind chill. Luckily, there are some simple steps that a homeowner can take to protect pipes from freezing and bursting when the mercury drops.   One of the simplest solutions for exterior hoses or pipes that are vulnerable to freezing is to allow a small trickle of water to drip out when the temperatures get really cold. Open any faucets in the house for the same effect. Not only will this keep water constantly flowing, it will also keep pipes from freezing. The cost of the small amount of water is nothing compared to the cost associated with repairing a broken pipe.   It's also a good idea to disconnect any outside hoses from the faucets and turn them off, especially if you're not going to be using them.   You can even purchase and install foam insulation around your water pipes and tape the joints where two pieces of foam meet to keep your pipes warmer. In addition, you can install electric heating tape or cable around vulnerable, exposed pipes. These items are fairly inexpensive and can be purchased at any hardware store.   If you're planning on being out of town during a particularly cold time of year, have your neighbors check in on your pipes the same way you would have someone check on your pets. The last thing you want is to come home to a flood in your house because a pipe burst and no one was there to see it. If you must, turn off your water before leaving so you can ensure no leaks will occur.   Understand that these measures aren't 100 percent effective and every homeowner (including every member of the family) should know the location of their water shut-off switch in case a pipe does burst, as closing it will keep the water from gushing in until you can get it fixed.   To learn more about protecting your pipes, contact our office today.   Published with permission from RISMedia.

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