Date Archives: April 2015

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April
30

Closing

  Congratulations, you've found a home that is ideal for you and your family. It has all your wants and needs, and it's even in your price range. You've placed a bid and the buyer accepted it! You are finally getting ready to sign your name on the dotted line and buy your home. You're not quite done yet, there is another step that you have to go through - the closing process. Here are some things you should know before going into your closing.
  1. Read everything: Ask your lender and attorney for the documents prior to the closing. It's important to have the documents beforehand so you can make sure everything is correct. Not reading your documents before the closing can hurt you because there may be a typo or two, which can set back the entire process. Double and triple check everything. Review your loan and mortgage documents and get everything in order.
  1. Bring a check: Your documents will show how much you owe. Bring your checkbook. You should also bring a form of identification.
  1. Walk-through: The contract should allow you to walk through the property twenty-four hours before the closing. Bring your documents with you so you can reference them to make sure that the home is in the condition stipulated in the contract.
  1. Ownership: The whole point of closing is to transfer ownership from the buyer to the seller. Before closing, a title company will come in and make sure the deed, taxes, and other items that may affect the property are in good standing. Once that is squared away and the buyer and the lender approve of everything, you can both sign the closing documents, ultimately making you the owner of the home.
Closing can bring unexpected events, but if you are prepared and stay positive, things can run smoothly. This is an exciting time, so after everything is settled, take your new keys and enjoy your home!
April
29

As the housing recovery continues, kitchens and bathrooms remain the most popular areas for investment by homeowners, according to a recent survey by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Kitchens, in particular, remain the center of operations within the home, with energy-efficiency, water conversation and healthy home materials topping the list of homeowner must-haves.   kitchenbathdesign   "The major point of emphasis in kitchen design nowadays revolves less around actual cooking activities," says Kermit Baker, AIA chief economist. "Rather, homeowners are looking for kitchens that are gathering spots for family and entertaining, as well as serving as a hub for electronic devices and recharging stations.   "Another important trend we see appearing more, not only in kitchens but the entire project, is specifying healthier construction components such as paint, caulking, glues, grout and other potentially high VOC (volatile organic compounds) products, that may contain harmful ingredients and off-gas noxious fumes or vapors over time as they are curing."   The survey concluded that the most popular kitchen products and features are:  
  • LED Lighting
  • Computer Area/Recharging Station
  • Larger Pantry Space
  • Upper-End Appliances
  • Double Island
  • Adaptability/Universal Design
  • Drinking Water Filtration Systems
  Based on the survey, the most popular bathroom products and features are:  
  • LED Lighting
  • Doorless Showers
  • Adaptability/Universal Design
  • Large Walk-In Showers
  • Stall Shower without Tub
  • Water Saving Toilets
  • Radiant Heated Floors
  Source: AIA Published with permission from RISMedia.
April
27

Homeowners must consider several factors when planning an exterior home remodel – and curb appeal tops the list, according to a recent CertainTeed survey. When asked which factor was most important to an exterior remodel, 39 percent of respondents cited curb appeal, followed by 26 percent naming return on investment and 21 percent indicating outdoor living and lifestyle considerations.   homeupgrades   "In home design, there is an increased interest in individualization and creativity – true for both interior and exterior design," says Mike Loughery, CertainTeed. "We've found that homeowners want healthy, energy-efficient homes that offer complete comfort and curb appeal, but don't always know the best way to start."   Here, CertainTeed names the best home investments that can help meet curb appeal, return on investment and outdoor living goals:  
  • Better Insulation
  • Cool Roofing
  • Solar Panels
  • Geothermal Heating/Cooling Solutions
  • Low-Maintenance Vinyl Siding, Decking and Railing
  • Patios/Gazebos
  • Outdoor Kitchens
  Source: CertainTeed Published with permission from RISMedia.
April
24

(BPT) - When you're about to buy a house, it's easy to get excited about its great location, spacious floor plan or beautifully decorated interior. Before signing on the dotted line, use this checklist to help avoid some potentially costly surprises and anticipate repairs or upgrades that may be needed.   home_repairs   Roof - Ask when the current roof was installed. Is it the original roof, or has it been replaced, repaired, or covered over with new shingles in certain spots? Are there known leaks, and if so, where are they? Have any of the leaks caused damage to the attic or interior? Also look at the chimney to see if it's properly sealed around the edges and whether the gutters need repair.   Windows and Doors – Next, take a look at the windows to see if there is any condensation between the glass panes. If so, it could mean window replacements are in order. Once you get inside the house and close the front door, see if any light is coming through between the edge of the door opening and the wall. This gap is an indicator that the door may need to be replaced since air can escape through it and cause higher energy bills.   Lighting and Electrical – Throughout the interior rooms, many homes are staged to appeal to buyers with attractive lighting that shows off the space to its best advantage. You may love the way the lamps look in the bedroom, office or kitchen, but more importantly, check out how many electrical outlets there are and whether they are in convenient locations. Also, make sure you check to see if the lamps are masking the fact that there are no ceiling fixtures in each room. Will you need to rig up extension cords or invest in electrical work in order to support all the lamps, ceiling fixtures, appliances and electronics you wish to use?   Furnace – At the basement level, be sure to check out the heating system. If the current furnace is more than 10 years old, it may be operating at a much lower level of efficiency than the latest manufacturing standards require, resulting in higher energy costs. Newer models can operate at nearly 20 percent higher efficiency than the government minimum standard, for the ultimate in energy efficiency.   Published with permission from RISMedia.
April
21

(BPT) - It's a cruel coincidence that spring homebuying season corresponds with another far less pleasant one - termite swarming season. When eager homebuyers emerge from winter hibernation to look for their dream homes, termites emerge, too, say the experts at the National Pest Management Association (NPMA).   termites   If you'll be buying or selling a home this spring, the NPMA offers some valuable termite information:  
  • The average homebuyer and homeowner might have difficulty spotting the evidence of a termite infestation. Termites chew through wood, flooring and other materials behind-the-scenes, so it can take years before the signs of an infestation are visible to the untrained eye. An inspection by a licensed pest professional is the best way to detect an infestation of wood-destroying organisms (WDOs) - especially if you live in a termite-prone area of the country.
  • A WDO inspection is different from a simple structural inspection. Buyers should be sure to have their prospective home inspected by a licensed pest professional. The inspection will last about an hour, and the specialist will probe the home from top to bottom to look for telltale signs of termite damage. After the inspection is over, the specialist will report to the buyers what he or she has found, and an estimate of how much it might cost to remediate any termite damage he or she has discovered.
  • Different states have varying laws about termite inspections. Some may require one before a home can be sold, while others do not. Check with your REALTOR® about the laws in your state, and keep in mind that many lenders will require a pest inspection be done in addition to a structural inspection - especially if the home you are buying is in a termite-prone area.
  • Termite detection, remediation and control are not do-it-yourself tasks. If an inspector finds signs of a termite infestation and damage, you'll need professionals to remedy the problem. Buyers who discover problems before the sale is final will be better able to negotiate with the seller to take care of the problem. In some states, the law may not allow the sale to be finalized until the damage is addressed, and lenders may refuse to finalize a mortgage for a home with unresolved termite issues.
  • If the termite inspection shows your new home is pest-free, congratulations! After the sale is finalized, be sure to take steps to protect your home from termites going forward, including having the home inspected for termites at least once every three years, and every year if you live in an area prone to termite infestations.
  Published with permission from RISMedia.
April
19

(Family Features) Before you grab your toolkit or enlist the help of a professional for spring projects this season, do your wallet a favor and conduct some research.   spring_home   HomeAdvisor's most recent True Cost Report found that 38 percent of homeowners don't know how much it will cost to hire a professional for home projects, and nearly 70 percent are concerned about overpaying as a consequence of not having reliable cost information.   If you've got any of these projects on the agenda this spring, keep in mind these tips.  
  • Repairing the roof: Maintaining the roof protects a home from the elements and can raise property values. Small repairs keep a roof in good shape for several years and help avoid costly damages. Most homeowners assume repairing a roof can be costly. In fact, the average roof fix only costs $550, according to the True Cost Report.
  • Remodeling a kitchen: Kitchen remodels boost a home's resale value and add functionality to the most utilized space in a home. Many factors go into remodeling a kitchen, including flooring, plumbing, appliances and electrical, so bear in mind these additional costs when budgeting.
  • Remodeling a bathroom: Homeowners can choose from different types of bathroom remodels, depending on style preferences and budget. The average cost of remodeling a bathroom is $9,000, says HomeAdvisor.
  • Painting the home's exterior: Painting the home's exterior not only boosts its curb appeal, but it also acts as a home's primary defense against weather, insects, and other damage. Consider your region's climate before selecting a color and/or finish.
  • Installing landscaping: Landscaping can dramatically change the look of a house and property. Adding landscaping such as an outdoor patio, flowers or shrubs can increase the value of a home. The True Cost Report points to an average cost of $2,938 for landscaping.
  Source: HomeAdvisor Published with permission from RISMedia.
April
17

According to Bankrate.com's weekly national survey, mortgage rates pulled back this week, with the benchmark 30-year fixed mortgage rate dipping to 3.79 percent and the average 15-year fixed mortgage rate inching lower to 3.03 percent.  

lowmortrate

  The jumbo 30-year fixed mortgage set a new record low of 3.90 percent. Adjustable rate mortgages (ARM) were mixed, with the 5-year ARM nosing higher to 3.08 percent and the 10-year ARM drifting down to 3.54 percent.   Mortgage rates are at a 23-month low, a fact which could motivate buyers off the sidelines, particularly with the likelihood of higher rates later in the year. As evidenced by recent uneven data, the cold winter put a chill on the economy. The softness in economic releases continues to keep everyone guessing about the timing of the Federal Reserve interest rate hikes.   Source: Bankrate.com Published with permission from RISMedia.
April
10

The final walk-through is an important part of the home buying process. This step gives a buyer the opportunity to assess the home top-to-bottom before closing. Although a home inspector can accompany a buyer during the final walk-through, it's essential for the buyer to evaluate the home as an inspector would. To successfully complete the final walk-through, keep in mind these tips.  

walkthrough

  1. Have your contract, inspection report and any seller disclosures handy when walking through the home. These documents will help you determine if any new issues developed after the inspection, and which repairs, if any, were included in the agreement.?   2. Inspect both the exterior and interior of the home, paying special attention to any issues the seller agreed to resolve before closing. This is crucial, especially if the seller has already vacated. Spend some time assessing the landscape and grounds, as well as confirming that all doors and windows not only open and close properly, but are also secure.   3. Inside the home, test the HVAC system and all appliances included in the contract. Turn on and off all lights, both inside and outside, and check the temperature and water pressure for all faucets. Remember to flush toilets to ensure there are no drips or leaks.   4. Before completing the final walk-through, be sure to ask for working keys to every door, alarm codes, garage openers and any appliance or system manuals. It's also a good idea to ask for copies of receipts for any repairs the sellers paid for.     Source: RISMedia's Housecall? Published with permission from RISMedia.
April
2

(BPT) - It's a sobering truth in real estate: sellers often have to spend money to make money. Even if your home is relatively new, you still face costs associated with getting it ready to show, such as repainting interior rooms or hiring professional cleaners and stagers. If your home could use some TLC and updating, spending as little as $5,000 on key upgrades could improve its appeal for buyers - and ensure a speedier sale at a better price.   Here are five upgrades you can make for under than $5,000 to help put your home at the top of every buyer's must-see list.   mbr   1. Upgrade Your Entryway Replacing an old, dated or worn entry door can be a cost-effective way to ensure buyers get a good first impression when they walk in your house. Whether you choose a fiberglass, wooden or steel model, installing a new entry door can cost a few thousand dollars, yet the return on investment at the time of resale can be significant. A fiberglass entry door returns about 72 percent of its investment, while a steel door recoups more than 100 percent of its value, according to Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value report. Enhance your new door with attractive plantings, fresh paint and clean windows around the entryway to create a memorable, attractive entry for just a few thousand dollars.   2. Increase Natural Light More buyers are becoming aware of the mood- and productivity-enhancing benefits of natural light, and homes with big, bright windows have always been in demand. Adding windows to a room can be a costly, time-consuming affair. Not so with a skylight. For well under $5,000 and in just a day or two, a professional can install an Energy Star-qualified, solar-powered, no-leak fresh air skylight, Professional installation costs nationally range from around $900 to $2,325, with an average of $1,400, according to HomeAdvisor.com. The most popular rooms in the home for fresh air skylights are baths, where they provide privacy in addition to natural light, and kitchens, where they vent cooking odors and humidity naturally while brightening a much-used workspace.   3. Beautify a Master Bathroom Bathrooms and kitchens sell homes. Making a few cosmetic upgrades to even a small master bath can help increase a home's appeal and value. For less than $5,000 you can easily repaint, upgrade faucets, replace old cabinet hardware and add decorative touches like designer towels. In addition, take a look at the floor or countertops - two cost-effective upgrades that can wow buyers. Since counters don't make up that much square footage in most bathrooms, replacing them with granite can cost just a couple thousand dollars. Tile flooring is also a relatively inexpensive way to improve a bathroom's look and usability.   4. Heat Things Up in the Kitchen Kitchen remodels can offer high ROI for sellers, but a full remodel may be outside your budget. If you've already done the obvious - like repainting and de-cluttering - it's time to look for a few more cost-effective improvements that will appeal to buyers. Shabby, outdated appliances can hinder a speedy sale, so consider replacing them with new ones. You don't necessarily need to install top-of-the-line, high-priced appliances to make a good impression, either. Newer, Energy Star-qualified appliances represent savings for buyers down the road.   5. Lavish Landscaping No single aspect of your home has a greater impact on a buyer's first impression than the landscaping. A great front yard sets the tone for the rest of the home, appealing to buyers on a number of levels, including beauty, practicality and savings. With $5,000, you can accomplish a lot in terms of landscaping. You can sod a small front yard, add decorative planting beds to a lush lawn, or even install shade trees that will both beautify the yard and enhance the home's energy efficiency in summer. Decorative concrete stamping of walkways and driveways is another cost-effective way to improve a home's curb appeal.   Whether it's a buyer's market or a seller's market, no one wants to see their home linger long before selling. A few simple upgrades can help ensure your home gets plenty of attention this selling season. Published with permission from RISMedia.
April
1

More than half (54 percent) of respondents in a recent Fannie Mae National Housing Survey™ believe it would be easy to get a home mortgage, a record-high trend bearing out amid continued strengthening in employment and overall housing sentiment.   Dollarphotoclub_60245643   "We continue to see strength in attitudes about the current home buying and selling environment and consistently high shares of consumers saying they expect to buy a home on their next move," says Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae.   According to the survey, the share of respondents who say mortgage rates will go up in the next 12 months increased to 48 percent. Those who say it is a good time to buy a house remained at 67 percent. Those who say it is a good time to sell decreased by 4 percentage points to 40 percent.   The share of respondents who say home prices will go up in the next 12 months fell to 46 percent. The share of respondents who believe the economy is headed in the right direction increased three percentage points to an all-time survey high of 47 percent.   Source: Fannie Mae Published with permission from RISMedia.

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