Date Archives: March 2016

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March
24

With home prices on the rise and mortgage rates still relatively low, now is the ideal time to buy a home. But in this type of market, competing offers can shut you out of the home of your dreams if you're not prepared.     Beat the competition this home buying season with these 3 tips, courtesy of NeighborWorks America, a national nonprofit corporation.   1. Seek professional guidance. More than two-thirds of homebuyers in a recent NeighborWorks survey said that the home buying process is complicated. The best way to get a thorough understanding of the process is to consult with a real estate professional. If you find your finances are lacking, you may also want to meet with a housing counselor, who can offer additional support.   "The housing market is tough right now, with fewer homes for sale on the market than usual, and new mortgage rules and many mortgage products from which to choose," says Marietta Rodriguez, spokesperson for NeighborWorks America. "To be in the strongest position to make an offer that is accepted, consumers have to be prepared. That's where initial consultation with a housing counselor is a great first-step."   2. Build a budget. National surveys have shown that less than one-third of consumers have a budget. Go into this home buying season with a budget that includes potential changes in commuting costs after purchase, home maintenance expenses, and even estimates for changes in life circumstances (such as becoming a parent or paying for college) to have a leg-up on the competition.   "Once all the numbers are on the table, it's easier to see what type of home suits a family's budget and needs, what might be necessary financial trade-offs, and what could be a direct line to trouble," says Rodriguez.   3. Remain informed. The supply of homes on the market will be tight this season. Getting into a bidding war could weaken your resolve, and could push you beyond your means financially. In these circumstances, don't be tempted to forgo important steps in the process, like the home inspection.   "Forgoing a home inspection to move up a place in the bidding process could be costly down the road if problems and defects with the home arise," says Rodriguez." NeighborWorks recommends that homebuyers have a home inspection, and know as much as possible about the inside of a home as the outside."   Follow these three tips to ensure you stay ahead of the competition, and remember: contact a real estate professional. He or she can help you see you through from pre-approval to close.   Source: NeighborWorks America Published with permission from RISMedia.
March
19

Trees are hardy plants, and their roots fight back against man-made limits around them. In urban and suburban landscapes, tree roots are often forced to grow between buildings or under driveways and walkways-and they can cause costly damage if left unchecked.   "Before you plant a new tree in your yard, you need to understand how a tree could damage your property, and take appropriate measures to prevent that damage," says Tchukki Andersen, a board-certified Master Arborist and staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA).   Woody tree roots thicken as they grow, gradually pushing shallow roots toward the surface. Since soil near the surface is best suited for root growth, most tree roots are just below the surface, placing them directly in conflict with man-made obstacles. Where the soil is covered by a solid driveway or patio, upward growing roots will grow against the underside of the pavement or pavers.   "Most damage is found six feet or less from the tree, since roots become smaller and less damaging the further they are from the trunk," says Andersen. "Keep this in mind before you plant. That small sapling could become a large shade tree with roots spreading 30 or 40 feet outward from the trunk."   Some homeowners, masons and landscapers manage intrusive roots by grinding down or removing them. This can be expensive, and is harmful to the tree. Wounding a tree's roots creates points of entry for pathogens, leaving a tree vulnerable to disease. Cutting major roots also reduces a tree's ability to absorb nutrients and water, leaving it more susceptible to drought. In addition, cutting roots can reduce a tree's structural support, which increases the danger the tree will topple onto your house in high winds.   When cutting problem tree roots, remember: • The farther you cut from the trunk, the less threat to the tree's health, and the less danger of creating a hazard. • Avoid cutting roots greater than 2 inches in diameter. • Prune roots back to a side or sinker root (one that is growing downward) when possible. • Roots recover from being severed when you cut them cleanly with a saw, instead of breaking them, and mulch and water well after pruning. • Consult a qualified arborist when cutting within a distance equal to five times the trunk diameter to the trunk. To avoid cutting tree roots altogether: • Installing physical root guides and barriers that redirect tree roots down and away from hardscapes with minimal impact on the tree. • Curve new hardscape features, such as a driveway or patio, around the tree roots. • Suspend hardscape features on small pilings to bridge over roots.   Ultimately, the best way to keep the trees and their roots on your property from causing damage is to select species that match site conditions, Andersen says, and to avoid planting large shade trees within 12 feet of hardscapes. In areas within five to seven feet of a paved area or structure, plant trees that grow to a mature height of less than 30 feet. In areas within seven to 10 feet of a paved area or structure, plant trees that grow to a mature height of less than 50 feet. Reserve trees that mature to higher than 50 feet for areas with at least 12 feet of clearance around the trunk; this allows adequate space for the roots. A professional arborist can assess your landscape and work with you to determine the best trees to plant. Source: TCIA Published with permission from RISMedia.
March
17

Buyers in the market for a home this spring can expect lower mortgage rates across the board.   According to the Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) stands at 3.68 percent, and the 15-year FRM stands at 2.96 percent.   "The 10-year Treasury yield ended the survey week exactly where it started; however the solid February employment report boosted the yield noticeably on Friday and Monday," explains Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac's chief economist. "Our mortgage rate survey captured the impact of this temporary increase in yield, and the 30-year mortgage rate rose 4 basis points to 3.68 percent. This marks the second increase this year. Nonetheless, the mortgage rate remains 33 basis points lower than its end-of-2015 level."   The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) stands at 2.92 percent, according to the survey.   Source: Freddie Mac Published with permission from RISMedia.
March
13

(BPT) - Spring is one of the most popular times of year to clean up your home inside and out, make renovations and take steps to ensure it operates efficiently for the rest of the year. But after the long winter months, the list of projects can pile up. This year, focus on six key areas to repair, replace and refresh around your house now - to avoid spending more time and money later.     1. Repair your roof and gutters. Inspect the roof to check for loose or cracked shingles. Also, be sure to look at indoor ceilings for any signs of water leakage and get started on repairs before more damage occurs. Take a look at the gutters to see if there are areas in need of repair as well, and tackle them now before there's too much rain.   2. Repair and reseal your deck. Remove debris and sweep the deck clean. Fix broken or bent boards and pushed up nails. Choose a cleanser formulated for your deck surface - whether for wood or composite - and apply a new coat of sealer and stain. A local home improvement center can advise you on formulations for your particular needs.   3. Replace your furnace. As you make home upgrades, this is also a good time to upgrade your furnace for greater home comfort and lower energy bills. For example, American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning's Gold S9V2 Gas Furnace is extremely efficient in heating your home and offers quiet operation. Standing at just 34 inches high by 17-1/2 inches wide, it's compact enough to fit in tight spaces, like a closet or basement. And with a 96 percent gas efficiency (AFUE) rating, it's one of the most efficient furnaces on the market.   4. Replace windows and doors. Older windows can let unwanted air and moisture into your home. Installing newer, more efficient models will not only save money on cooling in summer and heating in winter, but they can bring the look of your home up to date. Replacing your front door in a great color and style can also add to your home's efficiency and instantly add curb appeal.   5. Refresh with paint. There's nothing like a new coat of paint to transform and update the look of a home. It's also one of the easiest and most economical home improvement projects you can undertake. Check out your local paint store for ideas and suggestions to help you visualize your home in fresh new colors.   6. Refresh your indoor air. The spring and fall months can trigger allergies, so consider adding an indoor air cleaner. An American Standard AccuClean whole-home system, for instance, can remove up to 99.98 percent of airborne particles and allergens such as pollen, dust mites, mildew, pet hair and dander and fungus and bacteria, so everyone in your home can breathe easier.   Lastly, renew your commitment to home maintenance by creating a yearly schedule of home projects. Mark your calendar with target dates to remind yourself to complete key tasks - including what to focus on for the next season, before the colder months arrive.
March
10

Buyers new to homeownership have a lot to learn in their first go-around-and recently released insights reveal just how important education is.   According to an analysis by Freddie Mac, borrowers who received classroom and home study counseling had reductions in their subsequent rates of serious delinquency of 26 percent and 21 percent, respectively. The same data show that borrowers who received individual counseling averaged a 34 percent reduction in their rate of serious delinquency.   "Freddie Mac believes objective, unbiased homebuyer education and counseling can improve the ability of borrowers to make prudent homeownership and home financing choices," says Sean Becketti, chief economist at Freddie Mac. "The benefit is likely to be greatest for first-time homebuyers, and, as a result, Freddie Mac requires financial literacy education for first-time homebuyers who take advantage of Freddie Mac's low-down-payment program, Home Possible Advantage."   The information gleaned from the analysis, which confirms that pre-purchase education can lead to positive outcomes for homeowners, comes at a pivotal time for the housing market.   "Housing was one of the few bright spots in the economy last year, and we expect continued improvement in 2016," says Becketti. "The imbalance between demand for housing and the supply of both houses and apartments has supported rapid growth in both house prices and rents. The gap between demand and supply will not be closed any time soon; thus, we project continued house price appreciation in 2016."   Source: Freddie Mac Published with permission from RISMedia.
March
7

Made the decision to move? Congratulations! You're one step closer to living in the home of your dreams. Make your move go as smoothly as possible by following this checklist, mapped out in timeline format by the experts at Roadway Moving. 60 Days Before You Move… • Start strategically planning your move, step-by-step, to alleviate the stress of last-minute packing and planning. • Think about holding a garage sale before your move to help reduce the amount of stuff you bring into your new home.   30 Days Before You Move… • Check-in with your mover regarding details for move-in day. • Confirm with your moving company that they will be able to connect or disconnect cable, Internet, electric and any additional services you're using. • Begin packing and develop an unpacking plan for move-in day.   2 Weeks Before You Move… • Clear out any rooms in your house that haven't been emptied yet. • Collect all of your most valuable belongings, such as jewelry, and keep them separate from the rest of your packed items.   On Move-In Day… • Compile a list of items you'll need for your first night in your new home, such as bottled water, snacks, towels and toilet paper. • Take inventory of all boxes that were picked up and delivered to your new home, making sure everything is there before the movers leave. Source: Roadway Moving Published with permission from RISMedia.
March
2

(BPT) - If you're in the market for a new house this year, don't be fooled by the brisk chill in the air - the spring house-hunting season is actually closer than you think. That means now is the perfect time to start your planning. Space requirements such as bedrooms, bathrooms and square footage are essential, but a house is more than just shelter, it's your home, and the great ones not only have everything you need, but everything you want.   house   "Each family lives in their home differently," says Beazer Homes Senior Creative Manager Michael Phillips. "Some buyers prefer a private dining room, while others want an open-concept kitchen with a more casual eating area. Where one buyer might prefer an owner's suite on the main level, others may want all their bedrooms on the upper level."   Although every home buyer's needs are unique, the market is often dictated by common trends. To better understand your own buying preferences and to see if you're aligned with others in the real estate marketplace, take a look at these five home-buying trends.   1. Function over aesthetics. When you think kitchen trends, you probably think of design features like granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. While both these options remain popular and are common in new construction, surveys by the National Association of Realtors and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) found that buyers were extremely interested in functional attributes like new appliances, eat-in layouts, walk-in pantries and double sinks.   2. Living rooms are no longer a must. Given today's diverse home-buying population, the formal living room is becoming less prevalent. "Many buyers would rather use traditional living room square footage in a new way," said Phillips. "We're seeing families using the living room as a home office or choosing to forgo the space altogether in exchange for extra square footage in other areas of the home."   3. New is number one. According to the NAHB, more than half of surveyed buyers want to purchase a new home. It can be a challenge for buyers to find everything they desire in a resale home, and because renovations are often costly and time consuming, it's hard to deny the appeal of purchasing a brand-new home that is move-in ready.   4. Let there be (energy-efficient) light. Home buyers have coveted homes that make good use of natural light for years and that trend is continuing in 2016. In addition to large windows, NAHB research shows homeowners are putting an increased emphasis on the energy savings that accompany the installation of high-performance windows.   5. Make it your own. Personalizing a new home is easier and more affordable than ever before, thanks to offerings like Beazer's Choice Plans, which are flexible floorplans that allow you to personalize the most lived-in spaces in your home at no additional cost. Whether you want a kitchen for entertaining or a breakfast nook for family dining, an office space instead of an extra bedroom, you choose … and Beazer won't charge you for selecting the best layout for your lifestyle. You can learn more about your options and how to create your own dream home at https://ift.tt/1T8gBiv.   Start your preparation today It's never too early to start preparing for shopping for a new home. The more work you do ahead of time, the more time you can spend exploring the market. So start your research now and you'll be moved into the home of your dreams before you know it.

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