Date Archives: June 2016

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June
29

There are numerous factors that impact a buyer's decision to make an offer on a home. One of those is color—a feature that may be positively or negatively received by buyers. A recent Zillow Digs® analysis found that listings with kitchens painted soft shades of yellow sold for $1,360 more than anticipated. Generally, listings with rooms painted in earthy hues garnered up to $1,300 more than expected at sale, according to the analysis. Colors to avoid, the analysis found, include slate gray, terracotta, and—contrary to popular belief—white. Generally, listings with rooms painted in dark or white shades sold below expectations. Specific findings include: Wheat Yellow Kitchen – $1,360 more Eggshell/Off-White Kitchen – $82 less Beige/Oatmeal Bathroom – $283 more Dark Brown Bathroom – $469 less Eggplant/Lavender/Mauve Dining Room – $1,122 more Slate Gray Dining Room – $1,112 less Dove/Light Gray Living Room – $1,104 more Terracotta Living Room – $793 less Khaki/Light Green Bedroom – $1,332 more Dark Brown Bedroom – $236 less "A fresh coat of paint is an easy and affordable way to improve a home's appearance before listing," said Svenja Gudell, Zillow's chief economist, in a statement. "However, to get the biggest bang for your buck, stick with colors that have mass appeal so you attract as many potential buyers to your listing as possible. Warm neutrals like yellow or light gray are stylish and clean, signaling that the home is well cared for, or that previous owners had an eye for design that may translate to other areas within the house." The analysis assessed approximately 50,000 sold homes from across the nation. Source: Zillow Published with permission from RISMedia.
June
23

Yes. The following to-do list can help save you a few headaches and keep the closing on track: Realtor
  • Keep extra money in your account. Something unexpected can pop up during the closing that will require more money out of your pocket. Take your checkbook. Even better, find out how much you will need to pay and write a certified check for the total amount.
  • Take your loan commitment letter. Use it to verify loan approval in case of a mistake or misunderstanding with the lender.
  • Take your contract to purchase. Pull it out if something a little suspicious comes up.
  • Take your personal ID. A driver's license or other personal identification will due.
  • Do a before-closing inspection. It is always a good idea, when possible, to walk through the property to make a list of any problems.
  • Utilities. Arrange in advance to have the water and electric meters read on closing day and the service switched to your name to prevent interrupted service. The same applies for the fuel tank.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

June
20

Traditionally, hardwood floors added warmth and natural beauty to the home. These days, hardwood competes with copycat laminates and engineered wood floors, which can cost less. The differences between wood and wood-like flooring, according to Melissa Maker, host of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube: Hardwood – Hardwood flooring is made of solid, natural wood. Costing between $6 and $15 per square foot, it is typically made with a tongue and groove system for easy installation. It is simple to sand and refinish, but is easier to damage and requires a healthy amount of maintenance to keep it looking great. Laminates – The core of laminate flooring is made of high density fiber (HDF), as opposed to actual slabs of wood. The top layer is a photographic layer that mimics the look of hardwood. It won't fool a discriminating eye, but at about half the cost of hardwood flooring, it will take more abuse, is easy to clean, and is installed using a tongue and groove locking system you can install or uninstall with ease. Engineered Hardwood – A hybrid more expensive than laminate and costing about as much as hardwood, engineered hardwood has a core of plywood or HDF and a top layer composed of a hardwood veneer glued onto the core. It has the more natural characteristics of wood, but it handles heat and moisture better because of the core material. It may be refinished, but generally only once. Despite their differences, all three types of flooring may be cleaned the same way, Maker adds. They should be swept or dust-mopped regularly, and cleaned with a drop of dish liquid and a capful of white vinegar mixed into a bucket of warm water. Published with permission from RISMedia.
June
18

(Family Features)—Composite decking has been an option for homeowners for over 20 years—yet misconceptions about it still exist. Decking and railing brand Trex Company and HGTV's "Decked Out" stars Paul Lafrance and Kate Campbell debunk the most common composite myths below. Myth #1: Composite decking looks unnatural. "Composite decking has evolved tremendously since its beginnings more than 20 years ago," says Campbell. Products today mimic natural wood well, Campbell says, with a range of grains and finishes that replicate woods naturally found all over the world. Myth #2: Every composite deck is manufactured from the same material. "Since composite decking was invented in the early 1990s, the market has been flooded with competitive offerings varying widely in quality, aesthetics and value," Lafrance says. "For my projects, I use what is categorized as 'high-performance' composite manufactured with an integrated, three-sided shell, or 'cap.' Capped boards feature an added layer of protection against severe weather, heavy foot traffic, fading, mold and staining." Myth #3: Composite decks do not need maintenance. "Anything that sits outside in the elements for years on end is going to need some type of maintenance," Campbell says. "When it comes to decking, the difference lies in how much upkeep is required." Natural wood decking requires regular sanding, sealing and/or staining, and can splinter, warp or rot, raising the potential for more costly maintenance measures; composite decking only requires a rinse twice each year, says Campbell. Myth #4: Composite decking is costly. "Over time, wood decking actually ends up being more expensive than composite," Lafrance says. "Sure, the initial cost of pressure-treated lumber is less than wood alternatives, but since a deck is a long-term investment, it's important to consider the long-term costs, such as all the materials you'll need for seasonal stripping, staining, painting and sealing. "Add to that the time and cost involved in repairing and replacing wooden deck boards that will inevitably warp and splinter over time—even if they are well-maintained. When you factor in the cost of ongoing maintenance required with a wood deck, a composite deck ends up paying for itself in the long run." Myth #5: Composite decking is not eco-friendly. The opposite is true. "Because it is made primarily from recycled content, composite decking is remarkably eco-friendly," Campbell says. There are several sustainable options available to homeowners, says Campbell. Consult with a composite decking manufacturer to learn how its products are produced with the planet in mind. Source: Trex Company Published with permission from RISMedia.
June
16

Housing is on the up and up, with demand high and sales robust. Still, for those new to homeownership, it may be difficult to determine which route—buying a home or renting one—is the most sensible. House key on keychain "Millennials should weigh a number of factors before committing to any lease or mortgage," said Corey Carlisle, executive director of the American Bankers Association (ABA) Foundation, in a statement. "With the cost of living continuing to rise, they must be prepared to handle the demands of their housing choice—whether that's a rental property or homeownership." First to consider, according to the ABA Foundation, is your savings. Do you have enough money for a down payment for a home or a security deposit for a rental—and enough saved for emergencies? Next, weigh all of your debt obligations—student loans, credit cards, etc. Can you reasonably afford to pay those debts along with the cost of a home? Generally, the ABA Foundation states, mortgage or rent payments and utilities should amount to no more than 30 percent of your gross monthly income. Your credit score is an important consideration, as well, whether buying or renting. A low score can bring about a higher interest rate on a mortgage, or even prevent you from obtaining a rental. The ABA Foundation suggests taking action to improve your score before making the decision to buy or rent. Non-financial factors matter, too. How long do you plan to stay in the home? Renters may have the option to move more often, but homeowners will build up equity. Keep this in mind when comparing your options, the ABA Foundation recommends. For more guidance, contact a real estate professional. He or she can help you make an informed decision based on your needs. Source: ABA Published with permission from RISMedia.
June
12

Cooling your home is costly—even more so if your system is inefficient. There are several, inexpensive ways to cut back on energy consumption and costs. The first step is to have the air conditioning unit serviced—preferably before temperatures rise to uncomfortable levels. According to the experts at New Jersey-based Gold Medal Service, the technician will clean the unit's coils, filters and fins so that the system operates at peak performance throughout the season. "Temperatures are finally starting to heat up, and we want to help homeowners stay comfortable this summer and avoid steep increases in their utility bills," says Mike Agugliaro, co-owner of Gold Medal Service. "We also want to make sure homeowners have their A/C ready to go when they need it. Now is the best time to schedule your annual air conditioning unit tune-up to ensure fast service and a cool house all summer." Another way to keeping cooling costs under control is to invest in a programmable thermostat, Gold Medal Service experts say. This prevents unnecessary cooling when you're not home—and keeps more money in your pocket each month. A ductless mini-split air conditioner is another consideration, particularly for those who do not have an air conditioning system. The experts at Gold Medal Service say these devices can be more energy-efficient than their counterpart due to the absence of ducts. Ceiling fans can save energy, as well, for those with and those without an air conditioning system. Simply turn the thermostat up a few degrees and turn on the fans, Gold Medal Service experts say, to keep your home cool for less. By using these tips to reduce energy consumption, you can beat the heat this summer and save on cooling costs. A win-win! Source: Gold Medal Service Published with permission from RISMedia.
June
9

An owner's title insurance policy protects your property rights as a homeowner. Those purchasing a home should obtain a policy to insure against defects associated with the title of the home. Owner's title insurance is worthwhile because… …it protects your investment. A home is likely the largest investment you'll make. Insuring it, says the American Land Title Association (ALTA), is like insuring any other valuable asset. Owner's title insurance protects the rights of the property owner for as long as he or she (or heirs) owns the home. …it mitigates your risk. Issues inevitably arise for every homeowner, but title discrepancies shouldn't be one of them. An owner's title insurance policy will cover you in the event a title claim occurs. According to the ALTA, these include a tax lien against the property, an outstanding mortgage or a pending legal action related to the property. …it goes beyond insurance and warranties. Standard homeowner insurance policies, as well as home warranties, do not cover your rights as the owner of the property. What's more, owner's title insurance policies are inexpensive, paid for through a one-time fee that equals approximately 0.5 percent of the purchase price of the home, the ALTA says. Above all, an owner's title insurance policy ensures peace of mind after purchase. Source: ALTA Published with permission from RISMedia.
June
8

Home sellers are in an advantageous position this summer, with demand high and sales at their strongest in close to a decade. Planning to list your home in the coming weeks? Get the most for your house before the season's up by making it accessible to buyers—with information. Every homebuyer wants to know specific aspects of homes they're considering purchasing—information that may seem premature to advertise initially, but could ultimately be determining factors in their decision to make an offer. This information may include:
  • How old is the home? When was it last renovated? How old is the roof?
  • What structures or fixtures are included in the list price? (Appliances, ceiling fans, lighting, shed, swing set, window treatments, etc.)
  • What are the home's annual costs? (Electric, municipal water, gas, oil, lawn care, pool maintenance, etc.)
  • Has the home required asbestos, lead or mold removal? Has the home been tested for radon?
  • How is the home heated and/or cooled? How old is the heating and/or cooling system? How old is the hot water heater?
  • How old is the wiring? Is it up to code?
  • Has the well water been tested?
  • Is/was an oil tank buried on the property? Is there a septic system, cesspool or drywell?
  • Are there any outstanding permits or liens on the property?
  • What are the homeowners association fees? What is the move-in fee? What amenities or services are provided by the HOA?
Providing these answers up front not only meets prospective buyers on their terms—they'll be searching for it online—but also could lead to an offer that much sooner. Work with your real estate agent to compile this information as comprehensively as possible. It will be appreciated! Providing these answers up front not only meets prospective buyers on their terms—they'll be searching for it online—but also could lead to an offer that much sooner. Work with your real estate agent to compile this information as comprehensively as possible. It will be appreciated! Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia's Online Associate Editor. This article originally appeared on RISMedia's blog, Housecall. Check the blog daily for real estate tips and trends. Published with permission from RISMedia.
June
2

Most active-duty service members and veterans and some National Guard members and reservists can seek out home-related loans through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). VA home loan programs may be used to finance the purchase of homes, condominiums or manufactured homes, refinance an existing home loan, or install energy-saving improvements. The three main types of guaranteed home loan benefits are: • Purchase Loans • Cash-Out Refinance Loans • Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loans Qualified vets need suitable credit, sufficient income and a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to be eligible for a VA-guaranteed home loan. Private lenders underwrite and fund VA home loans according to VA standards. VA's partial guaranty for these loans means that nearly 90 percent of all VA-guaranteed home loans are made with no down payment required. If a VA-guaranteed loan becomes delinquent, the VA will work with the borrower to avoid foreclosure, including providing financial counseling and, in some cases, direct intervention with a mortgage loan servicer on the borrower's behalf. Any veteran or service member having difficulty making mortgage payments should call (877) 827-3702 to speak with a VA Loan Technician. More information about avoiding foreclosure can be found at: https://ift.tt/1WZ0A0C. Native American veterans who want to live on Federal Trust land can seek assistance through the VA's Native American Direct Loan (NADL) program, which provides direct loans to eligible Native American veterans for the purchase, construction or improvement of a home. The VA also offers grants to veterans with certain service-connected disabilities to build an adapted home or make modifications to an existing home. Three types of grants exist: Specially Adapted Housing, Special Housing Adaptation, and Temporary Residence Adaptation. Homeless veterans, or those at imminent risk of becoming homeless, are urged to contact their local VA medical center, call (877) 424-3838, or visit va.gov/homeless. Consult your real estate professional to learn more about the VA's home-related services, or visit https://ift.tt/1tGlKlp. Published with permission from RISMedia.

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