Date Archives: February 2017

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February
24

Rising mortgage rates will have the most impact on the housing market in 2017, according to expert opinions recently assessed in Zillow's Home Price Expectations Survey, followed by limited housing supply and shifting demographics. Rising rates, markedly, affect both sides of the transaction—as rates increase, homebuyers are further extended, while sellers hold off on listing to avoid a higher-priced mortgage. The experts surveyed expect the most significant changes to come when rates reach 5.5 percent. According to Freddie Mac, rates currently are in the neighborhood of 4 percent. "Rising mortgage rates, inventory shortages and demographic shifts will be the main drivers of the U.S. housing economy this year, especially for first-time buyers who will face tougher competition for entry-level homes and often operate with a tighter budget than move-up buyers," says Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. "When you combine higher mortgage rates with increasing home values, mortgage affordability starts to suffer, and buyers will have to spend more and more on their monthly payments. This makes it even more important for buyers to prepare their finances, and shop around to make sure they are getting the best possible rate." Seventy-seven percent of homebuyers obtain a mortgage to finance a home purchase, according to Zillow—this widespread use, experts agree, will amplify the effects of rising rates on home price appreciation. "Compared to their outlook in our previous survey just a few months ago, most of our panelists now expect somewhat stronger home value appreciation this year and next, as tight inventory conditions persist," says Terry Loebs, founder of Pulsenomics, which partnered with Zillow on the survey. "However, longer-term, the consensus still calls for decelerating prices, with the most pessimistic quartile of experts continuing to project negative inflation-adjusted returns for U.S. housing beyond 2017. The specter of rising mortgage rates and other affordability hurdles are clearly impacting these home value projections." For more information, please visit www.zillow.com.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

February
17

You've taken all the necessary steps to get ready to buy a home. You've saved for a down payment, improved your credit score, got all your financial documentation in line, and figured out what price range you can afford. And then the interest rates went up. Is your dream of homeownership now unachievable? According to recent data from realtor.com®, the share of first-time buyers planning to buy a home this spring fell sharply when mortgage rates began to rise toward the end of 2016. According to realtor.com®'s January survey of active homebuyers, 44 percent of buyers planning to buy in spring 2017 are first-time buyers. This has dropped significantly since the survey was conducted in October, when 55 percent of buyers planning a spring purchase indicated they were looking for their first home. However, with inventory shortages and rising home prices, the urgency to buy now has never been greater. So before you shelve your plans for buying a home this spring, know the facts about rising rates and home prices. The average 30-year conforming rate rose to more than 4.2 percent by the end of December 2016 from 3.4 percent at the end of September 2016. With average rates today about half a percentage point higher than they were in 2016, a median-priced home financed with 20 percent down would cost an additional $720 per year in added interest. That equals more than 1 percent of the median household's income. With affordability being a top concern for first-time buyers, a rising interest rate can be enough to scare you off. Kiplinger's expects the 30-year mortgage rate to reach 4.6 percent by year's end, with the 15-year rate at 3.8 percent. Add to that the continued increase in home prices due to low inventories in many parts of the country and you can see that holding off on a home purchase will probably only cost you more down the line. Take a cue from repeat homebuyers who are actually being spurred into action by rising rates. Even with the current increases, interest rates remain historically low, and the movement in rates hasn't yet tipped overall buyer demand down. Experienced buyers, in fact, are trying to close before rates increase further, as evidenced by increased realtor.com® listing views and decreased inventory. In the short term, the rate movement seems to have encouraged, rather than dampened, overall demand. While concerns about affordability are valid, waiting may not help your long-term financial picture. Instead, consider looking for a home in a slightly lower price range, finding a way to increase your down payment, or looking in a neighborhood that may be more affordable. The good news? In today's competitive market, your home will most likely increase in value and prove to be one of the smartest investments you could've made. For more information about how rising interest rates will impact your home purchase, contact me today.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

February
10

You've done your research online and narrowed down the neighborhoods and homes you're most interested in. The next step? Visit your top picks in person. But what should you look for? What real estate information will you be able to determine live that you couldn't find in the photos and details you already looked at online? Here's a list of what to look for when on a walk-through: The neighborhood. Sure, you found out all about school quality, crime stats, proximity to transportation and more during your online research, but nothing compares to being there. Take a look at traffic patterns, the condition of surrounding homes, the neighbors, their yards, etc. After you've toured the house, take a few minutes for a quick stroll around the block. This will give you a much better sense of the neighborhood you may come to call home. The home's exterior. Photos online only allow you to get so close, so while you're on site, carefully inspect the entire exterior of the home, advises Forbes. Is the paint chipping? Are the shingles in need of repair? How about the gutters? Repairs needed in any of these areas will factor greatly into your bid or can serve as a helpful negotiating point. The smell. One thing you definitely cannot research online is how a home smells. So put your nose to work to sniff out mold, pet damage, air quality and general cleanliness. The light. Sure, those appealing descriptions may have raved about the home's natural light, but visit every room of the house to make your own assessment. The size. But wait - with loads of photos and the exact square footage listed online, you already know the size of the home, right? Yes and no. You know the size on paper but you don't really have a sense of size until you're there. Photos tend to make rooms look more spacious and ceiling height adds another layer to perceived spaciousness. Above all, the most important thing you will determine from a walk-through is completely intangible, namely, how the home feels. Square footage, gourmet kitchen and wrap-around porch aside, you need to be able to picture yourself living there. And that is something you can't determine until you're there. So don't rush - take your time and really try the house on. I hope you found these tips useful. Contact me for more helpful home advice and real estate information.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

By Maria Patterson
February
9

With the inclement weather upon us please use this information to keep yourself safe and informed!
Significant snowfall and strong winds are expected to impact our area starting early tomorrow morning.  With this storm approaching, I wanted to make sure you had the following phone numbers in case you need assistance or information: Emergencies: Dial 911 To report power outages or downed power lines: • PSEG 24 hour hotline: (800) 490-0075 To report gas outages or gas safety emergencies: • National Grid 24 hour hotline: (800) 490-0045 Information on mass transit service: • MTA/LIRR/NYC Transit: www.mta.info • LIRR 24 hour travel information center: 718-217-5477 • NICE Bus travel information: 516-228-4000 • NYC Transit travel information: 718-330-1234 Up to the minute information about traffic conditions on Long Island's major roads: • NYS Department of Transportation's 511 service: www.511ny.org or call 511. To report snow plowing issues or downed trees: Town maintained roads • Town of North Hempstead: 311 • Town of Hempstead: 516-489-5000 • Town of Oyster Bay: 516-677-5757 Village maintained roads • Baxter Estates: 516-767-0096 • Bellerose: 516-354-1000 • East Hills: 516-621-5600 • East Williston: 516-746-0782 • Floral Park: 516-326-6300 • Flower Hill: 516-627- 5000 • Great Neck: 516-482-0019 • Great Neck Estates: 516-482-8283 • Great Neck Plaza: 516-482-4500 • Kensington: 516-482-4409 • Kings Point: 516-504-1000 • Lake Success: 516-482-4411 • Manorhaven: 516-883-7000 • Mineola: 516-746-0750 • Munsey Park: 516-365-7790 • New Hyde Park: 516-354-0022 • North Hills: 516-627-3451 • Old Westbury: 516-626-0800 • Plandome: 516-627-1748 • Plandome Heights: 516-627-1136 • Plandome Manor: 516-627-3701 • Port Washington North: 516-883-5900 • Roslyn: 516-621-1961 • Roslyn Estates: 516-621-3541 • Roslyn Harbor: 516-621-0368 • Russell Gardens: 516-482-8246 • Saddle Rock: 516-482-9400 • Sands Point: 516-883-3044 • South Floral Park: 516-352-8047 • Stewart Manor: 516-354-1800 • Thomaston: 516-482-3110 • Westbury: 516-334-1700 • Williston Park: 516-746-2193 County maintained roads • Nassau County non-emergency hotline: 800-315-5153 State maintained roads • NYS Department of Transportation: 631-904-3050  
Source: Senator Elaine Phillips
February
3

Becoming a homeowner for the first time is an exciting and stressful process. However, once the papers are signed and the keys are in your pocket, your work really begins. Homeownership can be fraught with financial and emotional perils, especially if you've been renting from a landlord up until now. Landlords are on the hook for not only minor repairs, but also major upgrades, yard work, taxes and fees associated with building ownership, as well as normal upkeep such as painting and cleaning carpets. Before You Buy The best way to make a smooth transition to your new home starts before you buy. A proper inspection can alert you to problems that already exist with the property. New homes shouldn't have many issues, but it's always wise to get an inspection anyway to ensure that everything has been installed properly. After inspection, you want to work on your budget. You should build home maintenance and upkeep into your monthly budget. A basic rule of thumb for your maintenance budget is to put aside 1 percent of your home's purchase price per year. This means if your home costs $300,000, then you should put aside about $250 a month for major home repairs. Of course, new homes shouldn't need immediate major repairs, but by saving this money from the get-go, you'll never have nasty surprises when an appliance breaks down, or when you need a new roof in 10 years. Tips to Maintain Your Home Once you're in your home you'll want to stay on top of maintenance. This doesn't just mean yard work, gardening, snow removal and window cleaning, although all those things are important. You'll want to do an annual survey of your major appliances. This should include things you don't usually see or think of, such as your water heater, furnace or boiler, and air conditioner. You should know what these things look like when they're performing properly, and you should have the name of a trusted HVAC professional, plumber and electrician just in case you should ever need them. You should also keep a close eye on your roof and any plumbing pipes that are visible, as these can often be some of the most expensive repairs. Catching a problem early is always ideal. Financial Changes Another difference between renting and owning is your financial state. The first year you own a home your taxes will be much different, so even if you do file your taxes yourself, this year might be the year to turn to a tax professional. You'll also have to have money to spend to fill up your new home! Chances are you have a lot more square footage to work with now, and you may need additional furniture or even appliances if your new home didn't come with them. Start reading reviews and comparison-shopping early on for things like washers, dryers and lawn mowers if you can. Buying a lawn mower in May is far more expensive than buying one in January. While it might seem silly, the last year models are usually very similar when it comes to appliances, so figure out when the new versions are released. Floor models (appliances that have been out for people to look at) are also a great choice, as they haven't actually been used. The best part of owning your own home is that it is all yours. You can paint, arrange and decorate to your heart's content. However, the worst part of owning your own home is that it's all yours, and if there's three feet of snow to be shoveled, water pouring out of the toilet or a dryer that just won't dry, these are all problems you'll have to figure out how to fix—with a little help from the pros, of course. Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. You can connect with her on Facebook here and Twitter here. This was originally published on RISMedia's blog, Housecall. Visit the blog daily for housing and real estate tips and trends. Like Housecall on Facebook and follow @HousecallBlog on Twitter.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

By Megan Belnap  

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