Archive for July, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 31st, 2018

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on July 31st, 2018

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates 07-31-18Last week’s economic readings included reports on sales of new and pre-owned homes, mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims.

New Home Sales Slide; Pre-owned Home Sales Meet Expectations

Commerce Department reported lower sales of new homes in June. Sales were expected to reach 666,000 sales on a seasonally adjusted annual basis, but the actual reading slipped by 5.30 percent to a pace of 631,000 new home sales. Analysts cited higher building costs, home prices and mortgage rates sidelined some buyers.

Concerns over inadequate inventories of available homes also impacted sales of newly-built homes. New homes sold at a rate 6.90 percent higher year-over-year, but analysts cautioned that home price appreciation and demand may be at or near their peak.

The National Association of Realtors® reported an annual pace of 5.38 million sales of previously-owned homes for June, which matched analysts’ expectations. May’s reading was 5.41 million sales of pre-owned homes.

Analysts caution that Commerce Department readings are subject to adjustment due to the relatively small number of home sales used to represent all sales of pre-owned homes.

Mortgage Rates and New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week with incremental increases in average mortgage rates. Rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages were two basis points higher at 4.54 percent; rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 4.02 percent and were two basis points higher.

Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were one basis point higher and averaged 3.87 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims rose to 217,000 claims filed; this reading fell short of the expected reading of 219,000 new claims but was higher than the 208,000 new claims reported for the prior week.

Whats Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic releases include readings from Case-Shiller Home Price Indices and readings on pending home sales and construction spending. Labor reports including public and private sector jobs growth and the national unemployment rate will also be released.

Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be published.

 

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How To Green Up Your Home To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on July 27th, 2018

How To Green Up Your Home To Reduce Your Carbon FootprintIf you are a home owner trying to reduce your carbon footprint, it’s time to make some changes to your property. The more you can do to reduce energy costs, increase efficiency and reduce waste, the less impact you and your home will have on the earth.

From small changes, such as using energy efficient light bulbs, to big changes such as adding solar panels to your home, you can make your home a more Earth-friendly space.

Install Energy Efficient Appliances

Appliances that are labeled energy efficient are going to help you reduce your carbon footprint. When you need a new appliance, look for ones that are energy efficient.

When doing things like washing dishes, flushing the toilet or washing clothes, look for the settings that use less water and energy. Take the time to understand your dishwasher or washing machine to see how you can reduce energy and water waste.

Use Energy Saving Light Bulbs

One of the easiest ways to make your home a little more Earth-friendly is to replace old light bulbs with energy saving ones like LED lights. In many areas you can have an energy audit done on your home and get ideas on ways to save even more on energy related costs. Pay attention to turning off your lights when not in use.

Saving Energy Saves Money And The Environment

When you reduce your use of energy to heat, cool or run your home, you are going to save money on utility bills. Try having your home a few degrees cooler in the winter to see if it is still comfortable. Use fans instead of air conditioning whenever possible in the hot weather. Hang out clothing to dry instead of using a clothes dryer. Save money on bills to run your home and protect the earth at the same time.

Collect Rainwater For Your Garden

If you have a garden, use rain barrels to collect rainwater to be used to water your flowers and vegetables. You won’t have to turn on the hose, and you will save a little bit of money on water fees. Rainwater is healthy for your plants, and can be used for a variety of things when you collect it properly.

Check Into Solar Energy

Check with a solar panel company and see if you can have solar panels installed. This may save you money on electrical bills and may allow you to sell electricity back to the grid if you produce enough. Saving energy and water is possible in your home, you just have to look for ways to do it.

If you are looking for an eco-friendly property, contact your trusted real estate professional today!

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Home Office Ideas For Small Spaces

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on July 26th, 2018

Home Office Ideas For Small SpacesDo you think that you don’t have the space for a home office? Maybe you are under the impression that you need an extra bedroom or spare room for a workspace.

An entire room is not necessary for an office. All that it takes is a little bit of creativity to carve out an office space in any home. Here are some home office ideas for smaller areas.

Here are some smart home office ideas that prove you don’t need to have a lot of space to have a home office.

Office Nook  

If you have a small nook located near a window, close off the space with a curtain. This move will allow you to separate the home office area from the rest of the room. Use a subtle pattern on the curtain so that it blends in with the rest of the room. When not in use, you can just close the curtain.

For small spaces, simplicity is the key. So, add just the essentials to your little office nook. A small desk with some drawers for office supplies should suffice just fine.

Secret Under-The-Stairs Office

The space underneath a flight of stairs is valuable real estate that often goes unused. This area can be the ideal spot for a small home office. Just add a floating shelf and a cork board above the desk. A built-in cabinet can be used to add useful storage space.

Spare Closet Home Office

Do you have an extra closet or pantry that you are not using? If so, then you can make that space work for you. There are just a few things that you’ll need to do to turn any closet into an office space. First, take the doors off. This step will add more room. Next, paint the interior of the closet a light color to add brightness to the space. Add some storage shelves and a built-in desk, and you have with the perfect workspace.

Corner Office

Got a vacant corner in your home? Turn that space into a mini office. If you have a corner with a view, that is even better. You can purchase a corner desk pretty reasonably. Add a chair, and a few office accessories and you are good to go. To the make the most of the space, consider adding floating shelves to each side of the corner.

Implement these simple ideas to maximize your space and have an in-home office that you love!

If you have your heart set on a designated office space and you are in the market for a new home, make sure to tell your trusted real estate professional to add it to your must-have list.

 

 

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4 Tips For Downsizing To A Smaller Home

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on July 25th, 2018

4 Tips For Downsizing To A Smaller Home

You can make the most of a small home with smart design strategies and careful planning.

Maybe your youngest has finally gone away to college, and you have much more space than you really need. Or perhaps you want to minimize your lifestyle and shrink your carbon footprint.

Whatever your reason for downsizing, you can rest assured that moving into a smaller home will not cramp your style. Making a more modest space work doesn’t have to be difficult. These tips can help you make the transition with ease.

Identify Your Needs

Before you start organizing things for the move, identify your needs. Think about your lifestyle and what things you will need to support your lifestyle. Be aware of what resources you will absolutely need moving forward.

If you have a lot of pictures and other sentimental items, consider ways to preserve these things for your children or grandkids. Maybe you can scan and upload old photographs to a shared online family photo album.

Get Rid Of Rarely Used Items

It can be challenging to get rid of things — even if you don’t use them often. However, change is good. Downsizing your belongings can also simplify your life. If you have items that still have a lot of life left in them, you might try giving them to family members, charities or friends. Finding a good home for your things can make it easier to part with them. You could also try to sell items that are valuable.

Choose Smart Storage Solutions

Having less square footage doesn’t mean that you have to get rid of everything you own. You just have to be smart about how you organize your space. There are many storage solutions that can help you make the most of a small area. Maybe mount your television to the wall to enhance your floor space. Use storage ottomans for combination seating and storage. Built-in cabinets are also great storage solutions for tiny rooms.

Take Measurements

Before you move furniture and other larger items, measure the space to make sure that they will fit. Also, measure how much cabinet and closet space you will have available for use. You can use these measurements as a guide before moving anything to your new home. This simple step will save you the hassle of having to later get rid of items that you have already moved over.

Contact your trusted real estate professional if you are thinking about selling your home or buying a home. 

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Should You Buy A Fixer Upper?

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on July 24th, 2018

Should You Buy A Fixer UpperPopular TV shows like Fixer Upper and Property Brothers have brought the charms of owning a fixer upper to light. A fixer-upper can be a great option if you are prepared for the experience of owning a house that needs work and time.

A house that needs work can be a great investment if you are ready to invest the time and money into it. On the other hand, buying a fixer upper might be a problem if you are not aware of what you are getting into.

Not sure if owning a fixer upper is worth it? Here are some considerations to think about.

Start With This Easy Equation

Start with the likely market value of the house after renovations will be made. Then, sum up the cost to renovate the home. Then, add another 25 percent to the renovation costs for unforeseen problems that will no doubt come up during the renovation process.

Next, subtract the renovation costs from the probable market value of the house after the renovations are made. Use similar real estate prices in the area to get your estimate.

What number is left? This number what you should offer.

So, if the comparable estimates are $100,000 and the house needs $25,000 in work, then you should offer no more than $75,000 to break even. Most professionals recommend deducting 10 percent from the asking price just to make the investment of time worthwhile.

Determine How You Will Pay

If you buy a fixer-upper, you’re going to need some way to fund the renovations. It can be hard coming up with the funds for repairs and upgrades after paying closing costs. Some options for funding renovations include a renovation loan, like Fannie Mae’s HomeStyle Loan. This loan is rolled right into your mortgage, which makes things easier.

Another popular option is an FHA 203(k) loan. This loan is a little easier to qualify for than the Fannie Mae HomeStyle Loan and it only requires 3.5% down.

Decide If You Want To Invest The Time

Buying a fixer-upper is an investment. You will have to invest your time in making a lot of decisions. You’ll need to decide on things like building materials and aesthetics.

Do you have a design or architectural background? Do you enjoy remodeling projects? These are questions that you’ll really want to think about before buying a fixer upper.

Your trusted real estate professional will be your best resource to help you find the right fixer upper and negotiate your best offer price. 

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 23rd, 2018

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on July 23rd, 2018

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week 7-23-18Last week’s scheduled economic releases included readings from the National Association of Home Builders and Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released

NAHB Housing Market Index Unchanged in July

The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index held steady in July despite concerns connected with tariffs on building materials. Analysts said that high demand for homes continued to fuel builder confidence in housing market conditions, but some analysts said that housing market conditions may be at or near peak.

Builder confidence in current market conditions was unchanged with a reading of 74; confidence in housing market conditions within the next six months rose two points to 75. Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new single- family developments also rose two points to 52. Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders are confident about housing market conditions than not.

Commerce Department: Housing Starts, Building Permits Fall

June housing starts fell according to the Commerce Department with 1.173 million starts on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. Housing starts were 12.30 percent lower than downwardly-revised readings for May. Building permits issued also fell in June. 1.273 million permits were issued on a year-over-year basis as compared to May’s reading of 1.301 million permits issued year-over-year. Builders faced difficulty in producing homes at attractive pricing due to increased costs of building materials.

Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new single-family developments rose two points to an index reading of 52 in June. Summer months typically see more home buyer traffic due to school vacations providing a transitional period for families seeking new homes.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, Weekly Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported mixed and minimal movement in mortgage rates last week. Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages were one basis point lower at 4.52 percent; rates for a15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 4.00 percent which was two basis points lower. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged one basis point higher at 3.87 percent.  Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims fell to 207,000 claims filed, which was lower than the expected reading of 224,000 new claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 215,000 new claims filed.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic releases include readings on sales of new and pre-owned homes, housing vacancies and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

 

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Easy Ways To Slash Your Home Utility Bills

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on July 20th, 2018

Easy Ways To Slash Your Home Utility BillsMany homeowners don’t take advantage of simple measures to reduce energy bills. A survey by SaveOnEnergy found that nearly 50 percent of homeowners have not switched their regular light bulbs to energy saving bulbs. This simple measure can save more than $180 a year on electric bills.

As in the case with switching to energy saving bulbs, cutting your electric and other energy bills doesn’t have to require a lot of time, energy or money on your part. In fact, most of the following recommendations are easy to implement and costs just a few dollars. These free and easy lifestyle changes can add up and help you save a significant amount of money over the long run.

Close Off Cracks In Windows And Doors

You can save as much as $200 a year by closing off cracks around windows and doors. A lousy seal around your window or door will allow energy to drain out, which will also empty your wallet.

Visually inspect doors and windows for air leaks. If you see light entering around a window or door, then it means that you have a leak. You can seal these leaks by weatherstripping or caulking them. Also, inspect your storm doors and windows to make sure that they are in good shape. 

Install A Smart Thermostat

A good thermostat can help you save money on both cooling and heating costs. A smart thermostat saves you more than just money though. It also allows you to regulate the comfort of your home. Some smart thermostats will enable you to keep different rooms in your home at different temperatures.

You can also set up most programmable thermostats to stay at various temperatures during different times of the day. You can control most smart thermostats with your smartphone. The best part is that you don’t have to be handy to install a thermostat. Most people can install a smart thermostat in less than an hour.

Set Your Washer Temperature on Cold

If you are washing clothes in hot water, you’re wasting money. Newer laundry detergents no longer need hot water to get the job done. In spite of this, many people are still unnecessarily washing clothes in hot water. According to Consumer Reports, some laundry detergent work worse in hot water. You can cut your energy usage per load in half by using warm or cold water to do your laundry.

If saving energy and money is important to you and you’re in the market for a new home, be sure to pass this information on to your trusted real estate professional so they can help steer you toward energy efficient properties.

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Top Real Estate Predictions You Should Know About

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on July 19th, 2018

Top Real Estate Predictions You Should Know AboutWhether you are a homeowner looking to get the maximum return on investment, a buyer interested in fair market value or an industry insider grappling with the moving parts of the real estate industry, these are some trends and predictions you should know about.

Lower Home Supply Causing Significant Value Growth

Indicators point to a U.S. economy that has settled into a nice growth period. Unemployment rates have touched some record lows, wages appear to be on the rise and Millennials are entering high earning and home-buying years. Couple these factors with the fact that last year’s tax reform laws will likely put more money back in everyday Americans’ pockets and homes could be a hot commodity, so to speak.

Home supply — on the other hand — does not appear ready to meet the rising demand of buyers. Experts are predicting that rising demand will collide with the housing shortfall and prices will ramp up in 2019.

Home Values Could Rise Another 5 Percent By Year’s End

Some real estate insiders are pointing to National Association of REALTORS information that the number of available homes for sale has dropped for 35 consecutive months. The volume of sales is down because there simply are not enough homes being put on the market. Coupled with the uptick in the economy, sellers are in the driver’s seat right now and they are demanding top dollar for their homes.

That being said, it may be in the best interest of first-time homebuyers to get into the market sooner rather than later. The improved wages from the surging economy may not be able to keep pace with a potential 5-percent increase in property values by the end of 2019. It looks like a buy now or pay later real estate market.

It’s Not A Housing Bubble And Won’t Burst

The housing market has been on a tear over the last three years. Property values have appreciated fairly consistently for 35 straight months. Such data mirrors that of the housing market right before the crash. One of the driving force behind property values climbing back then was sub-prime mortgage lending. The practice was a ticking time bomb and the end was inevitable.

While some experts are calling for another housing bubble to burst due to an unforeseen flaw in the system, tough legislation and oversight are in place. It’s only human nature to be cautious when conditions appear similar to those leading up to a bad outcome.

This time around, rising home prices appear to be based on solid economic factors. Either contractors are going to start massive home-construction builds all over the country or the shortage will continue to drive prices up. While experts say we are not in a so-called housing bubble, the market may level off down the road to get in tune with consumer affordability.

Whether you are looking to buy or sell, make sure to contact your trusted real estate professional to help you through the process.

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4 Important Reasons To Install A Home Generator

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on July 18th, 2018

4 Important Reasons To Install A Home GeneratorHome improvements are key investments when it comes to quality of life and property value. While decks, solar panels and smart technologies are trendy options, installing a home generator may be even more valuable. That’s because backup generators not only improve market value, they also protect you and your home during severe weather incidents.

Consider these four reasons why a home generator makes good sense.

Protect Against Severe Weather

The impact of severe weather can reach catastrophic proportions. Thousands of people are left without electricity for days — even weeks — after storms. Heat waves also put an inordinate strain on the power grid when all of those air conditioners and HVAC go into 24-hour overdrive.

The consequences of extended power losses are generally fouled foods in the refrigerator and freezer, unbearable temperatures and an inability to take corrective measures to the physical property itself. When the grid goes down, you may be left powerless as the losses mount.   

Keeps Critical Systems Operational

When the power goes down for an extended period of time, important electronics become inoperable. If you work from home or rely on electronic devices to earn a living, either you’re putting in for vacation time or losing money. But beyond the financial implications, many people need power for vital medical equipment to function. It’s simply too risky to not have a backup plan if you or a loved one suffers from a health condition.

Backup Generators Improve Home Security

We have all seen the national news coverage about post-storm or brownout crime waves. Looting and burglary ran rampant when residents are evacuated. That’s because criminals know full well that your alarm system went down with the power.

Consider the accumulated wealth you have at home and irreplaceable personal items. Those could be lost if your home gets robbed during a power outage. Fortunately, installing a home generator will allow you to keep the lights on and thugs away. Just having your lights on at night demonstrates that you have electricity and that acts as a powerful deterrent. A backup generator provides peace of mind against theft.

Backup Generators Improve Property Values

It only makes sense that a home generator will increase your property value. After all, home generator installations are direct financial investments.

According to Consumer Reports, installing a home generator can improve your home’s value by as much as 3-5 percent. Similarly, Remodeling Magazine indicated that the return on investment for a home generator installing can range as high as 150 percent. Of course, those figures may be weighed against the money you saved by being powered up when the grid was down as well.

The point of this discussion is that while new kitchens and smart homes are exciting ways to amp up your home’s values, improvements such as backup generators have a quiet value worth considering.

Your trusted real estate agent is available to suggest other home improvement tips that can help to improve the value of your property when you are getting ready to put it on the market.

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Four Of The Best Vintage Design Trends For Your Kitchen

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on July 17th, 2018

Four Of The Best Vintage Design Trends For Your KitchenSleek modern kitchens were all the rage a couple of years ago. But now, homeowners are re-creating the Happy Days right at home. Retro styles from the 50s and 60s are making a comeback in the kitchen. Just make sure you combine the old with the new. Using too many vintage touches can make your kitchen go from looking trendy to outdated.

Here are some of the most popular vintage trends for the kitchen. Discover some ways that you can incorporate them into your design scheme.

Funky Flooring

Hardwood is no longer the ideal kitchen flooring material. Funky pattern tiles and vintage black-and-white linoleum are currently making a comeback in the kitchen. You can play with a variety of colors and textures to create a vintage look. Some good things to try include red and cream tiles, checkerboard black and white patterns and colorful speckled flooring. Think about something that you would be likely to see in your grandparents’ homes.

Pastels

Pastel decor dominated the 1950s. They give off a soft but dynamic feeling that reminds one of a retro American diner.

Some classic pastel combinations include:

  • Sea foam green with soft pink
  • Buttery yellow and soft pink
  • Lime green with cream white
  • Robin’s egg blue and mint

You can add touches of pastel to your accessories, walls or curtains. Dish towels and other fabrics are also great ways to incorporate these colors into your kitchen.

Retro Appliances

There is no need to give up your modern-day efficiency to have vintage appliances. You can have modern performance and timeless design. Many kitchen appliance manufacturers are getting in on the retro trend. Ranges, refrigerators and dishwashers are now available in a variety of period-inspired designs. Try a pastel colored-range or a refrigerator with a stamped-metal body and chrome trim.

Vintage Wallpapers

Vintage wallpaper reflects a bygone era in an interesting, fun way. Want a 50s look? Try polka dot patterned wallpaper. For a look straight from the 1960s, redo your kitchen walls with a busy print. Or try repetitive geometric designs in bright colors like turquoise and pink. Vintage wallpapers are available through many large online retailers or Etsy and similar sites.  

Nostalgic details and salvage finds can help give your kitchen personality and flair. You won’t have to sacrifice modern convenience with today’s vintage kitchen appliances and accessories.

Whether sleek and modern or vintage and retro is your preferred style, be sure to give your trusted real estate professional your list of must-haves!

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