Archive for June, 2019

4 Simple Tips To Make Sure Your Home Smells Inviting

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on June 28th, 2019

4 Simple Tips To Make Sure Your Home Smells InvitingAs a diligent home seller, you’ve taken all your real estate agent’s advice about preparing your home for showings. You’ve de-cluttered, enhanced curb appeal and developed efficient strategies for leaving your home while viewings are taking place.

But have you given any thought to how your home smells to strangers?

Newcomers to your home will naturally be more sensitive to the smells of your house. Your nose is likely desensitized to your common household odors, but a prospective buyer may be put off by how it smells. Here are some ways to make sure your home smells inviting.

Don’t Burn Incense

If you enjoy burning incense, you might think this is a nice way to impart a lovely scent in your home. But don’t burn incense before showings. The visitors may be unfamiliar with common incense smells like patchouli, myrrh, jasmine and others. And if they can’t identify it, even a pleasant scent can be off putting. The best thing is to save your incense for when you’ve moved into your new home.

Move The Litter Box

If your cat uses a litter box, be sure to change or refresh it daily. This will help keep the scent from spreading throughout the home. Also, move the litter box to a less noticeable part of the home, such as the mudroom, garage or basement.

An odorous kitty litter box is more forgivable if it’s in an out of the way spot. And, as long as you let your cat know where it is, it will likely have no trouble adjusting.

Have Your Pets Professionally Groomed

Invest in professional pet grooming services to reduce the smell of dogs and/or cats in the home. Pet dander is not only an allergen; it imparts a musky scent that some homebuyers may not enjoy. A once a month grooming should be sufficient unless your pet is exposed to heavy rains or muddy conditions; in which case an extra grooming session is recommended.

Avoid Cooking Prior To Showings

Just like incense, if a homebuyer can’t recognize a scent, it can be off putting. Avoid cooking just before showings, if possible. Things like onions and garlic smell wonderful if you’re hungry, but not necessarily to a homebuyer. Of course, the scent of a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies is always appreciated – let’s be honest!

Don’t forget to take your home’s smell into consideration when preparing it for showings. These tips will help ensure your home smells its very best.

Be sure to communicate with your trusted real estate professional for more tips and tricks to help make your home appealing to the most buyers.

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Case-Shiller: Annual Home Price Growth Slows for 13th Consecutive Month

Posted in Market Outlook by Michigan Real Estate Expert on June 27th, 2019

Case-Shiller Annual Home Price Growth Slows for 13th Consecutive MonthCase-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index for April showed further declines in home price growth with 2.50 percent year-over-year home price growth as compared to March home price growth of 2.60 percent. New York City home prices held steady month-to-month and Seattle, Washington’s home prices were unchanged year-over-year after posting 13 percent home price growth in 2018.

The top three cities with the highest rates of year-over-year home price growth were Las Vegas, Nevada with 7.10 percent growth; Phoenix, Arizona followed with 6.0 percent growth and Tampa, Florida reported 5.60 percent home price growth. All three cities were hard-hit during the recession. While U.S. home prices are rising, they aren’t rising as fast as in prior years. The fastest home price growth rates remained in single digits as compared to double digit home price growth rates posted in recent years.

Changing geography played a role in this year’s home price growth as San Francisco, California, Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington fell to sun-belt cities east of the west coast. Astronomical home prices and pronounced shortages of homes in many west coast cities caused home buyers to seek affordable homes elsewhere.

The Case-Shiller 10-City Home Price Index posted a year-over-year gain of 2.30 percent in April as compared to its March reading of 2.20 percent. Analysts said that slower gains for home prices indicated more normalized price conditions, but noted that home price growth remains about 1.50 percent ahead of inflation.

Buyers Benefit from Slower Home Price Growth, More Available Homes

First-time and moderate income home buyers were sidelined by competing investors and cash buyers as home prices rose quickly, but may find it easier to compete as market conditions achieve a balance of advantages to home buyers and sellers.

The flip side of easing home price growth may be that prospective buyers who are leery of buying at peak market prices will put off buying homes. Low mortgage rates continued to boost affordability and decreasing shortages of homes provided buyers with more options. Homebuyer sentiment is likely to vary according to economic trends, regional and personal circumstances.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in listing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted real estate professional.

 

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Rent-To-Own Opportunities For Those With Bad Credit

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on June 26th, 2019

Rent-To-Own Opportunities For Those With Bad CreditFor those who have less than a stellar credit history; yet, who still want to have their own home, a rent-to-own option is worth considering. A rent-to-own (RTO) agreement is a hybrid between buying a home and renting a home.

Usually, RTO deals require a significant down payment that applies towards the home purchase. An RTO tenant/buyer gets the option to buy the home for a certain price at some date in the future. The down payment is lost if a tenant/buyer does not go forward with the home purchase.

Another common characteristic of RTO deals is that a portion of the rent applies to the home purchase.

The Pros Of Rent-To-Own Deals

The significant down payment on an RTO deal is usually more than would be required as a security deposit for a lease agreement on a home of a similar type. This down payment gives the home seller/landlord the financial security needed to let a person occupy the home even if they have a bad credit history.

In some cases, the party offering an RTO sale does not even bother to run a credit history check on the RTO buyer.

The seller/landlord gets to keep the down payment no matter what happens. Usually, a person putting down a significant amount is a good tenant in spite of having bad credit. Having money invested in the property gives the tenant/buyer a strong incentive to take better care of the property than if renting or leasing.

Another advantage for the tenant/buyer is the ability to lock in a home purchase price for a sales transaction completed far in the future.

Typical RTO deals last for two years or longer, with the average being five years. This gives the tenant/buyer time to improve credit records and to qualify for the financing needed to consummate the home purchase.

The Cons Of Rent-To-Own Deals

If property values go down in the area where the home is, the value of the RTO deal can suffer. A few years later, the home may not be worth the price for buying it that is in the RTO agreement.

If any life circumstances change, the tenant/buyer may lose the down payment by having to forgo purchasing the property. If the tenant/buyer does not consummate the purchase they lose the down payment plus any portion of the rent applied to reduce the purchase price.

The tenant/buyer in the RTO transaction typically has to take on full responsibility for the home after they occupy it. This is an advantage for the seller/landlord but a disadvantage for the tenant/buyer who becomes responsible for all the maintenance, repairs, and upkeep of the property.

Summary

Rent-to-own deals are quite popular and effective for both sides in the deal under certain circumstances. Certainly for those that have a poor credit history an RTO deal is a convenient way to reduce the waste of paying rent and gain some potentially valuable home ownership instead.

Please consider meeting with your trusted real estate and mortgage professionals to discuss your options before entering into a risky financial agreement.

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Fed Holds Key Rate Steady As It Watches Economic Trends

Posted in Market Outlook by Michigan Real Estate Expert on June 25th, 2019

Fed Holds Key Rate Steady As It Watches Economic TrendsFederal Reserve policymakers held the federal funds rate at its current range of 2.25 to 2.50 percent. Analysts speculated that the Fed may lower its key rate based on signs of slowing economic growth and the President’s encouragement to lower the Fed rate.

Federal Open Market Committee members cited “uncertainties” in support of their decision not to change the Fed’s key lending rate. A stiff month-to-month drop in jobs growth and worries over trade problems associated with recent tariffs assessed against China contributed to the Committee’s decision to hold rates steady and closely watch domestic and global economic trends.

Signs of slowing economic growth caused the Fed to adjust its forecast for achieving the benchmark inflation rate of 2.00 percent to 2021 and lowered expectations for inflationary growth from 1.80 percent to 1.50 percent.

Fed Chair: Fed Closely Monitoring Economic Developments

After the FOMC statement, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell gave a press conference in which he further addressed the Fed’s response to slowing economic growth and current developments in global affairs. Chairman Powell said that it is important for policymakers to respond based on emerging economic trends rather than reacting to quickly shifting data.

Chairman Powell identified trade concerns and slowing global economic growth as factors impacting slowing domestic economic growth. Due to recent economic changes, Chairman Powell said that a “somewhat accommodative” policy stance was indicated. Uncertainty over supply chains due to tariffs was an example of factors causing concern over economic growth. Positive indicators centered around labor as job growth continued and employers reported a shortage of workers for available jobs.

Manufacturing declined globally and domestically as service-related-jobs expanded. When asked about Fed oversight over banks’ risk exposure due to lending policies, Chairman Powell said that large institutional holdings presented the greatest risk for banks, but did not say such risk was currently problematic. The chairman re-emphasized that FOMC members constantly assess economic data and global events to determine the Fed’s economic policies.

 

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 24th, 2019

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on June 24th, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 24th, 2019Last week’s economic reports included monthly readings on housing market conditions, housing starts and building permits issued. Sales of pre-owned homes were released; the Federal Reserve announced its decision not to raise its key interest rate range. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Slips in June

The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index for June showed builder confidence was two points lower at an index reading of 64. Builders surveyed said ongoing concerns such as lot and labor shortages impacted their outlook, but builders were also concerned over the impact of trade wars and tariffs on the cost of building materials.

Housing starts dipped to 1.27 million starts on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis in May. April’s reading was 1.28 million starts and surpassed the expected reading of 1.23 million starts. Although housing starts were higher, they were 3 percent lower year to date than for the same period in 2018 and were 4.79 percent lower year-over-year.  Building permits issued held steady in May at 1.29 million permits issued; analysts expected a reading of 1.30 million permits issued.

Sales of pre-owned homes were higher in May with 5.34 million sales; 5.28 million sales were expected based on April’s reading of 5.21 million sales. The National Association of Realtors® said that sales of pre-owned homes were 2.50 percent higher than for April, but were 1.10 percent lower year-over-year.

Warmer weather and peak home-buying season contributed to the increase in sales. Lower mortgage rates likely compelled would-be buyers to enter the market. The Federal Reserve did not raise its target interest rate range, which stands at 2.25-2.50 percent. Lenders typically raise rates charged to consumers when the Fed raises its key rate range.

Mortgage Rates Little Changed, New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported little change in mortgage rates last week. 30-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 3.84 percent and rose two basis points week-to-week. Interest rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 3.25 percent and fell one basis point on average.

The average rate for 5/1 fixed-rate mortgages was three basis points lower at 3.48 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims fell to 216,000 claims from the prior week’s reading of 222,000 new claims filed and expectations of 220,000 initial jobless claims filed.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings from Case-Shiller Indices, readings on sales of new homes, pending home sales and the consumer sentiment index. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims are also scheduled.

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4 Times When Laminate Flooring Is Better Than Hardwood

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on June 21st, 2019

4 Times When Laminate Flooring Is Better Than HardwoodHardwood flooring is considered a premium flooring material. It’s natural, long-lasting, durable and comes in a wide assortment of colors, wood, stains and plank widths. But hardwood flooring isn’t always the best choice. If you’re looking at homes to buy and eliminating the ones with laminate flooring, you could be overlooking some important considerations.

There are at least four times when laminate flooring is a better option than hardwood:

1. You Live In A Very Humid Climate

Excess humidity isn’t kind to hardwood floors. Wood is hygroscopic, which means it absorbs moisture from the surroundings. Too much moisture in the air can make hardwood floor planks “cup,” which is when the lateral sides curl up. Wood swells when it gets wet, which can cause displacement of individual planks. Remember too, that you can live in a temperate climate, but if the house is lakeside or within 10 miles from the shoreline, that will increase the humidity levels in the home.

2. You Live In A Very Dry Climate

Hardwood floors don’t respond well to dry climates, either. In times of very low humidity, wood contracts. This can lead to cracking and the development of cracks in between planks. While the gaps can be temporary, if grime gets in there, they can become permanent. Cracking is permanent and needs to be repaired and then sealed. 

3. Your Family Is Hard On Floors

If you have youngsters, a big dog, or other factors, those can be hard on floors. In some cases like this, it can be damaging to hardwood floors, which are expensive to buy and maintain. Laminate flooring is much more accepting of wear and tear, and if you need to replace it, the cost isn’t exorbitant.

4. You Have Special Hobbies

If you have certain activities you engage in, such as painting, fishing, wood carving or other special hobbies, you might want to reconsider the value of laminate flooring. Laminate flooring is a lot easier to clean up when it comes to paint splatters, muddy boots and wood shavings. With laminate flooring, instead of worrying about protecting your hardwood floors, you can focus on enjoying your hobby.

If your real estate agent wants you to see a house with laminate flooring, give it a chance. You might just discover that there are times when laminate flooring is better than hardwood. 

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in selling your current property, be sure to contact your trusted real estate professional.

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NAHB: Builder Confidence Slips in June

Posted in Market Outlook by Michigan Real Estate Expert on June 20th, 2019

NAHB Builder Confidence Slips in JuneHomebuilder confidence dropped two points in June according to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index. June’s index reading was 64, which indicates strong sentiment among home builders for current housing market conditions.

NAHB component readings also dropped in June with builder confidence in current home sales one point lower at an index reading of 71. Home builder confidence in home sales conditions over the next six months dropped two points to 70 and builder confidence in buyer traffic was one point lower at 48. Buyer traffic readings seldom exceed the NAHB benchmark reading of 50. Index readings over 50 indicate that most builders have positive sentiment toward conditions surveyed.

Home Builders Cite Ongoing Concerns and Growing Worry Over Tariffs

Home builders surveyed for June’s Housing Market Index cited continued concerns over shortages of labor and buildable lots, but also worried over increased materials costs resulting from recent tariffs. Analysts said that high demand for homes is driven by a current shortage of several million available homes; demand should be driving builder sentiment and housing starts much higher than current levels. Builder sentiment reported in the Housing Market Index typically drove housing starts, but this hasn’t been the case in the aftermath of the housing crisis. Severe shortages of homes for sale drive home prices up; this creates competition between buyers and sidelines first-time and moderate income home buyers.

While buyer traffic is robust, headwinds including high home prices and concerns about general economic conditions could be keeping would-be buyers on the fence. Low mortgage rates, which may drop further if the Federal Reserve lowers its key lending rate, could prompt more buyers to enter the market, but rapidly rising home prices in recent years have caused would-be buyers to hold off on buying homes. Faced with few options and high home prices, buyers may be waiting until more homes come on the market. Industry leaders have long said that building more homes is the only way to resolve the shortage of homes and high demand from home buyers.

Faced with rising materials costs and strict zoning rules, builders are tasked to find affordable housing solutions when fewer buildable lots and zoning rules discourage higher density affordable housing developments.

 

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How Long Should I Spend Looking For a New Home?

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on June 19th, 2019

How Long Should I Spend Looking For a New HomeWhether you’ve been looking for a home for a long time now, or you’re just about to get started on the hunt, you’re probably wondering how long should you spend looking for a new home. Does it take weeks to find your forever home, or months or even a year? What’s typical?

There Is No Typical

The reality is, there is no typical amount of time it takes to find your home. There are too many variables, including how actively you’re looking. Maybe you’ve heard horror stories of people who’ve been hunting for a house for a year. But come to find out, they’ve only really devoted one weekend a month to looking at houses.

Or you’ve heard of a couple who found their dream home in just two days. Well, odds are they spent many nights online, sifting through hundreds of house images and only went to see a handful of homes in person which really met their search criteria.

The Market Plays A Part

It takes longer to find a home when the market is slanted toward sellers. In times like that, there’s less inventory and the houses that are available may be out of reach financially. Keep looking, though, because your real estate agent may find the ideal house on the market from a motivated seller who’s wiling to come down on the price. Hang in there and you’ll find your dream home in any market.

Does Your Dream Home Exist?

If you feel like your home search has been dragging on despite a favorable market, it could be you’re looking for something too elusive to find. Maybe it’s not the houses you’re dissatisfied with, but something else. You may be unconsciously trying to recapture something you’ve lost, like your old childhood neighborhood or a feeling of community.

These are all valid desires that you can acquire with the right home in the right place. Try to identify what you’re really looking for so your real estate agent can help you find it. 

When it comes to finding your home, it takes as long as it takes. Enjoy the process, communicate with your real estate agent and try to keep an open mind. One day, when you least expect it, you’ll walk through the doors of your next home for the first time. 

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4 Reasons to Take Your Own Car When Viewing Homes

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on June 18th, 2019

4 Reasons to Take Your Own Car When Viewing HomesWhen you’re in the market for a new home to buy, your real estate agent will likely invite you to ride along with them to view homes. This is a convenient courtesy, but you may want to reconsider. Your other option is to follow the real estate agent in your own car instead.

Here are some reasons to take your own car when viewing homes:

1. It Gives You Time To Confer With Your Partner

After you’ve looked at one house, getting back into your private vehicle with your partner allows some time to openly talk about the house you just saw without worrying about how it may influence others. 

2. It Lets You Drive Slower

Real estate agents do quite a bit of behind-the-scenes preparation when showing homes. They may have driven to a property several times before they bring you to see it. As such, they may drive with the intent of “getting there,” while you may might like to drive slower so you can see more of the area.

When you follow behind in your own car, you can take your time or even slow down more if you see something of interest, like a park or an interesting coffee shop.

3. It Lets You Contemplate Specific Features

When you get back into your own car after viewing a house, you and your partner can sit in comfortable silence if you wish to think about certain features you really liked. This is also an opportune time to make mental notes of features you’d be interested in seeing in future houses. Once you get your list together you can talk about it later with your real estate agent.

4. It’s More Convenient If You Decide To Make An Offer

Let’s say you’ve just seen the house that you are positive you want to buy. You ask your agent to make a formal offer. Now the agent has to head back to the office to submit the offer.

If you’ve driven your own car, you can simply part ways and you go back to work or home and await the results. Otherwise, there’s a delay on the submission while the agent drops you at your house first.

The next time you spend an afternoon looking at houses with your agent, consider taking your own car. As you can see, it’s the smart option.

Partnering with a trusted real estate agent is an important part of your home buying experience. Be sure to communicate your needs every step of the way.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 17th, 2019

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on June 17th, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 17th, 2019Last week’s economic reports included readings on inflation, retail sales and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Consumer Price Index Lower in May as Retail Sales Hold Steady

Last month’s Consumer Price Index, which is a widely-used gauge of inflation, dropped to 0.10 percent in May and matched expectations. April posted month-to-month growth of 0.30 percent. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and fuel sectors, rose 0.10 percent in May and fell short of expectations of 0.20 percent growth.

April’s Core Consumer Price Index grew by 0.10 percent. Analysts reported a likely slowdown in economic expansion last week. Consumers, vendors and financial analysts said trade wars and global economic uncertainty were factors in concerns over economic conditions.

Retail sales rose from April’s reading of 0.30 percent to 0.50 percent in May; retail sales without automotive sales held steady with 0.50 percent growth. April retail sales also had 0.50 percent growth.

Mortgage Rates Stay Near Two Year Low

Freddie Mac reported average mortgage rates were little changed last week. 30-year mortgage rates averaged 3.52 percent and were unchanged from the prior week. 15-year fixed mortgage rates averaged 3.26 percent and were two basis points lower.

5/1 adjustable rate mortgages dropped one basis point to 3.51 percent on average. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages, 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims rose to 222,000 claims filed last week, which exceeded expectations of 218,000 new claims based on the prior week’s reading of 219,000 initial jobless claims. Analysts said that labor markets remained solid, but layoffs in California and Pennsylvania caused new jobless claims to rise last week.

The University of Michigan reported lower consumer sentiment in June with an index reading of 97.90 as compared to May’s reading of 100.00; 40 percent of consumers surveyed cited concerns over pending tariffs against Mexico for falling confidence in economic conditions.

The tariffs against Mexico were sidelined, which may boost consumer confidence readings in July. When tariffs were set against imports from China, only 21 percent of survey participants identified tariffs as cause for concern.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include reports from the National Association of Home Builders on housing markets conditions, the Federal Reserve’s FOMC meeting statement and a press conference from Fed Chair Jerome Powell. Data on sales of pre-owned homes will be released along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

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