America – The Real Estate Market Is Back!

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Realtors will tell you that the market is improving.  But what exactly changed to drive American’s back to the real estate market?  Americans’ outlook on the economy is improving and they’re ready to make more purchases, especially regarding real estate. The latest Pulte Group Home Index Survey discovered 67% of the 1,004 adults surveyed say they plan to purchase a home in the upcoming future.

Overall, the two main drivers to buying are the need for more space and the view that owning a home is a smart financial investment.

The survey found that the most engaged consumer segments are the Millennials and move-up buyers. 85%of Millennials and 71% of move-up buyers say they intend to purchase a home in the future, according to the index. 50% of those aged 55 and older said they’re looking to purchase a home in the future.

70% of home shoppers say they intend to spend more—or as much—money on their next home, not only to increase the size of the home but also to upgrade the finishes. 64% say they prefer to spend more on a home that’s move-in ready, rather than spend less and then renovate a home.

“For the first time in years, Americans have a growing sense of optimism that the housing market is improving, and that these positive changes may be sustainable,” says Margaret Gramann, senior vice president of sales for Pulte Group, Inc.  “This favorable outlook is giving them the confidence to pursue more meaningful, big-picture life opportunities they may have otherwise put on hold.”

 

Source – Pulte Group

Different Types of Mortgages

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In the past there were three mortgage loan types available to a home buyer. Buyers could get a fixed-rate conventional mortgage, a FHA loan or a VA loan. Times have definitely changed. Now there are now seemly unending different types of mortgage loan types available.

Fixed-Rate Mortgage

This is may in fact be the most common mortgage; it is also called a conventional loan. Today you can choose from 5-year, 10-year, 15-year, 20-year-, 30-year, 40-year and even 50-year fixed-rate mortgages, all of which are completely amortized.

FHA Loans

FHA mortgage loan types are insured by the government through mortgage insurance that is funded into the loan. First-time home buyers are ideal candidates for a FHA loan because the down payment requirements are minimal and FICO scores do not matter.

USDA Loans

A USDA loan is a no down payment home financing option for buyers in rural areas.  Qualification is based on zip code and on the # of dependents when compared to your income.   To see if you live in a USDA eligible area visit http://eligibility.sc.egov.usda.gov/eligibility/welcomeAction.do

VA Loans

This type of government loan is available to veterans who have served in the U.S. Armed Services and, in certain cases, to spouses of deceased veterans. The requirements vary depending on the year of service and whether the discharge was honorable or dishonorable. The main benefit to a VA loan is the borrower does not need a down payment. The loan is guaranteed by the Department of Veteran Affairs, but funded by a conventional lender.

Interest-Only Mortgage Types

Calling a mortgage loan type an “interest-only mortgage” is a bit misleading because these loans are not really interest only, meaning the borrower pays only interest on the loan. Interest-only loans contain an option to make an interest-only payment. The option is available only for a certain period of time. However, some junior mortgages are indeed interest only and require a balloon payment, consisting of the original loan balance at maturity.

Combo / Piggyback Mortgage Loan Types

This type of mortgage financing consists of two loans: a first mortgage and a second mortgage. The mortgages can be adjustable-rate mortgages or fixed-rate or a combination of the two. Borrowers take out two loans when the down payment is less than 20% to avoid paying private mortgage insurance.

Adjustable-Rate Mortgage Types

Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) come in many flavors, colors and sizes. The interest rate fluctuates. It can move up or down monthly, semi-annually, annually or remain fixed for a period of time before it adjusts.

Mortgage Buydowns

Borrowers who want to pay a lower interest rate initially often opt for mortgage buydowns. The interest rate is reduced because fees are paid to lower the rate, which is why it’s called a buydown. Buyers, sellers or lenders can buy down the interest rate for the borrower.

Specialty Mortgage Loan Types

Streamlined-K Mortgage Loans

Like the 203K loan program, FHA has another program that provides funds to a borrower to fix-up a home by rolling the funds into one loan. The dollar limits for repair work are lower on a Streamlined-K loan, but it requires less paperwork and is easier to obtain than a 203K.

Bridge / Swing Loans

These types of mortgage loans are used when a seller has put a home on the market — but it has not yet sold — and the seller wants to borrow equity to buy another home. The seller’s existing home is used as security for a bridge (also called swing) loan.

Equity Mortgage Loan Types

Equity loans are second in position and junior to the existing first mortgage. Borrowers take out equity loans to receive cash. The loans can be adjustable, fixed or a line of credit from which the borrower can draw funds as needed.

Reverse Mortgages

Reverse mortgage are available to any person over the age of 62 who has enough equity. Instead of making monthly payments to the lender, the lender makes monthly payments to the borrower for as long as the borrower resides in the home. The interest rate can be fixed or adjustable. Get independent advice from a trusted advisor before taking out a reverse mortgage.

Get Your House Ready To Sell

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1. Get rid of any extra furniture- This means that any furniture that doesn’t serve a real, functional purpose needs to go. It can be sold, or just in storage, but it needs to get out of the house. You want as much of your space shown as you can.

2. Hide the toys- Before your Realtor takes any listing photos or shows your house, hide the toys! Unless there is a designated area used as a playroom, toys need to be hidden. Buyers want the spaces they are looking at to feel fresh, clean, and grown up.

3. Open doors- Be sure to open all of your interior doors before showing your house. The home flows together nicely so that the potential buyers can understand the layout of the home more easily. When showing, you don’t want any big surprises. The potential buyers need to be able to easily walk from one room to the next.

4. Turn on lights- When showing your home, turn on all of the lights before you leave. This is especially the case if your house has light switches in strange places. The last thing you want the potential buyers to do, is search for your light switches. By having the lights on, it makes the home feel brighter and more cozy.

5. Good smells- The smell of your home will be one of the very first things that the potential buyers register in their brains when looking at your home. Be sure it is a good smell and not over powering.

6. Fix up the curb appeal- This doesn’t mean that your front yards needs an entire makeover, but make sure that it looks warm and inviting. Plant some flowers, fix your fence, and mow your lawn. It is the little things that really make a difference.

7. Clear off counter tops- Nobody wants to look at clutter. Put your bread and bananas in the cupboard before your house is shown. You want potential buyers to feel like there is plenty of counter space. While you are at it, take down the cutter off of your fridge to make your kitchen feel fresh and clean.

8. Clean doors- You don’t realize just how dirty your doors are until you start scrubbing them down! Clean the doorknobs to make sure they aren’t sticky and make sure there aren’t dirty fingerprints all over the door. It is a small detail that most people won’t notice unless they are dirty most likely. You don’t want potential buyers to notice dirty doors.

9. Clean your windows- There is so much dirt, dust, and who knows what else that gets stuck to windows. Clean them inside and out. It is amazing to see how much more light comes through when the windows are clean. It makes the entire room feel cleaner too.

 

Dog Safety for Outdoor Yards

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For many dogs, a home with a backyard is a place of safety and fun. Yet, for some dogs, the yard can be a source of danger as well.  Conducting a safety check of your property is always a good idea.


Insects

Fleas and ticks can be more than a nuisance, as both can carry various diseases. Be sure to use a flea and tick preventative for your dog; if you are not sure which to use, ask your veterinarian. You can help reduce the risk of fleas by not keeping piles of yard debris, as fleas tend to like warm, shady spots with moisture. If you have a pile of yard debris such as grass clippings and leaves for compost, be sure to enclose the pile so that your dog doesn’t choose it as a spot to lie down on. Ticks can carry disease such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease. Ticks like longer grass as well as brush, such as woodsy undergrowth. Keeping the grass mowed to an appropriate height will help reduce the incidence of ticks.

Some insects are less obvious. Look for other insects that can cause problems, such as wasps and poisonous spiders. Some stinging insects, including some species of bees and wasps, construct homes in the ground, such as along sheds, foundations and fences. Unfortunately, these are areas where dogs tend to investigate often and since dogs often investigate with their nose, they run a heightened risk of getting stung on their sensitive noses. Look for small holes in these areas and if you find any, handle them accordingly.

Don’t Poison the Dog While Going For A Green Lawn

Many homeowners employ herbicides to control weeds and pesticides to control a wide variety of insects, such as grubs and ants. While those products can be applied to a lawn and not affect humans, it can be a different story for dogs. Not necessarily because the product is more poisonous to dogs, but dogs tend to actually lay down on the grass, run barefoot on it and then lick themselves – ingesting the herbicides and pesticides in the process.

Herbicides and pesticides come in a wide variety of formulations. If you must apply them to your property, be sure to not exceed the recommended application rate. If using a liquid formulation, look for those that have a shorter drying time. If your dog tends to nibble on grass  consider skipping herbicides and pesticides completely.

Don’t Forget The Landscaping

Plants can be dangerous to your dog too. This is especially important if you are purchasing a home (or recently purchased a home) where a previous owner may have planted plants that you might not be familiar with. For example, daffodils are often a welcome sight in spring and by summer, they are usually trimmed down. By fall, there might not even be a clue that daffodils are present on the property. Yet if a dog decides to chow down on daffodils, the effects on the dog’s liver can be quite nasty. The ASPCA has a complete list of plants that are poisonous for your dog at their website ( www.aspca.org ).

Dogs That Love To Swim

Swimming pools can be great fun but they also carry risks. Be sure that your dog knows how to swim and how to exit the pool; put up a see-through pool fence so you can see if your dog goes into the pool and avoid leaving your dog unsupervised when he can get to the pool. Dogs can and do drown. Be aware that ground temperatures near pools (particularly in-ground pools with cement or pavers as a surrounding feature) can become quite hot. Older dogs and short-nosed dogs can be at increased risk of heatstroke. Be sure to check on your dog frequently if his idea of a perfect time is to lie down close to the pool. Consider putting a raised dog bed in a shady spot close to the action so that your dog has a spot out of the sun and with airflow underneath him. If you have natural water or a built-in pond on your property, the same cautions apply. Of course, be sure to keep fresh water (not pool water!) available at all times.

Every home and yard environment is unique. It would be impossible to identify every type of possible danger that could await a dog in a yard. Take the time to walk around your property, poking around the bushes and plants at the height your dog is, to be sure you identify any hidden dangers in your yard.

Spring Buyers Are Here! What Sellers Should Do To Be Ready.

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If you’re planning to sell your home this year, now’s the time to get your home in shape and ready for spring house-hunting season.

Pack Up and Organize

Go through your closets and pack any clothes that you haven’t worn lately.  Pack them up or donate to your favorite charity.  By reducing your unworn clothes in your closet will make your closet look bigger and more appealing to buyers.   In your cabinets, organize all of the cans and bottles in straight rows with room to spare, this will give the feeling of ample storage.

The Storage Challenged Area

Dig deep and keep that spring cleaning spirit by tackling other space-challenged areas in your home.  Rooms with clutter, the laundry room and garage can end up as emergency dumping grounds and result in areas looking small and unmanageable. Toss the trash and use handy (and stylish) storage gear to keep what’s left looking tidy.  A trip to Lowes or Home Depot will help you devise your storage system with ease.

Take a Good Look

Once the stuff is out of the way, take a look around. Beware! You may not like what you see. Are the carpets dingy? Are there scuff marks on the walls and trim? Sauce splatters in the kitchen?

Just because you haven’t noticed your home’s imperfections before doesn’t mean a prospective buyer won’t spot them immediately. Homes sell faster and at a better price when they’re squeaky clean, so use a little elbow grease and get your home in sparkling condition.  If you don’t have time to do this your Realtor can suggest a good cleaning company to get your home sparkling again.

Then get the whole family on board to keep your home looking picture perfect for showings. Divide and conquer the household chores so you can be ready for visitors at a moment’s notice.  Have laundry baskets or bins available to put clutter in and put in your car during showings.

Take an Outdoor Tour

Inspect the outside of your home. Saggy gutters, faded or chipped paint and unruly landscaping are all big homebuyer turnoffs.  A layer of mulch can do wonders and ask your Realtor their opinion of the exterior of your home to see if something needs to be fixed in order to get your home sold fast.

Bigger problems like loose shingles or plumbing issues need to be addressed before you put your home on the market. Buyers will be willing to pay more for a home that’s in move-in condition than one that needs work.

Consult a Real Estate Professional

It’s always a good idea to get a professional’s opinion about getting your home ready to put on the market. An experienced real estate agent can tell you what grabs the attention of buyers in your market and what things they ignore. They will often be able to recommended a few businesses that can suit your needs.

Top Free Android Real Estate Apps

Rank   App Stars (5 max) # of user reviews Summary
1 Zillow Real Estate 4.5 9,782 Shop homes for sale, for rent, and more on Zillow’s database of all U.S. homes …
2 Homes.com 3.5 130 Search nearby homes for sale or rent using the Homes.com real estate search …
3 REAL ESTATE 114 4 1,039 View apartment price trends and floor plans using the location-based services; find out recommended houses for sale …
4 REALTOR.com Real Estate Search 4 1,053 Find the perfect home. Search more than 4 million homes for sale. Let your fingers do the searching with Area Highlighter …
5 HuizenZoeker 3.5 14 Use HuizenZoeker to find all real estate in the Netherlands. Search for a specified location or by GPS for homes …
6 Real Estate by Smarter Agent 4 1,580 Combines three powerful real estate searches in one easy-to-use app …
7 Real Estate Droid 3.5 806 Search homes for sale or rent, new homes or foreclosures, rooms for rent or sublets. Get live, updating real estate info about your current location …
8 DRAPT.CO – REALESTATE PORTAL 4 6 Get real estate information more easily. Search using a map or keywords …
9 HOME’S 3 22 This app was created by one of the biggest real estate portal sites in Japan. You can search for real estate properties both for rent and sale …
10 ZipRealty 3.5 259 Search active multiple listing service-listed homes in 5,000-plus cities across the U.S. … 
11 funda 2.5 79 Funda is the most visited of the Netherlands, with almost the full range of sale, rent and new homes …
12 HotPads 4 330 Search for apartments, houses for rent, real estate, vacation rentals and hotels Take your housing search on the road with the HotPads map-based housing search. Use GPS …
           

Source: Android Market, Inman News