Tuesday, July 28, 2009

5 Things to do before Putting Your Home on the Market

1. Have a pre-sale home inspection. Be proactive by arranging for a pre-sale home inspection. An inspector will be able to give you a good indication of the trouble areas that will stand out to potential buyers, and you’ll be able to make repairs before open houses begin.

2. Organize and clean. Pare down clutter and pack up your least-used items, such as large blenders and other kitchen tools, out-of-season clothes, toys, and exercise equipment. Store items off-site or in boxes neatly arranged in the garage or basement. Clean the windows, carpets, walls, lighting fixtures, and baseboards to make the house shine.

3. Get replacement estimates. Do you have big-ticket items that are worn our or will need to be replaced soon, such your roof or carpeting? Get estimates on how much it would cost to replace them, even if you don’t plan to do it yourself. The figures will help buyers determine if they can afford the home, and will be handy when negotiations begin.

4. Find your warranties. Gather up the warranties, guarantees, and user manuals for the furnace, washer and dryer, dishwasher, and any other items that will remain with the house.

5. Spruce up the curb appeal. Pretend you’re a buyer and stand outside of your home. As you approach the front door, what is your impression of the property? Do the lawn and bushes look neatly manicured? Is the address clearly visible? Are pretty flowers or plants framing the entrance? Is the walkway free from cracks and impediments?

Source: REALTOR.com

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Housing Market on the Rise

Jul 23, 12:06 PM EDT – Dallas Morning News

June existing home sales rise by 3.6 percent
AP Real Estate Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. housing market has started to recover from the most far-reaching crisis since the Great Depression, data released Thursday shows.
Sales of previously occupied homes rose for the third month in a row in June, the National Association of Realtors reported. That hasn't happened since early 2004, during the boom.
"The turnaround in the housing market appears finally to be here and indeed may be gaining some speed," wrote Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors Inc.
Stocks jumped on the news, with the Dow Jones industrial average rising above 9,000 for the first time since early January.
Home sales rose 3.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million last month, from a downwardly revised pace of 4.72 million in May. Sales were up in all four regions of the country.
It was the highest level of sales since last October and beat economists' expectations. Sales had been expected to rise to an annual pace of 4.84 million units, according to Thomson Reuters.
In another encouraging sign, the share of foreclosures on the market is shrinking. About one out of three homes sold in June was foreclosure-related, down from nearly half earlier this year.
And the glut of homes up for sale dwindled to 3.8 million. That's a 9.4-month supply at the current sales pace and another important sign of a recovery. When the market balances at a 7-month supply prices should begin to stabilize, the Realtors's group said.
That probably won't happen until next year because of a backlog of foreclosures that have yet to come on to the market. The median sales price was $181,800 in June, down 15 percent from year-ago levels but up slightly from $174,700 in May.
Nevertheless, prices have risen for three straight months in about half of the 55 major metropolitan areas tracked by the Associated Press-Re/Max Housing Report, also released Thursday.
Source: © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

10 Ways to Prepare for Homeownership

1. Decide what you can afford. Generally, you can afford a home equal in value to between two and three times your gross income.

2. Develop your home wish list. Then, prioritize the features on your list.

3. Select where you want to live. Compile a list of three or four neighborhoods you’d like to live in, taking into account items such as schools, recreational facilities, area expansion plans, and safety.

4. Start saving.Do you have enough money saved to qualify for a mortgage and cover your down payment? Ideally, you should have 3.5% to 20% of the purchase price saved as a down payment. Also, don’t forget to factor in closing costs. Closing costs — including taxes, attorney’s fee, and transfer fees — average between 2 and 7 percent of the home price.

5. Get your credit in order.Obtain a copy of your credit report to make sure it is accurate and to correct any errors immediately. A credit report provides a history of your credit, bad debts, and any late payments.

6. Determine your mortgage qualifications.How large of mortgage do you qualify for? Also, explore different loan options — such as 30-year or 15-year fixed mortgages or ARMs — and decide what’s best for you.

7. Get preapproved. Organize all the documentation a lender will need to preapprove you for a loan. You might need W-2 forms, copies of at least one pay stub, account numbers, and copies of two to four months of bank or credit union statements.

8. Weigh other sources of help with a down payment. Do you qualify for any special mortgage or down payment assistance programs? Check with your state and local government on down payment assistance programs for first-time buyers. Or, if you have an IRA account, you can use the money you’ve saved to buy your fist home without paying a penalty for early withdrawal.

9. Calculate the costs of homeownership. This should include property taxes, insurance, maintenance and utilities, and association fees, if applicable.

10. Contact a REALTOR®. Find an experienced REALTOR® who can help guide you through the process.

Source Realtor.org

Friday, July 17, 2009

Home Lending Rates Falling Again

Daily Real Estate News

Rates on 30-year fixed mortgages fell to 5.14 percent for the week ended July 16, down from 5.20 percent a week before and 6.26 percent a year earlier, Freddie Mac reports.

Interest on fixed home loans has fallen in four of the past five weeks, and Freddie Mac economist Frank Nothaft says rate activity during that time has lowered the monthly payment on a $200,000 loan by $56.

Here’s a look at how other mortgage rates performed this week:

15-year fixed loans fell to 4.63 percent from 4.69 percent.
One-year adjustable-rate mortgages fell to 4.76 percent from 4.82 percent.
Five-year hybrid ARMs bumped up a notch to 4.83 percent from 4.82 percent.

Source: Grand Junction Free Press, Wyatt Haupt Jr. (07/17/09)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New kitchen luxuries make entertaining easy

(ARA) - Entertaining at home is the perfect way to spend time with your family and friends, as nothing beats relaxing and enjoying the beautiful summer weather with your guests. Unfortunately, hosting the party has always had one down side -- being stuck in the kitchen cleaning and cooking while others enjoy the festivities.

Now, there is hope for home entertainers. New kitchen innovations provide an easy way to entertain, while adding a gourmet touch to your decor. Spend the evening socializing instead of slaving away in the kitchen.

Luxury meets technology

Every homeowner wants (and deserves) a little luxury in their home, but especially in their kitchen. Appliances are beginning to look and act more luxurious by increasing their functionality through another popular home trend -- technology. Many appliances merge lavish looks with innovation to create the perfect addition for any kitchen. These new smart appliances go beyond their traditional functions, like heating food or keeping it cold. Instead, they perform greater tasks such as collecting recipes, quickly preparing meals and keeping the pantry stocked with automated, electronic lists.

The 36-inch induction hybrid cooktop from Electrolux can really speed up your cooking, which is great for parties, keeping you out of the kitchen and engaged with your guests. You can boil water in just 90 seconds, and its Perfect Set Controls allow you to store up to 25 programmed settings to immediately raise or lower temperatures so cooking can begin at any time -- without waiting or preheating. Just input the specific settings in advance for the dishes you’ll be cooking at your next bash, and you’ll be able to get your last minute prep finished while welcoming your guests.

Appliances once only found in restaurants are now making their way into home kitchens. Ovens and microwaves aren’t the only kitchen appliances that can keep food warm; warming drawers are the newest product to be included in today’s kitchens. Dacor’s Warming Drawers feature an electric touch pad with four different settings and temperatures. This way, you’ll be able to keep all of the dishes you made in advance warm and ready to serve throughout the duration of your soiree. And best of all, the drawers can be custom made to match the rest of the cabinets in your kitchen to ensure a consistent look throughout.

Functional faucets

Kitchens can look and feel sophisticated by making a few simple changes that will easily take the look of your kitchen from average to elegant.

Increase the sophistication of your kitchen by installing a faucet with a design that brings beauty into the small space of the sink. The new Woodmere pulldown faucet from ShowHouse by Moen features a traditional sleek design, making it a great focal point at the sink. As the first traditional pulldown faucet in the ShowHouse portfolio, its high-arc spout and S-shaped handle allow Woodmere to make a bold statement and impress your guests by adding an extra element of elegance to the kitchen. The single-mount design creates less clutter, making it an ideal choice for deluxe countertops, such as granite. Clean-up in and around the sink is also a snap when you’re getting ready for your partygoers to arrive.

Woodmere offers much more than style; it also offers increased functionality that’s ideal for completing any kitchen task. The pulldown wand features three functions: pause, spray and stream. The last thing you want when company arrives is a pile of dirty dishes in your sink from all of your party prep. But the combination of Woodmere’s features and unique, patented pause button makes washing dishes quick and easy so you can avoid the clutter altogether. The faucet is available in three different finishes -- Chrome, LifeShine Classic Stainless and Oil Rubbed Bronze, to coordinate with the rest of your kitchen.

No host or hostess should miss an entertaining event by being trapped in the kitchen to babysit the stovetop or deal with the clean-up that comes with having a party. Instead, by installing luxurious and technologically savvy products, you’ll be sure to have a summer full of easy, elegant entertaining. Who says you can’t have it all?

For more information on the Woodmere pullout kitchen faucet from ShowHouse, visit showhouse.moen.com or call (800) BUY-MOEN (800) 289-6636.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Friday, July 10, 2009

Mortgage Rates Drop This Week

Interest on 30-year fixed mortgages, 15-year fixed loans, five-year adjustable-rate mortgages, and one-year ARMs all fell this week, according to Freddie Mac.

The average on 30-year financing slipped to 5.2 percent from 5.32 percent a week ago.
The 15-year mortgage declined to 4.69 percent, down from 4.77 percent.
Five-year ARMs were down to 4.82 percent from 4.88 percent.
One-year ARMs fell to 4.82 percent from 4.94 percent.

Source: Los Angeles Times (07/10/09)

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