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  Sat Sep 22

Home water quality issues to address before a sale

Community water systems must test and monitor drinking water supplies to ensure safe, clean and good-tasting water. But what happens once water hits neighborhoods and homes?

The answer: It varies. Which is why homesellers, especially those in older homes, should test their water to ensure they support clean, healthy water. And their listing agents should support them, because home water quality issues can complicate a sale.

The water quality tests homesellers should do varies based on their home water setups. We outline the four most common, and how to address them, below.

Beware of lead

Older homes may have lead-based service lines, which can leach lead into water as it enters the house. Older lead fixtures, or those with lead-soldered joints, can also cause elevated lead levels.

Without a doubt, pipes and fixtures containing lead should be replaced with new materials when possible.

Watch for corrosion

Many homes built before the 1960s have galvanized steel pipes. While galvanized pipes do not create chemical contaminants on their own, they are susceptible to severe corrosion, which can flake off and clog taps and faucets. In some instances, rust can also build up inside galvanized pipes.

To be on the safe side, it is a good idea to have all galvanized piping replaced.

Prevent emerging contaminants

“Emerging contaminants” are another water-quality concern for homeowners. If present in a home, they usually occur in very low amounts. They create two primary concerns: one being health, the other aesthetic.

Emerging contaminants that affect health include detergents, pesticides and medications. Other contaminants that don’t affect health may adversely alter water taste, odor or color.

Home filtration systems are the most common way of reducing emerging contaminants. Options include filters within faucets, in separate pitchers, or in the plumbing itself. There are also reverse-osmosis filters, which treat the entire home’s water supply.

Any filtration system used should meet national standards for reducing multiple contaminants.

Maintain your well, if you have one

While most North Americans get their water from community water systems, millions rely on well water at home.

   
  Fri Sep 21

HOT TOPIC - RENT OR BUY

Gen Z expected to outspend millennials on rent
This young generation will shell out over $102k on rent by age 30, study finds.

When it comes to rental costs, millennials carry a burden heavier than that of any other generation in history — but if average rental rates continue to soar at their current pace, Generation Z will have it worse.

A new study from RentCafe revealed that the nation’s estimated 80 million millennials pay approximately 45 percent of their total income toward rent. And due to a preference for city living over suburban sprawl, and the uninterrupted rise of rental rates nationwide, most millennials will shell out $92,600 in rent before 30, according to data pulled from the U.S. Census Bureau.

But a new generation of renters, Generation Z, are forecasted to spend a staggering $102,100 on rent by the time they turn 30, according to Florentina Sarac, writing for RentCafe’s blog.

“Given their overwhelming student loan debt, younger Millennials may carry on renting, simply because the prospect of buying is not yet attainable,” wrote Sarac. “On the other hand, older Millennials are starting to slowly shift towards home ownership. As they are finally catching up with the American Dream, this will surely drive demand for homes for sale.”

By comparison, Generation X renters (those born between 1965 and 1984) paid an average of $82,200 before the age of 30, and baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) paid $71,000 in rent by age 30, according to RentCafe.

“Both Gen Xers and Baby Boomers made less money than Millennials but they also spent less on rent,” the authors of the study wrote. “Gen Xers spent a total of $82,200 on rent when they were in their 20s, and they earned about $202,100. The same is true for Baby Boomers as they earned $195,700 while $71,000 of that went towards rent.”

   
  Wed Aug 22

LISTING IN THE WINTER

Thanksgiving has passed, the weather has turned out cold  and everyone has their mind on the holiday season as the year comes to an end. For the residential real estate industry, that means sales go quiet.

The seasonal real estate cycle typically sees a decrease in buyer demand during the last couple months of each year, as people turn their attention to family gatherings and holidays and wrapping up projects at work before the new year.

Where you’ll see the biggest change in sales over the ebb and flow of the seasons is the number of days a property is on the market. Realtor.com reports the U.S. housing market hit its lowest median days on market in June 2016 with 65 days, climbing to 89 days in December 2016 and hitting its peak in January 2017, with a median of 96 days on market. The trend appears to be repeating itself. The housing market hit its low for this year again in June, at 60 days, and is now climbing up, with the most recently reported number being 73 days for October.

But fewer active buyers and more days on market doesn’t mean you can’t sell your house during the winter months. Especially if you’re pressed for time and need to sell quickly, particularly hot markets see many eager buyers looking to snatch up available properties while the competition is still recovering from Thanksgiving dinner.

If  you are not listed you surely will not sell. Less homes on the market in the winter does give a seller an upper hand. 

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  Mon Aug 20

Land Sales up Four Percent. ARTICLE DATE 1/18/2018

he Realtors® Land Institute and National Association of Realtors® Research Group released the results of their annual Land Markets Survey which shows a 4 percent increase in land sales and a 3 percent increase in land prices over the previous twelve months.

RLI Land Markets Survey 2017

Sales for all types of land rose, indicating a strong national land market. In the lead were residential land sales with an increase of 5 percent, followed by commercial land sales up by 4 percent. Analysts in the NAR Research Group and at RLI believe these markets are in the lead because of the sustained economic growth and the continued recovery of the housing construction market due to an increase in new home sales.

Land sales for agricultural irrigated land also rebounded after contracting last year, as commodity prices generally stabilized from late 2016 to early 2017 after slumping since 2014. Responses from survey participants indicated a lack of land financing, tighter zoning regulations, and valuation issues as some of the biggest issues facing the industry.

RLI’s 2018 National President Jimmy Settle, ALC, said “Now is great time for landowners and investors as well as land professionals. With flat commodity prices making the growth in ag land sales modest compared to residential and commercial land sales, it’s encouraging to see the market as a whole still continue to strengthen.”

The annual Land Markets Survey is a tool for landowners and land real estate professionals in all sectors of the business to use for bench-marking and as an informational resource when conducting business. This year marks the fifth consecutive year that the survey has been conducted to reveal current trends and the ever-changing state of land markets within the industry; and with over 800 respondents this year, it continues to grow. The Realtors® Land Institute has made the full survey results available for free to the public on their website at rliland.com/about-realtors-land-institute/land-markets-survey 


   
  Mon Aug 06

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  Wed Sep 05

SELLING A FOR SALE BY OWNER

In today’s market, with home prices rising and a lack of inventory, some homeowners may consider trying to sell their home on their own, known in the industry as a For Sale by Owner (FSBO). There are several reasons why this might not be a good idea for the vast majority of sellers.

Here are the top five reasons:

1. Exposure to Prospective Buyers

Recent studies have shown that 95% of buyers search online for a home. That is in comparison to only 17% looking at print newspaper ads. Most real estate agents have an internet strategy to promote the sale of your home. Do you?

2. Results Come from the Internet

Where did buyers find the home they actually purchased?

  • 49% on the internet
  • 31% from a Real Estate Agent
  • 7% from a yard sign
  • 1% from newspapers

The days of selling your house by just putting up a sign and putting it in the paper are long gone. Having a strong internet strategy is crucial.

3. There Are Too Many People to Negotiate With

Here is a list of some of the people with whom you must be prepared to negotiate if you decide to For Sale By Owner:

  • The buyer who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)
  • The home inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house
  • The appraiser if there is a question of value

4. FSBOing Has Become More And More Difficult

The paperwork involved in selling and buying a home has increased dramatically as industry disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. This is one of the reasons that the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 8% over the last 20+ years.

The 8% share represents the lowest recorded figure since NAR began collecting data in 1981.

5. You Net More Money When Using an Agent

Many homeowners believe that they will save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real estate agent’s commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save the commission.

study by Collateral Analytics revealed that FSBOs don’t actually save anything, and in some cases, may be costing themselves more, by not listing with an agent. One of the main reasons for the price difference at the time of sale is: 

“Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population. And those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool.”

If more buyers see a home, the greater the chances are that there could be a bidding war for the property. The study showed that the difference in price between comparable homes of size and location is currently at an average of 6% this year.

Why would you choose to list on your own and manage the entire transaction when you can hire an agent and not have to pay anything more?

Bottom Line

Before you decide to take on the challenges of selling your house on your own, sit with a real estate professional in your marketplace and see what they have to offer.

   
  Fri Sep 07

BUYING A HOUSE

   
  Mon Aug 13

How Landscape Design Can Boost Home Value

(Family Features) A recent survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) found that sustainable, low-maintenance designs are top trends among residential landscape projects. The study, which asked landscape architects to rate the expected popularity of outdoor design elements, points to a great demand for ecologically sensitive upgrades intended to preserve the environment, conserve water and reduce landscape maintenance.

According to the study, the top five upgrades are native plantings, adapted drought plantings, food or vegetable gardens, fire pits and fireplaces and low-maintenance landscapes. If you'd like to incorporate these ideas into your outdoor space, it’s best to hire a professional. Here’s why:

1. A landscape architect is well equipped to design an outdoor living space that will add value to your home, extend your living space and allow you to enjoy all that nature has to offer in a controlled setting. From arbors to fountains, they can create a space that is both inviting and environmentally sustainable.

2. Hiring a landscape architect is a terrific investment for your home. Research from Virginia Tech shows that landscapes literally grow in value over time, while traditional home additions or remodels start to lose value the minute the dust settles.

3. Landscape architects are licensed professionals who often work with landscaping or other construction companies to install their designs. Think of the fashion designer imagining an outfit while a clothing manufacturer makes the apparel, or an artist designing a wall poster that's printed by another company.

4. Landscape architects are trained to think about landscapes as systems. They will assess your property's problem areas, as well as possibilities, and create a solid plan that addresses both the big picture and exact details of how your landscape will look. They will handle all the details, saving you time and stress.

5. Landscape architects will deliver a finished project that you will love and that will comply with regulations and codes. It will be a special place that you and your family and friends will enjoy for years to come.

   
  Fri Sep 14

5 Ways to Enhance Curb Appeal

Boosting your home’s curb appeal is a must when placing your home on the market. When readying your home for sale, consider making cost-effective upgrades that add value, rather than over-the-top remodeling projects. According to Remodeling magazine’s 2015 Cost vs. Value Report, several exterior improvements recoup the most return, including new entry doors, siding and roofing.

“Choosing the right renovations to ensure your home stands out among the rest is key,” says Matt Hess, Power Home Remodeling Group, “and with intense focus on increasing curb appeal this year, we recommend moving that to the top of the to-do list and avoiding over-upgrades and mammoth projects where you won’t get your money back.”

These high-ROI exterior projects that enhance curb appeal include:

Replacing Entry Doors – Updating your home's front door can drastically impact its value and draw in a potential buyer. Think about replacing a door with half-glass panels or a change in color, and modernize the look with a mortise lock with lever handle and matching finish.

Creating Functional Outdoor Living Spaces
 – Outdoor living is here to stay, and buyers are taking notice. Consider enhancing your backyard with a new high-end feature or large gathering area, such as a patio with comfortable furniture, a stone fire pit, an outdoor kitchen or a fireplace with an out cove.


Modernizing the Siding – New vinyl siding and trim can make even an older home look brand new. Choose a color that balances both personal taste and long-term ROI. Newer trends include bolder shades like deep blues and heavy greens, while bright white homes continue to resonate. For those who like a pop of color, consider a neutral siding – maybe a taupe or gray – with a bolder trim color.

Making Minor Updates to Landscaping – Add seasonal flowers or a stone border to spruce up your garden. You could also create your own wall garden to grow herbs in mason jars – a feature many buyers will appreciate, says the Power Home Remodeling Group.

Lighting Up with LEDs – LED lights continue to be a popular, inexpensive trend and are a great way to subtly light your yard. From rope lights to walkway or garden fixtures, there are all sorts of LED options that coordinate with your home's exterior. They are dimmable and low-maintenance – you don't have to worry about going outside to turn them off or on.

   
  Wed Sep 12

Fixed Rate Doesn't Mean Fixed Payments

This is one of the best times to get a fixed-rate mortgage. A fixed rate simply means that the mortgage lender charges you a fixed rate of interest that doesn't ever change over the life of the loan.

If you get a fixed rate of 4.00 percent, you will be paying four percent in interest until you sell the home. At such a low rate, it's unlikely you'd refinance.

You can see how much you pay in interest in an amortization schedule. The longer you pay on a fixed rate, the more interest you pay down because your interest payment is front-loaded into the beginning years of your loan schedule.

 

The longer you own your home and pay on your mortgage, you'll see that a greater percentage of your monthly payment goes to reduce principal, helping you to build equity or ownership in the home.

An adjustable rate mortgage is initially lower than a fixed rate, but the loan will adjust periodically according to market rates after one year, three years, five years, or whatever you and the lender have agreed to.

The danger is that the new adjusted rate could become too expensive for you, especially if it adjusts higher every year. Part of your terms can include ceilings that limit the number of times and the amount your loan can increase. Adjustments can add as much as two percentage points more to your interest rate, or as much as several hundred dollars more to your monthly payment.

Rates first hit historical lows in 2011, and have retouched those lows several times since. Any time the national average for fixed rate mortgages is below four percent, that's a gift to homebuyers. Adjustable rates are certain to be higher down the road, making fixed rates a lower risk.

Even with a fixed rate mortgage, your monthly payment can change in other ways. You may decide to roll the costs of your mortgage into your loan, in which case you'll be paying the APR rate because the loan amount is higher, yet is still being compressed into a 30, 15 or ten-year term, depending on your loan.

Another way your monthly payment can change is by adding private mortgage insurance (PMI). If you put less than 20 percent of your home's purchase price as a down payment, lenders will require that you pay for PMI. Rates on PMI vary, but you can expect your payments to rise by 0.3 percent to 1.2 percent of the loan amount.

Last, your monthly payments can include escrows for hazard insurance and for property taxes. You should receive a statement from your insurer when it's time to renew your insurance, and your lender will divide the annual amount into monthly payments.

Your property tax authority will send you a new statement annually, usually in the spring or early summer. If you're basing your future payments on what the previous owner paid, you may be in for a surprise. Your tax basis will be based on the purchase price of the home. Most communities limit the amount that the taxing authority can raise property taxes every year.

Mortgage interest, PMI and property taxes are deductible from your income taxes if you itemize, but you still have to make the payments. For these reasons, you want to stick closely to borrowing guidelines such as loan-to-income and debt-to-income ratios.

Your mortgage should be no more than 28 to 32 percent of your gross income or 36 to 42 percent of your income including your monthly debts. That way you'll be able to handle any future changes in your monthly mortgage payments.

   
   
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