Category — Uncategorized

Financial Don’ts When Getting Ready To Buy A Home

If you’re in the process of buying a home, you’ve probably already met with a lender who advised you on what to do and what not to do during the escrow process. But if you’re just getting ready to buy or plan on doing so in the near future, following a few financial tips can mean the difference between qualifying…and not, and also getting a decent rate. These are a few universal “don’ts” that will help you stay on track, even before you get a lender involved.

Don’t take out more credit

If you’re thinking you’re going to buy a house in a matter of a few months, forget that new laptop on the Best Buy card, forget that new car, and forget that Old Navy card. Sure, it’s only a $30 pair of pants. But, taking out more credit can harm your debt-to-income ratios, which can make you look like a credit risk. And that’s not worth it, no matter how cute the pants are.

Don’t pay off all your current credit cards

Your lender will tell you specifically what you should pay down and what you should leave alone, but banks tend to like responsible credit management. In some cases, that may mean carrying a small balance on one or more cards.

Don’t charge up all your cards to the limit

“Responsible credit management” does not mean running every available card up to the limit and/or only making minimum monthly payments. Banks will not look kindly on this when you go to get approved for a loan.

Be careful with old debts

You may think that in order to qualify for a mortgage or get the best possible rate you have to pull your credit and go back through every single entry to identify and take care of anything negative. You’re right about the first part. Pulling your credit so you know what you’re working with is critical, and financial experts recommend doing it annually, regardless of what you’re planning (or not planning) to buy. But be careful with old debts. It doesn’t hurt to ask a lender what should and should not be taken care of. But, in general, you’ll want to:

Pay in full instead of making settlement arrangements – It’s not uncommon for debt collection companies to send out settlement offers that allow you to settle debts for less than the total amount. While this can sound tempting, it likely won’t yield the results you’re looking for. Yes, it’ll stop the harassing phone calls and persistent letters. But if your goal is to get the debt to disappear from your credit report, you’ll be disappointed.


http://www.croninhomes.biz
“When you settle your debt, the activity usually shows up on your credit report as ‘debt settled’ or ‘partial payment’ or ‘paid in settlement.’ You can talk to the settlement company about the specific language they use, but the bottom line is: this is a red flag on your report,” said clearpoint. “FICO doesn’t reveal how much your score will drop, exactly, and your report doesn’t indicate how much of the original debt was forgiven; it simply shows you settled. Either way, it still points to the fact that you may be a credit risk.”

Stick to newer debts – Older debts that are getting close to falling off your report should be the last thing you pay. “You also want to consider the statute of limitations on your debt,” they said. “Most past debts remain on your credit report for seven years, so if you’re close to the time frame when the debt falls off, settling it may not make much of a difference. There’s an ethical argument to be made here, but practically, you might just be settling a debt that was about to disappear anyway.”

Be careful with debt consolidation

If you have a lot of outstanding debt, are in over your head with credit cards and store cards, and can only manage the minimum monthly payment on all your existing loans, you’re likely going to have a hard time qualifying for a mortgage. You may be tempted to lump your debt together into one payment through a credit consolidation company, but beware the consequences. There may be startup fees, interest rates on the consolidation loan could skyrocket after an initial teaser rate expires, and, in some cases, an improvement in credit is years away.

Don’t get lax with your payments

Your lender will reinforce this, but it bears repeating that even after you’ve been prequalified, you need to keep your payments current on your car, your Visa, etc. Your lender will do a recheck before closing just to make sure nothing has changed in your credit report, and if you have new issues, it could impact your loan.

Don’t move money around

“We know a story of one homebuyer who almost lost his home because he had stated on his application that the down payment was coming from a mutual fund account. Then, two days before closing, he decided to sell a baseball card collection instead,” said HSH.com. “The loan had to be underwritten all over, his ownership of the collection, its value and its sale had to be verified, the closing was delayed and the fees increased.”

Don’t change jobs before you buy your home

This is a big no-no don’t if you’re in the process of buying a home or are about to. Among all the other financial information your lender will be collecting in consideration of your loan, they will also be asking about your employment history. You’re obviously less likely to be approved if you’re unemployed (unless you’re independently wealthy, and, in that case, Congratulations!). A recent job change may also be problematic if the bank is feeling jumpy about your job security

Written by Jaymi Naciri

Source: https://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/mortgageadvice/item/1005579-20170928-financial-donts-when-getting-ready-to-buy-a-home?rtmpage=null

April 9, 2018   No Comments

Small Kitchen Updates That Make A Big Impact

Does walking into your kitchen make you want to walk right back out? A kitchen that’s outdated or just plain drab can be depressing, but so can the realization of how much it will cost to renovate it. The good news is that you don’t need to do a complete overhaul to get happy in your space again. Little changes can actually make a big impact, and many of them can be done inexpensively, easily, and without having to hire someone.

New faucet

It’s amazing how a little thing like a new faucet can change how you feel about doing dishes. Especially if your existing faucet doesn’t have a modern design or is lacking features like a sprayer, a new version will be much appreciated. Go crazy and get a touchless faucet for some cool technology the whole family will love.

Backsplash

A new backsplash can make your whole kitchen look fresh, and it’s generally an inexpensive update (unless you pick some kind of super-fancy, limited edition, hand-forged, imported tiles). With a little instruction – check out this step-by-step guide from Home Depot – you may be able to do it yourself in a few hours.

Paint

Anyone who’s even painted their own kitchen cabinets will tell you it’s not an easy or pleasant job. But, in the end, it’s worth it to have a kitchen that looks brand new – not to mention the savings. Opt for a professional paint job, and you can be looking at spending several thousand dollars!

If you’re going for it, make sure you do your research, and your prep work. You don’t want to spend all that time only to end up with a splotchy, streaky, or uneven finish. This DIY how-to will help.

Hardware

“Think of hardware as kitchen jewelry – add new metal or glass knobs for an easy kitchen cabinet update,” said Better Homes and Gardens. If you’re using metal hardware, choose one finish for the scheme. Be sure to count the number of doorknobs, handles, or drawer pulls before heading out to stores, garage sales, or flea markets. And if the new hardware doesn’t fit the old holes, simply buy some backplates to cover the gaps and then drill new holes.


wayfair.com
Get new lighting

If you have an island or breakfast bar, consider hanging pendant lighting. A series of three pendants gives you sufficient lighting and is also in line with today’s trends.

Chalkboard paint

Modern kitchens are a place for family to gather, and designating a space for young kids to have some fun is an easy way to foster that togetherness. “Chalkboard paint inexpensively turns a ho-hum kitchen into a hip family-friendly hangout,” said HGTV. “Simply paint a wall or section of smooth cabinet doors, then tell your family they can write on the walls.” We love the fact that chalkboard paint comes in all sorts of colors now, and you can also get whiteboard paint and magnetized paint.

Glass panels

New cabinets are expensive! You can lighten up the look of your cabinets without changing them out completely by popping out the panels and replacing them with glass; this will give you a more updated look and also bring more light into the space. “Replacing existing doors with glass-paneled ones looks like a major upgrade,” HGTV’s Scott McGillivray told Good Housekeeping. “Opt for frosted glass, if you feel like your shelves aren’t display-worthy.”


HGTV.com
Create your own unique open shelving

You’ve seen it all over TV. Open shelving is a kitchen trend, and it’s one you can easily create without much fuss by completely removing a cabinet or two from the walls. Or, you can create this unique look that’s even easier to accomplish. “Create the look of a built-in china cabinet by simply removing a set of cabinet doors and filling the space with shelves displaying your favorite dishes,” said HGTV. “For added pop, line the back of the cabinet with wallpaper or paint it in a complementary color.”

Written by Jaymi Naciri

Source: https://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/homeownersadvice/item/1016164-20180326-small-kitchen-updates-that-make-a-big-impact?rtmpage=goodalemillerteam

March 29, 2018   No Comments

5 Reasons Why to Sell This Spring!

5 Reasons Why to Sell This Spring!

Here are five reasons listing your home for sale this spring makes sense.

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains very strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase…and are in the market right now! More often than not, multiple buyers are competing with each other to buy a home.

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing inventory has declined year over year for the last 32 months and is still under the 6-month supply needed for a normal housing market. This means that, in the majority of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in the market. This is good news for homeowners who have gained equity as their home values have increased. However, additional inventory could be coming to the market soon.

Historically, the average number of years a homeowner stayed in their home was six but has hovered between nine and ten years since 2011. There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. As home values continue to appreciate, more and more homeowners will be given the freedom to move.

The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until this other inventory comes to market before you decide to sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Today’s competitive environment has forced buyers to do all they can to stand out from the crowd, including getting pre-approved for their mortgage financing. This makes the entire selling process much faster and much simpler as buyers know exactly what they can afford before home shopping. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the average time it took to close a loan was 45 days.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If your next move will be into a premium or luxury home, now is the time to move up! The inventory of homes for sale at these higher price ranges has forced these markets into a buyer’s market. This means that if you are planning on selling a starter or trade-up home, your home will sell quickly, AND you’ll be able to find a premium home to call your own!

Prices are projected to appreciate by 4.8% over the next year according to CoreLogic. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait.

5. It’s Time to Move on With Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

Written by KCM Crew

Source: https://www.keepingcurrentmatters.com/2018/03/26/5-reasons-why-to-sell-this-spring/

March 27, 2018   No Comments

Small Kitchen Updates That Make A Big Impact

Does walking into your kitchen make you want to walk right back out? A kitchen that’s outdated or just plain drab can be depressing, but so can the realization of how much it will cost to renovate it. The good news is that you don’t need to do a complete overhaul to get happy in your space again. Little changes can actually make a big impact, and many of them can be done inexpensively, easily, and without having to hire someone.

New faucet

It’s amazing how a little thing like a new faucet can change how you feel about doing dishes. Especially if your existing faucet doesn’t have a modern design or is lacking features like a sprayer, a new version will be much appreciated. Go crazy and get a touchless faucet for some cool technology the whole family will love.

Backsplash

A new backsplash can make your whole kitchen look fresh, and it’s generally an inexpensive update (unless you pick some kind of super-fancy, limited edition, hand-forged, imported tiles). With a little instruction – check out this step-by-step guide from Home Depot – you may be able to do it yourself in a few hours.

Paint

Anyone who’s even painted their own kitchen cabinets will tell you it’s not an easy or pleasant job. But, in the end, it’s worth it to have a kitchen that looks brand new – not to mention the savings. Opt for a professional paint job, and you can be looking at spending several thousand dollars!

If you’re going for it, make sure you do your research, and your prep work. You don’t want to spend all that time only to end up with a splotchy, streaky, or uneven finish. This DIY how-to will help.

Hardware

“Think of hardware as kitchen jewelry – add new metal or glass knobs for an easy kitchen cabinet update,” said Better Homes and Gardens. If you’re using metal hardware, choose one finish for the scheme. Be sure to count the number of doorknobs, handles, or drawer pulls before heading out to stores, garage sales, or flea markets. And if the new hardware doesn’t fit the old holes, simply buy some backplates to cover the gaps and then drill new holes.


wayfair.com
Get new lighting

If you have an island or breakfast bar, consider hanging pendant lighting. A series of three pendants gives you sufficient lighting and is also in line with today’s trends.

Chalkboard paint

Modern kitchens are a place for family to gather, and designating a space for young kids to have some fun is an easy way to foster that togetherness. “Chalkboard paint inexpensively turns a ho-hum kitchen into a hip family-friendly hangout,” said HGTV. “Simply paint a wall or section of smooth cabinet doors, then tell your family they can write on the walls.” We love the fact that chalkboard paint comes in all sorts of colors now, and you can also get whiteboard paint and magnetized paint.

Glass panels

New cabinets are expensive! You can lighten up the look of your cabinets without changing them out completely by popping out the panels and replacing them with glass; this will give you a more updated look and also bring more light into the space. “Replacing existing doors with glass-paneled ones looks like a major upgrade,” HGTV’s Scott McGillivray told Good Housekeeping. “Opt for frosted glass, if you feel like your shelves aren’t display-worthy.”


HGTV.com
Create your own unique open shelving

You’ve seen it all over TV. Open shelving is a kitchen trend, and it’s one you can easily create without much fuss by completely removing a cabinet or two from the walls. Or, you can create this unique look that’s even easier to accomplish. “Create the look of a built-in china cabinet by simply removing a set of cabinet doors and filling the space with shelves displaying your favorite dishes,” said HGTV. “For added pop, line the back of the cabinet with wallpaper or paint it in a complementary color.”

Written by Jaymi Naciri

Source: https://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/homeownersadvice/item/1016164-20180326-small-kitchen-updates-that-make-a-big-impact?rtmpage=

March 26, 2018   No Comments

Eight Must-Do’s Before You List Your Home For Sale

The Spring selling season is on, and if you’re considering listing your house, it’s time to get it in tip-top shape. You may think your home is already listing ready right now, but a real estate agent may not agree. These eight activities will help you put your best house forward.

Clean up that yard

You can’t underestimate the power of curb appeal. An unkempt yard, chipping paint, even a mailbox that’s seen better days can turn off a potential buyer – or turn one into a bargain hunter. And you don’t want either.

“Your home’s curb appeal is the first thing buyers see when they drive up to the property. Buyers immediately start assessing the exterior and landscaping, forming a knee-jerk first impression,” said Professional Staging. “This initial reaction is very powerful. It instantly sets the tone of the tour and will have an effect on how buyers perceive the rest of the property. If their first impression is a negative one, then the rest of the home will suffer for it. The state of a home’s exterior usually matches the interior. If the grass is long or patchy, the paint on the house is faded or peeling, and there are cracks in the driveway, then buyers are going to be very wary of what other kinds of maintenance issues could be awaiting them inside and in places that they can’t see. These issues instantly translate to dollar signs and stress for home buyers, so it’s likely they will move on to the competition to avoid them both.”


porch.com
Consider your door

Chances are, you don’t look much at your front door because you come in and out of the garage. A buyer approaching your house will notice if your door isn’t pristine and may project the lack of pristine-ness onto the rest of the house. A fresh coat of paint is inexpensive but the impact is dramatic.

Declutter

A cluttered house can mask its best qualities and also make potential buyers feel like it’s not as spacious as they want it to be. “Resist the urge to roll your eyes at this one,” said Family Handyman. “It is imperative that your home looks livable. Potential buyers may not be able to see past your clutter. Think of it this way – don’t move things you no longer want or need. Make decisions now and your house will sell faster and your move will be easier. Take one room, or even part of one room, at a time and dive in. Recycle or shred paper. Donate books, toys, clothing and duplicate household items. If you’re getting frustrated and you can’t deal with one more stack of papers or shoebox of old photos, put them in a plastic tub, label the tub and stack it somewhere out of the way.”

Depersonalize

You want your home to be memorable, but for the right reasons – not because of your wall full of crosses or bookcase overflowing with antique figurines. Pack them away to neutralize the space. “The next step on your declutter list? You want to remove any distractions so the buyers can visualize themselves and their family living in the property,” Kipton Cronkite, a real estate agent with Douglas Elliman in New York, told Realtor.com. “He says that includes personal items and family photos, as well as bold artwork and furniture that might make your home less appealing to the general public. The goal is to create a blank canvas on which house hunters can project their own visions of living there, and loving it.”

Light bulbs, handles, and hardware, oh my!

Burned-out bulbs, loose handles, and hardware that’s worn, scratched, or rusted is easy to take care and can help your place look finished.

Give everything a good dusting

Look up! How’s that ceiling fan? You’d be surprised how a little thing like a dusty fan can impact a buyer and turn them into a non-buyer. Get out that duster and hit all the corners and window sills you never notice. And then clean all those windows so when you open all the blinds and drapes to let the sun shine in, the light doesn’t get blocked by smudges and fingerprints.

Walk through your home like you’re seeing it for the first time

Come in through the front door and examine every inch of the house. You’ve probably been ignoring little things that have just become part of the landscape. A scuffed baseboard here. A broken switchplate there. Even the pile of shoes in the front hall that you don’t even notice anymore. Potential buyers will, and these little things could be enough to turn them off.

“Once you’ve decided it’s time to sell your home, start to look at it with an objective eye,” said Family Handyman. “If you were the potential buyer, what red flags would you see when you walked around your house and yard?

Clean out your closets, your cabinets, and your pantry

Don’t fool yourself into thinking people won’t open doors and drawers and look through everything (Side tip: Hide your valuables before showings, just to be safe!). You don’t have to worry about being judged for your fashion sense—although, you might want to pack away those ‘80s parachute pants! You should be more worried about whether buyers will walk away because they think there isn’t enough closet or storage space, or it’s not efficient space.

You have to pack anyway since you’re moving, so start early. Empty out closets, cabinets, and storage areas so the space looks sufficient and nicely organized. For closets, the idea is to make them look filled, but not overfilled. Create space between hangers and fold other items neatly on shelves. Make sure there is ample space for shoes because, let’s face it, this could be a deal breaker for some people.

Written by Jaymi Naciri

Source: https://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/sellersadvice/item/1015645-20180305-eight-must-dos-before-you-list-your-home-for-sale?rtmpage=

 

March 7, 2018   No Comments

Renovation Tips For A Classic, Not Trendy, Home

Here’s the dilemma. You’re getting ready to redo your kitchen and you want it to be stylish and modern but not trendy. After all, this is the only kitchen renovation you ever plan to do and you don’t want it to be outdated before you are even finished with the final touches.

If you’re paralyzed because you’re afraid of making the wrong decision, we get it. We’re facing a similar dilemma here, FYI, with floors that need to be done and so many options from which to choose and no winner (yet) because it’s not yet clear if what is currently hot is just a flash in the (floor) pan or will stick around for a while.

So how do you know how to choose? First, it depends on what your goals are. If you’re just looking to update and then sell your house, choosing materials that are trending now may be a good call. If you’re thinking, “I want to love this and have it still look good in 10 years,” that’s another story.

“You’ve probably taken on a renovation project because you want to update the style. While you’d like to give your home a modern look, choosing a short-lived style or personal design is a major fail,” said HomeAdvisor. “While a trendy design is sure to make your home stand out, it’s also going to quickly go out of style. This is a big problem if you want to resell your home in the future. Modernize the look of your kitchen or bathroom, but avoid bold styles that only appeal to those with specific tastes.”


nytimes.com
Go neutral

Yes, neutral can be boring. It’s true. (It can also be super chic when done right.) Making a bold choice with your kitchen countertops might feel like the right way to go right now, but you may turn around in a couple years and regret that choice, especially if you’re going to try to sell your home. You can always bring in pops of color with accessories or items that are easier to replace or redo.

For the last several years, grey has been the go-to color for homes. Prior to that, it was beige – a color that is currently seeing a resurgence even though grey is not gone – yet. Black and white is another currently hot option for color schemes, and, the bonus is, “black and white remains a classic combination,” said HGTV. Certain colors will never go out of style – House Beautiful has 10 of them. But remember that no matter what color you choose, it’s not permanent. Painting is one of the easiest ways to update your space and change the mood whenever you like.

Just keep in mind that high ceilings and other architectural features may make a DIY situation un-DIY-able and may make a redo more expensive because you have to hire someone. Key in on walls that don’t soar to a pitched ceiling or that can act as a focal wall for high-impact that’s easy to accomplish yourself.

Be smart about your kitchen

You may have a desired look cemented in your head for your kitchen, but are you making smart choices? Shaker cabinets, farmhouse sinks, and marble countertops are a few good options if you want something that looks modern but “will stand the test of time and still look as beautiful twenty years from now as it does today,” said Apartment Therapy.

Go eclectic with your furniture

An entire house full of mid-century modern furniture can begin to look like a showroom, and when the trend is over, it can be painful to replace it all. Creating a more eclectic look with an eye toward classic pieces creates staying power. Adding in a vintage piece or two can add another important layer. “A design rule that’s sure to remain true? Every room in your home needs a unique vintage piece,” said HGTV. “Even in newly-decorated spaces, distressed or worn pieces create a collected, designer look.”

Avoid hyper trends in larger items

Drapery, rugs, and bedding can be easily changed out to accommodate your fickle design taste. But when it comes to the larger pieces in the home – a couch or a set of chairs, perhaps, avoiding trends will give you longevity. “Timeless decor means fabrics that will stand up to years of changing trends! They transcend those changes,” said Stone Gable. “Don’t rush out and buy foundational furniture in the ‘color of the year’! It’s only the ‘color of the year’ for one year! Choose colors and patterns, especially when buying big ticket items, that will still look amazing when this year’s trends have come and gone. Add layers of accent decor like lamps, art, tableware, pillows, bedding, etc. in more updated colors and styles. They can be changed out easily when they get tired or are out of style.”

Written by Jaymi Naciri

Source: https://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/homeownersadvice/item/1015236-20180219-renovation-tips-for-a-classic-not-trendy-home?rtmpage=null

February 27, 2018   No Comments

Kitchen Trends With Staying Power

Kitchen Trends With Staying Power Parkes Interiors

As a designer, I pay attention to trends that come and go in kitchen design. And there are a lot of new options to consider. But I tell my clients that the key is always to consider whether what’s trending will actually function for your kitchen. So let’s take a look at some of the current trends that I would argue are among the best options to incorporate into your kitchen remodel. Which ones would you love to have?

1. Fewer upper cabinets. The trend toward less wall cabinetry in the kitchen will continue. It’s not that clients have less stuff to store, but rather that they desire less visual clutter and that feeling of openness that a lack of wall cabinets inspires. This means that clever storage solutions for both base and tall cabinets are even more important.

Glassware is commonly stored in the wall cabinet closest to the sink. With less upper cabinetry, the dilemma of where to put the glasses arises. Consider using a drawer or rollout shelf, as seen here. Drawers are overlooked when it comes to glass storage. To make it work, just line the bottom of each drawer or rollout with a nonslip rubber liner.

 

Pantry pullouts are also a great source of storage when wall cabinetry is scarce. This tall, narrow pullout holds dishes, cups and glassware galore, as well as half a dozen stainless steel bowls.

 

2. Comfortable seating areas. For years, islands have been considered the ideal gathering spot in the kitchen. But now there’s a trend toward more comfort, and seating areas in kitchens are evolving accordingly. Clients want a place to kick off their shoes and relax with a glass of wine while waiting for their dinner to cook. Expect to see more soft seating in the kitchen, like the light blue couch in this photo.

 

3. Steam convection ovens. My favorite kitchen appliance slowly gaining a foothold is the steam convection oven. Cooking with steam locks in nutrients and keeps foods moist. Unlike microwaves, steam ovens reheat leftovers without drying them out. As a bonus, there’s a convection mode that bakes and roasts.

 

Will steam ovens replace microwaves? The answer probably depends on whom you ask. They still can’t reheat beverages or pop popcorn, and for some that’s a deal-breaker.

4. Induction cooktops. Induction cooking has been popular in Europe for many years, unlike here in the United States, where cooking with natural gas is preferred. With induction cooking, the energy is generated by a metal coil beneath the surface of the glass cooktop. When turned on, the coil produces an electromagnetic current only when it comes in contact with magnetic cookware. This current heats the bottom of the magnetic pan and cooks the food it contains. Induction is safe — the cooktop is cool to the touch when the cookware is removed. It’s also fast. Water boils in under two minutes.

 

One way to introduce induction cooking into your kitchen is to add a burner or two. This kitchen has a gas range plus a small induction cooktop in the island.

5. Smart kitchen technology. Our homes are becoming ever more connected with our devices. Whether through voice activation, phone apps or computers, connectivity is here to stay, so it was only a matter of time before the advent of smart appliances.

 

Smart refrigerators. Ever get to the grocery store and discover you’ve forgotten your list? Of course you have! A few of my trailblazing clients have purchased smart refrigerators equipped with an interior camera that takes a photo of the contents when the door is closed. This photo can be accessed while shopping from the corresponding app. Some refrigerators can determine when stocks are running low, make a list and even reorder.

Smart ovens and ranges. Imagine being able to control your oven or range remotely. Car stuck in traffic? Begin preheating your oven from your phone.

 

6. Column refrigerators. Unlike traditional refrigerators with their predetermined refrigerator-freezer spaces, column refrigerators are full-sized single units that are either all refrigerator or all freezer. They’re quickly becoming a client favorite due to the ability to customize chilling spaces based on one’s needs and preferences.

Column refrigerators are available in sizes ranging from 18 to 36 inches wide, and they can be installed separately or combined side by side for a cohesive look. They can be paneled to blend seamlessly with the cabinetry or left stainless, as seen here.

 

7. Servo drive cabinetry. A servo drive electrical system can open any cabinet with either a slight touch or a remote control. Though often found in more modern kitchens designed without hardware, this feature needn’t be reserved for the modern aesthetic. Even traditional kitchens can benefit from a servo drive trash bin. Nudge the cabinet door with your knee and the receptacle magically appears.

8. Lighted interiors. Interior lighting is no longer limited to glass-front cabinets displaying lovely dishes. Pantry and base cabinets are often 24 inches deep with dark crevices, limiting the visibility of their contents — and what isn’t readily visible often doesn’t get used. Consider lighting the interiors of your deeper cabinets not as a luxury but as a necessity, like the light in your bedroom closet.

 

9. Touch faucets. Often found in public bathrooms, touch faucets are gaining popularity in kitchens, and they are very useful. When hands are full, or perhaps contaminated with raw chicken, touch the faucet’s body with an elbow or the back of your hand to turn it on. Touch it again and off it goes. Touch faucets make water more easily accessible for multitasking cooks.

 

10. Working sinks. Many clients are requesting sinks that double as work stations. These working sinks can be as small as 36 inches wide and as large as 80. Fitted with accessories like cutting boards, colanders, bowls and drying racks, they’re designed to improve function in the kitchen.

 

11. Black stainless. Every few years, appliance manufacturers debut a new appliance finish in hopes of starting the next big trend. Stainless steel is currently king. Anyone remember oil-rubbed bronze appliances from a few years back? Nope, neither do I.

The latest entry vying for market share is black stainless. It’s impervious to fingerprints, and that is a big, big selling point. Its main drawback is that when scratched — and it will get scratched — the underlying color is stainless, as in silver.

I’ve specified black stainless appliances twice in the past six months. Will black stainless have staying power? Only time will tell.

Written by Barbra Bright

Source: http://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/homeownersadvice/item/1008039-20171222-kitchen-trends-with-staying-power?rtmpage=

December 21, 2017   No Comments

Homebuying Sentiment Rises

by Steve Randall
08 Jan 2016

Sentiment among homebuyers rose in December following a strong 2015. Fannie Mae’s analysis shows that buyers had increased confidence in the US economy and their own personal finances and its sentiment index rose 2.4 percentage points to 83.2. The net share of respondents who believed that now was a good time to buy stayed at 35 per cent while 8 per cent felt it was a good time to sell, doubling the previous month’s percentage. Job security and personal finances showed increased optimism along with expectation of higher real estate prices, although fewer respondents felt that mortgage rates will go down.

30-year FRM rates down
Mortgage rates have started 2016 lower according to analysis from Freddie Mac. It’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed that average rates for a 30-year FRM were down to 3.97 per cent for the week ending Jan. 7 compared to 4.01 per cent a week earlier. For 15-year FRM’s the average was slightly higher than last week, rising to 3.26 per cent from 3.24. 5-year ARM’s averaged 3.09 per cent (up from 3.08).

Mortgage credit availability slipped in December
Figures from the Mortgage Bankers’ Association show that mortgage credit availability decreased in December. Its Mortgage Credit Availability Index declined 2.4 per cent to 124.3 with conventional and jumbo loans seeing the largest declines.
Although tightening of lending are usually the reason behind a decline in the MCAI there were additional issues in December: a large part of the decline was driven by a technical issue related to implementation of affordable, low down payment, loan programs,” said Lynn Fisher, MBA’s Vice President of Research and Economics. “Many investors discontinued existing low down payment loan programs only to replace them with new iterations of similar programs that were discontinued.”

Apartment vacancies higher in Q4
The level of apartment vacancies across the US in the fourth quarter rose to 4.4 per cent according to data from New York-based researcher Reis. The slim rise (from 4.3 in the previous quarter) was the first time since 2009 that the rate has risen in two straight quarters. Older properties are in demand whereas some pricier new urban developments are struggling. “It’s taking a lot longer for new projects to lease up,” Ryan Severino, a senior economist at Reis, told Bloomberg. “Vacancies are rising predominantly because a lot of shiny, sexy new Class A projects are having a harder time leasing up relative to a few years ago.”

Source:  http://www.mpamag.com/news/morning-briefing-homebuying-sentiment-rises-27520.aspx

January 8, 2016   No Comments

Top Reason to List Your House For Sale Now!

Top Reason to List Your House For Sale Now! | Keeping Current Matters

If you are debating listing your house for sale this year, here is the #1 reason not to wait!

Buyer Demand Continues to Outpace the Supply of Homes For Sale

The National Association of REALTORS’ (NAR) Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun recently commented on the inventory shortage:

“While feedback from REALTORS® continues to suggest healthy levels of buyer interest, available listings that are move-in ready and in affordable price ranges remain hard to come by for many would-be buyers.”

The latest Existing Home Sales Report shows that there is currently a 5.1-month supply of homes for sale. This remains lower than the 6-month supply necessary for a normal market and well below November 2014 numbers.

The chart below details the year-over-year inventory shortages experienced in 2015:

Housing Supply Year-Over-Year | Keeping Current Matters

Anything less than a six-month supply is considered a “Seller’s Market”.

Bottom Line

Meet with a local real estate professional who can show you the supply conditions in your neighborhood and assist you in gaining access to the buyers who are ready, willing and able to buy now!

Source:  http://www.keepingcurrentmatters.com/2016/01/04/top-reason-to-list-your-house-for-sale-now/

January 5, 2016   No Comments

What a Fed Rate Hike Could Mean to Mortgage Borrowers

December 14 at 7:00 AM

(Gene J. Puskar/AP)

This week’s expected rate increase by the Federal Reserve should not cause home buyers to panic, if history is any indication.

Back in the early 2000s, after the tech bubble burst, the Fed dropped its benchmark rate to 1 percent. Then in the summer of 2004, it began raising it by a quarter percent. At the time of the central bank’s first increase, the interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was around 6.3 percent. During the next four months, it dropped to 5.7 percent.

As the Fed continued to raise the benchmark rate, the rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage declined, falling to 5.58 percent in June 2005. By the time of its last increase in the summer 2006, the rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was at 6.68 percent. It had gone up less than a half percent even though the benchmark rate had climbed from 1.25 percent to 5.25 percent.

Could mortgage rates follow the same course this time around? Possibly. But keep in mind the Fed hasn’t raised its benchmark rate in nearly a decade. It’s hard to predict how the market will react to such a momentous change.

“You’ve got 33-year-old bond traders who’ve never in their career seen” the Fed raise its benchmark rate, said Bob Walters, chief economist at Quicken Loans, the largest non-bank mortgage originator.

“You’ll clearly have some reaction in the market, even though [the rate increase is] expected. Just the reality of it plopping in their laps is going to create some volatility, not only in the bond markets but also the equity markets as people try to sort this out. People should expect prices of bonds and equities to start to gyrate.”

John Wake, a self-described “geek-in-chief” at Real Estate Decoded and a real estate agent in Arizona, believes that in 2004 when the Fed increased the benchmark rate it caused an already frenzied housing market to become more manic. Home buyers, worried that rising rates would prevent them for affording a house, became desperate to buy right away.

“The real estate economy is more sensitive to interest rates than most of the economy,” Wake said. “An interest rate low enough to move the needle on the national economy may cause the real estate economy to overheat. We may have seen a bit of that the last couple of years. And because real estate is more sensitive to interest rates, expectations of higher rates have a bigger impact on real estate than most of the economy.”

Wake points out that often what people expect determines what they do. If home buyers expect mortgage rates to increase, they will act as if rates are increasing even if they don’t.

“That could get people to buy sooner rather than later, which could drive prices up even more next year, which is what I am worried about,” he said.

Walters doubts a slight mortgage rate increase will have much impact on the housing market.

“I don’t think most people are going to run out and make a life decision for a quarter of a point interest rate,” he said.

As the chart from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis shows, a very loose connection exists between the benchmark rate and a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. Mortgage rates are more closely linked to 10-year U.S. Treasury yields, and bonds tend to move ahead of, rather than after, central bank decisions. As a general rule, when 10-year Treasury yields go up, mortgage rates go up. According to Freddie Mac’s national survey of lenders, the 30-year fixed-rate average was 3.95 percent last week. It has remained below 4 percent since late July.

“Long-term rates are determined by the marketplace every day, by traders buying and selling bonds,” Walters said. Traders are “thinking about the returns they are going to get over time. Primarily what they are thinking about, especially on longer term bonds, which a 30-year mortgage goes into, they’re thinking about inflation.”

Inflation has been hovering below the Fed’s 2 percent target. The U.S. economy has been doing fairly well lately, despite turmoil in the global economy, its effect on the dollar and low oil prices.

“You’re seeing a complete decimation of commodity prices right now,” Walters said. “That will influence inflation a great deal. It makes pricing power for wages almost impossible. And if you can’t get wage increases, it’s tough to have inflation. If you don’t have inflation, it’s tough to see rates go higher. That’s the world we’ve been in for [nearly] a decade. That’s not going away anytime soon. We’ve essentially been at zero percent short-term interest rates for seven or eight years. There’s not even a whisper of inflation. That’ll tell you really how challenging it is for price increases to take hold. And as long as that’s the case, long-term interest rates will stay down.”

No matter what the Fed does this week, it is likely that uncertainty in the global economy will continue to put downward pressure on long-term rates. The Mortgage Bankers Association is predicting the interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will be around 4.8 percent at the end of 2016, that’s an increase of less than one percent.

“We have a fairly weak global economy right now,” said Michael Fratantoni, MBA’s chief economist. “You have many global investors parking their money in U.S. Treasury securities or other safe assets and that is keeping our longer term rates lower than they otherwise would be.”

What Fratantoni wonders about is what will happen after the Fed raises the benchmark rate, what its plan will be going forward.

“It really is not just when the Fed is going to make their first move,” he said. “It’s how that first move translates into market expectations about the future path of rates. It gets very complicated because it’s not just what they do, but how they talk about it and how investors anticipate how the Fed might act going forward.”

Fratantoni is especially curious about what the Fed will do with its balance sheet. The central bank pumped trillions of dollars in stimulus into the market in the wake of the financial crisis, buying mortgage-backed securities. Pre-crisis, the central bank’s balance sheet was about $800 billion, primarily in short-term Treasury bills. Now it’s $4.2 trillion, and the Fed is the largest single investor in mortgage-backed securities in the world, holding $1.7 trillion in MBS.

“The Fed has said at some point after they increase short-term rates they are going to begin to allow that portfolio to shrink, and they may more actively sell some of those securities,” Fratantoni said. There is “a lot of uncertainty about how the Fed is going to allow their balance sheet to wind down and when or if they might sell some of those MBS. There is not at this point a lot of clarity about who’s going to step in and try to dampen some of that volatility. There’s no investor of comparable size waiting on the sidelines ready to jump in.”

Despite those concerns, Fratantoni is optimistic about next year’s real estate market.

“At some point, you could get to a level of rates, 6 to 6½ percent, that would really begin to crimp affordability and then that would be a real negative,” he said. “But at this point, it’s going to be just a very modest headwind. Most of the other fundamentals are suggesting a very strong housing market in the year ahead.”

Waters agrees. Although he demurred when asked what he thought the interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage would be at the end of the year, he didn’t think it would be significantly higher.

“I tend to think from a 30-year fixed mortgage standpoint there’s not going to be an extraordinary change,” he said. “I don’t think they’ll go up or down more than a quarter percent, at least not initially. It’s not going to five [percent] and it’s not going to three [percent]. We’re going to stay in a tight band.”

Source:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/where-we-live/wp/2015/12/14/what-a-fed-rate-hike-could-mean-to-mortgage-borrowers/

 

December 14, 2015   No Comments