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Updated: Monday, October 20, 2014


6 Great Reasons to Buy a Home Right Now

To take advantage of near-record low mortgage interest rates and home prices undervalued by as much as three percent nationwide, now is a great time to buy a home.

Youve already missed the bottom of the market, but that doesnt mean there arent great buys to be had out there. Your community may not have appreciated as quickly as some of the big metro areas have recently. Your boom may yet come.

To begin with, the economy is growing. From information gathered on or before August 22, 2014, the Federal Reserves "Beige Book" report found economic activity is up in all eight national districts, including consumer spending, freight loads for deliveries of goods, and more.

But there are even better reasons to buy a home right now. Here are just a few:

More jobs are available

The Labor Department announced that the jobless rate is now below six percent. Consider how far the job market has come since January 2010 when unemployment was 9.7 percent.

Houses hedge against inflation

The Consumer Price for All Urban Consumers is up 1.7 from August 2013 to August 2014, excluding volatile food and gas prices. The food index has risen 2.7 percent over the span, while the energy index has increased 0.4 percent. This is the first month that the index hasnt risen since 2010.

Why is that good for homeowners? Even in a tepid inflationary environment, when prices rise, a major asset such as a home, purchased at a fixed cost, becomes more valuable. Typically, in an inflationary environment, housing prices rise.

Housing price gains are slowing

The median existing-home price in August was 219,800, which is 4.8 percent higher than home prices in August 2013. This marks the 30th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains. In 2013, home prices rose in the double digits.

Mortgage interest rates are still low

According to Freddie Macs archives, the lowest that mortgage interest rates have been in modern history since 1971 was in November and December 2012 at 3.35 percent with 0.7 points for a benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate loan, and that was back in 2012 before the housing recovery began in earnest. The most recent Freddie Mac survey found national averages at 4.16 percent with .05 percent points in September 2014.

Pent-up demand ready to >

Household formation has been muted since the Great Recession, preventing as many as 2.5 million people from forming households who otherwise would have. Economists with Harvards Center for Joint Housing Studies predict that annual U.S. housing starts should average 1.4 to 1.5 million over the coming decade. Considering that the largest generation ever 81 million Echo Boomers -- are well into renting and homebuying age, the numbers should be closer to the 2.3 annual growth of the 1970s, when 78 million Baby Boomers reached adulthood.

Buy VS rent ratios favor homeownership

Trulia, a real estate marketplace and research group announced that nationally, rents rose 6.5 year-over-year in September 2014. Apartment rents were up 6.9, while single-family home rents gained 5.2. At the same time, housing prices have leveled off.

The takeaway

A housing market never remains even. There are always surges and dips. Buyers could wait for better market conditions, but the present alignment of low mortgage interest rates, slowing home prices, rising rents and pent-up demand add up to great reasons to buy a home right now.


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Will The Sellers Make The Necessary Repairs?

Question. My wife and I have placed an offer on a property that is currently owned by a >

We now have a signed contract, and had our own home inspection conducted on the property. Our home inspector has determined that the cause of the leak was due to improper drainage at the rear of the house, at the base of the chimney. This has caused the chimney to settle improperly, with the base leaning slightly away from the home, while the upper portion has rather dramatically tilted towards the roof. Our inspector recommended we have an engineer determine if the chimney is structurally sound, and what steps need to be made to repair/replace the chimney.

Our question is two-fold. First, is the >

Answer: Working with a >

Because the company has not lived in the house, and has no real knowledge of its condition, quite often those houses will be sold in their "as is" condition. This means that you buy the house in its present condition and the >

However, from the facts that you have described, it really makes no difference if the seller is a ">

You had the home inspected and a couple of major problems were discovered. Does your contract contain a home inspection contingency? The typical standard home inspection contingency gives purchasers two options. If they are dissatisfied for any reason with the inspectors report and timely advise the seller of their concerns, they can cancel the contract and get their earnest money deposit returned.

Alternatively, they can present a list of defects to the seller, who has three days to advise the purchasers that 1 all of the work will be done, 2 only some of the listed items will be corrected, or 3 that none of the work will be corrected. Unless the seller agrees to do all of the work, the purchaser than has an additional three days in which to accept the sellers proposal or cancel the contract.

You must read your contract very carefully. Most inspection contingencies have time limits which must be strictly followed. If the purchaser is to notify the seller within three business days, and misses that deadline, this contingency is considered to have been waived and the purchasers remain bound by the terms of the contract.

In your situation, if your sales contract only requires the seller to convey title to you "as is", then the seller will most likely not agree to correct the condition of the fireplace. In that case, and assuming that you do have an inspection contingency, unless you are prepared to spend your own money fixing the situation, one of your options is to cancel the contract.

You do have other options, however. If you can get a licensed contractor -- or better yet a city housing inspector -- to give you a statement that the fireplace condition is a housing code violation, that will give you a lot of leverage. In some jurisdictions, the existence of such violations is grounds for cancelling your sales contract. You should discuss this with an attorney licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where your house is located.

There is one other option that may be available. The seller gave you an earlier inspection report that represented all the leaks have been corrected. While the >

Heres a suggestion should the seller be willing to make the necessary repairs. Get a couple of bids from independent contractors and tell the seller that you would prefer a cash credit at settlement instead of having the seller do the work. All too often, the seller may not hire a licensed contractor, and you may have problems in the future.


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How Much Resale Value For a Garage?

When youre planning renovations to boost the resale value of your home, dont overlook the other money maker on your property - your garage.

The ideas and suggestions offered here are aimed at detached garages, but most apply to attached garages as well:

1. Know your target buyers

Will this outside space represent true value to the buyers youre counting on to pay top dollar? If so, transform it into the best garage it can be. How can your garage separate your property from the competition? This may mean tearing down the worn-out version and building a new one, or adding a garage if none exists. Adding electrical power and running water can add value, but check value appreciation against costs and permit expenses before you undertake these changes.

2. Know your zoning bylaws

If your municipality allows accommodation to be added to a garage, the additional space and any >

3. Know how to expand storage

Fit out every corner of your garage as storage space for everything from seasonal decorations and furniture to extra chairs, bicycles, and sports gear. Shelves, hooks, bins, and cupboards are garage "jewellery."

4. Know how to go green

If green buyers are in your target, consider a green renovation with environmentally-friendly materials. Set the garage up to house electric and hybrid cars. Make a special bicycle section with the latest storage systems. Install a solar panel for lighting and other services. Add windows and skylights with insulated blinds to increase the amount of natural light when needed.

5. Know how to expand utility

Can the single garage be expanded to a double? How about a loft? Could a greenhouse be added to entice gardeners? Is there room for a hot-tub or sauna? Could an exercise room work here?

6. Know how to make value visible

Whether you match the garages >

Garages can add significant value or me>

Take care with this strategy. Once a garage has been demolished, some municipalities may not allow a new garage to be built on the property. Thats where your real estate professional comes in. This local expert knows whether your garage represents value potential or a turn-off to target buyers. Ask the professional to back up their suggestions with actual sold examples, so youre not the one who pays for a misguided marketing approach.


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All The Things You Need Now To Get Ready For Holiday Hosting Later

Well you knew this was coming. The beauty of cooler fall temperatures and leaves beginning their vibrant change brings the inevitability of family coming soon to camp out at your place. Yes, its about to be the season of hosting.

If youre used to the last-minute scramble of urgently Googling carpet cleaners the day before Thanksgiving or making up guest beds at 3am on December 24, well, maybe you just like the adrenaline rush. Or, maybe you just need to plan ahead. We get it.

If you, and your house, are far from ready, you dont have to worry. Youve got time to make it host-ready. Follow these tips for the things you need to get your space all nice and ready.

Something cozy

A well-dressed bed is a prerequisite for a good host. If your bedding is looking a little ragged, its time for a refresh. It doesnt have a cost a bunch either. Hit Target or IKEA their down comforters start at just 49, or keep your eyes out for a Macys sale and combine with coupons from the local newspaper to get the best prices.

Something warm

Out-of-town guests coming from a warmer climate to a cooler one may not come prepared for the weather shift. A few throw blankets laying around will help. But you can be the best host ever by stocking up on gloves, scarves, and slipper socks for your guests. You can get them for a couple bucks at Walmart or the Dollar Store.

Something sweet smelling

When it comes to being a good host, places like Bath amp; Body Works is your friend. Put together a basket of holiday-scented items including a candle, soap, and body wash and leave it in the guest baths. Your visitors will appreciate the gesture. And, you can ensure everyone will smell good around the breakfast table

Something playful

Holiday gatherings are the perfect time to break out the games and involved the whole gang in a good time. Check out a few good options here. Or, buy a few packs of cards and a plastic poker chip set and start a Texas Hold Em tournament.

Something tasty

Yes, the holidays are time for all your favorite family recipes. But theyre also time for snacks and more snacks, and dont forget the post-dessert dessert. When you think youve bought more than enough chips, grab two more bags. If youre sure no household could ever go through all that lunchmeat, grab another family-sized package. And while youre at it, dont forget to stock up on toilet paper. Lots and lots of toilet paper. Costco, here we come

Something chef-y

Hows your kitchen look? No, really. Hows your kitchen look? You still have time to make some updates before three generations of >

Something warm 2

If you live in a cooler climate, youll want to make sure you keep it toasty inside. Be sure to check your furnace and fireplace ahead of time to ensure they are working properly. Then, dress up your fireplace accordingly, with festive dcor and an upgrade inside that you can enjoy all winter.

Something clean

About those carpets. Taken a good long look lately? You might want to do that now. Yeah, they get dirty. Its normal. But no one wants to stay in a home that has stained, filthy floors. Tends to make them wonder what else might not be so clean. Where the stains are so bad you cant make a dent, cover them with runners and throw rugs for a temporary fix.

Something for you

Why should your guests get to have all the fun? If youre tidying up your house anyway, think about bringing in something that will also give you some joy the rest of the year. Like a new couch maybe. Or a new flat screen TV. After all, you earned it after all that hosting.


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Why Sellers Overprice Their Homes

Theres one piece of advice that every real estate agent on earth will tell you - "If you overprice your home, it will take longer to sell and sell for less money."

Yet, sellers ignore them, and overprice their homes anyway, hoping their home will be the one to defy market physics. Why do they do it? Lots of reasons:

They feel entitled to make a profit

They dont want to bring money to closing

They feel their home is superior to other similar homes

They want a return on improvements and repairs

They want to buy a bigger, more expensive home

They want to pay off credit card and student loan debts

They want to pay for college, retirement or some other financial goal

They think buyers want to negotiate

They think real estate agents can get it sold for more if they just work harder

Did you notice that not a single one of those reasons has anything to do with the current market value of the home?

According to an older study from real estate community Zillow.com, sellers often base their asking prices on their original purchase price. In other words, they want to live in the home for a number of years, and then sell it for more than they paid for it so they can meet personal financial goals, such as buying a bigger home or putting more toward retirement.

Thats understandable, considering that typically, homes beat inflation by one or two points, but the market doesnt always cooperate. Buyers may not like the improvements you made to your home. Your home may have been in a trendy neighborhood when you purchased it, but now buyers are flocking somewhere else.

If you overprice, your home is going to stagnate on the market. The right buyer for your home might not know your home exists if they use price perimeters to search for a home. That means a typical search between 175,000 and 200,000 wont include your home priced at 205,000.

Buyers tend to search in increments depending on scale - 10,000 increments for 100,000 homes and 100,000 increments for million-dollar homes. Pricing just over a logical range end point like at 255,000 or 505,000 will exclude that home from some search results, say experts.

Setting a high price with wiggle room to reduce the price later is not a successful strategy. You might get some showings, but you wont get offers. Your home could sit without an offer for a month or two before you take action to reduce the price. Once you reduce the price, buyers tend to think theres something wrong with the house, sending potential offers even lower.

Instead, price your home just under break points. 249,000 instead of 255,000. Since youre already expecting to negotiate, a lower price point might get you a full-price offer from a buyer who recognizes that your home is a good buy.


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11 Things You Can Do This Weekend for Under 100 to Upgrade Your Bathroom

If your bathroom is old, ugly, dirty, or disorganized, you dont have to live with it. And you dont have to overhaul it either. Small changes and small bills can help you love your bathroom again. Here are 11 ways you can make it happen.

1. Change your lighting... or at least the glass

A lighting update can bring a fresh, new look to your bathroom. But if youre not an electrician or if what you want is too pricey, new glass shades can breathe new life into old fixtures. You can find a variety of >

2. Paint your cabinets

Who says you have to stick with the medium wood grain look you were handed? Grab some sandpaper and your favorite color and transform it. If your cabinets are brown, you may want to go white for a >

3. New towels and bath mats

It seems like an easy fixbecause it is. Talk about minimum effort, maximum reward. If you can drag yourself to a Target, Macys, Bed, Bath and Beyond, or, our favorite for items like this, Tuesday Morning, you can simply and inexpensively revamp your bathroom and give it an updated, plush feel.

4. Change your showerhead

You can change out a showerhead for under 20, but for a bit more, you can transform your shower into a spa-like experience. The Delta In2ition has a showerhead and hand shower and is just 79.

5. New vanity

Yes, you can get a new vanity for under 100. This version from Home Depot comes in a few colors were partial to the white and has an engineered composite top that resembles stone. Its a quick and easy way to modernize a powder bath. Or, bring in a pair for a smaller guest bath.

6. Organize it

Its often whats inside the drawers and cabinets that makes the bathroom unappealing. You might have enough space - you just need to use it right. An organizer with drawers is one of our favorite items for keeping everything tidy inside the cabinets. For makeup drawers, measure the length and width and then mix and match a series of plastic organizers.

7. Tile it

Peel and stick tile continues to be one of our favorite things. Inexpensive and easy to use, it can help you quickly and easily transform a space. If you dont have a wall suitable for tiling in the bathroom, you can bring new interest to the room by tiling around the perimeter of your bathroom mirror.

8. Paint the door

Its often overlooked, but your bathroom door can become a focal point when painted in a bold or complementary color. Get some ideas on Houzz.

9. The right lighting

Experts recommend sconces at the side of a bathroom mirror instead of lighting over the mirror. It creates fewer shadows and is optimum for shaving and applying makeup. But even if the placement of your lighting isnt changeable, you can still adjust the brightness level by making sure you have the right bulbs.

"In the master or guest bathrooms, use fixtures that provides 75 to 100 watts worth of illumination," said Forbes. "You can get these wattage equivalents in a 24- to 26-watt compact fluorescent or 20- to 25-watt LED."

10. Create some ambiance

Candles in clusters around the tub are a given. But you can create an inviting bathroom with other special touches as well.

A few pieces of inexpensive wall art in your design >

11. Scrub-a-dub

If youre not inclined to buy anything or change anything, you can still make an impact on your space. Put your gloves on, get your bleach out and clean that sucker. Youll kill off any lingering germs, and make it smell and look good.


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Updated: Monday, October 20, 2014

How Much Resale Value For a Garage?

When youre planning renovations to boost the resale value of your home, dont overlook the ot...
> Full Story

All The Things You Need Now To Get Ready For Holiday Hosting Later

Well you knew this was coming. The beauty of cooler fall temperatures and leaves beginning t...
> Full Story

Why Sellers Overprice Their Homes

Theres one piece of advice that every real estate agent on earth will tell you - "If you ove...
> Full Story

Copyright © 2014 Realty Times®. All Rights Reserved

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