There are several factors that will help you determine the value of your home when you want to sell it. Location, condition, layout, upgrades, and events relating to your home are all important when selling your home.
It’s All About Location
Anyone in real estate will tell you location, location, location is the first thing to consider when buying real estate. If your home is on a busy street, it’s going to be harder to sell unless someone is looking for that exact location.
If a buyer is looking to have a business inside the home, then having more exposure could be important. However, for a family, the most sought after location is in a cul-de-sac or dead-end street where traffic is kept to a minimum.
Your Home’s Condition Is Important
The home you are selling must be in excellent condition to ensure you get top dollar. Buyers are primarily looking for a home that is in move-in condition. If it needs painting, new flooring, a new roof, or new plumbing, it isn’t as desirable as a home that doesn’t need any work. Newer homes typically are in better condition than older homes, unless they have been well-maintained.
Your Home’s Layout
Is your floorplan functional? Most buyers prefer homes with open floorplans and ample kitchens, living areas, and bathrooms. Closets are also important as everyone needs storage space. The number of bedrooms a home has can also be important. Two bedrooms aren’t as popular or functional as three or four bedrooms. It’s also nice to have a flex room that can be a study, exercise room, or a formal dining room if need be. If a smaller home is well-designed, it can be easier to resale than a larger home.
Upgrades And Renovations
If you have an older home, but have upgraded the kitchen and bathrooms, then your home will be easier to sell. Updated appliances can also be a big plus when selling a home.
Natural Disasters And Other Events
If your home has been flooded, been through a fire, or damaged from wind or a storm, then that may cause the value to be less. If a buyer happens to talk to a neighbor who tells them a negative story, that may spook a buyer and cause them to look elsewhere.
Before putting your home on the market, you should call your real estate agent to help you with pricing. They can also suggest making repairs or changes to your home to help it sell.
Last week provided several housing-related reports including New Home Sales, Pending Home Sales and Existing Home Sales reports. Case-Shiller and FHFA also released data on home prices. The details:
Sales of Pre-Owned Homes Hit Nine-Month Low
According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), Sales of pre-owned homes dropped to a seasonally-adjusted annual reading 4.82 million sales in January as compared to an estimated reading of 4.95 million sales and December’s reading of 5.07 million existing homes sold. This was a month-to-month decline of 4.90 percent, and represented the lowest reading for existing home sales in nine months.
Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NAR, said that a short supply of available homes coupled with rising prices contributed to the drop in sales. While mortgage rates remain near historical lows, higher home prices and short supply are negatively impacting affordability; this puts home buyers who rely on mortgages in competition with cash buyers.
More encouraging news arrived with the Commerce Department’s new home sales report; new home sales reached 481,000 sales on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis in January. Analysts had expected new home sales of 467,000 new homes based on December’s reading of 482,000 new homes sold in December.
Pending Home Sales Highest Since August 2013
The National Association of Realtors® reported that pending home sales rose by 1.70 percent in January as compared to December’s reading of -3.70 percent. Pending sales were up 8.40 percent year-over-year. Job growth, a little more leniency in mortgage credit standards and slower inflation were seen as factors that contributed to higher pending sales. Pending sales represent under sales contracts that have not closed.
Case-Shiller, FHFA Post Home Price Data
The Case Shiller 20-City Composite reported that home prices rose by 0.10 percent month-to-month and 4.50 percent year-over-year according to its index report for December. San Francisco, California had the highest year-over-year price gain at 9.30 percent, while Chicago, Illinois had the lowest year-over-year home price appreciation rate at 1.30 percent as of December.
FHFA reported that home prices for properties connected with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans rose by 5.40 percent on a year-over-year basis as compared to November’ year-over-year reading of a 5.20 percent increase in home prices.
Mortgage Rates Rise
Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates rose across the board last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by four basis points to 3.80 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage increased by two basis points to 3.07 percent and the rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was also two basis points higher at 2.99 percent. Discount points for all loan types were unchanged at 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
This week’s scheduled economic news includes consumer spending, construction spending and the Labor Department’s non-farm payroll and national unemployment reports. Weekly jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s PMMS report on mortgage rates will be released as usual on Thursday.
If your goal is to purchase a home, you may find that it’s challenging to save up enough money for your down payment. While this is something that many first time home buyers struggle with, it is by no means insurmountable. By making a few simple changes you will be able to accumulate the funds you need for your down payment.
Keep Track Of Your Spending
One of the reasons why it can be difficult to save money is that you aren’t even sure of where your money is going. While you may be aware of major expenses such as rent, car payments and utilities, it’s easy to lose track of many of the smaller bills and impulse purchases. If you aren’t keeping a budget, you should begin as soon as possible. Software programs and apps such as Mint.com can make this simple.
Consider If You Have Anything To Sell
You may be able to raise some quick cash by selling some personal belongings. Don’t part with something that will cause you regrets, such as a precious family heirloom. However, if you’re like many people, you probably have lots of items you no longer need. In addition to holding a garage sale, you could sell items such as jewelry, electronics, art or almost anything on eBay.
Refinance Credit Cards
Refinancing credit cards or any type of debt can help you save money on monthly bills. Balance transfers can often give you a more advantageous rate with credit cards. If you have a car loan, you may be able to find better terms with a different lender.
Find Another Source Of Income
In addition to finding ways to cut back on your spending, taking in some extra money every week can make it much easier to save up for that down payment. Perhaps you or your spouse could find time for a part time job. You might also consider starting a part time business, such as an online store that can be managed from home.
If you are creative about it, you can probably find many ways to save up for your down payment. You should also do plenty of shopping around when it comes to finding the best deal on a mortgage for your first home.
According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), U.S. home prices rose by 1.40 percent for the fourth quarter of 2014 and were up by 0.80 percent month-to-month from November. The seasonally adjusted FHFA House Price Index measures purchase transactions for homes connected with mortgages owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
FHFA also reported that home prices rose 4.9 percent year-over –year from the fourth quarter of 2013 to the fourth quarter of 2014. FHFA Chief Economist Andrew Leventis described the report for the last quarter of 2014 as “relatively strong” and also cited low inventories of available homes and improving labor markets as contributing to home price growth.
FHFA House Price Index Identifies Significant Trends
FHFA’s expanded house price data, which adds data from county records and the Federal Housing Administration, to the FHFA House Price Index, indicated that home prices grew by 1.30 percent in the fourth quarter; year-over-year home prices grew by 6.0 percent according to FHFA’s expanded house price data report.
According to purchase-only indexes for the 100 most populated metro areas, the San Francisco-Redwood City-south San Francisco, California metro area posted the highest rate of year-over-year home price gains at six percent for the fourth quarter of 2015. The lowest reading was for the El Paso, Texas, which posted a loss of 6.60 percent in the fourth quarter.
The mountain division of the nine U.S. Census divisions posted the highest annual home price growth at 5.50 percent and 1.40 percent in the fourth quarter. House price appreciation was weakest in the New England Division, where home prices fell by0.03 percent.
FHFA also reported that its “distress free” home price indexes which the agency publishes for 12 metro areas have shown less price appreciation than the FHFA purchase only Home Price Index. Distress-free means that foreclosed homes and short sales were not included in these index readings.
FHFA has expanded its home price reports with a set of reports based on three-digit zip codes. Sorting house price data by the first three digits of a zip code provides more specific data for regional home price trends; mortgage and real estate pros can find house price data for specific neighborhoods and communities. FHFA described its three-digit zip code reports as “experimental” at present.
Your home is your castle, your own little piece of the American dream. But lately, your little corner of the world has been feeling cramped and you find yourself eyeing those larger homes. Is it time to pull up stakes and move on from your starter home?
If you’ve added to your family in recent years, you may have more bodies than bedrooms. A two-bedroom home may have been a great idea when it was just you and your spouse, but with two kids, you’re starting to have turf wars over the play area.
Overflowing With Stuff
From an overflowing toy chest to closets packed so tightly with shoes and coats you risk an avalanche every time you open the door, your home just doesn’t have the space to keep all your things. You may have even had to move some things off-site, spending money to rent storage space to keep that antique dresser your grandmother left you or the set of state spoons you carefully collected during your college years.
No Rest For The Weary
You’d love to spend an afternoon soaking in the tub, but before the warmth of the water can take you away, there’s a banging on the door of the only bathroom in the house and a chorus of “hurry up” invading your quiet time. And the man cave you dreamed of? Those visions of a big screen television were shattered by the realization you needed somewhere for the kids to sleep.
No Room For Extras
When you first moved in, the two-car garage doubled as your woodworking shop. Now, the equipment has been sent to storage to make room for the family’s second car. You’d love to take up organic gardening, but your tiny yard barely has room for a grill and a lawn chair. You’d love to host your friends visiting from out of state, but there is hardly room for their luggage, much less them.
Changes In Career
You may have opted for a starter home when you first entered the market because you had a smaller income. Now, thanks to changes in careers or promotions at work, you can afford a home with greater square footage and room for your growing family that will provide the space you need for many years of happy memories.
Home prices across the country are starting to rise. Contact your local real estate agent today and take advantage of the opportunity to give your family the most space at the best price now.
December home prices rose by 0.10 percent according to the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index. The composite report tracks home prices in 20 U.S. cities. December’s results boosted home prices by 4.50 percent year-over-year, which is approximately double the inflation rate for 2014. Analysts note that the overall reading was less significant than individual readings for the 20 cities included in the report.
Regional Home Prices Suggest Disparity in Housing Recovery
The top three month-to-month home price increases for cities surveyed were led by Miami, Florida with an increase of 0.70 percent, Home prices rose by 0.50 percent in Denver, Colorado, and by 0.50 percent in San Francisco, California.
Chicago, Illinois posted a month-to-month loss of -0.90 percent; Cleveland, Ohio followed with a loss of -0.50 percent, and Las Vegas, Nevada and Minneapolis, Minnesota were tied with monthly losses of -0.30 percent for home prices.
Winter weather conditions and the holidays can dampen demand for homes; it’s worthwhile to note that three of the cities posting the largest month-to-month losses are located in cold winter climates.
Month-to-month readings for home prices are typically more volatile; the corresponding year-over-year readings provide a more accurate reading of real estate trends in specific cities. Nine cities posted month-to-month gains for home prices, while six cities posted lower home prices from November to December.
San Francisco Leads Year-over-Year Home Price Growth
San Francisco, California led year-over-year home price growth with a reading of 9.30 percent. Home prices grew by 8.40 percent in Miami, Florida. Denver, Colorado home prices grew by 8.10 percent year-over-year in December.
The three cities showing the least amount of home price growth year-over-year were Chicago, Illinois with a reading of 1.30 percent, Cleveland, Ohio and Washington, D.C. were tied with year-over-year readings of 1.30 percent growth in home prices year-over-year.
Home prices are growing more slowly in the North and Midwest regions, while home prices continue to grow fastest in the Southeast and Western regions.
Home prices in the cities surveyed have increased by 29 percent since the March 2012 low, but remain 16 percent below their July 2006 peak. The Case-Shiller Home Price Index measures home prices using a three-month rolling average, while other home price reports base their readings on monthly sales. Case-Shiller’s year-over-year reading of 4.50 percent for December of 2015 closely approached CoreLogic’s reading of 5.00 percent home price growth year-over-year.
While increasing home prices are good news for homeowners, higher home prices represent an obstacle for moderate income and first time home buyers, who are also impacted by strict mortgage credit standards. As the peak home buying season approaches, increased demand for homes could drive home prices higher.
Last week’s housing related reports included the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Housing Market Index for February, The Commerce Department’s report on Housing Starts for January and Freddie Mac’s weekly report on average mortgage rates. The Federal Reserve released the minutes of January’s FOMC meeting, which indicated that FOMC members are in no hurry to raise the target federal funds rate. The details:
Home Builder Confidence, Housing Starts Impacted by Winter Weather
The NAHB Housing Market Index for February fell from January’s reading of 57 to 55. Analysts expected a reading of 59. This was the lowest reading since October, but February’s reading remains above the benchmark of 50. Readings exceeding 50 indicate that more home builders are confident about housing market conditions than not.
According to the NAHB, harsh weather contributed to lower builder confidence in February. NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said that low mortgage rates, increasing affordability and improving job markets are helping home buyers.
The NAHB Housing Market Index is calculated based on three components. Builder confidence dropped by one point to a reading of 61 for current housing market conditions. Not surprisingly, the winter weather caused buyer foot traffic to drop five points to a reading of 39. A gauge of housing market conditions in the next six months was unchanged.
Regional readings showed declines in three of four regions: The Northeast saw a one-point drop to 46; the Midwest and South dropped by two points to readings of 54 and 57. The Western region gained two points for a reading of 68.
The U.S. Commerce Department reported that January’s Housing Starts dropped from 1.09 million in December to 1.07 million in January; the reading for January matched analysts’ expectations.
Weekly jobless claims provided some good news; they dropped from the prior week’s reading of 304,000 new claims to 283,000 new claims. The expected reading was 290,000 new jobless claims.
Mortgage Rates Rise, Points Unchanged
Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates rose last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by seven basis points to 3.76 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage increased by six basis points to 3.05 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at 2.97 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.6 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
Next week’s scheduled economic news includes several reports related to housing. New and existing home sales reports will be released along with the Case-Shiller Composite Housing Market reports. FHFA will release its House Price Index Report and Fed Chair Janet Yellen is set to testify before Congress. Reports on Consumer Sentiment and Consumer Confidence are also scheduled along with weekly reports on jobless claims and mortgage rates.
Many buyers anticipate the day they drive to their new home. Then it happens: the movers pull up. It’s time to move everything in. This can be a daunting task, but following a few steps will break down the work and careful planning will maximize space in the years ahead.
Clear Your Space
Go through each room to make sure the seller removed all belongings. Contact the real estate agent if the seller did not do this. Check the condition of all surfaces to determine how much preparation may be required.
Place Boxes In Correct Rooms
Boxes should be marked by room and either carry a label detailing what’s inside or be matched to a list showing what’s inside. Put each box in the correct room.
Place Boxes In Order Of Need
In each room, place boxes that will not be immediately needed against the far wall. Place boxes needed sooner in front of or on top of those boxes.
Eliminate Excess Items
If this wasn’t done while packing, buyers should stop any unwanted belongings from being taken into the house.
Create A Strategy
Unpacking does not have to be done in one day. Create a strategy for unpacking in three steps: immediate, secondary, and long-term needs.
Unpack what you need in the next couple of days. This will include bedding, toiletries, basic cooking equipment, and a few changes of clothing.
In the first week, unpack secondary items. Each day, unpack these items for one or two rooms. In the bedroom, for example, unpack your clothing and accessories. In the kitchen, unpack the rest of what you use for everyday cooking and eating. Do the same for other rooms.
By the end of the first month, decide what you are going to do with items you don’t use every day. Use extra closets, cupboards, basement or storage rooms, outdoor sheds, and the like. Remember where you put things so you can find them later.
Organize as You Go
Put items away in an organized fashion. Don’t just haphazardly unpack and toss things. It’s better to unpack more slowly and take time to put things away thoughtfully.
Call your real estate agent for moving-in tips and lists to track belongings. Take your time with unpacking and you will create a home where you can find things easily, maintain livable spaces, and enjoy a spacious environment.
Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting held January 27 and 28 were released on Wednesday. According to the minute’s transcript, it appears that Fed policymakers are in no hurry to raise the target federal funds rate. Members said that raising rates too soon could swamp the strengthening economy and expressed concerns that changing the committee’s current “patient” stance on rising rates could cause more harm than good to current economic conditions.
FOMC members discussed the Fed’s use of the word “patient” in its guidance, and said that dropping the word could incorrectly suggest that the Fed is planning to act sooner than later on raising the Fed’s target interest rates, and could result in “undesirably tight” financial conditions. While a majority of members agreed on protecting current economic conditions by raising rates too soon, member viewpoints varied on which conditions would support the first rate hike.
Target Inflation Rate of Two Percent “Most Consistent” with Fed’s Statutory Mandate
According to the Federal Reserve’s statutory mandate supplied by Congress, the Fed seeks to provide maximum employment, price stability and moderate long-term interest rates. The Fed established a target inflation rate of 2.00percent as a benchmark for economic health, but inflation has remained consistently below the target rate according to the annualized index reading for personal consumption expenditures.
FOMC members did not set a target rate for annual unemployment; FOMC members cited unpredictable “non-monetary factors that affect the structure and dynamics of the labor market” as reasons why it’s impossible establish an accurate target percentage rate for national unemployment. The minutes caution that these factors are sufficiently unpredictable that they may cause the Fed to revise or reverse its policies concerning national unemployment readings.
Committee members noted that short-term fluctuations in the federal funds rate could be expected. The minutes indicated that in general, day-to-day fluctuations outside of the Fed’s target range were not surprising as historical data indicated that such changes had “few if any implications for overall financial conditions or the aggregate economy.”
FOMC members agreed that the economy had expanded at a solid pace, but noted that inflation had fallen due to rapid decreases in fuel prices.
Fed/FOMC Chair Janet Yellen did not hold a post-meeting press conference at the conclusion of January’s FOMC meeting; she is scheduled to hold a press conference at the conclusion of the next FOMC meeting on March 18, 2015.
If you are self-employed, either as a freelancer or as the owner of your own business, your income can fluctuate greatly from year to year. That can make it difficult to get approved for a mortgage, although there are some things you can do to improve your chances. Here are three tips for securing a mortgage if you are self-employed.
Make Sure Your Credit Score Is In Good Shape
While your ability to pay back a mortgage is the most important factor in approval, your credit score is a close second, and that goes for every borrower, not just those who are self-employed. If you have a credit score in the high range — something above 750 or 760 — it will help you get approved for a mortgage. To boost your score, make sure you pay all bills on time, pay down your debt levels and don’t make any new big purchases or apply for new credit soon before you apply for a mortgage.
Have a Large Down Payment
The more money a bank lends you to buy a house, the more risk it is taking in that the money won’t be paid back. If you are self-employed and considered a higher risk to begin with, one way you can alleviate some of that risk is to be able to put down a large amount of money. Putting down 20 percent is standard for a conventional loan, and you should be willing to contribute at least that much. Putting down at least 20 percent also will save you money in the long run, because you won’t have to pay for mortgage insurance and you will pay less in finance charges over the life of the loan.
Have Significant Assets
One way to put a lender at ease about your ability to pay for a mortgage is to have significant reserves in the form of assets. If you have large amounts of money in regular savings, brokerage and retirement accounts, it offers a reserve for you to tap should your income take a dive. Other forms of property, such as personal and business property that’s paid off and has value, also help.