8 Curb Appeal Tips for Selling Your Home Fast

8 Curb Appeal Tips for Selling Your Home Fast

From small touches such as new lighting to larger efforts such as tiling the porch or stoop, creating curb appeal is one of the best investments you can make to resell your home fast.

Here are eight ideas to maximize curb your appeal.

Landscaping Is Critical For The First Impression

  • Cut Back Trees and Shrubs. Landscaping should enhance your house, not overwhelm it. Trimming can bring impressive results. If you don’t have a steady hand, leave it to a professional or handy relative.
  • Manicure Your Lawn. A freshly mowed lawn is a must the week before a showing. Be sure to trim and edge it for a finished look that increases your curb appeal. 
  • Plant Some Color. If the weather permits, flowering plants are a cheap way to brighten the walkway leading up to your front door. It also gives the home a fresh vibe. Adding fresh mulch to your flower beds is a great quick fix, even in colder weather.

Don’t Forget Your Home’s Exterior

  • Paint the House.If you can’t afford to paint the whole house and the exterior paint is in good condition, consider retouching the trim. The gives your home a sense of newness. If the exterior colors are outdated, painting the home should be a budget priority.
  • Clean the Roof and Gutters. If anything is likely to attract a buyer’s attention, it’s clogged gutters, tree branches brushing the roof and algae growth. If you’re in a drier climate, make sure you don’t have obvious roof damage or missing tiles. If you need to replace the roof, it’s better to get it over with. Chances are, you’ll make up the money with a faster sale at a higher price. 
  • Clean the Walks and Driveway. Pressure wash patios, drives and walkways. Put fresh sealant on black-top driveways for a like-new boost to one of the areas buyers notice first.

Spruce Up The Outdoor Areas

  • Make Outdoor Living Space Inviting: Take steps to make porches, patios and decks clean and inviting. This might include repairing wood decks and restaining them. If you can replace old furniture, it’s a great investment that you can take with you when you go. 
  • Stage the Yard: Just as you stage the inside of the home, it’s important to declutter and depersonalize your outside living area. You can leave furniture in neutral colors so that the buyer can imagine themselves in the space. However, bikes, kids’ toys and the rusted grill need to be stored out of site. 

These basic ideas go a long way toward improving the curb appeal of your home. In return, you may be very happy with the positive effects on the sale of your home.

Be sure to take steps ahead of time to secure your financing for your next home purchase. A great place to start is setting up an appointment with your trusted home mortgage professional.

12 Ways to Lower Your Monthly Utility Bills

12 Ways to Lower Your Monthly Utility Bills

According to the US Department of Energy, the average American household paid $111.67 each month for utilities in 2017. With some research and a few DIY projects, property owners can reduce those energy costs without sacrificing comfort or convenience.

Establish Energy Friendly Habits

Reduce energy waste to see an immediate change in your utility payments.

  • Before bed, walk around your home. Make sure you turn off all lights, televisions, computers, and other plugged-in devices.
  • In the colder months, close the doors to unused spaces to save big on heating bills.
  • Dial down the heat before bed. Invest in extra blankets and cozy pajamas to keep warm without blasting the furnace.

Small habits can add up to big savings.

Incorporate DIY Solutions

These easy projects improve insulation so your interior stays comfortable without HVAC overuse.

  • Use weather stripping to seal off drafty windows.
  • Install door sweeps on all exterior doors to prevent outdoor air from compromising your indoor temperature.
  • Install a programmable thermostat. Many models allow you to automatically adjust temperatures throughout the day.

It doesn’t take a large investment of time or money to positively impact your utility bills.

Install Energy Efficient Appliances

Upgrading your appliances is a simple way to reduce energy waste.

  • Install a solar-powered water heater to eliminate the cost of hot water.
  • Replace your light bulbs with compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED versions.
  • Invest in an Energy Star rated washer and dryer to save money on your electric and water bills.

As a bonus, your new appliances improve the look and feel of your space.

Attend To Administrative Tasks

Pay attention to what you’re paying for. Small details can cost you big dollars.

  • Review your billing statements at least once every 3 months. Notice any changes in usage, rate, and fees.
  • Talk to your utility company about average payments. This option allows you to pay a flat rate rather than fluctuating per-use charges.
  • Install a Smart Meter to ensure accurate usage reporting.

Practice due diligence to protect your wallet from unnecessary charges.

You don’t have to make drastic changes to your lifestyle to control utility costs. Incorporate these easy fixes to bring down your monthly obligations without emptying your wallet.

If you feel like the time is right to upgrade your home’s energy efficiency, it may also be time to access some of your home equity to help you with expenses. Meeting with your trusted home mortgage professional is the first step to finding out about your best financing options.

The Economics Of Going Green For Home Sales

The Economics Of Going Green For Home Sales

Earth Day is celebrated each year in April to remind us all of the benefits of ecologically-sound living that is more in harmony with Mother Earth. There is quite a bit of positive news when it comes to going “green.” There are significant benefits for home sales.

Green homes may sell faster and for higher prices. Many people are willing to pay more for a green home in order to receive the long-term benefits of the savings on utility costs.

The Numbers Are Very Appealing

AHS reports many encouraging statistics. The estimates are about one-third of the real estate market for single family homes in 2016 was for green homes. The National Association of Builders says that 90% of home buyers consider looking for energy-efficient green homes to be a high priority when shopping for a home.

About 61% are willing to pay up to $5,000 more for a home that as low utility bills because of its green design. The Earth Advantage Study concluded that a green home, which is certified sells for up to 35% more than non-certified home.

The Green Value Proposition

Lawdepot reports that for every dollar that the utility bill is reduced for a home, the average resale value increases from 15 up to 20 dollars.

Here are some cost-effective investments that improve a home’s resale value:

  • Energy-Efficient Windows and Doors: Old, leaky windows and doors are horrible energy-wasters. Upgrade windows and doors to drastically lower energy costs. This also dramatically improves a home’s curb appeal. In terms of resale value, the return on investment is up to 100% over the cost of the installation.
  • LEED Certification: A home that has a LEED certification for energy-efficiency can sell for up to 35% more than a non-certified home.
  • Insulation: Upgrading attic insulation with high-performance blown fiberglass returns about 17% over the cost of the installation.
  • Solar Energy System: Solar energy installations return about 97% of the cost upon resale according to a study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Depending on the tax incentives and how much was saved on utility bills before the home is sold, there is typically a net positive financial benefit to a homeowner for installing a solar energy system. Moreover, these homes continue to operate normally in a grid-down emergency, which is a big selling point.

Conclusion

Going green, in these suggested ways, helps maximize a home’s resale value. This is helpful for the environment and makes excellent financial sense. Green homes are very attractive to potential buyers, especially in areas that typically have high monthly utility bills.

If going green is a priority to you, be sure to discuss energy efficient incentives and home improvement loans with your trusted mortgage professional.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 22nd, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 22nd, 2019

Last week’s economic news included readings on home builder confidence in housing market conditions and Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage ratees and first-time jobless claims were also released.

NAHB Housing Market Index: Builder Confidence Rises One Point in April

Home Builder Confidence readings posted by the National Association of Home Builders held steady for April and rose one point overall. Component readings for the NAHB Housing Market Index were mixed; builder confidence in current housing market conditions rose one point to an index reading of 69, but builder confidence in housing market conditions in the next six months fell one point to 62.

Home builder confidence in potential buyer traffic rose three points to 47. NAHB Housing Market index readings above 50 indicate that most builders view market conditions as positive, but the reading for buyer traffic seldom rises above 50.

Housing Starts and Building Permits Issued Fall Short of Expectations in March

Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued in March were lower than in February and fell short of analyst expectations. Housing starts were reported at a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.139 million starts. Analysts expected housing starts at an annual rate of 1,225 billion starts based on February’s reading of 1.142 million starts.

Builders continued to experience headwinds including higher materials costs, shortages of buildable lots and a lack of skilled labor. Analysts cited disparities between new housing developments, which tend to favor luxury homes and the need for affordable housing.

Exclusionary zoning and neighborhood politics can block construction of affordable housing in desirable areas; legal and zoning constraints prevent builders from producing enough affordable homes to meet demand. Housing starts year-to-date were 9.70 percent lower than for the same period in 2018.

Fewer building permits were issued in March than in February. 1.269 million permits were issued on a seasonally adjusted annual basis as compared to expectations of 1.300 million permits issued and February’s reading of 1.291 million permits issued.

Mortgage Rates Rise as New Jobless Claims Fall

Mortgage rates were higher last week as average rates for fixed rate mortgages rose. 30-year mortgage rates averaged five basis points higher at 4.17 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged two basis points higher at 3.62 percent.  

Mortgage rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged two basis points lower at 3.78 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims fell by 5000 new claims to 192,000 initial claims; this was significantly lower than 204,000 new claims expected.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes reports on sales of new and pre-owned homes and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and initial jobless claims will also be released.

Staging Your Home: Here Are Your Self-Storage Options

Staging Your Home Here Are Your Self-Storage Options

If you’re staging your home to sell, you may find yourself with more stuff than space. Rather than selling possessions that you’d rather not part with, you can put your things into short-term storage until your home sells and you’re able to move.

Here are some options you have when choosing and using a self storage unit.

Climate Controlled Or Not

Climate controlled units are located inside buildings. They could be compared to an apartment building, except instead of housing people, these storage buildings house belongings. Inside, they are powered with electricity and a temperature control that is temperate.

The advantage of a climate controlled storage unit is that your possessions won’t get above average hot or below average cold. If you plan to store certain items that are temperature sensitive, such as photographs, antique wood furniture or heirloom paintings, a climate controlled unit is a must.

Self storage units that are not climate controlled are typically located in garage-like buildings with a garage door opening that is open to the outside. There is usually no electricity or power inside the unit, so if you want to visit at night or on a dark day you’ll need to bring a flashlight.

There is no temperature control, so whatever the temperature is outside, it will be similar inside the unit. Depending on the climate you live in, it could get freezing inside the unity or extremely hot. If you’re planning on storing things that can withstand extreme temperatures, like a small motor vehicle, clothing or kitchen goods, you could opt for a unit like this.

Ground Level Or Above

Climate controlled storage buildings usually have more than one floor. Often, the ground level units are considered to be more convenient, so the rental rate may be higher than those on a higher floor. If you choose a ground level unit, you’ll be able to access your unit without navigating up and down an elevator for every trip back and forth to your car.

Units on higher floors will have access via a freight elevator. The freight elevator will be large enough to hold even your larger furnishings, such as couches, bureaus and desks. You’ll still be able to use a hand truck to cart your belongings, but you’ll have the disadvantage of having to wait for the elevator since other renters will also be using it.

Knowing these things ahead of time will help you make your decision about what kind of self storage unit to rent. No matter which one you choose, you can rest assured that your belongings will be safe and sound until you’re ready to bring them to your new home.

If your house is on the market, it’s important to plan ahead for your next home purchase. Be sure to meet with your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss your best financing options.

Home Maintenance Tips: How to Organize Your Garage

Home Maintenance Tips How to Organize Your Garage

Perhaps you plan to sell your home in the next few months or years. Keeping your garage organized can save time and ensure that you have storage space when you need it most.

Get Your Purge On!

Clear out the garage and separate items into categories: keep, trash, donate and recycle. If you get rid of 50 percent of your stuff, you’re doing great. The more you can get rid of up front, the less you have to organize! And if you haven’t used it in years, why would you need to keep it around?

Create Zones

Map out space with masking tape, starting with where your vehicles go. Mask out where you can put heavy-duty shelves for tools, sports equipment and other stored items. Also, you can maximize storage by building cabinets or shelving from floor to ceiling.

Buying clear bins in various sizes and interlocking shapes helps you stay organized. When you store like items together, it’s much easier to find them, especially if everything is properly labeled.

Think strategically. If your garage doubles as a workshop, include space for a workbench. If you bike every day, hang your wheels on the wall near the garage door. Additionally, remember to include garbage and recycling bins near the door for easy access.

Organizational Supplies
With the zones mapped, it’s time to get organized. For example, store shovels, rakes and brooms in a large trashcan. Meanwhile, sporting equipment such as bats, balls, skateboards and protective pads can go into larger bins, on shelves or inside lockers. Pegboards provide a versatile way to hang tools you use the most.

A cabinet that locks protects children and pets from hazardous materials like chemicals, paint and cleaning supplies. Meanwhile, constructing long open shelves of wood or metal gives you plenty of support for heavy storage bins, while a rolling cabinet lets you move craft supplies or gardening implements.

Storing Small Stuff

What can you do with screws, nails, hooks, nuts and myriad small items on a limited budget? Repurposed glass containers or mason jars let you see contents clearly while recycling. Use tin cans for screwdrivers and paint brushes.

Once your garage is neat and clean, you may find yourself spending more time there. You might even have enough room for a home office or craft corner. A well-planned organizational strategy helps you keep it that way.

If you are interested in buying a new property or refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional.

11 Simple Ways To Save Money Toward The Purchase Of Your New Home

11 Simple Ways To Save Money Toward The Purchase Of Your New Home

If you find it difficult to make ends meet, these tips will help you save money in ways that are easy to do and create substantial savings over time.

Declutter

Get rid of stuff you do use or need by having a garage or yard sale or by putting things for sale on eBay or Craigslist.

Make Your Own Coffee

Do you really want to make that billionaire richer by buying coffee for $5+ a cup? Make your own gourmet coffee that costs around 50 cents per cup for the same thing.

Bring Your Own Lunch

Making your lunch the night before to take to work the next day will give you more time to enjoy lunch. You will save the money that is wasted when driving to fast-food restaurants or going to pricey lunch places.

Grow Some Food

Everyone should have a garden, even if it is only a window garden for herbs. If you have some room for pots, you can grow tomatoes and other vegetables. If you have a back yard or a front yard you can grow tons of stuff.

Buy In Bulk And Use Coupons

For the things that you use on a regular basis, stock up when the items are on sale. Buy things at discount stores. Buy bulk things like rice and pasta at wholesale prices in co-ops. Coupon clipping is a hobby that pays for itself in savings. Just be careful not to buy things you do not really need or use.

Change Home Lighting

If you have not yet changed out all your incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs, what have you been doing? Change those bubs right away because you are burning up money on wasteful lights.

Install Smart Home Technology

Making a home run with more energy-efficiency is reduces your bills and helps the planet too. Smart home technology monitors comfort zones and turns things off when they are not needed.

Cut The Cable

An expensive monthly bill for cable TV is something many can do without. There are plenty of less expensive alternatives and tons of free content to view online.

Make A Change Jar

Every time you come home, put all the change you have in a change jar. You will be surprised how much money builds up over time and you will hardly even notice it is missing.

Walk Instead Of Drive

Do you have to drive your car everywhere? Try walking short distances instead. Not only will you save money on gas; walking may improve your health.

DIY Projects

Instead of paying others to do simple jobs around the house, do them yourself. There are plenty of do-it-yourself (DIY) guides on YouTube that show how to do just about anything. You will save the expensive labor cost for simple home repairs that can be up to $75 per hour.

Are you inspired? OK. Put some of these ideas into action. Ready, set, save!

When you’re ready, set up an appointment with your trusted home mortgage professional to find out about the best financing options for your new home purchase.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 25th, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 25th, 2019Last week’s economic news included readings from the National Association of Home Builders, Federal Reserve Federal Open Market Committee and a press conference by Fed Chair Jerome Powell.

Sales of pre-owned homes in February were reported along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

NAHB: Builder Confidence Unchanged Despite Headwinds

Home builders remained confident about housing market conditions in March. The NAHB Housing Market Index posted a reading of 62, which matched February’s reading and fell one point short of expectations. NAHB Index readings above 50 represent a positive outlook on housing market conditions.

Home builders continued to face obstacles including high materials costs and lack of buildable lots and labor. Analysts said builders focused on building larger homes, which were not affordable for many prospective buyers.

FOMC: Fed Puts Brakes on Interest Rate Hikes

Monetary policymakers reversed course on raising the target range for federal funds and voted not to raise the current rate range of 2.25 to 2.50 percent. FOMC members cited global economic concerns including Brexit and wavering economic conditions in China.

While the U.S. Labor sector was strong with ongoing jobs and wage growth and low national unemployment, FOMC members said that the Fed could be “patient” about raising rates and did not expect to raise rates in 2019. Slowing economic growth and inflation were reasons for holding interest rates steady.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell described the current economy as “good” and said that the Fed would gradually roll back its accommodative purchase of treasury bonds. This news was likely to cause yields on 10-year Treasury notes to fall; this would cause mortgage rates to fall due to their connection with 10-year Treasury notes.

Pre-Owned Home Sales Hit 11 Month High in February

The National Association of Realtors® reported 5.50 million sales of pre-owned homes on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. February sales reading fell short of 5.12 million sales expected but were higher than the rate of 4.93 million sales in January.

February’s reading was 11.80 percent higher than January’s sales. The sales pace was 1.80 percent lower year-over-year, but the median sale price of preowned homes was $249,500., which was 3.60 percent higher year-over-year.

First-time buyers accounted for 34 percent of sales; this falls short of the typical 40 percent participation rate for first-time buyers. Affordability and strict mortgage qualification requirements continued to challenge first-time and moderate-income buyers.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower average rates for fixed rate mortgages. 30-year fixed mortgage rates were three basis points lower and averaged 4.28 percent; Mortgage rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 3.71 percent and were five basis points lower on average. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage was unchanged at 3.84 percent. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims were lower last week with 221,000 new claims filed. Analysts expected 225,000 new claims based on the prior week’s reading of 230,000 new claims filed.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on housing starts and building permits issued, new and pending home sales and inflation. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

14 Remodeling Projects That Increase the Value of Your Home

14 Remodeling Projects That Increase the Value of Your HomeYour home is likely your largest investment. Beyond repairs and regular maintenance to keep it clean, comfortable, and safe, there are a number of projects that can increase the resale value of your property. These renovations top the list of changes you can make that positively impact your home’s value.

Kitchen

With the right strategy, your kitchen remodel could return up to 92.9% of your construction investment. The trick is to not overdo it. You don’t need to gut and rebuild the entire room. Instead, make strategic upgrades that increase the comfort and usability of the room.

    • Paint wooden cabinets or install new doors and fixtures.
    • Install track lighting or LED features.
    • Refresh or change countertops.
    • Refurbish flooring and spruce up walls with warm, neutral colors that are easy to clean.

Invest in new appliances right before you put your home on the market to catch the eye of potential buyers and pull them in.

Odd Spaces

Older homes with distinctive architecture stand out from the crowd of cookie-cutter residences. However, these unique buildings often hide a lot of unused space. Make the most of every inch of your home to entice buyers to place a bid.

    • Convert a basement into a bonus room.
    • Turn the space underneath a staircase into a storage closet.
    • Divide oversized dining rooms to create a small home office.

Most buyers aren’t looking for a long-term project. Instead of pointing out the potential of your property, make it easy to see by getting creative with odd spaces.

Increase Energy Efficiency

The average monthly utility bill can easily cost a homeowner $200 per month. Help potential buyers lower their monthly costs by installing energy-efficient options throughout the home.

    • Install a solar water heater.
    • Change the windows to more energy-efficient models.
    • Add extra insulation to outer rooms and around doors and windows.
    • Use LED lighting outdoors and throughout the home.

You may be able to get some help paying for your earth-friendly upgrades with state and federal incentives.

Bathrooms

After the kitchen, bathrooms are the most scrutinized feature of homes for sale. Once again, a little goes a long way in these rooms.

    • Update fixtures with shiny metals for a modern look.
    • Change out the toilet seat.
    • Fix up the shower tiles and head.

These projects don’t take a lot of time. However, they can offer a big payoff when you decide to sell your home.

If you are looking for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, contact your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss current financing options.

3 Questions to Ask Before You Buy Your First Home

3 Questions to Ask Before You Buy Your First HomeHunting for your new home can be a confusing process. There are countless factors you need to take into account to ensure your new location fits your family’s lifestyle and preferences. In their excitement, first-time home buyers can easily overlook some essential points about their potential property.

When you’re searching for your new residence, ask these questions to get exactly what you’re looking for.

Am I Financially Ready For A New Home Purchase?

It takes more than money to find the right home. Your credit rating is an important factor in your ability to secure enough funding to finance your dream. Check out your credit score before you buy to make sure you won’t have to settle for less.

Some of the things you have the greatest control over include:

    • Payment history
    • Credit utilization ratio
    • Debt-to-income ratio

Even with a large down payment, having a questionable credit history can endanger your chances of qualifying for mortgage loans. Spend some time shining up your credit report for the best results. Getting a pre-approved home loan is a great way to find out how much house you can afford before you start shopping.

Is This The Right Neighborhood For Me?

No matter how beautiful the structure itself is, your house won’t seem like a home unless you’re comfortable with the surrounding neighborhood. Take a walk around your potential block to assess the area and compare it to your needs.

    • For families with children, are there high-quality schools in the area?
    • Do your neighbors’ homes seem well-kept?
    • What amenities (dry cleaner, grocery stores, parks, etc) do you want in your community?
    • How do the roads and sidewalks look?

Before committing to a purchase, visit the home at different times of the day to get an idea of what you might have to live with.

Am I Ready To Settle Down?

Align your home purchase with your future goals. If you know you’re planning to move out-of-state in the next several years, take that into account when shopping for a home. Will you be able to sell quickly enough before you leave? Or do you plan to retain ownership of the home and rent it out while you’re away?

Think about the directions your life might take in the next 5 to 10 years. By looking ahead, you can make a better plan for the best home you can afford which will accommodate you and your family in the years to come.

Buying your first home is a major decision. Knowing your goals, desires, and abilities before agreeing to a purchase a home will make you the most comfortable moving forward.

One of the best partners in your home purchase process will be your trusted mortgage professional. Be sure to make contact as soon as you are considering a new home purchase to start the pre-approval process.