Winter Home Staging Tips That Appeal To The Senses

Struggling to Sell Your House in the Winter? Try These Innovative Home Staging TipsThe cold harsh reality of winter has settled in. And it can be hard to achieve a successful home sale at this time of the year too. But here are some staging tips that might engage potential buyers so you won’t have to wait much longer for an offer.

Add Accents To Your Neutrals

It’s often the case that a home with neutral colors will show better because potential buyers can envision themselves in it. But there are ways to dress up neutral tones that will add spark. Instead of leaving your place too ho-hum, try punching up the color palette with a few bright pieces that will catch the eye. Whether you add a throw, some pillows, a vase or a vivid painting, this can be a simple way to create a lasting impression.

Let The Light In

The winter months can be a more difficult time to let natural light in, but few things will have a more positive impact on how your home shows than the lighting. A warm, homey space that is lit in a way that maximizes your home’s best features will be sure to make potential home buyers interested. In addition, good lighting will work to minimize any flaws that might be more visible in a less flattering light.

Don’t Forget About The Senses

It’s easy to get so involved in cleaning and de-cluttering your home that you forget about creating ambiance. Engaging the senses can have a very positive impact on potential home buyers. Instead of leaving this aspect to chance, you may want to bake something to create a pleasant scent or play music so that people viewing your home will stick around a little longer. Potential home buyers may not be aware of it, but engaging the senses can have an unconscious effect on the impression your home leaves.

The winter months are not always the best time to put your home on the market, but it may just mean that you’ll need to put in a little more effort to make the sale. By engaging the senses and adding color to a neutral palette, you may just snag an ideal offer.

Benchmark Mortgage

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 6, 2017

Last week’s economic news included several good signs for U.S. Labor Markets with higher than expected readings for private and public sector job creation. The Federal Reserve announced its decision not to raise the target federal funds range, and inflation rose. Mortgage rates held steady and pending home sales rose.

Private and Public Sector Jobs Post Unexpected Gains

ADP, which tracks private-sector job growth, showed a gain of 246,000 jobs in January against expectations of 168,000 new jobs and December’s reading of 151,000 private sector jobs created. Analysts said 208,000 of jobs added were service-related jobs. January’s Non-Farm Payrolls, which is issued by the Labor Department and includes private and public sector jobs, also posted higher than expected job gains with 227,000 new jobs in January as compared to 197,000 new jobs expected and December’s reading of 157,000 new jobs. Retail, construction, financial and restaurant industries led job growth. The jump in construction hiring could indicate that home builders will expand construction in an effort to ease short inventories of homes for sale.

The national unemployment rate rose to 4.70 percent in January and matched analysts’ expectations based on December’s reading of 4.60 percent. New jobless claims were lower than expected with a reading of 246,000 new claims against expectations of 254,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 260,000 initial jobless claims.

Mortgage Rates Little Changed; Pending Home Sales Up

Freddie Mac reported little change in mortgage rates last week. Interest rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 4.19 percent and were unchanged from the prior week. Rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages rose by one basis point to 3.41 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose three basis points to 3.23 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

In related news, the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee decided not to rate the Fed’s target rate that is currently 0.50 to 0.75 percent. Fed benchmarks for the economy include an unemployment rate of 5.00 percent or lower, but the annual growth inflation benchmark of 2.00 percent has not been met. January’s inflation rate rose by 0.10 percent above December’s reading of 0.0 percent.

Pending home sales increased in January with an increase of 1.60 percent; this exceeded December’s negative reading of -2.50 percent in December. Analysts said that the growth in pending home sales, which represents sales under contract that have not closed, reflects ongoing high demand for homes. Pending sales also suggest future volume for completed sales and mortgages.

Consumer confidence lagged in January to an index reading of 111.80 as compared to an expected reading of 112.90 and December’s reading of 113.30. December’s reading was the highest in 15 years. Analysts cited post-election uncertainty as contributing to consumer concerns.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include weekly releases on mortgage rates and new jobless claims along with readings on job openings and consumer sentiment.

Selling Your Home? 5 Key Questions to Ask

Trying to Decide Whether or Not to Sell Your Home? Here Are 5 Key Questions to Ask YourselfSelling a home, especially one with sentimental value, is never an easy decision to make. There are many factors that go into determining if the home is ready to be listed and if the seller is actually ready to part with it.

Answering some simple questions can go a long way to help you decide whether or not it’s time to sell.

How Much Work Does The Home Require?

Some houses and condos are ready to hit the market immediately, but others have serious problems that would need to be disclosed to interested parties. It may not be wise to try and sell until all major issues are repaired.

What Is The Market Like In The Area?

Have similar homes in the neighborhood been selling quickly for a lot of money or have they been sitting on the market for months with no buyers? You should look into the current market trends to determine how much you would be able to sell for so you don’t lose money on the transaction.

When Is The Best Time To Sell?

Every city is different and the time of year can have a major impact on the market. A local real estate agent will have a strong comprehension of the best time of year to list the home, which could provide some valuable time to get it ready.

Will You Be Happier In A New Home?

Sometimes deciding to sell a home can become so overwhelming that people forget to ask themselves whether or not they will be happier in a new home. If the answer is a resounding ‘yes’ then there should be no question about selling.

Should A Real Estate Agent Be Involved?

It may seem easier for sellers to eschew the services of an agent to save a little money, but the nightmare that can follow without the assistance of somebody who has the time and experience to show and promote the home may not be worth it. Talk to local real estate professionals to see if there are any that feel like a good fit.

If you have been debating selling your home but still aren’t sure whether or not it’s the right time, call us today.

Investing in a Fixer-Upper: What You Need to Know

Thinking About Buying a 'Fixer Upper'? Here's What You Need to KnowWith all of the home renovation and fixer-upper shows on television, the idea of completely renovating and re-doing an old home can seem like an enticing premise. Unfortunately, investing in the wrong fixer-upper can mean an awful lot of expenditure without the added financial rewards. Whether you’re considering investing down the road or you’re ready to dive in, here are a few things to consider first.

How Much Do You Want To Spend?

It’s easy to be swept away by possibility. But before making an offer you’ll need to sit down and determine exactly what you’re willing to invest into upgrades for your fixer-upper. By deciding what you would want to renovate, what the cost of materials and labor would be and how this figures into the market price of the home, you’ll be able to determine if the price you’re offering will be worth it.

Are Major Repairs Required?

It’s one thing to consider a nice paint job and new tiling in the kitchen. But if there are serious problems with the home, it can create huge financial issues to put money into it. Because foundational issues or water damage throughout the home can be expensive items to repair and will take time and resources, fixing these issues may cost more than the money you’ll make. If you’re uncertain about what you’re getting into, it may be a wise decision to bypass the investment all together.

Are You Willing To Work?

Most home fixer-uppers that people buy can be financially lucrative because the buyer is interested in doing a lot of the work themselves. However, if you’re thinking of hiring people to do the work for you, this can end up costing a lot more money and eating any profits the renovations might have created. It’s also important to realize that renovations can go over budget. Instead of being idealistic about a fixer-upper, be certain it’s what you really want so that you’re not stuck with a home you don’t want to invest your efforts into.

The idea of digging in and getting your hands dirty with purchasing a fixer-upper may be endearing, but if you’re not truly prepared for the responsibilities it can be a drain on your time and finances.

How Will Having a New President Impact Your Mortgage?

How Will Having a New President Impact Your Mortgage? Let's Take a LookThere is always uncertainty in the market in an election year, but many people are wondering exactly what kind of impact Donald Trump’s election will have on their mortgage and the real estate options available. Whether you are still paying off your home or have been shopping around for the right one, here are some possibilities for the real estate market following the results of the 2016 election.

An Increase In Luxury Properties

With the release of President Trump’s tax plan, which provides the most sizable tax cuts to the wealthy, it could be the case that there will be an increase in the demand for high-end properties which may lead to less availability and a higher price point. As this kind of demand could also work to bump up the median price of real estate in urban areas, it could have an adverse impact on low-income earners who may see themselves priced out of a more expensive market.

Rising Mortgage Rates

Most people that have been perusing the market recently have heard about the low interest rates that make purchasing a home a good financial decision. However, following the uncertainty of the election, interest rates are on the rise. While the sense of instability may persist until potential homebuyers know more, this boost in the rates since the election may mean that many buyers will decide to hold off for a few months.

A Loosening Of Regulations

The concept of the cost involved in regulation was something that President Trump brought up many times on the campaign trail, and this could be a sign that he is ready to make adjustments when it comes to housing regulations. While there may be little he can do at the local level, if regulation changes take hold, this could mean more loan opportunities for those with a poor credit history who may not have been a shoe-in for a mortgage previously.

With the fluctuations of the market dependent upon a variety of factors, it’s hard to say what will occur in the mortgage market in the next few months and years. However, with mortgage rates on the rise and the potential change in regulations, it could continue to fluctuate until there is more certainty on the horizon. If you’re currently on the market for a home and are curious about your options, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

Pay Your Mortgage Faster With 5 Simple Money Saving Strategies

Get Your Mortgage Paid Down Faster With These 5 Simple Money Saving StrategiesThe monthly mortgage payment can be burdensome, but it’s possible to pay it down more quickly. Without getting a new job or working overtime, here are some tips you can use on a daily basis to save additional funds and pay off your mortgage at a swifter rate.

Make Your Lunch

The five or ten dollars spent on lunch might not seem like a lot, but over time this amount adds up to a lot of savings. Instead of hitting the cafe, pick one or two nights each week to prepare a lunch for yourself so you can skip the daily expense.

Take A Coffee To Go

Like lunch, coffee is another thing that can end up costing a lot of money. However, instead of going for the two-dollar cup, make a pot before you leave for the day or opt for the office coffee instead. If you prefer yours on the go, you can always make it a once-a-week treat.

Avoid The Impulse

This might seem like a hard one to stick with, but instead of buying something because you want it, sit on it for a day or two and see if it still appeals to you. In all likelihood, the desire to purchase will pass and you’ll manage to keep more money in the bank.

Read The Flyers

Items like groceries may be a necessity, but that doesn’t mean that you have to buy the first thing you see. From fruits and vegetables to packaged goods, there are plenty of food items that go on sale all the time. By the time the month is out, you’ll be surprised how much you can save just by shopping around.

Skip The Cell Phone Plan

For most people, having a cell phone is a necessity these days. However, there are ways that you can get around the high costs that are often associated with smart phones. Instead of going for the expensive plan you have, settle for a little bit less service and talk to your provider about deals they can offer you.

It may seem like paying a higher monthly amount on your mortgage is impossible, but there are little ways to save each day that can help you pay it down faster. Add your money saving ideas in the comments below.

If you’re planning on looking for a new home in the near future, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 17, 2017

Last week’s economic reports included readings on job openings, retail sales and consumer sentiment in addition to weekly reports on new jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s survey of mortgage rates.

Job Openings Hold Steady in November; Quits and Hires Increase

According to the Labor Department, job openings held steady with a reading of 5.50 million openings in November, which matched October’s reading. Hires and quits showed more activity, which analysts deemed a healthy sign for the economy. Workers typically hold on to their current jobs in times of economic uncertainty, while they may be more comfortable with changing jobs in a strong economy. Increased “churn” in terms of quits and hires suggests that workers are gaining confidence in economic conditions and are more willing to change jobs. There were 1.3 unemployed workers for each job opening, which was lower than October’s reading of 1.4 unemployed workers for each job opening.

Retail Sales Higher in December

Retail sales grew by 0.60 percent in December, although analysts had expected o.80 percent growth. November’s reading showed 0.20 percent growth. Retail sales not including the automotive sector grew by 0.20 percent. Analysts had expected a reading of 0.50 percent based on November’s reading of 0.30 percent growth. Year-end promotions and incentives offered by auto dealers likely contributed to December’s increase in retail sales.

Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week; the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by eight basis points to 4.12 percent. 15-year fixed mortgage rates averaged seven basis points lower at 3.37 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were 10 basis points lower at an average of 3.23 percent. Discount points averaged   0.50 percent for all three mortgage types.

New jobless claims were lower than expected last week with a reading of 247,000 new jobless claims. 258,000 new claims were expected based on the prior week’s reading of 237,000 new claims filed. New jobless claims were lower than 300,000 new claims for the 97th consecutive week. The rise in new claims last week was attributed to delays in filing for benefits between Christmas and New Year holidays.

Consumer sentiment dipped in January to an index reading of 98.1 as compared to December’s reading of 98.2 and the expected reading of 98.8.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index. Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits will be released. Consumer Price Index readings are scheduled along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

How Much Mortgage You Can Afford? Here’s How To Calculate

Wondering How Much Mortgage You Can Afford? Here's How to Calculate ItYou’re probably aware of the financial commitment that is involved when investing in a home, but what that amounts to is different for every person. From what you can afford to what a lender will allow, there are plenty of details involved in determining the right home for you. If you’re not quite sure what the right price is, here’s how to approach home ownership and determine your debt-to-income.

Calculating Your Debt-To-Income Ratio

You may not know what your DTI ratio is, but it has a lot to with how much home you can afford. In order to calculate this amount, add together all the debts you owe each month and divide them by your monthly pre-tax income. For example, if your credit card is $150 and your rent is $900, your debt amount would be $1050. Divide this amount by your income, say $2500, to get 0.42. This means your DTI ratio is 0.42 or 42%.

What Your DTI Means

While a DTI in the high 20s or low 30s is good, anything that hovers above 43 percent may serve as a red flag to the lender. The lower your DTI ratio, the more likely it is that a lender will approve your mortgage application since you’ll have the disposable income to deal with financial hurdles. If your dream home has you hovering close to this amount, it may be a sign that it’s a bit out of reach.

How Do You Want To Live?

It’s quite common to be taken over when you find your dream home and decide to commit. However, buying a home is a huge financial commitment. If you’re buying more than you can afford it may drain your well-being over time. Instead of diving in, determine other expenses that are likely to come up in the next few years including travel, a child or a new car. It’s important to have the home you want and budget when buying it, but you’ll still need the financial wiggle room in case something comes up.

There are a lot of factors involved in determining how much house you can afford, but by calculating your DTI ratio and being aware of your spending plans, you’ll be well on your way to an ideal price range. If you’re currently in the market for a home, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

4 Mistakes Made by First-time Home Sellers And How To Avoid Them

4 Terrible Mistakes Made by First-time Home SellersMany factors go into selling a home for the first time. Some can make it a stressful process, and there are a few things you should avoid for a successful sale. If you’re putting your home on the market and hoping for quick success, here are some common mistakes you’ll want to be sure to bypass.

Pricing Your Home Too High

It’s entirely likely that there’s an amount you have in mind when it comes to selling your home. But it’s important that your asking price is in line with the market conditions and what’s being offered. Instead of winging it, check the local neighborhood listings and see what similar homes are selling for so yours won’t be left to linger.

Forgetting The Small Repairs

After you’ve put your home up for sale and have arranged an open house, one of the first things people will notice is the small repairs like paint chips or loose doorknobs that haven’t yet been fixed. Instead of letting this negatively impact the offers you’ll receive, complete the little fix-ups before you schedule your open house so potential homebuyers are not turned off.

Missing On Marketing

There are so many avenues for selling a home these days that it can be hard to know which way to go. However, it’s best to consider all of your options and utilize social media to widen the audience you’ll attract. Keep in mind that if you’re investing in a website or brochures, it’s important to hire a good photographer to show your home in its best light.

Selling It On Your Own

Hitting the market on your own can be rife with a lot of questions, so as a first-time seller you may want to consider the services of a real estate agent. It’s just important to ensure that the person you choose is qualified and has experience in your community so they can steer you in the right direction and offer helpful advice.

Selling a home for the first time can be a stressful thing.  But by utilizing the right agent and having reasonable expectations, it may be off the market before you know it.

Benchmark Colorado

What To Watch Out For In A Real Estate Contract

Understanding Real Estate Contracts and What You Can Expect to FindThere are a lot of things that go into the successful sale of your home, but many people are unfamiliar with the intricacies of the contract. Whether you consult with your real estate agent or plan on diving in on your own, it’s important to be clear on the terms. If you’re wondering what you can expect when it comes to the contract, here are some pointers on what to watch out for.

Real Estate Jargon

A real estate contract would not be complete without the professional terminology, so you’ll see words like amortization, price-to-income ratio and title that may impact the meaning of your contract. Instead of going it blind, search the Internet for terms or consult with your real estate agent to provide a clear explanation.

Specifics On The Sale

Information regarding the specifics of your property will be present in the contract, and it’s important to check this information before signing on the dotted line. While the address and location of your home are important, it’s also critical to verify the purchase price that has been decided upon, the closing date on the property and any other items that have been negotiated and agreed upon.

Be Aware Of Withdrawal Terms

It can be easy to be taken away by excitement once you’ve received the perfect offer on your home, but it’s important not to lose sight of everything that’s required before the sale has been finalized. One of the most important parts of the contract is the withdrawal terms that are laid out. Make sure you’re aware of what your rights are if you or the homebuyer decides to withdraw from the process.

Watch For Seller’s Responsibilities

If you, as a seller, do not remain committed to the terms of the contract this can be a deal breaker. Familiarize yourself with exactly what’s required of you. This may include everything from the maintenance on the property to offer negotiations. It’s important to comply with these terms.

Dealing with a real estate contract can be confusing for the layman, so it’s worth your while to have a trusted real estate agent around who will be able to explain it. From withdrawal terms to seller responsibilities, there are plenty of things you should be aware of before sealing the deal.