2018 Predictions: The Inventory Crisis Will Drive the Market

In most markets around the country, inventory of homes for sale has become so tight that housing is now a game of musical chairs: Nobody wants to stand up from the home they’re currently living in and list if for sale, for fear they won’t be able to find another home to buy. This inventory crisis leaves few options for millennials, a huge generation just entering the market that genuinely wants to become homeowners, but can’t find anything to buy.

These dynamics will lead to both predictable and creative responses from homeowners, buyers and builders in 2018:

  • Inventory shortages will drive the housing market: Inventory will remain a major concern in 2018, continuing to play a significant role in pushing up prices. It will create particularly strong headwinds for first-time home buyers, who don’t have the benefit of profits from a prior home sale to boost their down payments and make them more competitive. There are 12 percent fewer homes to choose from nationwide than there were a year ago. And the homes that are available are not accessible across the market: As of September 2017, more than half (51 percent) of U.S. homes for sale were in the top one-third of home values – largely out of reach for typical younger, first-time, millennial buyers.
  • Builders will turn their focus to entry-level homes: You can build your way out of an inventory crisis, but to date, the number of new homes built each year has remained well below historical norms – and it’s been concentrated in more profitable, higher price segments. In 2018, that dynamic will change for a simple reason: Builders cannot and will not ignore a hungry market. They’ll respond to the demand of more first-time buyers entering the market by increasing construction of new, entry-level homes.
  • Millennials will move to the suburbs: Those more-accessible homes will come with a catch: They’ll likely be farther from urban job cores. Escalating land and construction costs – along with zoning laws – make it prohibitive for builders to add affordable housing in cities near jobs, so they will look to the suburbs. As a result, that’s where millennials and first-time home buyers will flock for the greater variety of homes at relatively lower prices.
  • Many homeowners will remodel rather than sell: Still, inventory overall will remain very tight, and the musical chairs phenomenon won’t fade quickly. Wary of becoming buyers in such a limited market, many homeowners will choose to remodel their homes instead of moving – decisions that collectively may worsen the inventory crisis.
  • Baby Boomers and millennials will drive home design: These newly constructed and renovated homes will feature livable, comfortable designs that appeal to both millennials and Baby Boomers. For example, they might boast wide hallways that can accommodate both strollers (for young families) and/or wheelchairs (for aging Boomers). Homes also will be built using frameworks that make it easy to add elements later, including extra support beams behind shower walls to which grab bars can be added as older generations age in place.
  • Homes prices will continue to grow, but at a slower pace: In part because of the continuing inventory shortage, home prices are expected to climb 4.1 percent in 2018, according to more than 100 housing experts and economists surveyed in the latest Zillow Home Price Expectations survey. That is still fast compared to “normal” annual appreciation closer to 3 percent, but is slower than the current 6.9 percent annual pace of home value growth.

Source: zillow.com ~ By: Svenja Gudell

17 Holiday Decoration Ideas ~ Thanksgiving to Christmas

Make a Mercury Glass Statement

Add holiday shimmer to your home with a quick grouping of mercury glass vases — and if you don’t have any on hand, just click below to learn how to make your own! Create a variety of vessels in different shapes and sizes, then group them together for a quick and classy table display. A few sprigs of greenery (with red berries, once Thanksgiving has past!) provide delicate color.

Craft a Fruity Wreath

Place this lush, harvest-themed wreath on your mantel for a fresh-and-fruity take on holiday decor. To form the leafy wreath, we bunched lemon leaves and secured them around a wreath frame with floral wire. A little hot-glue joins faux pears, oranges, and nuts together, and a quick wrap in floral wire binds the fruity grouping to the wreath. You can use real fruit, if preferred, but we recommend faux fruit for long-lasting cheer.

Make Your Mantel Glow

Sometimes the best holiday light displays are indoors. To make your mantel merry and gorgeously bright, just spray-paint a faux leaf garland in light-reflecting shades of silver and gold. Glimmering metallic votives team up with an oversized mirror to magnify the sheen. Round out your transitional mantel with a couple evergreen boughs (easily scrounged from yard clippings!) for color, balance, and a nod to the season.

Pick a Pretty Palette

Need a color scheme for your mantel that’s impressively festive but not too Christmassy? You can’t go wrong with gold and green. String bold, shiny magnolia branches with green floral wire to create a lush garland, then layer in eye-catching accessories like gold birds, starbursts and towering paperwhites in metallic containers.

Take a Forest Stroll… Indoors!

Craving the lushness of evergreen foliage, but not quite ready to put up your Christmas tree? Put it on a plate! To get the look, print images of pinecones and evergreen boughs onto decal paper, then spray the print-outs with acrylic clear coat spray. After the paper dries, cut around the edges of each image and place decals in a shallow, water-filled dish. When decals begin to curl away from the paper backing (after 2 to 3 minutes), remove each decal from the water and slide the image off, placing it face up on a plate. Smooth the image onto the plate with a wet paper towel, removing any bubbles by gently pressing. Allow images to dry completely before displaying.

Display New and Old Photographs

Thanksgiving and Christmas are traditionally times of gathering for family and friends, so when better to display a collection of photographs that’s often hiding in an album or on the computer hard drive? Label the ever-changing groupings in this low-cost display — made with clothespins and twine — with metal scrapbooking label corners, and mount the photos onto pieces of cardstock using photo corners.

Dress Up Inexpensive Ornaments

Paint and glitter can be fantastic helpers to create miniature focal points around your house. For example, classic gray paint and a dusting of glitter add contrast and sparkle to ordinary decorations. Wrap a tiny box in neutral paper and add pinecones and greenery for color.

Maintain Your Existing Decor

Ensure your decorating feels at home from holiday to holiday by enhancing everyday spots with cheery details. For example, here a bit of greenery on the table and hung as a wreath offer a subtle nod to the time of year. A chain of jingle bells adds sound effect to the decor.

Gather Ornaments in a Bowl

It’s never too early to unpack a pretty collection of ornaments, especially when you have a handsome way of displaying them. Take this silver bowl: It’s a lovely receptacle for ornaments. A few striped balls add just a pop of color.

Editor’s Tip: Try changing the color, finish, or shape for visual variety that blends seamlessly with your non-holiday decor.

Focus on Neutrals

Colors that are festive without being exclusive to one season are a great way to ensure your decorating accents remain transitional from month to month. For example, cheery silver and gold orbs add welcome textural contrast to end-of-season landscape items, such as pine cones, displayed under glass cloches.

Bring the Outdoors In

Transitional pieces that work year-round take center stage at holiday time when paired with in-season items. Evergreens offer a rich counterpoint to these glossy white containers, one accented with chalkboard paint. Berry picks covering the soil lend a welcome pop of color. When the holidays are over and the weather warms, plant the evergreens in your yard or in a larger container outside.

Use Greenery for Color

Strategically placed greenery adds warmth and welcome texture to nearly any spot in the home from Thanksgiving through Christmas. Draw the eye up by draping greenery over a cabinet, or keep the focus on a tablescape or sideboard with a similar garland.

New Ways to Display Holiday Greetings

Displaying holiday cards is a beloved tradition. Here, a collection is paired with an evergreen garland to decorate an inside doorway that leads from the living room to the kitchen. Add a few small holiday balls or ribbon for additional color.

Start the Welcome at Your Door

This fun holiday door decoration will welcome guests with the festive scent of evergreen and a friendly message. Fold over the top of a wide burlap ribbon and cut a slit through both layers to slide over a doorknob. Use adhesive letters to spell  a message, and use wire to attach bits of evergreen and pine cones.

Combine Greenery and Ornaments

Trays filled with ornaments make a great holiday centerpiece. For warmth, temper the shine with small sprigs of greenery and miniature pinecones tucked between the ornaments or even inside small vases. Keep the vibe casual with a smattering of larger pinecones placed around or underneath the container.

Enhance Your Staircase with Twigs

Tie bundles of bare tree and winter berry branches to the spindles on your staircase for an autumnal look. After Thanksgiving, tie pine boughs to the branches with pretty velvet ribbon, and wire Christmas ornaments around the velvet ribbon for extra color.

Focus on Flexibility

To get the most use from your indoor holiday decorating accents, choose materials and ideas that can transition from day to night or from quiet family evenings to larger festive gatherings. These mini trees, wrapped in plain kraft paper and adorned with a single felt star, work just as well on their own as they do when adding holiday cheer to a nighttime dessert party. Footed ceramic platters hold bite-size appetizers and sweets that can change with the occasion.

Source: Better Homes & Gardens

 

 

9 Updates Your Home Needs Every 10 Years

Approaching your 10th home-iversary? Congrats! It’s probably time for a little maintenance.

No matter how much you love and care for your home, things are bound to wear out and need fixing — especially when you hit the 10-year mark.

To keep your house in tiptop condition, consider making these updates every 10 years or so.

Get new carpet
The average medium-grade carpet has a life expectancy of approximately 10 years. Of course, that depends on several factors, including the number of people and pets.

Signs that you need to replace your carpet: rips, tears or stains, and odors that remain even after a good cleaning. And even without any of those, you carpet might just look old and worn out. An update wouldn’t hurt.

Replace hot water tank
A water heater may not show many symptoms before it leaks or fails, so it’s important to know its age. If the manufacture date isn’t shown, then it may be embedded in the serial number on the tank.

A good rule of thumb: Any tank that’s been around for 10 years or more is a candidate for replacement.

Update ceiling fans
A midrange ceiling fan should last about 10 years, if it’s running frequently. A common sign that it might be time for a new one: the lightbulbs seem to burn out more quickly than usual.

And since a ceiling fan is about style as well as function, you may just want a more modern model.

Buy a new dishwasher
Like your water heater, consider replacing your dishwasher if it’s 10 years old. You’ll likely get a more energy-efficient model that’ll pay for itself over time.

Signs that you should replace your dishwasher sooner rather than later are an unresponsive control board, poorly cleaned dishes and cracks in the tub.

Replace garbage disposal
You’ll know you need a new garbage disposal when it doesn’t work as well as it used to. This is because the blades dull over time.

The average garbage disposal should last about 10-12 years with regular use, so if yours is around that age, consider replacing it.

Replace washer and dryer
The average lifespan of both appliances is about eight years. So, if your set is 10+ years old and running without any issues, consider yourself fortunate! That said, think about replacing them before you have any real problems or leaks.

Repaint inside and outside
There’s no hard and fast rule about when to repaint your home. It depends on where you live, humidity and many other factors.

People often repaint certain areas, such as a heavily used living room, every three to five years. But if some areas of the home haven’t been repainted in 10 years or more, now’s definitely the time to do it.

Re-caulk showers, bathtubs and sinks
Few jobs offer as much bang for your buck as re-caulking. Whether you just haven’t gotten around to it yet or you’re moving into a 10-year-old home, go ahead and re-caulk the tub, shower and sinks. You can easily do this yourself, and it makes everything look so much brighter.

Re-glaze windows
Re-glazing old windows is easier and more cost-effective than replacing them. And generally speaking, re-glazing should be done about every 10 years or so.

But check your windows every year before the cold weather arrives to make sure you don’t have any leaks or cracks.

Source: zillow.com ~ By: SEE JANE DRILL

11 Reasons Why Your Home Isn’t Selling

When you first put your house on the market, you might be hopeful for a quick sale—especially if you’ve put a lot of money into improving the house over the years and if the neighborhood is one that has historically attracted a lot of buyers. While you shouldn’t panic if the house doesn’t sell the moment you list it, you should begin to worry if the months start flying by without any real offers. If this is the case, here are 11 reasons why your house may not be selling.

You overvalued your property. If your house is overpriced, it’s simply not going to sell. Compare your property to similar properties that recently sold within your area to get a better idea of its true value. An experienced real estate agent can give you an accurate value of your home. Additionally, don’t make the mistake of tacking on the cost of any renovations you made. You can’t just assume that the cost of a renovation translates to added value.

Your listing is poor. If the listing of your home includes a poorly written description without any images, a lot of buyers are going to skip over it. Make sure you and your REALTOR® put an effort into creating a listing that attracts the attention of buyers. Make sure to add high quality photographs of both the interior and exterior of your home. Don’t forget to highlight unique features as well.

You’re always present at showings. Let your agent handle your showings. Buyers don’t want to have the seller lurking over their shoulder during showings, especially during an open house. This puts unwanted pressure on the buyer, which will make them uncomfortable and likely chase them away.

You’re too attached. If you refuse to negotiate even a penny off your price, then there’s a good chance that you’ve become too attached to your home. If a part of you doesn’t want to sell it, or you think your house is the best house in the world, odds are you’re going to have a lot of difficulties coming to an agreement with a potential buyer.

You haven’t had your home professionally cleaned. A dirty house is going to leave a bad impression on buyers. Make sure you have a professional clean your carpeting and windows before you begin showing your house.

You haven’t staged your home. If you’ve already moved out, then don’t show an empty house. This makes it difficult for buyers to imagine living in it. Stage your house with furniture and decor to give buyers a better idea of how big every room is and how it can be used. You want the buyer to feel at home when they are taking the tour.

You kept up all of your personal décor. Buyers are going to feel uncomfortable touring your house if you keep all of your family portraits up. Take down your personal décor so that buyers can have an easier time imagining themselves living there.

Your home improvements are too personalized. You might think that the comic book mural you painted for your child’s room is absolutely incredible, but that doesn’t mean potential buyers will agree. If your home improvements are too personalized, it can scare off buyers who don’t want to pay for features they don’t want.

Your home is too cluttered. Even if your home is clean, clutter can still be an issue. For example, maybe you simply have too much furniture in one of your rooms. This can make the house feel smaller than it is.

Your home is in need of too many repairs. The more repairs that are needed, the less likely a buyer will want your house. Many buyers simply don’t want to deal with the cost or effort of doing repair work, even if it’s just a bunch of small repairs, such as tightening a handrail or replacing a broken tile.

You chose the wrong real agent. In my opinion, choosing the right real estate is simply the most important decision you make in selling your home.  A good REALTOR® makes all the difference in selling your home within a reasonable time.

All these things can be fixed once you realize your mistake; however, the longer your property stays on the market, the less likely it will sell at listing price. One of the best ways to avoid making these common mistakes is by working with a professional real estate agent.

Source: blog.rismedia.com  ~  By Charles Muotoh

Do You Really Need to Rake? 8 Steps for Autumn Yard Cleanup

Your fall chore list might be lighter than you think. Check out these 8 steps for autumn yard cleanup.

Bad news: It’s time to get your act together and clean up your garden before winter makes the task more difficult. But the good news is, fall garden chores don’t have to be a pain. You might find you enjoy picking up branches or raking leaves in the brisk autumn air.

Whether you love or hate fall chores, here is a checklist of tasks and ways to make them easier.

Make a compost bin

Composting sounds like a lot of hard work, but it’s actually a perfect solution for lazy gardeners. Have a bunch of weeds, grass clippings and branches to get rid of? Don’t bother bagging it up and hauling it to the curb — just throw it in a pile and mix it up every month or so. Then surround the pile with landscape timbers or chicken wire to keep everything from blowing all over the place.

While you can make composting as complicated as you want, it doesn’t have to be.

Rake leaves — or don’t

That’s right, raking the leaves isn’t always necessary. But before you proudly share this news with your significant other to try getting out of your chores, here’s the full story.

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Leaves in the front lawn are not desirable, especially when they blow into neighboring lawns. Leaves in the garden, on the other hand, are totally desirable, and act as free mulch to protect roots and conserve moisture.

Another caveat: The soil around rose bushes and other plants that are sensitive to diseases like powdery mildew should be kept clean to prevent infection.

Collect fallen debris

We’ve all had a so-called ‘trash tree’ at some point. You know, the Bradford pear that drops branches at the drop of a hat — or the Osage orange that bombs unsuspecting passersby with rock-hard fruits.

If you’re one of the unfortunate souls with a messy tree, now is the time to collect all that debris for the year. Collect sticks and twigs, too, but once you’ve gathered them, leave them in the garden to serve as perches and homes for wildlife.

Mow the lawn

Cut the grass one last time, and mow it short to prevent diseases from spreading. Collect the grass clippings and add them to your compost pile.

Now is also a good time to complete your edging and string-trimming chores.

When you’re done mowing, winterize your mower and other outdoor power tools by draining the gasoline so it doesn’t become stale and gunk up your equipment for next year.shutterstock_203668357

Prune damaged branches

Fall is about using the anvil pruners rather than the hedge trimmers. Prune out any branches that are diseased, damaged or dead so they won’t succumb to winds or the weight of snow and ice.

If any arm-width branches meet those criteria, use a saw. If any large limbs or trees look as if they’ll break when loaded with ice, call a tree surgeon.

Look at it this way: If there’s anything that you think might fall to the ground on its own accord over the winter, remove it now.

Pull weeds

The last thing you want is a bunch of weeds spreading their seeds and taking over your garden in spring. Pull weeds on a pleasant day when it’s above freezing and the soil is a little moist so the weeds will come up more easily.

Since weeds have a tendency to shed their progeny all over the place, throw them on the compost pile or put them in trash bags.

Collect dead leaves

When cleaning and picking up indoors, you’d ideally leave things spotless. This is not the case in the garden, however, since seedpods, flowerheads and fruits add winter interest and provide food and shelter for wildlife.

Still, any dead leaves or other less-useful debris can be collected and composted.

Mulch beds

Mulching isn’t necessarily a cleanup task, but it is necessary nonetheless because it protects the plants’ roots over the winter and conserves moisture.

All of those raked leaves you saved will make an excellent mulch for your flowerbeds, or you can purchase the bagged stuff. Use a 1-  to 2-inch-deep layer of mulch, and resist the temptation to use landscaping fabric. Doing so might prevent weeds, but it will also prevent the soil around your plants from accessing rainfall or beneficial organisms.

Source: zillow.com ~ By: STEVE ASBELL

Reduce Your Homeownership Expenses With These Tips

Homes cost money.

Not just the mortgage and the taxes, or even the down payment, but all the myriad things—from the heating to the gutters—that sap your savings.

Aside from careful money management, how can you reduce your daily home expenses?

Think big

Your biggest regular expense is likely your mortgage. You may be able to shrink it, with and without the bank’s help.

  • Refinance to take advantage of low interest rates
  • Cut the time left on your mortgage. Consider taking on a 15-year option. You’ll save on interest over the long term.
  • Pay half of your monthly mortgage every two weeks. Doing so will also help you save on interest.
  • Reduce your private mortgage insurance. If you made only a small down payment, you may be able to drop some (or all) of the insurance after you pay down your mortgage to about 80%  of the principal, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Save on utilities

Your parents might have nagged you to turn off the lights when you weren’t using them. Now that you’re paying the bills, you get it. You don’t have to replace every appliance in your home to cut the bill, though—a few simple steps can help.

  • Keep the thermostat level, and make sure it works properly. If your house feels cold but you’ve jacked up the thermostat, you’ll want to figure out why quickly.
  • Set the thermostat no higher than 68 degrees in winter and no lower than 78 in summer.
  • Consider high-tech solutions. Some thermostats can be programmed to lower during times when no one is home. Set your lights on timers.
  • Close blinds in summer, and weatherproof windows in winter.
  • Monitor your fridge—keep your freezer full and clean the appliance’s coils regularly.
  • Run loads back-to-back in your clothes dryer so that the dryer will remain warm from the previous cycle.

Save on water

  • Bathroom: Fix any leaking toilets or faucets and install flow-restricting showerheads.
  • Kitchen: Run full loads in your dishwasher and let the dishes air-dry.
  • Laundry: Wash full loads as they use less water than multiple small loads.

Elsewhere, lower the temperature of your water heater to 120 degrees. While most are factory-set to 140 degrees, you could lower the setting on yours and save up to 5% on your electricity bill.

Learn to DIY

Many large hardware stores, including chains such as Home Depot and Lowe’s, offer free home improvement courses such as repairing drywall or updating a dimmer switch—projects that would typically cost $50 an hour if done by a pro.

Some other projects you could learn to do yourself:

  • Curtains: They’re simple to sew if their design involves straight lines.
  • Cabinets: If you aren’t looking to replace your cabinets but want a simple update, try refinishing or repainting them yourself.
  • Gutters: If your gutters are easy to reach, it takes only a small amount of time to clear them of debris. Do this regularly, and you could spare yourself a significant headache down the road.

When times become flush for you, you could hire professionals to tackle these chores. But if your priority is keeping costs down, investing a little time now can pay off in the long run.

Source: Realtor.com ~ By: Anne Miller

Ready For Staging: 4 Repairs You Need Before Selling Your Home

Selling your home is a complex process that may take weeks to complete. This is partially because your house may need to be updated or renovated before it can go on the market. What are some of the most crucial fixes that you should make before listing your property?

Update the Exterior

The first thing that you will want to do is make sure that the home’s exterior is in good condition. This may involve landscaping work such as removing trees or shrubs that are dead or dying. It may also involve inspecting the roof, siding or other exterior components that may need to be repaired or updated to make the house easier to sell. At the very least, a fresh coat of paint should be applied before putting the house on the open market.

Check the Air Conditioning

If you have a central air conditioning unit in your home, make sure that it works properly. This means that it should start easily and produce an even amount of cool air throughout the house.

Ideally, you will have it inspected once a year by someone like Doctor Fix-It. However, inspecting it and making repairs prior to selling your home should be considered mandatory. It may also be a good idea to check the furnace and clean the ducts before you show the home to buyers.

Make Sure the Floors Are Adequate

Whether your home has wood floors or carpet, make sure that they are in good condition. If necessary, wax and clean the wood or put down new carpet in areas where it may be frayed or dirty. If you are going to replace your carpet, make sure that it is the same color and style throughout a given space.

Check the Plumbing and Electrical Systems

Buyers aren’t going to want to put an offer on a home that has poor water pressure. They are also unlikely to want to make an offer on a home that has dangerous electrical wiring. If the fixes to either system are relatively minor, you can do them yourself. However, it may also be a good idea to call a professional to make sure that the job is done safely.

Selling your home can be a great way to help you downsize or lock in profits. However, if the process is not done right, it could reduce the sale price of the home or result in the home staying on the market longer than you anticipated that it would.

Source: realtytimes.comBY MEGHAN BELNAP

8 Ways to Increase Your Home Value on a Budget

Increasing the value of your home when selling can be a difficult task, but a few home improvement ideas can help you stage for success while keeping within your budget.

1. Install a programmable thermostat.
Heating your home accounts for more than 40% of its total energy usage, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Programmable thermostats allow you to customize a temperature profile throughout the day. Reducing the temperature inside your home by a degree or two while you sleep can lead to huge savings on a monthly basis. And with energy costs on the rise, many buyers will appreciate your forward thinking in assisting them with long-term savings.
2. Update your fixtures
Updating tired, worn fixtures will breathe new life into any space. Give your bathroom and kitchen a critical look — could the drawer pulls and cabinet handles use an update? If new kitchen cabinets are outside your budget, new hardware is a simple way to update the room’s entire look and feel. What about the faucets? A sleek new kitchen faucet with a sprayer combines practicality with design and will be appreciated by buyers. Anticipating and tackling these smaller projects will have a big selling impact. And — bonus! — you can enjoy them in the meantime.
 

3. Replace the toilet.

Replacing an old, cracked, or outdated toilet can make a significant impact on your bathroom aesthetics. Purchase a stylish new one for a few hundred dollars or take the environmentally friendly route and opt for an almost-new secondhand toilet (just be sure to buy a new seat). Repurposed construction material outlets offer a variety of well-priced goods.

4. Re-glaze the bathtub.

You can see buyers hold their breath as they slowly pull back the shower curtain, hoping for a sparkly new tub. Exceed their expectations for just a few hundred dollars by re-glazing your existing bathtub. The bathtub will be ready to use just a few days after applying the glaze. Roll up your sleeves for a DIY weekend or call in the professionals; either way, you’ll come in under budget.

5. Install a tile floor.

A shiny new tile floor can breathe life into the darkest bathrooms. Tiles are easy to clean, resist microbes and allergens, and wear well in high-traffic areas, making them a perfect material for the bathroom. Flooring liquidators typically sell a variety of quality tile, so start there. If your bathroom is small, you can probably even splurge on some designer options! Then save the rest of your budget for a professional installation.

6. Add new blinds or plantation shutters.

Is your home still sporting aluminum blinds or old-school vertical blinds? Consider replacing them: New window coverings can really modernize a room. If your windows are a standard width, you can buy basic wood blinds at a home improvement store (and most allow you to customize the length). If your window size is irregular, you’ll have to special-order them. To add a truly upscale look to a room, try plantation shutters — they can be a major selling point with the next people to own your home.

7. Replace the front door.

The front entry is the focal point of your home’s curb appeal. Give your home a face-lift and replace — or repaint — the front door. With security and safety in mind, choose a door that will appeal to a buyer’s practical side (and don’t forget to consider new hardware too). Another way to add interest and style to your home is by adding color to to your front door.

8. Add a walkway.

A new path leading to the front door can really elevate the look of your home. While brick pavers add a traditional and classic look to the exterior of your home, you can also choose stone, concrete, or even rocks — just make sure the look of the pathway matches your home’s style. Regardless of the material, a walkway is a welcoming feature, beckoning guests (and buyers!) inside to have a look around.

Source: trulia.com ~ By:  Robyn Woodman

7 Best Things About Buying A House In The Fall

The summertime real estate season is as hot as the weather, but you might want to postpone your purchase until fall.

For the first time in recent history, October surpassed June as the most popular month to get married. And these autumn-loving brides may be on to something: Although the spring months are notoriously the best time to buy real estate (as well as have a wedding), fall may be the new ideal season to buy a home.

Hear us out: One obvious reason is that it’s easier to get from open house to open house without questioning if you’ll need an AC repair ASAP upon moving into that home for sale in Phoenix, AZ. Also, families on a mission to move into a new home before school starts are out of the picture. Besides these two more obvious reasons, here are seven expert insights on why you should consider a fall real estate purchase.

1. There’s less competition

Competition for houses drops off in the fall, a time many people consider to be off-season in real estate. But there are still homes for sale — and in some cases, there’s just as much inventory as there was during the spring and summer. “[Fall] means new inventory and repositioned old inventory that did not sell in the prime season,” says Wesley Stanton, a New York, NY, agent with The Stanton Hoch Team.

This puts you in a great position to negotiate. “Fall homebuyers should consider [making] lowball offers, followed by more aggressive negotiation,” says Brian Davis, a real estate investor and director of education at Spark Rental. Davis points out that many sellers are very motivated to sell before the holidays. If possible, buyers should let these sellers know that they can close before Thanksgiving or before the school winter break.

2. Sellers are worn-out

Some sellers who put their homes on the market during the prime selling times of spring and summer might have been a tad overconfident by listing their homes for more than buyers were willing to spend. After months of no action, these sellers are often ready to make a deal. “Sellers who were unrealistic earlier in the year about price will now be more willing to reduce the price come fall,” says Thomas Miller, a Washington, DC, real estate agent. “Because there [are fewer buyers] and because the sellers are now eager to sell, they are more inclined to take the low offer than wait another six months for spring to come around.”

3. Sellers are serious

Not all homes on the market in fall are summer leftovers. Some people need to sell in the fall because the timing is right. Maybe they were having a home built, and it’s now ready. Maybe they need to move because of a job. “The sellers with houses on the market in the fall tend to be serious,” says Sam Heskel, president of Nadlan Valuation, an appraisal management company in Brooklyn, NY. “That means sellers could be more open to negotiating and accepting a lower offer.”

4. You can take advantage of tax breaks

First-time homebuyers, take note: Although you can’t escape paying income tax, you can make a dent in what you owe when you become a homeowner. “Property tax and mortgage interest are both deductions you can take for your whole year’s worth of income, even if you closed on your home in December,” says David Hryck, a New York, NY tax adviser, lawyer, and personal finance expert. “Any payments that are made prior to the closing of the loan are tax-deductible. This can make a serious difference in the amount you owe the government at the end of the year.”

5. Fall is a safer time of year

Did you know that burglars have peak seasons? They do, says Sarah Brown, a home safety expert for SafeWise.com. “July and August are prime months for burglaries to take place,” she says. “Waiting until the fall [to buy] gives you an advantage when learning about a home and the neighborhood.” You’ll be settled in your home and can take precautions — like setting up that new alarm system — before the next burglary season rolls around. Note: Check Trulia’s local maps with the crime filter before you buy.

6. You’re the center of attention

Because spring and summer are ideal times to buy a home, real estate agents are usually busier then. And that could mean you might not always get the attention you want. This is also true for other professionals you’re working with to buy a house. “Service providers, such as mortgage lenders and title companies, are moving out of the summertime sales swamp and can often respond more quickly,” says John Lazenby, president of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association in Orlando, FL.

The same goes for movers. “Because summer is peak moving season, people often experience more delays and service issues, such as moving companies reaching capacity and running out of trucks to pick up shipments,” says Jack Griffin, president and chief operating officer of Atlas World Group. “The probability of experiencing a delay goes way down in the fall season.”

7. You can take advantage of end-of-year sales to outfit your home

There are bound to be improvements you’ll want to make after buying a house. You’ll also probably need to buy items to maintain your home, and if appliances weren’t part of the deal, you’ll need those too. Wouldn’t it be great to coordinate your home purchase with sales on items you’ll need? According to Consumer Reports, the calendar determines when it’s a good time to buy all sorts of consumer goods. In particular, September is a great time for buying carpet and paint. October means lawn mowers go on sale, and appliances and cookware are cheaper in November.

Source: trulia.comBy Laura Agadoni

Solutions To Saving Money On Your Next Move

Buying a house and moving in is gonna cost you. There’s no way around it. Right? Well, actually, there may just be a way to make it not quite so painful. A willingness to negotiate and put in a little work plus a little inside info on special deals you can take advantage of can help you cut some costs. Here are eight ways to save money on your move and move in.

1. Don’t take it all with you

Furniture you’re no longer in love with or appliances like washers and dryers or the fridge you have in the garage can be a pain to move. You can potentially save money (and time and hassle) by including them in your home sale. First-time buyers or someone moving from out of state may appreciate your old stuff far more than you, and you don’t have to pay to haul it to your next place.

NOTE: You can also haul furniture and appliance out to the street and call a non-profit to come pick them up.

2. Leave the flat screen

If you have a mounted flat screen TV that’s at least a few years old, consider leaving it behind too. The cost of taking it down and repairing the wall behind it plus the care involved in moving it might not be worth it. Flat-screen technology is always improving while costs are coming down, so it’s a good excuse to buy something bigger and better without spending a lot.

3. Negotiate everything

If you’ve been looking for a house or have bought one before, you’re probably already aware of closing costs. But you might not be aware of how much you can negotiate with your lender.

“Shop around before choosing a mortgage lender, but don’t stop there,” said Bankrate. “When you receive your good faith estimate of closing costs, or GFE, the negotiation hasn’t ended.” This itemized list of estimated closing costs includes lender’s fees as well as items such as appraisal charges and title insurance premiums.

“The lender or broker charges some fees, and third parties charge others. The first step is to find out which are loan origination fees and which are third-party fees. Don’t guess. Ask the lender or broker.”

Bankrate advises that while “some items are non-negotiable: taxes, city and county stamps, recording fees, prorated interest and reserves,” negotiating on others that can “be waived or reduced” can save you money.”

4. Barter for services

Need a handyman and have appliances or furniture you’re getting rid of? You just might be able to make a deal. Ask around for referrals and then introduce a barter system into the equation during your first conversation. You might be surprised what you can get for what you’ve already got.

5. Move Smart

Once you’re out of college, or maybe out of your first post-college apartment, thinking about renting a U-Haul and moving yourself (or with a few good friends) seems less than desirable. But if you’re willing to sweat a little (ok, a lot) you can save a bundle. Just remember two important things to entice and thank your friends: Pizza. And beer.

If you don’t want to do the whole thing on your own, think of ways you can save by doing a hybrid move:

  • Do the packing and unpacking yourself
  • Have everything on one floor. Stairs can add considerably to the cost of a move.
  • Pare down. Maybe you don’t need to bring all that stuff with you. Selling it will earn you a few bucks and save you a few more.

6. Consider moving and storage hybrid options

A company like PODS or U-Pack might be a solution for you if you need self storage wrapped into your move. Essentially, the company drops off a mobile storage unit at your house and you pack it up yourself. They then pick it up and move it for you. You can tack on storage at the end if needed, making this a particularly good solution for those who have time between their move out and their move in. This type of move can cost up to 35 percent less than traditional movers, but keep in mind you will be doing the labor – just not the driving.

7. Take advantage of special offers

Move-in offers for cable, Internet, and phone service can save you a lot of money. But they often come with a catch that could cost you down the line. Look out for special limited-time offers – one-year or six-month specials that expire, leaving you with much higher rates after the introductory period.

8. Don’t rush the renos

Chances are, after you move in, you’re going to start receiving all kinds of junk mail asking if you want to refi, redo your lawn, and apply for 72 different credit cards. In what seems like an endless pile of junk mail will be some special offers for new homebuyers, but they might not arrive for a month or more. Look out for coupons from handymen, companies selling flooring and window coverings, home furnishing companies like Bed Bath and Beyond and World Market, and offers from landscapers with discounts for new clients. If you’re planning to shop, renovate, or do some work on your interior or exterior, taking advantage of a few of these offers can help shave down the cost.

Source: realtytimes.com ~ By: JAYMI NACIRI