Plant Now For Spring Beauty

Plant Now For Spring BeautyWhile the weather is still pleasant this fall, it can be a good idea to plan ahead for early spring blooms. Trim shrubbery, plant bulbs, install new edging or add whimsical garden accessories to assure that when spring rolls around you’ll have something attractive to look at. Getting creative now will boost your spirits when winter seems to last longer than it should!

Whether you want to beautify for your own enjoyment or spruce up your yard with the intention of listing a home for sale come spring, get a headstart on your goals by taking time now to plan for spring.

Plant Early Spring Flowering Bulbs

If you want a profusion of color in your early spring garden, now is the time to plan for it. Most flowering bulbs require ample in-ground time in order to thrive, so it’s always wise to check with a local nursery before purchasing specific varieties of bulbs. Gardening success depends on adapting to local conditions.

Seek out a qualified expert if you have little experience, and then plan to experiment until your garden grows just the way you want it to. In most areas, the first flowers to bloom include crocus and daffodils, as well as some varieties of tulips.

Plan Your Planting Beds

Depending on your locale, fall can also be a good time to plant new trees and and perennial shrubs. Again, it pays to ask questions and to plan ahead. Even if it’s not the optimal planting season, direct your efforts towards defining planting beds, soil preparation, and various hardscape elements. 

Cooler weather brings with it the chance to do some of the “heavy lifting” of landscape design: install brick or stone walkways, dry riverbeds, low stone walls, or decks and patios. By completing these tasks now, when spring arrives you’ll be able to concentrate on the fun parts of landscaping.

Plant an Edible Garden

Growing edible plants is a new trend: Not only are they generally easy to maintain, but the “fruits of your labor” are just as good to eat as they are to look at. A simple 4×4 raised bed garden can supply a wonderful variety of produce throughout the growing season and you’d be surprised as how they help create unique landscape appeal.

Some of the best crops for fall planting include cabbage, kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts and carrots. Even if you don’t eat them, they add a unique dimension to the landscape. Use showy cabbage along a garden path, and plant some carrots among heavier shrubs to create a lighter border.

Just remember that all growing things need a bit of tending to look their best. So be willing to spend a bit of time regularly in the garden — your plants will benefit from the attention, and you’re sure to enjoy it as well!

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

Buying A Home? Take Stock Of These Things

Buying A Home? Take Stock Of These ThingsWhat are some of the most important factors that buyers take into consideration when looking for a new home? There are the obvious things like price, square footage, location and lot size. Those are the basics. Other things that are often weighed are garage size, how updated the kitchen and baths are and whether or not the basement is finished.

All of these are very important to consider, but there are other more “hidden” aspects of a home that many prospective buyers may not take into account. And it’s these aspects that could really come to bite them where it hurts if they’re not also assessed throughout the process.

Here’s a closer look:

Roof/Siding

Roofs tend to last about 20 years these days before replacement is necessary. The home inspector you hire to assess the home will be able to tell you the condition of the roof and whether replacement is imminent – and that’s information that you need to know. New roofs are expensive, and can range anywhere from $5,000 to $12,000 on a standard single-family home. Siding is another thing to assess. Though siding can last anywhere from 20 to 40 years, it may cost nearly as much as a roof to replace.

HVAC Unit

What’s the age of the furnace and air conditioner? Has the seller properly maintained each via filter changes and other standard service? A home inspector will be able assess the status of the HVAC unit to a certain extent, but it’s important to know whether or not replacement is imminent or more of a long-term issue. With furnaces averaging about $2,500 and air conditioners anywhere from $3,700 to $7,000, these are costs that must be considered.

Hot Water Tank

Hot water tanks typically only last anywhere from eight to 12 years, and replacement costs for a new hot water tank are about $1,000 while a tankless unit could be significantly more expensive. Make sure you know how old the hot water tank is in the home and what type of maintenance has been performed on it since it was installed. Annual flushing helps remove debris and contaminants that infiltrate the tank.

Windows

What’s the age and overall condition of the windows in the home? Being that a standard vinyl window costs about $600 and a wood window may cost upwards of $1,000, a whole-house window replacement job is a pretty penny.

The bottom line is that no home is going to be 100 percent perfect in every single aspect – and that’s why it’s important to look at the big picture during the home buying process. Failure to take into account the aforementioned may potentially result in thousands of dollars of other expenses beyond your mortgage payment.

Looking to buy a new home? Be sure to contact your trusted mortgage professional for pre-approval and financing options.

Millennial Home Buyers: What You Need To Know

Millennial Home Buyers What You Need To KnowIn the past, you’ve likely read about how the Millennial generation is opting to rent rather than buy property. While this still holds true for many Millennials, the fact is that a growing number of this generation is making the leap into buying.

In fact, according to Inc., Millennials today represent the largest demographic of new home buyers, responsible for about 35 percent of all real estate purchases. (For comparison’s sake, Gen X’ers are responsible for about 25 percent of the buyer’s market.)

What’s more is the Millennial home buyers have been trending upwards for about four years now, and this trend is expected to continue beyond 2018. Noting this, it makes sense to get to know the Millennial generation and what they’re looking for in a home.

Here’s a closer look:

Straight To The ‘Forever Home’

Hampered by the Great Recession, it’s no secret that Millennials opted to rent, rather than buy, at the tail end of the 2000s. But now Millennials are ready to buy, and they’re not necessarily going for the starter home. No, they’re going right for the forever home.

This is largely because they’re now spending the money that they accrued from saving in rent or from living with their parents for all these years. Many have also moved beyond entry-level positions.

The Connected Home

It’s estimated that more than 13 million Americans currently work from home, a trend that emerged with the Millennial generation and is likely to continue. Noting this, Millennials tend to like the concept of the “smart home.” That is, they desire fast Internet service, smart thermostats and appliances, and energy-efficient features. Young professionals increasingly are working out of the home, so they want their homes to work better for them.

Low Maintenance

What else do Millennials look for in a home? Low maintenance is key. Young professionals are typically very busy starting out their careers, so much so that they don’t necessarily have time to take on a fixer upper. That said, they want a house that is close to move-in ready, has newer appliances, and updated kitchens and bathrooms.

Online Appeal

It’s estimated that up to 95 percent of Millennials rely on the Internet to view listings during the home buying process. Further data states that about 65 percent of buyers walked through a home after viewing it online, and more than 75 percent at least drove by a home after seeing the online listing.

Bottom line: If you’re selling your home these days, make sure that it shows well online. Take pictures with a quality camera and make sure you’re doing it in the right lighting for the best results.

Whether you are in the market to buy a new home or refinance your existing property, be sure to contact your trusted mortgage professional for a pre-approval and financing options.

New Home Construction Boom Expected

New Home Construction Boom ExpectedThe housing market has been trending in a positive direction and economic indicators point to new home construction going vertical.

Following the housing bubble and sluggish post-recession economy, construction companies largely turned their attention away from new homes. Diminished values, high regulatory and materials costs served as deterrents to home-building.

But the economic revival the country is experiencing – coupled with a housing shortage – has builders poised to jump back into the single-family home game. Here are three reasons new home construction is expected to boom.

1: First-Time Buyer Lifestyles

Consider that the last big new construction boom occurred 12-16 years ago. Those so-called “new” homes are well lived in these days. The trickle of actual new homes since cannot come even close to meeting the demands of Millennials entering the housing market. This demographic also tends to look for vastly different things than the traditional buyers before them.

Millennials grew up immersed in technology. Smart-home and Green features rank high on their check list. Items such as solar panels, automation and being able to manage a living space from a phone app simply were not part of the previous housing boom equation. Simply put, young first-time buyers want a type of home that fits their life experience.

2: New Home Economics

The inventory shortage has driven many people to rent. Many would rather invest that monthly housing cost into equity and gain tax write-off benefits. Also, a high number of military service members are returning to civilian life as the War on Terror winds down. That means you have a growing number of people with the ability to secure friendly VA mortgages that require no down payment.

Stateside, tech and career schools are turning out graduates that are entering good paying jobs. This all adds up to a large number of first-time homebuyers with the economic temerity to reach above traditional starter homes.

3: Rising Mortgage Rates Matter

Some economists forecast economic shrinkage when the Fed raises rates. The president recently voiced his displeasure over the move.

But the rate increase remains a natural phenomenon in an economy enjoying historic positive measures. Record-low unemployment and a GDP that posted 4.1 percent growth are touchstones that everyday Americans are doing better and can afford a little more.

While naysayers may claim the modest interest rate increase will result in economic contraction, it could have exactly the opposite effect in the new construction market.

Consider that home-builders who shifted to other niche markets see a window for improved revenues given the tight home inventory. The uptick in rates means that people will likely be prompted to buy sooner, rather than wait for the next hike. That could be another reason a new construction perfect storm is brewing.

The winds appear to be blowing in the right direction for construction companies to jump back into the new home game. These homes are likely to sell quickly, and builders could see tremendous pre-sale interest. If you are interested in buying a newly built home or one still on the drawing board, contact your trusted mortgage professional for a pre-approval and financing options.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 27th, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 27th, 2018Last week’s economic readings included reports on sales of new and previously-owned homes, and weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims.

Sales of New and Pre-owned Homes Falter in July

Home sales were lower in July, with new and pre-owned home sales falling short of projections and June sales. According to the Commerce Department, new homes sold at an annual rate of 627,000 sales as compared to 640,000 new home sales projected and a pace of 638,000 homes sold in June.

Downward revisions for previous months contributed to a lower sales pace reported in July; but the average price of a new home was $3278,700 in July, which may indicate that home prices are tapping out. July prices dropped 1.70 percent from June but were 12.80 percent higher year-over-year.

Sales of previously-owned homes were also lower in July with an annual pace of 5.34 million homes sold as compared to the expected reading of 5.40 million sales and June’s reading of 5.38 million sales. July’s reading was the lowest in two and a half years and indicated that low inventories of available homes coupled with high home prices has sidelined would-be buyers who can’t find or afford homes they want to buy.

The National Association of Realtors ® reported that Inventories of homes were 0.70 percent lower in July after rising in June. Sales of pre-owned homes were 0.50 percent lower in July and were unchanged year-over-year.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Lower

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week; the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell two basis points to 4.51 percent. Mortgage rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.98 percent and three basis points lower than the prior week.

Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 3.82 percent and were five basis points lower. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims fell to 210,000 claims filed as compared to an expected reading of 215,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 212,000 first-time jobless claims.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings from Case-Shiller’s Home Price Index, pending home sales and inflation. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

4 Things To Know About Homestead Exemptions

4 Things To Know About Homestead ExemptionsHomeowners are well aware that peripheral costs swell over time and can put a strain on incomes. Utility bills increase, home insurance creeps up annually and taxes rise with the cost of schools and road repair.

That’s why many communities have enacted homestead exemptions that can help stabilize and even lower tax bills in some cases. Although these exemptions are not well publicized, knowing how they work and how to apply could save you a good deal of money.

Understanding The Homestead Exemption

A homestead exemption helps homeowners lower and/or fix the amount you pay in local taxes. Qualifying property owners can have a portion of the assessment excluded from taxation. That allows your tax bill to be calculated at a lower rate than non-exempt properties. In some communities, full-time residents can set their annual tax bill at time of purchase or when they are granted the exemption. This has been a national trend to help our valued elders on fixed incomes such as Social Security.

Protection From Civil Lawsuits

Many states have homestead exemptions in place that protect residents from displacement. For example, if a resident has a civil judgment leveled against them, a homeowner may claim the homestead exemptions as a reason their property cannot be seized to offset the debt. In most cases, the exemption is dependent upon the amount of equity a person has accumulated. In some places, homestead exemptions set aside properties from the probate process in the event of a death. Simply put, homestead exemptions can act as a financial safeguard.

Homestead Exemption Eligibility

The exemption is generally a benefit only for the mortgage holder of a primary residence. The majority of states limit this benefit to full, free-standing homes. Some allow condominium and mobile home owners to also claim the exemption. Non-traditional homes may be limited to certain groups, including, disabled people, our valued elders or those who served in the military. The total exemption may also vary depending upon the type of property and class of citizen. Again, states recognize the need for economic stability for people on fixed incomes.

How To Claim An Exemption

Homestead exemption applications vary from state to state. In Illinois, for example, a reported fixed deduction is automatically given to all homeowners who reside in the state full time. Other states require residents to reapply each year. The process may include providing proof of ownership, full-time residency and exemption group status. The reapplication process can be tedious and serves as a deterrent against fraud. Most states require one-time application approval with simple updates, generally during assessment years.

Although homestead exemptions are generally not well known, check your local and state website for information. If you are planning on buying a home, consider homestead exemptions as a long-term cost-saving benefit. 

Whether you have questions about your homestead exemption or want to learn about other ways to save on your mortgage, your trusted mortgage professional is ready and available to help.