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5 Reasons to Sell BEFORE Winter Hits

by Joanne Hiller

5 Reasons to Sell BEFORE Winter Hits | Keeping Current Matters

People across the country are beginning to think about what their life will look like next year. It happens every Fall. We ponder whether we should relocate to a different part of the country to find better year round weather or perhaps move across the state for better job opportunities. Homeowners in this situation must consider whether they should sell their house now or wait. If you are one of these potential sellers, here are five important reasons to do it now versus the dead of winter.

1. The Demand is Strong

Foot traffic refers to the number of people out actually physically looking at home right now. The latest foot traffic numbers show that there are more prospective purchasers currently looking at homes than at any other time in the last twelve months which includes the latest spring buyers’ market. These buyers are ready, willing and able to buy…and are in the market right now!

As we get later into the year, many people have other things (weather, holidays, etc.) that distract them from searching for a home. Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There is Less Competition Now

Housing supply is still under the historical number of 6 months’ supply. This means that, in many markets, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in that market. This is good news for home prices. However, additional inventory is about to come to market.

There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. Homeowners are now seeing a return to positive equity as real estate values have increased over the last two years. Many of these homes will be coming to the market in the near future.

Also, new construction of single-family homes is again beginning to increase. A recent study by Harris Poll revealed that 41% of buyers would prefer to buy a new home while only 21% prefer an existing home (38% had no preference).

The choices buyers have will continue to increase over the next few months. Don’t wait until all this other inventory of homes comes to market before you sell.

3. The Process will be Quicker

One of the biggest challenges of the 2014 housing market has been the length of time it takes from contract to closing. Banks are requiring more and more paperwork before approving a mortgage. Any delay in the process is always prolonged during the winter holiday season. Getting your house sold and closed before those delays begin will lend itself to a smoother transaction.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move-Up

If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by over 19% from now to 2018. If you are moving to a higher priced home, it will wind-up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait. You can also lock-in your 30 year housing expense with an interest rate in the low 4’s right now. Rates are projected to be over 5% by this time next year.

5. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take back control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps, the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

A Homeowner's Net Worth is 36x Greater than a Renter!

by Joanne Hiller

Homeowner's Net Worth is 36x Greater Than a Renter | Keeping Current Matters

Over the last six years, homeownership has lost some of its allure as a financial investment. As homeowners suffered through the housing bust, more and more began to question whether owning a home was truly a good way to build wealth.

The Federal Reserve conducts a Survey of Consumer Finances, every three years, and just released their latest edition this past week.

Some of the findings revealed in their report:

  • The average American family has a net worth of $81,200
  • Of that net worth, 61.4% ($49,856) of it is in home equity
  • A homeowner’s net worth is over 36 times greater than that of a renter
  • The average homeowner has a net worth of $194,500 while the average net worth of a renter is $5,400

Bottom Line

The Fed study found that homeownership is still a great way for a family to build wealth in America.

5 Questions you Should Ask your Real Estate Agent

by Joanne Hiller

5 Questions You Should Ask Your Real Estate Agent | Keeping Current MattersWhether you are buying or selling a home, the process can be challenging. That is why we always suggest that you take on the services of a real estate professional when embarking on a potential home move. However, not all real estate agents are the same. A family must make sure they hire someone who truly understands the current housing market and, not only that, knows how to connect the dots to explain how market conditions may impact your decision.

How can you make sure you have an agent who meets these requirements?

Here are just a few questions every real estate professional should be able to answer for their clients and customers:

  • Are home values approaching a new bubble or will prices continue to appreciate?
  • Is it better for a first time buyer or a move-up buyer to wait until they save a bigger down payment before they purchase a home?
  • Where will 30-year mortgage rates likely be in 12 months?
  • Why do I need an agent when I can just as easily find the house online myself?
  • Is buying a home still a good investment for my family?

Make sure you hire an agent that can answer questions like those above. That will guarantee the home buying or selling process will be much easier for you and your family.

Thinking of Buying a Vacation/Retirement Home? Why Wait?

by Joanne Hiller

The sales of vacation homes skyrocketed last year. A recent study also revealed that 25% of those surveyed said they’d likely buy a second home, such as a vacation or beach house, to use during retirement. For many Baby Boomers, the idea of finally purchasing that vacation home (that they may eventually use in retirement) makes more and more sense as the economy improves and the housing market recovers.

If your family is thinking about purchasing that second home, now may be the perfect time. Prices are still great. If you decide to lease the property until you’re ready to occupy it full time, the rental market in most areas is very strong. And you can still get a great mortgage interest rate.

But current mortgage rates won't last forever.

According to FreddieMac, the interest rate for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage at the beginning of April was 4.4%. However, FreddieMac predicts that mortgage rates will steadily climb over the next six quarters.

Let’s assume you want to purchase a home for $500,000 with a 20% down payment ($100,000). That would leave you with a $400,000 mortgage. What happens if you wait to buy this dream house?

Prices are projected to increase over the next year and a half. However, for this example, let’s assume prices remain the same. Your mortgage payment will still increase as mortgage rates climb to more historically normal levels.

This table shows how a principal and interest payment is impacted by a rise in interest rates:

Cost of Waiting $400K

5 Eco-friendly Flooring Options

by Joanne Hiller

Is your carpet harboring a million-strong population of dust mites? Are your vinyl tiles cracked and faded? Have your ceramic tiles broken into hundreds of tiny shards? It might be time for a new floor.

But before you replace your carpet with traditional hardwood, consider purchasing green flooring. Environmentally friendly cork, bamboo, and linoleum may cost a bit more than the box of laminate flooring at the big box store, but these green options are beneficial to both you and the environment. Some types of flooring put a strain on the earth's resources; certain carpets are made from petroleum oil, and certain hardwood floors are harvested from clear-cut forests. These flooring options could also harm your health. Newly-installed carpets and hardwood floors can emit formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds (VOCs); this effect, known as off-gassing, can pollute the air inside your home. By purchasing green floors, you can live in a healthy home on a healthy planet. Here are your green flooring options.

Hardwood
Hardwood is the perennial flooring choice.
Just ask any real estate agent - hardwood floors are a selling feature. Hardwood comes in a range of colors and finishes; no matter your decor, you'll find a flooring that suits your home. Hardwood floors are also a great option for anyone with allergies. Since dust mites can't live on hard surfaces, you'll breathe in fewer allergens.

But not all hardwoods are created equal. Off-gassing is a major concern; hardwood floor stains and sealants typically contain formaldehyde and VOCs. When buying a hardwood floor, look for products labeled low-VOC or no-VOC; make sure that the adhesive used to glue down the floor is also low-VOC. If you're having your floors stained, look for a product made from natural pigments. Also look for the Forest Stewardship Council certification. The FSC sets standards that protect the health of forests around the world; the certification guarantees that your hardwood floor was sustainably harvested without damaging healthy ecosystems.

Bamboo
Bamboo is a type of fast-growing grass;
a crop of bamboo can replenish itself in just three to five years. A forest, meanwhile, takes decades - even centuries - to replenish itself. Bamboo is clearly the green choice. It's also a smart design decision. Since bamboo plank flooring is harder than most hardwoods, it holds up well in high-traffic areas. It is also more resistant to moisture than traditional hardwood floors, making it the perfect fit for bathrooms and kitchens. Bamboo is also quickly becoming the affordable option; bamboo floors are much less expensive today than they were ten years ago.

But not all bamboo flooring is environmentally friendly. Some producers clear-cut forests and burn grasslands to make way for bamboo crops. Check with the flooring manufacturer to make sure their bamboo growers harvest their crops sustainably. Alternatively, look for the Forest Stewardship Council certification. You'll also want to make sure the bamboo flooring and adhesive don't contain formaldehyde; the air in your home should be as clean as the air in the bamboo field.

Cork
Most people are familiar with cork - it tops most wine bottles.
But this natural material also makes for a great floor. Cork holds up well in damp rooms. It is hypoallergenic and mildew-resistant. A cork floor dampens sounds and vibrations, making it the perfect flooring choice for apartments and townhouses. Suberin, a natural substance in cork, acts as a fire retardant and a bug repellent. It is a hard-working floor - and floors that work overtime are typically expensive. Cork is one of the priciest flooring materials. If you love the look of cork, contain it to the rooms in your home where you'll be on your feet for a while, like your kitchen, since standing on cork won't cause lower back pain.

Cork is sustainably harvested from the cork oak tree; a tree can withstand around 20 harvests during its lifetime. But for every upside, there is a downside - cork is a Mediterranean crop. Transporting cork flooring to countries around the world creates carbon emissions, slightly tarnishing cork's green credibility.

Concrete
Concrete is not just for factories anymore.
This flooring choice is synonymous with modern; lofts and contemporary houses feature concrete floors in keeping with the look of streamlined simplicity. But concrete flooring is not just for modern interiors. Professional installers can finish concrete in countless ways, mimicking stone, tile, and even linoleum. Concrete floors are incredibly durable. If sealed annually, they can last a lifetime, saving you the cost of repairing worn-out floors every ten years. Concrete floors are also easy to clean - you can literally hose them down. And since installing concrete floors doesn't require adhesives, the air in your home will be free of VOCs and other harmful chemicals.

Yet concrete does have its drawbacks. The hard surface is not kind to backs; home cooks who prepare dinner standing on a concrete floor will be prone to back pain. Consider installing it in bedrooms and dining rooms, places where you will be sitting or laying down. While concrete is kind to your home's air, it does have a large carbon footprint. Concrete's raw materials are mined, a process that releases carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Also, concrete is not readily recyclable - be ready to commit to your concrete floors for a long time. Lastly, when figuring out the price of concrete floors, you'll need to factor in the cost of installation. Since concrete is hard to install, DIYers shouldn't attempt the job themselves.

Linoleum
Linoleum is not just for grandmothers' kitchens anymore.
This natural material comes in a wide range of colors and styles; if you want a one-of-a-kind floor with intricate patterns, linoleum might be the floor for you. Linoleum is made from flax and natural resins. Since linoleum is a natural product, it won't emit dangerous chemicals. It's also biodegradable, eliminating the environmental impact of recycling it or throwing it away at the end of its life.

Linoleum is hypoallergenic and mildew-resistant. It can withstand high traffic and high humidity; the product hardens over time, meaning linoleum can easily endure the punishment a growing family inflicts on it.

You want to create a comfortable home for you and your family. But that comfortable home shouldn't come at the expense of your family's health or the health of the planet. Fortunately, environmentally friendly floors are beautiful and affordable. With so many green options for sale, you can find a floor that suits your home and your lifestyle. So trade in your dusty carpet and peeling vinyl tiles for a green floor that is comfortable under your feet.

Buying a Home is 38% Less Expensive than Renting!

by Joanne Hiller

In Trulia’s 2014 Rent vs. Buy Report, they explained that home ownership remains cheaper than renting throughout the 100 largest metro areas in the United States; ranging from an average of 5% in Honolulu, all the way to 66% in Detroit, and 38% Nationwide!

The other interesting findings in the report include:

Even though prices increased sharply in many markets over the past year, low mortgage rates have kept home ownership from becoming more expensive than renting.

Some markets might tip in favor of renting later this year as prices continue to rise faster than rents and if – as most economists expect – mortgage rates rise, due both to the strengthening economy and Fed tapering.

Nationally, rates would have to rise to 10.6% for renting to be cheaper than buying – and rates haven’t been that high since 1989.

Bottom Line

Buying a home makes sense. Rental costs have historically increased at a higher rate of inflation. Lock in a mortgage payment now before home prices and mortgage rates rise as experts expect they will.

Kitchen and Bath Trends for 2014

by Joanne Hiller

Designers have been installing eco-friendly cabinets and flooring in kitchens and bathrooms for years, but green design is fast becoming the most popular design trend of 2014. Energy-inefficient incandescent light bulbs are being phased out in favor of LED bulbs; dishwashers, refrigerators, sinks, and vanities are all incorporating these high-impact, low-wattage bulbs. And designers are making space in kitchens for integrated trash and recycling storage.

Lower Water Bills
But the biggest trend in kitchen and bath design is water conservation. Touchless faucets conserve gallons of water. So do most dishwashers on the market today, since most consume less water than hand washing a load of dirty plates. In the bathroom, whirlpool tubs have fallen out of favor with many homeowners; instead, designers are specifying large, walk-in showers in the master bathroom, equipped with water-saving shower heads.

A Standout Fridge or a Hidden One
When it comes to kitchen appliances, stainless steel is still the finish of choice, followed by economical white. But some designers are taking a more daring approach by specifying colored appliances in all shades of the rainbow. Integrated appliances are also popular design choices in 2014; designers are hiding refrigerators and dishwashers behind cabinetry to give open-concept spaces a more welcoming feel.

Safety First
The population is aging, and kitchens and bathrooms are being redesigned to accommodate the needs of the elderly. Wide, zero-threshold doorways are easier for wheelchairs and walkers to glide over, while pull-down shelves and cabinetry make reaching for high objects easier for those with mobility issues. Showers are also getting a makeover, with grab bars and hand-held shower devices. As an added benefit, these universal design upgrades make homes safer for both older and younger generations alike: young children unsteady on their feet will also benefit from a trip hazard-free home.

Kitchen Must-Haves
Every kitchen cabinet should have soft-close hinge hardware, since this is now the industry standard. And quartz countertops have trumped granite as the industry favorite; quartz countertops have fewer seams and are nonporous, so homeowners can forego the sealing process. Homeowners who spend their budget on these upgrades will see a return on their investment when it comes time to sell.

Where are Home Prices Headed over the Next 5 Years?

by Joanne Hiller

Today, many real estate conversations center on housing prices and where they may be headed. That is why we like the Home Price Expectation Survey. Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists about where prices are headed over the next five years. They then average the projections of all 100+ experts into a single number.

The results of their latest survey

The latest survey was released last week. Here are the results:

  • Home values will appreciate by 4.5% in 2014.
  • The average annual appreciation will be 3.94% over the next 5 years
  • The cumulative appreciation will be 19.7% by 2018.
  • Even the experts making up the most bearish quartile of the survey still are projecting a cumulative appreciation of almost 11% by 2018.

Individual opinions make headlines. I believe the survey is a fairer depiction of future values.

Negotiating Tips for Home Buyers

by Joanne Hiller

The real estate market experiences fluctuations just like any other industry. Currently, it is a buyer’s market, which means buyers have the upper hand when it comes to buying a home. Since there are more homes on the market waiting to be sold than there are buyers who are willing or able to purchase them, a lot of negotiating can happen and most of it is going to be in the buyer’s favor. Homebuyers will find the following negotiating tips helpful.

Leave the sellers guessing.
If you want to negotiate, never let the sellers know just how much you want to buy their home. Once the sellers find out that you have a strong desire to buy the home, they don’t need to entice you with a free homeowner’s warranty, free appliances, or a discount on the asking price.

When negotiating, name specific aspects in disrepair.
It is important to name the facets of the home that are in a state of disrepair. The current homeowners are probably already aware of these problems, but now that they know you are also aware of them, you have a bit more negotiating power on your side. Ask the current homeowners to repair existing problems or to lower the asking price accordingly. You might not get what you ask for in full, but chances are good that you will get some of it—and that’s what negotiating is all about.

Get pre-approved for your loan.
If you have documentation that you are pre-approved for a mortgage, you stand a better chance of getting your dream home. The sellers can see that you are able to get a mortgage to buy their home. This places you higher on the list of potential homebuyers, especially if no one else has pre-approval papers to offer.

Let the sellers know that you’re looking at other homes.
If the current homeowners aren’t rigid about their selling price, informing them that you are interested in another home should provide you with some additional negotiating power. In fact, provide details about the other home to validate your claim. This gives the sellers a chance to come down in their asking price or sweeten the deal with a homeowner’s warranty, inspection fees, or appliances that can remain with the home.

Entertain the notion of counter offers.
While receiving a counter offer might not be the most appealing experience, entertain the thought of countering the sellers counter offer. If you do, it lets the sellers know that you are still interested in the home and are willing to keep negotiating. Once the ball is back in their court, they can decide if they are willing to lower their price enough for you to buy.

Displaying blog entries 1-9 of 9

Contact Information

Joanne Hiller
Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate
110 Island Way
Clearwater FL 33767
(727)460-5721
Fax: (727)446-2691