Brighten up Your House With These Autumn-inspired Home Decor Ideas

Brighten up Your House With These Autumn-inspired Home Décor IdeasThe kids are heading back to school, the leaves are starting to turn and the weather is getting cooler. Yes, autumn has arrived, but the end of summer does not mean that your home décor has to suffer. Let’s take a look at a few ways that you can brighten up your home and give it that warm, autumn feeling.

Start With Oranges, Yellows And Light Browns

A quick walk through your local neighborhood will offer a good sense of the color palette that you should be using in your décor makeover. In much of the country, trees will be turning a variety of yellows, oranges, and golds as the leaves change and begin to fall. These colors make for a warm palette and are ideal for use in the living room, dining room and other areas where you might host guests.

Of course, you do not need to run out and change the wallpaper. Simply look to add color touches in areas that it makes sense. For example, you can get a couple of new sets of towels for the bathroom that match up with the colors you picked. In the dining room, look to replace your tablecloth and placemats with an autumn theme.

Add Leaves And Natural Décor Items

Autumn is one of the more “natural” feeling seasons and this should be incorporated into your décor. Look to add leaves, acorns, pine cones and other natural elements that make sense for the area of the country that you live in.

Note that you don’t need to head out and gather up these items for your home. A quick trip to the local craft shop and you will be able to find everything that you need.

Pumpkin Spice Candles For An Autumn Scent

Finally, no décor makeover is complete without adding a little seasonal fragrance. Nothing smells more like autumn than a subtle pumpkin spice. Scented candles are an excellent way to add a scent to a room without being overpowering. They are also an excellent centerpiece for tables and can be used for mood lighting as well.

These are just a few of the many ways that you can add a sense of autumn warmth to your home. And if your home just isn’t “autumn” enough, contact your local real estate professional. We are happy to share some fantastic local real estate opportunities.

The Easy 3-Step Guide to Get Started With Real Estate Investing

The Easy 3-Step Guide to Get Started With Real Estate InvestingAre you interested in expanding your investment portfolio with hard, long-term assets that are almost certain to grow in value? If so, you will want to consider investing in real estate. Let’s take a look at how you can get started with real estate investing in just three easy steps.

Start By Budgeting Your Time And Money

Real estate investing is just that – investing! Moreover, this, of course, means that you’ll need to commit both money and time to see results. The great news is that if you’re just getting started with real estate investing, you don’t need to start with much of either. There are fund and other investment opportunities that will allow you to get started with as little as $1,000. Once you’re more familiar with investing in real estate, you can commit larger and larger sums, expanding your portfolio.

Figure Out Which Investment Option Suits You Best

If you’re new to the game or are investing smaller amounts, you may be interested in a Real Estate Investment Trust or “REIT.” REITs are essentially investment companies which own or finance income-producing real estate. For example, you may buy into a REIT that invests in commercial buildings, like office buildings or warehouses. The REIT will take care of all of the maintenance, leasing and other upkeep while offering a return to you as a shareholder.

If you’re starting with deeper pockets, another option is to simply buy your own properties and rent or lease them out. To be successful, you will need to find houses or apartments that are of good value and will see a decent amount of rental return each month.

Start Networking And Meeting Other Investors

Now that you’re ready to get started take some time to meet and network with other local investors who are active in your community. Check on Facebook to see if there are real estate investment groups for your city, or give a few quick Google searches to see if there are any meetups. You might be surprised at how friendly and ready to share information other investors are.

Be Ready To Experience Challenges And Setbacks

One important thing to keep in mind is that you are likely to experience challenges or setbacks along the way. You’re learning about a new form of investment – one which takes some skill to master. Stay positive and accept that as you gain experience, it will get easier.

Real estate investment is an excellent way to diversify your financial portfolio and grow your personal or family wealth. For more information about local real estate opportunities, contact your local real estate professional. We will be happy to show you some investment-ready local properties.

Pay Your Mortgage Off Faster With These Money-Smart Strategies

Pay Your Mortgage Off Faster With These Money-Smart StrategiesAs with any loan or line of credit, there are benefits to getting your mortgage paid down. You’ll pay less in interest, potentially saving thousands over the repayment period. Moreover, you’ll own your home outright that much quicker.

Let’s explore four money-smart strategies that will help you to pay your mortgage off faster.

Start With The Obvious And Increase Your Payments

It won’t come as a surprise that one of the easiest ways to get your mortgage paid off is to increase the amount you put towards your monthly payments. Most lenders will allow you to place any extra funds directly against the outstanding loan amount or “principal.” This is very efficient as it avoids having to commit any additional funds to interest.

One trick that many families use is to round the payment amount up to the nearest hundred-dollar figure. For example, if your mortgage payment is $652.32, you would pay $700 instead. This might be an easy burden on your wallet but still amounts to an extra seven percent of your payment.

Accelerate Your Payment Schedule

Another way to get your mortgage paid off as quickly as possible is to accelerate how frequently you make payments. For example, if you are currently making payments on a monthly basis, you can switch to bi-weekly payments instead. This means that instead of 12 large payments per year, you’re making 26 smaller payments. However, your interest will still compound on a monthly basis which means that over time you’ll end up paying less in interest. Not all mortgage products support this, so it is best to check with your mortgage professional to ensure it is an option open to you.

Dedicate Your Tax Refund To Your Mortgage

If you receive a tax refund or other large sum of money, consider using it to pay your mortgage down further. This is an excellent use for a spare block of cash as it gets you one step closer to owning your home, free and clear.

Refinance Your Mortgage To A Shorter Term

Finally, one last strategy is to look at a shorter term for your mortgage. For example, if you started with a 30-year amortization, you can refinance down to a 15-year loan instead. This will require having access to significantly more money to place against your payment, so be sure to carefully budget for this additional cost.

These are just four of the many ways that you can get your mortgage loan paid off faster. For more information or to inquire about a mortgage for your next home, contact your local real estate professional.

Speed up Your Mortgage Closing Process With This Handy Four-step Guide

Speed up Your Mortgage Closing Process With This Handy Four-step GuideAre you in the market for a new house or apartment? If you are financing the purchase by taking out a mortgage, you’ll want to know how to make this transaction run as smooth as possible. In today’s article, we’ll share a quick four-step guide to speeding up the mortgage closing process.

Step #1: Check In On Your Credit Score

The first step before applying for your mortgage is to check in on your credit. Request a copy of your credit score and history from one of the major reporting firms. Go over this report, paying close attention to any old or outstanding items that you may have already dealt with. Many individuals have old delinquencies that must be challenged to be removed from the report, so take care of these first before applying.

Step #2: Have All Your Documents Prepared

As with any loan, taking out a mortgage requires a small mountain of paperwork. The best way to speed this process up is to have all of your financial documentation ready for inspection and use by the lender.

Note that each mortgage provider has different requirements for what you’ll need. A brief list of some items which are commonly requested includes your current employment details, recent pay stubs, recent W-2 forms or tax returns, proof of self-employment or other means of income, asset details such as bank accounts and investments and debt information such as other mortgages, student loans and more.

Step #3: Have An Offer Ready

If you have already settled on the home that you want to buy, it’s best to get your offer prepared in advance of being fully approved for mortgage financing. Your real estate agent will be able to help with crafting an offer that is subject to the home passing an inspection. It’s especially important to have an offer ready in the event that other buyers are competing for the same home that you are.

Step #4: Get The Inspection Finished Promptly

While your lender is completing the home appraisal process, you should be having the home inspected. Getting the inspection completed promptly will prevent any delays due to problem areas that might be uncovered. For example, a pest problem like termites may need to be dealt with, or minor repairs to the roof structure may need to be scheduled.

Following the steps above will help to ensure that your mortgage closing process goes as smoothly as possible. To learn more, contact your local real estate professional today.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 2, 2017

Last week’s economic reports included Case-Shiller’s Home Price Indices, readings on new and pending home sales and Freddie Mac ‘s weekly mortgage rates report. Weekly jobless claims and reports on inflation and core inflation were also released.

CaseShiller Home Prices Rise in July; New and Pending Home Sales Lower in August

According to Case-Shiller July Index reports, national home prices rose at a rate of 5.8

90 percent on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis as compared to June’s reading of 5.80 percent. The top three cities in the 20-City Home Price Index were Seattle, Washington, Portland, Oregon and Las Vegas, Nevada.

Home prices are responding to high demand for homes and limited inventories of homes for sale. Although this trend has persisted in the last few years, lower readings for sales of new homes and pending home sales were lower in August. Analysts said this could indicate that home prices are topping out due to affordability and few homes for sale.

New home sales fell to 560,000 on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis in August as compared to July’s reading of 580,000 sales. While real estate pros and economists look to pending home sales as an indicator for future closings and mortgage originations, August’s reading slipped lower into negative territory with a reading of – 2.60 percent. July’s reading for pending home sales was – 0.80 percent.

Mortgage Rates Stay Flat, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported no change in average fixed mortgage rates. 30-year fixed rate mortgages had an average rate of 3.83 percent and 15-year fixed rate mortgage rates held steady at an average of 3.13 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by three basis points to 3.20 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims rose by 12,000 to 272,000 claims. Analysts expected 270,000 new jobless claims; 260,000 new claims were filed the prior week.

Inflation rose by 0.10 percent in August, which matched expectations and was lower than July’s growth rate of 0.30 percent. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors, was unchanged at 0.10 percent and fell short of expectations of 0.20 percent growth in August.

Consumer sentiment fell to an index reading of 95.10 percent and met analysts’ expectations based on August’s reading of 95.30

Whats Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on construction spending and labor-sector reports from ADP Payrolls, Non-Farm payrolls and the national unemployment rate for September. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released. 

Let’s Talk Buyer Qualification: How to Ensure You Sell Your Home to the Right Buyer

Let's Talk Buyer Qualification: How to Ensure You Sell Your Home to the Right BuyerAre you listing your home for sale? If so, it is time to get ready to meet with buyers and their real estate agents. And while you surely want to sell your home as quickly as possible, you will also want to do your homework to make sure you’re selling to the right person. Let’s explore the process of buyer qualification and why it’s important to do a little digging into potential buyers of your home.

Is Your Buyer Pre-Approved For Mortgage Financing?

First, you’ll want to check with your buyer to see if they are approved for mortgage financing. The last thing you want is to agree to an offer only to have the buyer rescind it because they can’t afford your home. If the buyer is not already approved, suggest that they take that additional step before submitting their offer. Otherwise, you may end up experiencing significant delays in the closing process.

Ensure Your Buyer Has Their Earnest Money Ready

Next, you’ll want to check with your buyer to make sure that they have their earnest money ready. These funds are a deposit, typically one or two percent of the purchase price, which is held in escrow once you accept the buyer’s offer. Earnest money is a way for the buyer to prove to you that they are serious about purchasing your home. Once they have placed the deposit down, you can be confident that the buyer intends to close.

Note that the terms of your agreement should ensure that if the buyer backs out of the deal, you get to keep some or all of their earnest money. This is especially important if you’re fielding multiple offers for your home as you may lose the chance to sell if the buyer backs out.

Be Wary Of Offers That Seem Too Good To Be True

If an offer seems too good to be true, that may just be the case. Be wary of any offers that are significantly more than your asking price, or if the buyer is willing to buy your home without so much as an inspection. Rest assured that any serious buyer is going to do their due diligence to ensure they’re getting a good deal.

Buyer qualification is a bit of a process, but it’s an important step that ensures your home sale goes smoothly. When you’re ready to list your home for sale, contact your local real estate professional. We will be happy to assist you with finding the right buyer.

Baby on the Way? Learn How to Child-proof Your Home so Your Baby Is Safe From Harm

Baby on the Way? Learn How to Child-proof Your Home so Your Baby Is Safe From HarmDo you have a baby on the way? If so, you are likely already wondering how you are supposed to make your home safe from harm. The good news is that with a little work, you’ll be able to make your house or apartment that much safer. Let’s take a look at how you can child-proof your home in under a few hours.

Start With The Baby’s Bedroom 

For the first few months, your baby will be spending a lot of time either sleeping or resting in their crib. You’ll want to keep the crib away from any cords, blinds, drapes or other items the baby might get their hands on. The crib itself should meet federal safety regulations and should be comfortable without being too restrictive.

Keep a watchful eye out for anything loose that the baby might be able to put in its mouth. All choking hazards should be kept well away from a crib.

Baby-Proofing The Halls And Stairs

Next, it’s time to take a quick sweep through your halls and stairways. Once your baby starts crawling, they’re at risk for falls and other issues. Go through your hallways and look for any items that the child might pull over. For example, if you have hall tables with plants or pictures on them, are there any fabric items which the baby might be able to reach?

Your stairways should have some sort of baby guards placed in front of them at all times. If possible, you’ll also want your stairs to be carpeted. This can help to reduce injury if your child takes a tumble down the stairs.

Keeping The Kitchen Safe

Finally, don’t forget the kitchen. There are all sorts of dangerous items in the average kitchen, from heavy appliances with loose cords to tablecloths that can lead to utensils on the floor. In short, everything should be kept in drawers and out of a child’s reach. Cupboards should be secured so that a baby can’t open them. If you want to go a bit further, consider installing some padding on the legs of hard kitchen furniture and on corners where a baby could bump their head.

It’s almost impossible to fully baby-proof a home, but the above checklist is a good start. If you have a baby on the way and are looking for a larger, safer home, contact your local real estate professional.

Case-Shiller: Home Prices Higher in July, Home Prices May Have Peaked

Case-Shiller reported higher sales of new homes for July; the national reading for new home sales increased by 0.10 percent to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.90 percent. The 20-City Home Price Index rose by 0.20 percent to 5.80 percent on a seasonally adjusted annual basis.

Seattle Washington held the top spot in the 20-City Index with a growth of 13.50 percent year-over-year. Seattle home prices are growing faster than home prices in Portland Oregon, which reported a year-over-home price growth rate of 7,60 percent. Dallas, Texas lost its third-place standing in the 20-City Index to Las Vegas, Nevada, which reported 7.40 year-over-year growth in home prices. Dallas, Texas and Detroit, Michigan tied for fourth position with 7.30 percent home price growth.

David M. Blitzer, managing director and chair of the S&P Case Shiller Home Price Index Committee, said that the Pacific Northwest largely drove July home prices,12 of 20 cities surveyed reported higher home prices in July. Home prices rose to their highest level since May 2009 but were selling for less than half of what new homes sold for in 2009.

Home Prices Rise, Falling Sales Suggest Prices May Have Peaked

High demand for a limited number of available homes continued to cause home prices to rise, but home sales fell in July. Three of four regions reported lower sales with the Midwestern region sales volume unchanged. Low inventories of homes for sale have increased competition among homebuyers; this creates bidding wars that cause artificially high home prices in high-demand markets.

In related news, The Commerce Department reported that new home sales fell by 3.40 percent in August. The inventory of homes on the market rose from a 5.70month supply to a 6.10month supply of homes for sale. Real estate pros consider a six-month supply of homes for sale a good balance between homes on the market and active home buyers. Increasing inventories of homes for sale suggests that home prices could be peaking as home buyers face strict mortgage rules and affordability concerns.  

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma impacted 14 percent of building permits issued in 2016. While building permits issued may increase, ongoing concerns over labor shortages and building materials costs could become more pronounced as rebuilding in the hurricane zones progresses.

5 Key Maintenance Tasks to Prepare Your Home for the Winter

5 Key Maintenance Tasks to Prepare Your Home for the WinterThe days are getting shorter, the temperature is dropping and the kids are heading back to school. The approach of autumn means that winter is just around the corner. The question is – is your home ready? Break out your checklist and let’s run through five key maintenance tasks that will get your home prepared to face the winter.

Pack Up And Protect Your Outdoor Furniture

Unfortunately, the arrival of winter means that the patio has to be closed up for the season. It’s time to get chairs, tables and other furniture covered up or stored if you have space. The BBQ will also need to be covered or moved off to the shed or another dry area.

Get Your Windows Ready For Cold Weather

Next, take some time to inspect your windows for drafts, leaks and other issues. This can be as easy as shutting them tight on a windy day and using your senses to determine if any air is leaking in. Depending on where you live in the country, you might need to do some additional work on your windows to get them prepared for the cold.

Turn Down Your Garden, Plants And Flower Beds

Unless you have a garden full of robust, cold-loving plants, it’s likely that you will see most of them die off as we move from autumn into winter. Spend some time turning down your gardens and other areas. This can help to move nutrients into the soil where they’ll be ready to nourish new plants in the spring.

Check Your Furnace And Heating Ducts

If you haven’t used it in a few months, now is the time to fire up the furnace and check the home’s heating system. The last thing you want is to discover that your home isn’t heating on the first cold night!

Consider Giving The Roof And Gutters A Quick Inspection

Last but not least, don’t forget to check your roof for any damage or areas that might be prone to leaking. You will also want to check the gutters to ensure they are clear of debris. Keep in mind that this does involve climbing up a ladder and physically inspecting these areas. If you’re not good with heights or don’t own the proper equipment, don’t sweat it. Give a professional roofing team a call and have them handle the inspection instead.

The better your home is prepared for winter, the less likely you are to have a nasty surprise waiting for you in the spring. If you would rather upgrade or check out a newer home than try to winterize yours, contact your local real estate professional to show you some “winterproof” options in the area.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 25th, 2017

Last week’s economic news included readings on housing starts, building permits issued and sales of pre-owned homes. The Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee issued its customary post-meeting statement and Fed Chair Janet Yellen gave a press conference. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

Housing Starts Lower, but Building Permits Increase

August saw fewer housing starts with 1.18 million starts on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. July’s reading was upwardly adjusted to 1.19 million starts; analysts expected 1.175 million starts annually in August. Building permits rose in August, which suggested builder confidence was strong regardless of fewer starts.

Recent hurricanes had little effect on August building permits, but building permits will likely increase as rebuilding gets under way in affected areas. 1.30 million building permits were issued on an annual basis as compared to July’s reading of 1.23 million permits issued. August’s reading for permits issued was the second highest since 2007.

Analysts noted that more permits were issued for single-family residences than for multi-family complexes. This is likely a response to high demand for single-family homes caused by persistent shortages of homes for sale. Multi-family permits issued fell by 5.80 percent in August with 323,000 permits reported. August’s reading for multi-family housing permits was 23 percent lower year-over-year.

PreOwned Home Sales Dip, Fed Holds Steady on Federal Funds Rate

Sales of previously-owned homes fell to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.35 million sales in August. Analysts expected a reading of 5.44 million sales, which matched July’s seasonally-adjusted annual reading of 5.44 million sales of previously-owned homes. High demand and very low inventories of homes for sale has caused sales to fall although very low unemployment rates and relatively low mortgage rates were positive indicators for would-be home buyers.

The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee announced it did not raise the current federal funds rate of 1.00 to 1,25 percent. Fed Chair Janet Yellen remarked that “the basic message here is U.S. economic performance has been good.” The Fed was puzzled by sluggish inflation and revised its long-term inflation goal from 3.00 percent to 2.80 percent. The Fed is expected to raise its target federal funds rate one more time in 2017 and twice in 2018; this prediction may change if economic forecasts and world events change significantly.

Mortgage Rates Rise, New Jobless Claims Fall

Mortgage rates rose last week in response to the 10-year Treasury rate rising by seven basis points. The average rate for a 30-year mortgage rate rose five basis points to 3.83 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose five basis points to 3.13 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose four basis points to 3.17 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims were lower with 259,000 new claims filed. Analysts expected a reading of 302,000 new jobless claims based on the prior week’s reading of 282,000 new jobless claims filed.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on new and pending home sales, personal income, and inflation. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims are scheduled along with a monthly reading on consumer sentiment.