Apr 25

Staging Your Home: Here Are Your Self-Storage Options

self storage optionsIf you’re staging your home to sell, you may find yourself with more stuff than space. Rather than selling possessions that you’d rather not part with, you can put your things into short-term storage until your home sells and you’re able to move.

Here are some options you have when choosing and using a self storage unit.

Climate Controlled Or Not

Climate controlled units are located inside buildings. They could be compared to an apartment building, except instead of housing people, these storage buildings house belongings. Inside, they are powered with electricity and a temperature control that is temperate.

The advantage of a climate controlled storage unit is that your possessions won’t get above average hot or below average cold. If you plan to store certain items that are temperature sensitive, such as photographs, antique wood furniture or heirloom paintings, a climate controlled unit is a must.

Self storage units that are not climate controlled are typically located in garage-like buildings with a garage door opening that is open to the outside. There is usually no electricity or power inside the unit, so if you want to visit at night or on a dark day you’ll need to bring a flashlight.

There is no temperature control, so whatever the temperature is outside, it will be similar inside the unit. Depending on the climate you live in, it could get freezing inside the unity or extremely hot. If you’re planning on storing things that can withstand extreme temperatures, like a small motor vehicle, clothing or kitchen goods, you could opt for a unit like this.

Ground Level Or Above

Climate controlled storage buildings usually have more than one floor. Often, the ground level units are considered to be more convenient, so the rental rate may be higher than those on a higher floor. If you choose a ground level unit, you’ll be able to access your unit without navigating up and down an elevator for every trip back and forth to your car.

Units on higher floors will have access via a freight elevator. The freight elevator will be large enough to hold even your larger furnishings, such as couches, bureaus and desks. You’ll still be able to use a hand truck to cart your belongings, but you’ll have the disadvantage of having to wait for the elevator since other renters will also be using it.

Knowing these things ahead of time will help you make your decision about what kind of self storage unit to rent. No matter which one you choose, you can rest assured that your belongings will be safe and sound until you’re ready to bring them to your new home.

If your house is on the market, it’s important to plan ahead for your next home purchase. Be sure to meet with your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss your best financing options.

Apr 25

4 Ways A Little Paint Can Revitalize Your Home

feng designs home stagingFixing up your home doesn’t have to be a budget-breaker. You can revitalize the look of your property with a little bit of paint in the right places.

Here are some areas that will really stand out to visitors or prospective home buyers.

1. Front Door

The front door always makes the first impression on visitors to your home. Remember that while they are waiting to enter your home, potential buyers have nothing to do except get a good look at your front door. For maximum impact, paint the front door a contrasting color to your house color. If budget allows, add a new door knocker and door knob.

2. Shutters

Vinyl shutters are very affordable when you buy them online. Before you hang them, use a spray paint gun to paint them in a matching color with your front door, or a contrasting color to your house color.

3. Interior Trim

If your home still has bare wood trim throughout, consider painting it. This will instantly modernize your home since exposed wood trim tends to date a house. The best trim color is actually a creamy shade – not white. White trim can come off as a little harsh, and your goal in most cases is to make your home look as warm as possible.

Based on the results after painting the trim, you may find that you don’t even need to worry about repainting the walls. Instead, just spot clean walls in areas where they most need it.

4. Statement Wall

Another way that a little paint can revitalize your home for sale is to paint just one wall in a room with a contrasting color. This is commonly called a “statement wall” because it helps define the room and make a big impact on guests.

Note that oil-based paint leaves a residual odor for quite some time. If your home is being listed soon, you’re probably better off using acrylic paint. Consult with your paint store representative for details.

These projects can all be accomplished by anyone who’s a little bit handy around the home. With a little paint and some elbow grease, your home will be picture perfect.

If you are interested in refinancing your home or accessing some of your equity for home improvement projects, contact your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss current financing options.

Apr 25

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Rises in April

existing-home-sales-upHome builder confidence increased in April to an index reading of 63, which was one point higher than for March and the highest reading in six months. Analysts said that April’s reading revealed more about housing market conditions in the past six months than it was an indicator of future market conditions.

November’s builder confidence reading was the lowest since housing markets tanked in 2008, Builder confidence recovered over the past few months despite headwinds including higher materials costs and shortages of labor and buildable lots.

Home Builder Confidence Holds Steady Despite Headwinds

NAHB Housing Market Index readings over 50 indicate that most home builders are confident about housing market conditions. While April’s reading was comfortably above the benchmark, the average reading so far in 2019 is 61 as compared to 2018’s annual average reading of 67.

Component readings of the Housing Market Index were mixed in April. Builder confidence in current housing market conditions rose one point to 69; confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months dropped one point to 71 and the reading for builder confidence in buyer traffic rose three points to an index reading of 47. Readings for builder confidence in buyer traffic seldom exceeds 50.

Market Conditions Expected to Improve, but Obstacles Persist

Improving weather conditions and the peak home-buying season should boost builder confidence and housing market conditions, but rapidly rising home prices and affordability concerns could dampen housing markets and builder enthusiasm. Analysts report that no major changes are expected to mortgage rates in 2019. If this holds true, potential homebuyers are likely to take advantage of lower rates to buy homes. Analysts also said that initial impact of new tax laws has faded; more home buyers are expected to enter the market.

Market conditions depend on buyers and sellers; their motivations, resources and ability to “stay put” impact individual home sales. Buyers who depend on financing their home purchases are competing with increasing numbers of cash buyers; the National Association of Realtors ® traditionally reported about 10 percent of home sales were cash transactions, in recent years cash sales have increased to approximately 20 percent of home sales.

Homeowners are more likely to accept cash offers rather than accepting offers from buyers who must qualify for mortgages under a lengthy and precise approval process. Trends indicate that more homeowners are choosing to stay in their homes; this and exclusionary zoning laws in some areas are reducing the number of homes available.

Apr 25

Can You Really Buy Off-Planet Real Estate?

mars roverReal estate agents are constantly looking for new listings, which will attract potential buyers. We no longer need to limit our search for good listings to planet Earth because Mars is now for sale.

Although this may sound a bit far-fetched at first, it is not such a strange concept if you consider the serious efforts being made to colonize Mars with the commercial efforts by companies like Space X. There is a company, called Lunar Land, which is already selling acres of land on Mars as a novelty.

Historical Precedent

Off-planet land sales have already had considerable success for those crazy enough to sell titles to land on the Moon. Lunar Embassy, which started in 1980, claims to have sold 2.5 million acres of the Moon for about $20 per acre. That’s $50 million in revenues.

This happened in spite of the Outer Space Treaty, which was signed by the US, the UK, and the Soviet Union. The treaty went into force according to Earth’s laws on October 10, 1967. Currently (February 2019), there are 108 countries who signed the treaty and 23 more who signed it but have not yet legally ratified it in their home country.

There is a loophole. There are 195 countries in the world. That means 64 are not a party to the Outer Space Treaty. Any of these countries can legally lay claim to any off-planet real estate according to their own country’s laws.

It’s A Fad Now That Becomes A Reality In The Future

Buying acres of land on Mars is really a fun fad. It has symbolic value but really has no practical value to earthbound persons. In a few decades, this may change.

The estimates by SpaceNews are that it will cost $230 billion to establish a human outpost on Mars with the target date of 2035. Each resupply mission, once every three years thereafter, will cost about $142 billion. The total cost to start the colonization of Mars is about $1.5 trillion.

Mars has about 35 billion acres. That means a commercial colonization program can “own” Mars for only $42.85 per acre.

The Mars Experience On Earth

One way to make this fantasy of colonizing Mars more real is to set up a practice project on Earth. We searched and found the worst, cheapest land in the United States. It is available for purchase at a mere $50 per acre. It is the worst kind of remote desert land with horrific conditions and no natural resources. However, even with the worst Earth conditions, it is a paradise compared to the challenge of living on Mars.

Some clever entrepreneur should create the Mars Habitat on Earth and invite participation to buy land and habitation in a project that develops a workable living space that is self-contained in these harsh desert areas on Earth.

If you are interested in buying a property here on Earth, contact your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss financing options.

Apr 25

Home Maintenance Tips: How to Organize Your Garage

organize garagePerhaps you plan to sell your home in the next few months or years. Keeping your garage organized can save time and ensure that you have storage space when you need it most.

Get Your Purge On!

Clear out the garage and separate items into categories: keep, trash, donate and recycle. If you get rid of 50 percent of your stuff, you’re doing great. The more you can get rid of up front, the less you have to organize! And if you haven’t used it in years, why would you need to keep it around?

Create Zones

Map out space with masking tape, starting with where your vehicles go. Mask out where you can put heavy-duty shelves for tools, sports equipment and other stored items. Also, you can maximize storage by building cabinets or shelving from floor to ceiling.

Buying clear bins in various sizes and interlocking shapes helps you stay organized. When you store like items together, it’s much easier to find them, especially if everything is properly labeled.

Think strategically. If your garage doubles as a workshop, include space for a workbench. If you bike every day, hang your wheels on the wall near the garage door. Additionally, remember to include garbage and recycling bins near the door for easy access.

Organizational Supplies
With the zones mapped, it’s time to get organized. For example, store shovels, rakes and brooms in a large trashcan. Meanwhile, sporting equipment such as bats, balls, skateboards and protective pads can go into larger bins, on shelves or inside lockers. Pegboards provide a versatile way to hang tools you use the most.

A cabinet that locks protects children and pets from hazardous materials like chemicals, paint and cleaning supplies. Meanwhile, constructing long open shelves of wood or metal gives you plenty of support for heavy storage bins, while a rolling cabinet lets you move craft supplies or gardening implements.

Storing Small Stuff

What can you do with screws, nails, hooks, nuts and myriad small items on a limited budget? Repurposed glass containers or mason jars let you see contents clearly while recycling. Use tin cans for screwdrivers and paint brushes.

Once your garage is neat and clean, you may find yourself spending more time there. You might even have enough room for a home office or craft corner. A well-planned organizational strategy helps you keep it that way.

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

Apr 25

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 22nd, 2019

board-of-the-federal-reserveLast week’s economic news included readings on home builder confidence in housing market conditions and Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage ratees and first-time jobless claims were also released.

NAHB Housing Market Index: Builder Confidence Rises One Point in April

Home Builder Confidence readings posted by the National Association of Home Builders held steady for April and rose one point overall. Component readings for the NAHB Housing Market Index were mixed; builder confidence in current housing market conditions rose one point to an index reading of 69, but builder confidence in housing market conditions in the next six months fell one point to 62.

Home builder confidence in potential buyer traffic rose three points to 47. NAHB Housing Market index readings above 50 indicate that most builders view market conditions as positive, but the reading for buyer traffic seldom rises above 50.

Housing Starts and Building Permits Issued Fall Short of Expectations in March

Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued in March were lower than in February and fell short of analyst expectations. Housing starts were reported at a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.139 million starts. Analysts expected housing starts at an annual rate of 1,225 billion starts based on February’s reading of 1.142 million starts.

Builders continued to experience headwinds including higher materials costs, shortages of buildable lots and a lack of skilled labor. Analysts cited disparities between new housing developments, which tend to favor luxury homes and the need for affordable housing.

Exclusionary zoning and neighborhood politics can block construction of affordable housing in desirable areas; legal and zoning constraints prevent builders from producing enough affordable homes to meet demand. Housing starts year-to-date were 9.70 percent lower than for the same period in 2018.

Fewer building permits were issued in March than in February. 1.269 million permits were issued on a seasonally adjusted annual basis as compared to expectations of 1.300 million permits issued and February’s reading of 1.291 million permits issued.

Mortgage Rates Rise as New Jobless Claims Fall

Mortgage rates were higher last week as average rates for fixed rate mortgages rose. 30-year mortgage rates averaged five basis points higher at 4.17 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged two basis points higher at 3.62 percent.

Mortgage rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged two basis points lower at 3.78 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims fell by 5000 new claims to 192,000 initial claims; this was significantly lower than 204,000 new claims expected.

What‘s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes reports on sales of new and pre-owned homes and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and initial jobless claims will also be released.

Apr 05

3 Ways to Reduce the Environmental Impact of Your Home Renovation Project

do-it-yourself-kitchen-remodeling-ideasThe right home renovation strategy can increase property values and improve the comfort and utility of your space. However, your actions could have a harsh impact on our natural resources.

Here are several ways you can reduce your renovation’s effect on the environment.

Use Sustainable Products

Choose Earth-friendly materials for a greener build.

Try reclaimed flooring. Ask permission at construction sites or search internet exchange boards to find unwanted extras. With a little artistic imagination, you can turn those cast-offs into a unique visual display.
Re-purpose existing material. Turn old doors into unique furniture pieces like tables and privacy shades to spruce up your new space.
Pick low-VOC paints to eliminate harsh chemicals in your immediate environment.
The best way to lower your impact on the Earth is to carefully choose which products you use in your project.

Evaluate Your Trash

Think about what you’re putting in the dumpster. Instead of taking up space in a landfill, many items can be redistributed and put to better use.

Donate household items that are no longer needed in your new space to your favorite charity.
Contact your local Habitat for Humanity office to help your community by donating your unused construction materials.
Contact your local school district. Some teachers take community donations to use in their classrooms.
Your trash could be someone else’s treasure. Don’t toss out something that others might need.

Take Care Of Your Immediate Area

Your environment includes the area in which you live. Use these tips to keep your property pristine during and after construction.

Rent a dumpster to make clean up easier. Pick up tools, trash, and other items at the end of each work session.
Use plastic tarps to protect landscaping and plant life from flying debris or chemical sprays.
Dispose of chemicals properly. Never pour paints, solvents, or other chemicals into your plumbing system or down a municipal drain.
Protect your neighborhood by taking careful actions during your build.

A home renovation is a fresh start for your property. Make it even more enjoyable by adding these Earth-friendly strategies to your construction plan.

If you’re planning on completing a home renovation, it might be the right time to access some of your home equity. Contact your trusted mortgage professional to learn about the best financing options available.

Apr 04

Case-Shiller Home Price Growth Slower in January

house sold with signHome price indices issued by S&P Case-Shiller showed further slowing in home price growth in January. The national home price index showed 4.30 percent home price growth for the three months ended in January. Analysts expected home prices to grow 4.20 percent for the same period in cities surveyed by Case-Shiller. More cities reported declines in home prices than those that posted gains in home prices.

The top cities posting year-over-year home price gains in the 20-City Home Price Index were Las Vegas, Nevada with 10.50 percent growth; Phoenix, Arizona posted a year-over-year home price gain of 7.50 percent. Three cities tied for third place with Charlotte, North Carolina, Minneapolis, Minnesota and Tampa, Florida posting year-over-year home price growth rates of 5.10 percent.

Home Price Growth Stalls Throughout U.S.

Noteworthy in January’s readings were the West Coast’s loss of dominance in home price growth rates and the retreat of double-digit yearly growth rates for home prices. Las Vegas, Nevada posted the only double-digit price gain year-over-year, but it suffered steep declines in home values during the recession. The 20-City HPI for January showed month-to-month home price growth slowed in 14 cities, was unchanged in one city and five cities posted gains in home price growth rates.

David M. Blitzer, managing director and chair of the S&P Case-Shiller Index Committee, said that the home prices had not grown so slowly since April 2015. Rapidly rising home prices sidelined many buyers who could not afford to keep up with home prices that rose faster than inflation and wages. Analysts said that housing markets were leaning in favor of home buyers as home price growth slowed. Mr. Blitzer said that it “remains to be seen if recent low mortgage rates and smaller price gains can sustain improved home sales.”

Federal Reserve policymakers recently announced that the Fed would hold steady on its target federal funds rate range of 2.25 to 2.50 percent; this fueled a drop in mortgage rates. Analysts said that rates could continue to fall. Slower home price growth and lower mortgage rates are expected to encourage would-be home buyers back into the market.

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

Apr 03

Are Multi-Unit Properties the Right Move for You?

best-coop-lenders-234x300Real estate isn’t a one-size-fits-all pursuit. Buying and renting multi-unit properties is one of the ways investors build residual income while increasing their property portfolios. However, multi-unit rentals come with some unique challenges. Are you ready to manage a multi-unit rental property?

Ask yourself these questions to help you decide which path best fits your resources, goals, and interests.

Do You Plan To Live On The Property?

Living in one of your rental units offers a myriad of benefits. First, you get to keep a close eye on building conditions and the actions of your renters. Next, you’ll be able to respond quickly to an emergency. Last, you won’t have to pay extra for your own living quarters. You won’t have this option with single-occupancy properties.

Will You Work With A Property Management Company?

If you are more of a hands-off investor, a property management company makes owning properties simple. Their staff will collect the rents, respond to requests for maintenance and repairs, and take care of all the paperwork that comes along with rental units.

All you need to do is collect your portion of the payments and keep up with your bank loans. You can still work with a property management company if you opt for single-family properties. However, it may not be the most cost-effective solution in that situation.

Are Market Conditions In Your Area Changing Quickly?

When rental prices go up, it can be difficult for investors to take advantage. Long-term occupants may balk at the idea of paying more for the same property. With multi-unit buildings, you can raise prices as tenants vacate. In this way, you can keep your current occupants happy without sacrificing potential profits.

Are You Looking For More Ways To Increase Your Income?

Multi-unit properties are a unique opportunity for enterprising investors. Rent out space under stairways or in common areas to vending machine companies. Your residents get convenient snacks and you earn a little extra cash each month. A coin-operated laundry room is another addition that adds value for your residents while increasing your own payouts.

Managing a multi-unit building means more paperwork, maintenance, and marketing. However, the potential profits might be worth it. Take some time to review your own goals and abilities before committing to a purchase.

Be sure to consult with your trusted real estate and mortgage professionals to find out more information about purchasing multi-unit rentals.

Apr 02

What Causes Mortgage Interest Rates To Fluctuate?

economic-growth-and-developmentThe mortgage interest rate represents the cost of borrowing money to purchase a property. Mortgage interest rates are not fixed; that is, they fluctuate from one period of time to the next.

Many different factors play into what your mortgage interest rate will finally turn out to be. Some of these factors have to deal with the economy and government decisions. Other factors have to do with your personal financial situation.

Finally, mortgage interest rates can differ between lending institutions, which is why you may get different mortgage interest rate quotes from different places.

Economic Factors That Cause Mortgage Interest Rates To Fluctuate

Mortgage interest rates are somewhat connected to the stock market. When the stock market indexes go up, mortgage rates tend to rise as well. The Consumer Price Index is a measure of inflation rates. When inflation rises, you can expect to see mortgage interest rates go up, too. Other economic factors that affect mortgage interest rates include Data from the Gross Domestic Product, Consumer Confidence, and Home Sales reports.

Government Decisions That Lead To Mortgage Interest Rate Changes

The federal government keeps close tabs on the economy. Government officials are always making adjustments in order to keep the economy strong. Periodically, the government will raise or lower key interest rates in order to adjust bank lending economics. When the government raises or lowers the Federal Funds interest rate, it is always announced in the media.

Personal Financials And Your Mortgage Interest Rate

Finally, your personal financial situation influences what kind of mortgage interest rate your lender offers. A higher credit score will generally get you a lower mortgage interest rate. This is another reason why it’s always a good idea to review and improve your credit score before applying for a mortgage.

When you are ready to apply for a mortgage, meet with a trusted home mortgage professional. Because mortgage interest rates fluctuate often, you could find that the interest rate gets higher in the short time in which you’re still shopping for your home. Once you do find an attractive program for your personal situation, be sure that you are ready to take the necessary steps to lock in that rate.

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