Housing Market Trends: Or, Why I Stopped Renting and Bought a Home

Write the check, put it in the envelope, lick it, stamp it, and send your hard earned money away…month after month. This is the relentless cycle of renting: never ending; always draining. Sure there are some upsides to renting. There are fewer responsibilities, for instance. It’s good at a certain point in your life when you want to get up and leave and you aren’t sure where your life is headed. However, a recent poll shows that around 74% of Americans believe that home ownership is an integral part of achieving their dreams—and even among the younger crowd home ownership dreams are high. In fact, 42% of millennials say that they hope to buy a home in the next 1 to 5 years.

Given the excitement surrounding home buying, 2015 might just be the right year for you to achieve your home owning dream. Looking at the housing forecast as we move into the heightened spring buying season might help you put into perspective why purchasing a home right now makes a lot of sense. [Read more…]

Good Faith Estimates: What to Expect When You’re Borrowing

Shopping for a loan isn’t the same as shopping for shoes. Though loans do come in different sizes and cater to different needs, when you’re shopping for a loan you’ll mostly be looking at a lot of paperwork. Exciting, right? Your loan officer can explain some of these papers, but it’s important to be aware of a few steps you’ll go through before you get there. This will ensure the best fit possible.

Something that is an important part of every mortgage process is the good faith estimate (GFE). It’s an official document that is required by the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) and therefore is carefully put together by the mortgage broker. Here’s why knowing how to read a GFE matters to you and your future mortgage. [Read more…]

Why You Should Hire a Real Estate Agent

You know the type. Coupon-cutter. Penny-pincher. DIY enthusiast. 2-for-1 fanatic. Clearance rack junky. This might even describe you. Many of you readers out there like a good deal, and love to save money. Hey, I get it. It’s practical. It’s life. Given the fact that a home purchase is one of the most expensive transactions you will ever complete in your life, savers might be tempted to cut corners in the home purchase or sale and try to save a few dimes along the way. Some people might even consider cutting the real estate agent to save some cash.

But you shouldn’t. Even in the age of Zillow and Trulia, the real estate profession is still strong. Why? Especially given the fact that travel agents and other professions have been vaporized by the internet, why are real estate brokers still so important? The short answer is that they are an integral part of any home deal, and a good real estate agent can save you time, worry, and yes, even money. Here’s why you should hire an agent to help you if you are buying or selling a home instead of doing it yourself. [Read more…]

5 Home Decorating Trends for 2015

Wondering what color to paint your walls this spring? Thinking about buying new furniture but just don’t know where to start? Whether you’re updating a room or starting a total make-over of your new house, it’s important to make decisions that you’ll love and you’ll be proud to show off to home visitors.

Keeping your design up to date can be difficult to pin down—not to mention pricey—in the ever changing world of home décor. To keep up to date, make sure to follow these 5 tips and make your house the envy of the neighborhood.

Saturated Colors

A far cry from the light and the whimsical, saturated colors are serious, but draw the eye by making a bold statement. Think dark blue and rich purple, forest green or deep grey. When using dark colors on walls make sure to pair them with lighter accents so that they don’t overwhelm a room. The point of saturation is to add depth and nuance—not to make a room dark and depressing. Used carefully and deliberately, deep, saturated hues can add lasting appeal to your home.

Painted Ceilings

What color to paint is hard to decide, but sometimes where to paint can be equally as difficult of a decision! A new design trend is painted ceilings. The color you choose for the ceiling will depend on the effect you want for the room. Choose a lighter color if you want the room to feel bigger, deeper if you want it cozier. If you really want to switch it up consider a pattern on the ceiling—like stripes.

Throwbacks

Continuing the contemporary obsession with all things vintage, old heirlooms can really add a sense of history to your home. But “history” and “charm” isn’t the same as “old.” Old furniture and heirlooms can be repainted, repurposed, or reupholstered. Vintage bathtubs paired with new fixtures can give the perfect balance between new and old that satisfies your sensibility to create a lasting impression and a comfortable atmosphere.

Mismatch

Though you want your decorating choices to have themes, mismatched pieces are very much in vogue now. Consider pairing an antique table with newer, contemporary dining chairs. Or, what about a newer, simple kitchen table with mismatched chairs surrounding it? When I say mismatched here I’m thinking color, size, or even pattern. Speaking of mismatched patterns, this could go for other areas of the home as well. Gone are the days of perfectly matched throw pillows. To add a little life to your sofa, pick pillows with similar color schemes but wildly different prints—or the other way around—similar prints and different colors. Instead of a perfect match, you’re going for complimentary pillows to add a fun feeling to an otherwise drab couch. Mismatching is the new matching!

Nontraditional Furnishings

A coffee table with wagon wheels, a bookshelf headboard, chairs of unusual designs and shapes. These are just a few nontraditional furniture items you might use to make a statement. One or two unusual items per room can draw the eye, and give character to your home. Nontraditional artwork might fit into this category as well. Rather than a framed photo or painting, perhaps a multimedia piece with different textures and colors, or a mobile to add an artistic element to a room would be a contemporary choice.

FHA is Putting Money Back in Your Pocket

As of January 26, 2015 new borrowers who apply for an FHA mortgage will receive reduced mortgage insurance premiums. The announcement comes as part of a plan to appeal to first time home buyers and stimulate the housing market. The impact is significant; according to the Federal Housing Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development “estimates these lower premiums will save more than two million FHA homeowners an average of $900 annually and spur 250,000 new homebuyers to purchase their first home over the next three years.”

The rule only affects those mortgages with case numbers assigned on or after January 26, 2015. So if you’ve not yet closed on your loan, or if you are in the process of purchasing a home, make sure you know the important stipulations of this exciting announcement! [Read more…]

Being the Best Buyer in a Seller’s Market

You want to buy and they want to sell. Perfect, right? Well it would be perfect if there were only the two parties in the equation. We’re gearing up for the peak selling seasons and if you’re in the market to buy, you will have a lot of other competition out there making it so your dream home slips right through your fingers at the last minute.

The last thing you want to have happen is taking the time to tour a home, deciding that it’s the one for you, and being outbid, or unprepared to make an aggressive offer. So how can you be prepared in a seller’s market? How can you woo the seller? What do you have to do to beat out the competition and, like a TV dating reality show, win the ultimate prize, leaving the other competitors in the dust? Here are 3 ways that you can’t afford to miss out on to be a good home buyer. [Read more…]

Survive Your Relationship: Home Buying Edition

Has anyone ever given you relationship advice? As well-meaning as it may be, most of it ends up being inapplicable at best and at worst, damaging. Someone once told me to never, I mean NEVER, go house shopping as a newlywed. To wait a few years. The reason? Nothing will wear down that honeymoon feel like realizing that you and your partner have very different tastes.

Now I’m not a counselor, or a psychologist, but I can tell you that many-a-couple has successfully found a home that suits both partners’ needs. Can negotiating different architectural, location, and design preferences be tricky? Yes. But it can most definitely be done. Those that can learn how to communicate and plan before home shopping have a better experience overall as they are looking to buy their first home. Let’s not call it relationship advice per se, but instead, read on to learn some valuable tips and tricks to keep both you and your partner happy while home shopping. [Read more…]

Staging Equals Success

When you go to an interview, you dress for the occasion—a nice suit, a sharp haircut, an appealing color palate. You do this because you know that first impressions matter. And they matter a lot. They matter so much, in fact, that most people will assess their like or dislike of a new acquaintance in a matter of a few seconds to a few minutes. BAM! Even though we know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, many (most of us, really) totally do. This principle is equally as important in real estate when your home’s first impression tends to be its lasting impression on a potential buyer.

Home staging is a growing business type with multiple firms all over the United States. Though many home sellers think they can dress up their own home sufficiently for it to sell, a home stager can potentially decorate your home to sell faster and at a higher price than you could. Though they can’t guarantee success 100% of the time, following are a few very good reasons to consider hiring a home staging company when selling your next home. [Read more…]