Top 10 Tips for Selling Your Home During the Holidays

The holiday season from November through January is often considered the worst time to put a home on the market. While the thought of selling your home during the winter months may dampen your holiday spirit, the season does have its advantages: holiday buyers tend to be more serious and competition is less fierce with fewer homes being actively marketed. First, decide if you really need to sell. Really. Once you’ve committed to the challenge, don your gay apparel and follow these tips from FrontDoor.
  1. Deck the halls, but don’t go overboard.
    Homes often look their best during the holidays, but sellers should be careful not to overdo it on the decor. Adornments that are too large or too many can crowd your home and distract buyers. Also, avoid offending buyers by opting for general fall and winter decorations rather than items with religious themes.
  2. Hire a reliable real estate agent.
    That means someone who will work hard for you and won’t disappear during Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s. Ask your friends and family if they can recommend a listing agent who will go above and beyond to get your home sold. This will ease your stress and give you more time to enjoy the season.
  3. Seek out motivated buyers.
    Anyone house hunting during the holidays must have a good reason for doing so. Work with your agent to target buyers on a deadline, including people relocating for jobs in your area, investors on tax deadlines, college students and staff, and military personnel, if you live near a military base.
  4. Price it to sell.
    No matter what time of year, a home that’s priced low for the market will make buyers feel merry. Rather than gradually making small price reductions, many real estate agents advise sellers to slash their prices before putting a home on the market.
  5. Make curb appeal a top priority.
    When autumn rolls around and the trees start to lose their leaves, maintaining the exterior of your home becomes even more important. Bare trees equal a more exposed home, so touch up the paint, clean the gutters and spruce up the yard. Keep buyers’ safety in mind as well by making sure stairs and walkways are free of snow, ice and leaves.
  6. Take top-notch real estate photos.
    When the weather outside is frightful, homebuyers are likely to start their house hunt from the comfort of their homes by browsing listings on the Internet. Make a good first impression by offering lots of flattering, high-quality photos of your home. If possible, have a summer or spring photo of your home available so buyers can see how it looks year-round.
  7. Create a video tour for the Web.
    You’ll get less foot traffic during the holidays thanks to inclement weather and vacation plans. But shooting a video tour and posting it on the Web may attract house hunters who don’t have time to physically see your home or would rather not drive in a snowstorm.
  8. Give house hunters a place to escape from the cold.
    Make your home feel cozy and inviting during showings by cranking up the heat, playing soft classical music and offering homemade holiday treats. When you encourage buyers to spend more time in your home, you also give them more time to admire its best features.
  9. Offer holiday cheer in the form of financing.
    Bah, humbug! Lenders are scrooges these days, but if you’ve got the means, then why not offer a home loan to a serious buyer? You could get a good rate of return on your money.
  10. Relax — the new year is just around the corner.
    The holidays are stressful enough with gifts to buy, dinners to prepare and relatives to entertain. Take a moment to remind yourself that if you don’t sell now, there’s always next year, which, luckily, is only a few days away.

Courtesy of HGTV.com

Continue reading

10 Cheap DIY Halloween Decorating Ideas (Indoor & Outdoor)

halloween decorationsHalloween brings out the kid in most of us. The air starts to cool, pumpkins appear on grocery store shelves, and before you know it, you’ve turned your front porch into a mad scientist’s lab.

Every retailer from Macy’s to Target offers Halloween costumes, decor, and party supplies. But while you might love those animated, life-sized Frankenstein inflatable decorations, you don’t need to drop hundreds of dollars to decorate for Halloween.

Whether you throw a Halloween bash, or just want to impress the neighborhood trick-or-treaters with your haunted mansion, you can decorate on a budget for Halloween, and still have the most impressive house on the block. Most of these craft projects use reclaimed materials or items you already have in your home. You just need a few tools, some supplies, and your imagination to have a spook-tacular Halloween this year.

Outdoor Halloween Decorations

Whether you go trick-or-treating, tell campfire ghost stories, or have backyard parties, Halloween offers fun fall events for everyone. With these inexpensive Halloween decorations, you can add some simple touches to your front porch for the kids, or turn your entire yard into a spooky display.

1. Backyard Cemetery

halloween rip cemeteryThis classic Halloween decoration idea turns your yard into a creepy cemetery. Use reclaimed materials to create a free graveyard. To create your haunted cemetery, cut different shapes out of cardboard and paint them to look like aging tombstones. Once they dry, you can arrange them on the lawn to look like a miniature graveyard.

You can also use the tombstones to denote a haunted pathway for trick-or-treaters. As they approach your front door, they have to pass by the tombstones, making for a thrilling Halloween nighttime walk.


  1. Flatten several shipping boxes.
  2. Use a Sharpie to draw tombstone shapes. I made a few rectangular, cross, and oval tombstones to give my graveyard some variety.
  3. Cut the shapes out of with a pair of scissors.
  4. Paint the shapes a dark grey and allow the paint to dry.
  5. Once dry, add on sayings like “R.I.P” to the front of each tombstone. Glue a wood or plastic yard stake to the back of the tombstone and plant it into the ground.

By using real wood, you can partially waterproof the tombstones, so they last for more than one Halloween season. The project works best if you use thin pieces of composite wood, which you can buy at any home improvement store. The thin pieces are easier to cut and stand up better in the grass.

Pro Tip: You can blend white paint onto the edges of the tombstone, or glue on some artificial moss, found at craft stores, to make them look more aged and authentic.

2. Haunted Trees

Make your yard come alive with this spooky craft. If you have trees in your yard, you can use oven-baked clay to give the trees spooky faces. Simply create a pair of eyes, a nose, and a mouth for each tree, and attach them to the trunks.

Place a portable radio or speakers near the tree and play your favorite eerie soundtrack to draw even more attention to your haunted trees.


  1. Purchase oven-baked modeling clay, like Fimo or a similar brand. You can buy modeling clay for about $12 a pound online. Buy colored clay, such as green, brown, or black, to give the face more character and to make each face more noticeable.
  2. Create basic shapes for the eyes, nose, and mouth. Use a butter knife to carve out more details like eyelids or teeth, and bake them in the oven.
  3. Use removable putty or double-sided hanging tape to arrange the face on the tree.

Pro Tip: You can purchase a clay glaze at most craft stores that prolongs the life of thes faces. The glaze adds a protective coating, which keeps them safer in the rain.

halloween trees

3. Reusable Jack o’ Lanterns

Jack o’ lanterns are staple Halloween decorations, but some of us would rather not deal with cutting and carving pumpkins every year. Hobby and craft stores sell artificial pumpkins you can carve and light. Best of all, you can store them for next season.


  1. Purchase an artificial pumpkin from a hobby store. They come in several different shapes, colors, and styles, so pick one you think will look best at your front door.
  2. Use an Exacto knife to carve a small hole in the bottom of the pumpkin, and to create a design on the front.
  3. After you finish the design, use a small piece of sandpaper to gently sand down any rough edges.
  4. Place a small flashlight or electric candle in the bottom to make your design glow, and pop your Jack o’ Lantern on the front porch.
  5. If you use small reusable jack o’ lanterns, you can place them in the windows of your home, to cast an eerie light on your front yard.

Pro Tip: If you’re not artistically inclined, you can use a stencil to create a Jack o’ Lantern design. A few websites offer free stencils you can print.

Places to get free Jack o’ Lantern Stencils:

  • Celebrating Halloween has a selection of traditional Halloween designs you can print.
  • Stoney Kins has an eclectic mixture of stencils, offering everything from Cookie Monster to Humphrey Bogart, and they’re free to print and use.
  • Pumpkin Glow has a large selection of “un-Halloween” stencils, which includes everything from commercial icons to famous people.
  • Better Homes and Gardens has a large selection of free stencils, ranging from the classics to different breeds of dogs.

jack o lanterns

4. Coffin Cooler

With a little imagination, and some wood and nails, you can create your own life-sized coffin, which you can use in a dozen different ways. I turned mine into a cooler to hold drinks for an outdoor party. My neighbor used his to create a gravedigger scene in his front yard on Halloween. You can also use your coffin for a spooky planter or as a table during a party.

For Halloween, use the coffin to strike fear into the hearts of your neighbors, by hiding someone inside, who pops out from time to time to spook the older trick-or-treaters. Talk to friends and family members to find free 4×4 boards for this project; someone you know likely has a stack of these boards collecting dust in the garage.


  1. You need seven 4×4 boards, varying in length depending on the size of coffin you want. Two boards make up the sides, one board makes the bottom, and you’ll cut the other four to fit the shape of the coffin.
  2. Cut the bottom board into a coffin shape. You can use Google images to get an idea for the design.
  3. Cut two boards to fit the length of the coffin. The boards should extend from the first angle on the top to the bottom.
  4. Cut two smaller boards so they fit at an angle on each side of the top.
  5. Cut the last two boards to fit the top and the bottom.
  6. Nail each piece to the bottom board, starting with the sides.
  7. Paint the finished product black, brown, or grey to make it look more authentic.

Pro Tip: If you plan to use the coffin as a drink cooler, line the inside with black trash bags. The trash bags help make the coffin more waterproof when the ice starts to melt.

halloween coffin doll

5. Giant Spiders

Spiders fit right into a spooky Halloween theme. You can transform a few black trash bags into a giant spider that fits on your front porch, or up in a tree. You can also make multiple giant spiders and cluster them across the front and sides of your home.


  1. You need nine black trash bags and stuffing such as newspaper, left over packing materials, or even leaves.
  2. Fill one trash bag with stuffing and tie it closed to create the spider’s body.
  3. Hold the second trash bag on its side and fill the length with stuffing.
  4. Wrap the empty bag around the stuffing several times, so that it looks like a spider’s arm, and secure it with a tie. Repeat this for the other seven legs.
  5. Use a glue gun to secure the legs to the body.

Pro Tip: You can cut off the bottom of Styrofoam cups and glue them onto the body to make eyes.

plastic bag spider halloween
Giant Spider – WatsCraft

6. Ghost-Lit Walkway

If you have a collection of milk jugs in your recycling bin, you can create a ghost-lit walkway that your trick-or-treaters will love. Look online to get inspirations for designing your ghosts’ faces. The Scream mask makes an instantly recognizable, scary ghost face that you can easily replicate on your milk jugs.


  1. For this project, you need several milk jugs, some black construction paper, and enough artificial candles to fill the jugs.
  2. Wash and dry each milk jug.
  3. Once dry, use a knife to cut a small hole in the bottom of each jug.
  4. Make ghost faces for each jug by cutting out a pair of eyes, a nose, and a mouth from the black construction paper.
  5. Turn the jug so that the handle faces the back. Glue the faces onto the front of the jug and place an artificial candle inside.
  6. Line the jugs along your walkway and turn the candles on. The jugs light up, illuminating the faces.

Pro Tip: You can also use white Christmas lights to light up the ghosts. Line the ghosts along the pathway, and insert a handful of the string lights inside each jug.

milk jug ghost walkway halloween
Spirit Jugs – eighteen25

Indoor Halloween Decorations

Indoor decorations are great way to make a Halloween party feel more authentic. In one afternoon, you can turn the inside of your house into an eerie mansion.

7. Floating Hands

You can turn clear plastic gloves into severed hands, and then place them around your house, sneak them into a chip bowl, or even make a garland out of hands. Whenever possible, use a fake hand to shake hands with arriving guests, and then release the hand and feign dismay.


  1. Fill a plastic glove with tissue paper, popcorn, or small shredded paper waste. You can also open up the gloves and fill them with freshly mixed JELL-O, for jiggly, realistic-feeling hand.
  2. Tie the open end of the glove with a clear elastic band to secure its contents.
  3. If you want to hang your hands, slide a paperclip through one loop of the elastic band.

Pro Tip: You can fill the plastic glove with shredded red scrapbook paper to create a “bloody hand,” or tan or brown scrapbook paper to create a more realistic-looking hand. You can also fill these hands with candy corn to create Halloween-themed treat bags.

candy corn popcorn gloves
Candy Corn Popcorn Hands – Kimbo’s Crafts

8. Halloween Garland

A simple Halloween banner is an artsy and cheap way to add some festive decorations to the inside of your house. Depending on the look you’re going for, you can make your garland eerie or more fall-oriented and cheery.

These instructions focus on making a garland with a message, but you have unlimited options when creating your Halloween garland. String paper pumpkins, ghosts, and vampires to make an eerie garland for your party. Use oversized paper cutouts of candy corn, candies, and popcorn for a garland over the snack table.


  1. Decide on a saying for your garland. For example, you can do a simple “Happy Halloween” or “Trick or Treat.”
  2. Select a color palette for the paper. If you want an eerie look, black, red, and green work well. If you want a festive look, brown, orange, red, and purple work nicely.
  3. Cut the paper into small squares or triangles, until you have one piece for each letter of your saying.
  4. Use paint markers or a sharpie to draw each letter on to the paper.
  5. Punch a small hole in the top with a hole punch. Slide a paper clip through each hole.
  6. Attach the letters to a long piece of twine.
  7. Hang your garland over a doorway or a mantle.

Pro Tip: You can add decorations between each letter block to give the garland more detail. For example, I wrapped artificial spider webs between the letter blocks on my garland.

happy halloween candy

9. Specimen Jars

With a few leftover glass jars, you can convert a table into a scientist’s lab. By tossing just about anything you can imagine into a glass jar with some food coloring, you can quickly create a cheap Halloween decor piece. Look online for craft ideas for fingers, eyeballs, and other body parts to fill your specimen jars. Make the jars and the rest of your decor seem even creepier by using mood lighting. Turn off overhead lights or switch them out with colored light bulbs, to increase the creepiness factor in your home.


  1. Collect a few glass jars in different sizes, such as mason jars, spaghetti jars, or old baby food containers.
  2. Find an object to place in each jar. For example, I popped the head off an old doll and stuck it inside a mason jar.
  3. Wash and dry the jar. Place the object inside.
  4. Fill the jar with water and drop in two drops of food coloring. The food coloring will make the object look like a specimen at a lab.

Pro Tip: Around the Halloween season, hobby stores sell small, plastic party favors. These party favors, including miniature skeletons, eyeballs, and severed limbs, all work well in specimen jars.

halloween specimen jars
Specimen Jars – Paper Dolls for Boys

10. Flying Bats

With a few pieces of felt and some tape, you can have a gang of bats flying around your living room in no time. You can easily make bats and put them up just about anywhere.


  1. Gather several pieces of black felt or black construction paper.
  2. Use a white marker or chalk to draw a bat outline on one side of each felt piece and cut the bats out with household scissors.
  3. Add a piece of double-sided tape to one side. Stick the bats along your walls, ceiling, or kitchen cabinets.

Pro Tip: You can use these bats to create a quick Halloween chandelier. Punch a small hole on the top of several bats. Tie different lengths of black ribbon or twine to each bat. Hang the bats from your light fixture or ceiling fan.

halloween bats decorations

Final Word

If you have the Halloween spirit, but you also have a budget, you can decorate your house from top to bottom without spending a lot of money. If you enjoy doing crafts, you probably have most of these supplies already lying around the house. But even if you don’t, you can buy everything you need for less than a hundred dollars. In addition, you can store many of these decorations, and continue to use them to scare and delight your friends and family every year.

Do you make your own Halloween decorations? What do you plan on using this year?

By Angela Colley
Posted in: Spending and Saving

Courtesy of Moneycrashers.com

Continue reading

7 Best Things About Buying A House In The Fall

  • 1. There’s less competition

    Competition for houses drops off in the fall, a time many people consider to be off-season in real estate. But there are still homes for sale — and in some cases, there’s just as much inventory as there was during the spring and summer. “[Fall] means new inventory and re positioned old inventory that did not sell in the prime season,” says Wesley Stanton, a New York, NY, agent with The Stanton Hoch Team.

    This puts you in a great position to negotiate. “Fall home buyers should consider [making] low ball offers, followed by more aggressive negotiation,” says Brian Davis, a real estate investor and director of education at Spark Rental. Davis points out that many sellers are very motivated to sell before the holidays. If possible, buyers should let these sellers know that they can close before Thanksgiving or before the school winter break.

    2. Sellers are worn-out

    Some sellers who put their homes on the market during the prime selling times of spring and summer might have been a tad overconfident by listing their homes for more than buyers were willing to spend. After months of no action, these sellers are often ready to make a deal. “Sellers who were unrealistic earlier in the year about price will now be more willing to reduce the price come fall,” says Thomas Miller, a Washington, DC, real estate agent. “Because there [are fewer buyers] and because the sellers are now eager to sell, they are more inclined to take the low offer than wait another six months for spring to come around.”

    3. Sellers are serious

    Not all homes on the market in fall are summer leftovers. Some people need to sell in the fall because the timing is right. Maybe they were having a home built, and it’s now ready. Maybe they need to move because of a job. “The sellers with houses on the market in the fall tend to be serious,” says Sam Heskel, president of Nadlan Valuation, an appraisal management company in Brooklyn, NY. “That means sellers could be more open to negotiating and accepting a lower offer.”

    4. You can take advantage of tax breaks

    First-time home buyers, take note: Although you can’t escape paying income tax, you can make a dent in what you owe when you become a homeowner. “Property tax and mortgage interest are both deductions you can take for your whole year’s worth of income, even if you closed on your home in December,” says David Hryck, a New York, NY tax adviser, lawyer, and personal finance expert. “Any payments that are made prior to the closing of the loan are tax-deductible. This can make a serious difference in the amount you owe the government at the end of the year.”

    5. Fall is a safer time of year

    Did you know that burglars have peak seasons? They do, says Sarah Brown, a home safety expert for SafeWise.com. “July and August are prime months for burglaries to take place,” she says. “Waiting until the fall [to buy] gives you an advantage when learning about a home and the neighborhood.” You’ll be settled in your home and can take precautions — like setting up that new alarm system — before the next burglary season rolls around. Note: Check Trulia’s local maps with the crime filter before you buy.

    6. You’re the center of attention

    Because spring and summer are ideal times to buy a home, real estate agents are usually busier then. And that could mean you might not always get the attention you want. This is also true for other professionals you’re working with to buy a house. “Service providers, such as mortgage lenders and title companies, are moving out of the summertime sales swamp and can often respond more quickly,” says John Lazenby, president of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association in Orlando, FL.

    The same goes for movers. “Because summer is peak moving season, people often experience more delays and service issues, such as moving companies reaching capacity and running out of trucks to pick up shipments,” says Jack Griffin, president and chief operating officer of Atlas World Group. “The probability of experiencing a delay goes way down in the fall season.”

    7. You can take advantage of end-of-year sales to outfit your home

    There are bound to be improvements you’ll want to make after buying a house. You’ll also probably need to buy items to maintain your home, and if appliances weren’t part of the deal, you’ll need those too. Wouldn’t it be great to coordinate your home purchase with sales on items you’ll need? According to Consumer Reports, the calendar determines when it’s a good time to buy all sorts of consumer goods. In particular, September is a great time for buying carpet and paint. October means lawn mowers go on sale, and appliances and cookware are cheaper in November.

    Courtesy of Trulia.com

    Written By Laura Agadoni | Aug 11, 2016

Continue reading

Simple Tips for How to Be a Good Tenant

As a renter, you’ll have good landlords and you’ll have bad ones. There’s not much you can do when it comes to the person at the other end of your leasing agreement, but there are things you can do as a tenant to keep things copacetic and maintain a good relationship with the person who you rent from. Figuring out how to be a good tenant goes even a step further than that, helping you foster positive relationships with your neighbors and the other people in your community. There’s a lot of incentive to consciously do what you can to be a good tenant, and fortunately, it’s really not all that difficult. Here’s where to start.

Be honest in your application

There’s a lot of competition out there for the best apartments. And when it comes to positioning yourself at the top of the application pile, it may be tempting to fudge the truth a little. Saying you don’t have a pet when you really do or that you don’t intend to have regular guests over when you know your significant other will essentially be living there along with you may seem like small fibs, but they’re likely to catch up with you. As with pretty much everything else in life, honesty is the best policy when you’re wanting to be a good tenant, and it all starts with your application.

Actually read the lease

Knowing what you’re agreeing to before you sign your lease is crucial for being a good tenant. There may be something in there that you wouldn’t otherwise know to adhere to, such as noise regulations that state you can’t play loud music after 10pm or rules around how to make sure you get your security deposit back at the end of your rental term. The more well versed you are in the (legally-binding) agreement between you and your landlord, the better tenant you’re going to be.

Don’t rent more than you can afford

The golden rule of housing costs is that they shouldn’t account for more than 30 percent of your expenses every month (or put another way, no more than 1/40th of your annual income). But in 2017, “fully two-thirds of renter households earned less than $60,000,” according to Harvard University’s most recent State of the Nation’s Housing report. With rental prices continuing to climb, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for the large majority of renters to stick to the 30 percent rule.

Only you really know how much you’ll be comfortable spending every month, but agreeing to an apartment that will require an unreasonably significant portion of your income can lead to late payments and missed payments. Part of being a good tenant is renting within your means, even when your means don’t get you that in-unit washer/dryer you really want. And on that note….

Pay your rent

Paying your rent—and paying it on time—is one of the most basic tenets of how to be a good tenant. Your landlord should never have to hunt you down and ask for your rent to be paid. And unless your lease dictates that you have some flexibility in when lease payments are due (say, up to five days from the first of the month) make sure your payment is dropped off on or before the due date. This will go a long way toward maintaining a strong relationship during your tenancy.

Not sure about something? Ask

The saying “it’s easier to apologize than ask for permission” does not apply to the landlord-tenant relationship. If you want to paint a wall, adopt a cat, or upgrade an existing light fixture and you’re not sure if you’re allowed to, ask your landlord before making a move. Any exceptions to what is stated in your lease will need to be agreed upon between the two of you in writing. Failure to do so can result in some serious penalties, including fines or an eviction. It will also erode trust in your ability to be a good tenant. The guidelines surrounding your relationship with your landlord are business-focused, not personal, so don’t make assumptions about what your landlord will be okay with just because you’re on good terms.

Keep it clean

Cleanliness in both your apartment and any shared common areas is a hugely important quality of a good tenant and neighbor. Landlords want tenants who will take good care of their properties and leave them exactly as they found them. While normal wear and tear is acceptable, it’s on you to ensure that you do your part to keep the space clean and in good condition. That’s not to say you have to deep clean your apartment once a week if it’s not in your nature, but be reasonable about how clean you keep your unit, and always be as neat and tidy as possible in the common spaces, both indoor and outdoor.

Submit maintenance requests right away

While you may think your landlord doesn’t want to be bothered with maintenance requests, it’s actually much more preferable on their end to know about—and fix—a problem as soon as it occurs rather than let it fester and potentially turn into something else. This is especially true if it’s a problem with heating, cooling, or leaking, all of which can get more difficult and expensive to solve the longer the problem goes on. If something’s broken, let your landlord know so that he or she can address it.

Be friendly

Kindness goes a long way. You don’t have to build a friendship with your landlord or your neighbors, but acknowledging them with a smile and a “hello” is a small gesture that can make a big difference in how they view you as a tenant. Being friendly during your tenancy will make the whole experience more pleasant, and it can also mean that if a problem does arise you’re treated a bit more generously.

Communicate openly and directly

Speaking of problems, just like with maintenance requests it’s always better to communicate what is going on rather than letting things build up and get worse. Let your landlord know if you’re having roommate or neighbor issues or if there’s some other issue that’s affecting you and your satisfaction with your living environment. It’s always better to speak up and let your landlord know what’s going on, especially since they’re not necessarily on the ground at the property very often. The best tenants are the ones that don’t bring a ton of drama. Openly communicating about things that are going on shows that you’re focused on solutions.

Try not to be too high maintenance

Chances are you are not your landlord’s only tenant and they have a lot going on. While it’s perfectly acceptable (and definitely preferable) to bring up any serious issues that you’re having, not every problem is worthy of a complaint. For example, if the property’s landscapers tend to loudly mow the lawn at 11am and you like to sleep in until noon that’s really more of an inconvenience than a problem that your landlord needs to solve. Find a balance between what’s worthy of reaching out over and what you can handle on your own (or just deal with) so that you’re not constantly barraging your landlord with things that you want them to fix.

Making an effort to be a good tenant is pretty much always in your best interest. It will make your tenancy go a whole lot smoother, and it will also make your landlord much more likely to give you a stellar recommendation when it’s time to move on to your next rental. In general, treat your apartment as you would treat your own house and treat the people around you as you would like to be treated. It’s easy to do, and appreciated by all.


Courtesy of Moving.com




Continue reading

7 Ways To Help Prepare Your Home For Winter

Winter is on its way and, for most of the country that means freezing temps, wind, snow, ice and heavy jackets.

To prepare your home and your household for the colder months ahead, review this handy checklist, which is designed to help you be more prepared for whatever old man winter has in store. Please keep personal safety in mind when checking items off this list, and connect with a trusted professional or contractor for help with anything you are unable to do yourself

1. Invest in weather stripping

Weather stripping is a good way to help seal warm air in and cold air out of your home. Available in almost any hardware store, weather stripping installs quickly around windows and doors and can help prevent air leaks.

Before winter arrives, check the following parts of your home for leaks or drafts:

  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Vents and fans
  • Plumbing areas
  • Air conditioners
  • Mail chutes
  • Electrical and gas lines

2. Clean your gutters

Clear gutters help drain water away from your roof and your house. If they’re clogged however, especially in colder months, they’re more apt to freeze, causing additional blockages. Blocked gutters can allow melting ice and snow to seep into your roof, or flood your home’s foundation, causing damage.

If it’s safe to do so, take some time before winter hits and clear out your gutters, or work with a trusted roofing professional or contractor to have your gutters cleaned.

3. Evaluate your roof to prevent ice dams

While a roofing professional is cleaning the gutters, see if he or she can evaluate your roof for ice dams too.

In cold weather, heat escaping your home can melt and refreeze ice and snow on your roof, leading to ice dams. These block off drains, and let water and ice continually build up on your roof – and possibly under it – weakening your roof and putting your home at risk.

To help prevent ice dams:

  • Insulate your attic – Your attic should have plenty of insulation to prevent too much heat transfer from your living areas to the attic. Check parts of the attic that may not be well insulated, like:
    • Pipes and vents
    • Chimney systems
    • Light fixtures
  • Ventilate your attic – If your attic wasn’t built with a ventilation system, contact a trusted professional or contractor about ventilating your attic before winter. Proper ventilation allows cold air into the attic, while the insulation seals heat in your living areas. This can help prevent warm air from melting ice on the roof, leading to possible damage.

4. Buy a roof rake to keep snow from building up

According to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IIBHS), an average roof can handle up to four feet of fresh snow before it’s stressed. However, as snow packs down from multiple storms, could cause a roof collapse!

If you expect a lot of snow this winter, invest in a roof rake. It can help you easily clear snow off your roof and protect your home during those blizzard months.

5. Prune trees around the house

If there are long tree branches hanging near your house, your roof, or your gutters, prune them before it gets too cold. Branches broken from heavy snow and ice can cause all kinds of damage to your home. A few hours with the pruner now could save you thousands of dollars in damages later this winter.

6. Stock up on basics

You know what happens when the news calls for bad weather; stores flood with people, all buying milk, bread, batteries, flashlights, and duct tape by the truck load. How do you avoid this mess?

Stock up on basic supplies before winter, and stay cozy in your home.

Strong winds, blizzards, ice, and snow can cause blackouts and power outages, which can wreak havoc on your home in the winter. To prepare, keep supplies on hand, and read more about the types of alternate heating sources available for purchase.

7. Protect pipes from freezing

According to the IIBHS, a burst pipe can cause more than $5,000 in water damage! Thankfully, you can do something to help protect your pipes from freezing in bitter cold weather.

Don’t turn the heat down too much when you’re out of the house. You may not be there to enjoy it, but your pipes need the heat to prevent freezing.

Let faucets drip during serious cold snaps to provide relief for your pipes.

Give your home a once over for any exposed or vulnerable piping, and wrap them with insulation. Hardware stores usually carry foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves for pipes, which are easy to install.

Caulk up cracks or holes in your walls to keep cold air away from pipes. This might not be practical for the average homeowner, so speak to a trusted contractor.

If your pipes do freeze, and water stops flowing from faucets, call a plumber immediately!

Courtesy of Farmers Insurance.com

Continue reading

Five Reasons Why You Still Need A Real Estate Agent

The proliferation of services that help homebuyers and sellers complete their own real estate transactions is relatively recent, and it may have you wondering whether using a real estate agent is becoming a relic of a bygone era. While doing the work yourself can save you the significant commission rates many real estate agents command, for many, flying solo may not be the way to go–and could end up being more costly than a realtor’s commission in the long run. Buying or selling a home is a major financial (and emotional) undertaking. Find out why you shouldn’t discard the notion of hiring an agent just yet.

1. Better Access/More Convenience

A real estate agent’s full-time job is to act as a liaison between buyers and sellers. This means that he or she will have easy access to all other properties listed by other agents. Both the buyer’s and seller’s agent work full time as real estate agents and they know what needs to be done to get a deal together. For example, if you are looking to buy a home, a real estate agent will track down homes that meet your criteria, get in touch with sellers’ agents and make appointments for you to view the homes. If you are buying on your own, you will have to play this telephone tag yourself. This may be especially difficult if you’re shopping for homes that are for sale by owner.

Similarly, if you are looking to sell your home yourself, you will have to solicit calls from interested parties, answer questions and make appointments. Keep in mind that potential buyers are likely to move on if you tend to be busy or don’t respond quickly enough. Alternatively, you may find yourself making an appointment and rushing home, only to find that no one shows up.

2. Negotiating Is Tricky Business

Many people don’t like the idea of doing a real estate deal through an agent and feel that direct negotiation between buyers and sellers is more transparent and allows the parties to better look after their own best interests. This is probably true–assuming that both the buyer and seller in a given transaction are reasonable people who are able to get along. Unfortunately, this isn’t always an easy relationship.

What if you, as a buyer, like a home but despise its wood-paneled walls, shag carpet and lurid orange kitchen? If you are working with an agent, you can express your contempt for the current owner’s decorating skills and rant about how much it’ll cost you to upgrade the home without insulting the owner. For all you know, the owner’s late mother may have lovingly chosen the décor. Your real estate agent can convey your concerns to the sellers’ agent. Acting as a messenger, the agent may be in a better position to negotiate a discount without ruffling the homeowner’s feathers.

A real estate agent can also play the “bad guy” in a transaction, preventing the bad blood between a buyer and seller that can kill a deal. Keep in mind that a seller can reject a potential buyer’s offer for any reason–including just because they hate his or her guts. An agent can help by speaking for you in tough transactions and smoothing things over to keep them from getting too personal. This can put you in a better position to get the house you want. The same is true for the seller, who can benefit from a hard-nosed real estate agent who will represent their interests without turning off potential buyers who want to niggle about the price.

3. Contracts Can Be Hard To Handle

If you decide to buy or sell a home, the offer to purchase contract is there to protect you and ensure that you are able to back out of the deal if certain conditions aren’t met. For example, if you plan to buy a home with a mortgage but you fail to make financing one of the conditions of the sale–and you aren’t approved for the mortgage–you can lose your deposit on the home and could even be sued by the seller for failing to fulfill your end of the contract.

An experienced real estate agent deals with the same contracts and conditions on a regular basis, and is familiar with which conditions should be used, when they can safely be removed and how to use the contract to protect you, whether you’re buying or selling your home.

4. Real Estate Agents Can’t Lie

Well, OK, actually they can. But because they are licensed professionals there are more repercussions if they do than for a private buyer or seller. If you are working with a licensed real estate agent under an agency agreement, (i.e., a conventional, full-service commission agreement in which the agent agrees to represent you), your agent will be bound by common law (in most states) to a fiduciary relationship. In other words, the agent is bound by license law to act in their clients’ best interest (not his or her own).

In addition, most realtors rely on referrals and repeat business to build the kind of clientèle base they’ll need to survive in the business. This means that doing what’s best for their clients should be as important to them as any individual sale.

Finally, if you do find that your agent has gotten away with lying to you, you will have more avenues for recourse, such as through your agent’s broker, professional association (such as the National Association Of Realtors) or possibly even in court if you can prove that your agent has failed to uphold his fiduciary duties.

When a buyer and seller work together directly, they can (and should) seek legal counsel, but because each is expected to act in his or her best interest, there isn’t much you can do if you find out later that you’ve been duped about multiple offers or the home’s condition. And having a lawyer on retainer any time you want to talk about potentially buying or selling a house could cost far more than an agent’s commissions by the time the transaction is complete.

5. Not Everyone Can Save Money

Many people eschew using a real estate agent to save money, but keep in mind that it is unlikely that both the buyer and seller will reap the benefits of not having to pay commissions. For example, if you are selling your home on your own, you will price it based on the sale prices of other comparable properties in your area. Many of these properties will be sold with the help of an agent. This means that the seller gets the keep the percentage of the home’s sale price that might otherwise be paid to the real estate agent.

However, buyers who are looking to purchase a home sold by owners may also believe they can save some money on the home by not having an agent involved. They might even expect it and make an offer accordingly. However, unless buyer and seller agree to split the savings, they can’t both save the commission.

The Bottom Line

While there are certainly people who are qualified to sell their own homes, taking a quick look at the long list of frequently asked questions on most “for sale by owner” websites suggests the process isn’t as simple as many people assume. And when you get into a difficult situation, it can really pay to have a professional on your side.

Continue reading

When’s the Best Time to Buy a House?

For most Americans, purchasing a home is one of the biggest investments they’ll make. Buying a home is a major commitment because you might be paying for your home for around 30 years if you take out a typical mortgage loan. Plus, once you’ve purchased a house, selling can be time-consuming and costly. That’s why it’s so important to be smart about the home-buying process.

One of the key things potential home buyers need to decide is when it’s the right time to buy a home. You can try to time the real estate market or buy when interest rates are low, or you can buy at certain times of year when you’re more likely to get a favorable deal or find the widest selection of homes. Ultimately, though, you’ll also need to make sure that you’re buying at the right time for you, which means you need to take your personal situation into account as well.

If you’re not sure whether you’re ready to become a home buyer, or if you’re interested in exploring what time of the year is the most advantageous time to buy a home, we have the answers.

Timing the real estate market

First things first: The best time to buy a home is when housing prices are low. When prices are low and there are fewer buyers than sellers, the market is considered a buyer’s market. Buyers can get homes for lower prices and can often demand more concessions from homeowners eager to sell. By contrast, in a seller’s market, home buyers may become involved in a bidding war as homeowners consider multiple offers.

Unfortunately, trying to time the real estate market is difficult, even for professional real estate investors. If you’re hoping to try and buy when prices have fallen, here are some key factors to consider:

  • Pricing trends in your area: Compare historical sales to what homes are selling for today. If home prices are significantly higher, your market may be in a bubble. Redfin provides information on pricing trends for different regions across the United States, and Zillow also has similar data. Case-Shiller home price indexes also provide data on national home sale prices, as well as prices in specific metro areas.
  • The months of supply: Months of supply is the real estate term used to describe the inventory of homes for sale. It’s a metric that looks at how much time it would take to sell all houses currently for sale based on current demand if no new homes came onto the market. You can also obtain this information from Redfin. In a balanced real estate market, there’s generally around a six-month supply of housing. If the supply is lower, bidding wars are more likely to occur.
  • The time it takes for homes to sell: If houses sit on the market for a long time, it’s likely a buyer’s market. But if homes are selling very quickly, it’s a seller’s market — and you can expect to pay more for a home. Redfin provides details on the days-on-market for sold homes.
  • New construction: When new construction lags, this keeps housing in short supply and puts upward pressure on prices. The U.S. Census Bureau provides data on new residential construction.
  • How housing prices compare to income and employment: The housing market is overvalued in your area if prices are high in relation to the income of local residents. This isn’t a sustainable situation, so prices are likely to fall. The National Realtors Association publishes data on home affordability to provide insight.

Even with a careful assessment of market conditions, it’s challenging to predict what home prices will do. Still, if prices are very high in your area — especially relative to local incomes — this could be a sign of a housing bubble. In that case, it may be worth waiting so you don’t overpay for a home that might quickly fall in value if the bubble bursts.

Comparing renting vs. buying

Another key factor to consider when deciding whether now’s the right time to buy a house is whether it makes more economic sense for you to rent or buy in the market where you live.

The price-to-rent ratio can help you compare total costs of owning a home versus total costs of renting a similar property. The cost comparison typically considers total rental costs to include rent and renter’s insurance, while total ownership costs include mortgage payments, real estate taxes, closing costs, homeowner’s insurance, and any homeowners’ association (HOA) dues. Ownership costs also take into account favorable tax benefits for homeowners, such as a tax deduction for mortgage interest.

You can calculate the price-to-rent ratio yourself by comparing mean or median home prices in your area to average rental prices for comparable properties. Zillow provides data you can use to do this calculation, and Trulia has a calculator you can use.

If you could rent a comparable home for much less than the cost to buy, it may not make sense to sink your cash into real estate. Instead, you may be better off renting and investing the difference. However, if you can buy a home for much less than it would take you to rent a similar property, this is usually a good indicator that it makes financial sense to purchase.

Evaluating interest rates

Another factor to consider is whether interest rates are high or low. If interest rates are high, borrowing money for your home will cost more. If interest rates are low, your mortgage payment will be smaller and you’ll pay less in interest over the life of your loan.

Predicting interest rates, like predicting home prices, is difficult. The Congressional Budget Office and the Federal Reserve both provide projections on interest rates, as do many experts. Freddie Mac also provides details on historic and current mortgage interest rates.

If you think interest rates are going to rise soon, buying your home now to lock in your low rate would be advised, but if you believe rates will fall, then it can make sense to wait.

Choosing the right time of year

Home prices not only vary over time, but they can also vary over the course of the year.

Supply and demand are big reasons why house prices change with the seasons. Summer has proved to be the most popular time to move and is a popular time for sellers to put their home on the market. While you’ll likely see more inventory in the summer, it’s the worst time to buy if your goal is to get the best deal because prices rise when demand increases.

Price increases in the summer can be dramatic. One 2009 study found prices are between .86% and 3.75% higher on average during the summer months than the winter months. A 2013 study using data from 138 different statistical areas also saw pricing variation from month to month, with prices at their highest in June and July.

Chart showing seasonal variation in housing prices

Image source: Journal of Housing Research, Volume 22, Issue 1.

While this data suggests you should buy during the winter months, a lower supply of housing may mean it’s more difficult to find your ideal home. In fact, one reason housing prices may be lower in winter is that buyers aren’t able to find homes that match their preferences as closely with fewer houses on the market, so they aren’t willing to pay as much of a premium.

If you can find a home you like in winter and pay less for it, this is a smart financial and personal choice. But if you aren’t able to find a home that’s a good fit, you’ll need to decide whether to settle for what’s available or wait until inventory expands as the warmer months arrive.

Making sure your personal financial life is in order

The real estate market, interest rates, and home prices in your market all play a role in determining if the time is right to buy a house. But the single most important factor in deciding whether it’s time to buy is whether you’re personally ready to make a home purchase. That means you’ll need to have your financial life in order.

Some of the key factors to consider before you buy a home include:

Your income

Most financial experts recommend you keep housing costs to 30% of your income or less. If you can’t find a home that’s affordable based on this ratio, consider waiting to buy until your income increases or you’ve moved to an area with a lower cost of living where your home won’t take such a large percentage of your take-home pay.

Many home buyers are housing-burdened because their mortgage, property taxes, insurance, and other costs exceed 30% of income. While you technically can purchase a home that will put your payment above this threshold — as long as you meet qualifying criteria for a mortgage — it will be much harder to accomplish other goals such as saving for retirement.

You’ll also want to consider how long you’ve been earning your income and how stable your source of income is. Typically, mortgage lenders want to see steady income for at least two years. If you just increased your income last month, lenders may consider a lower amount when deciding how large a loan they’re willing to give you. And if you have reason to suspect you’ll lose your job or see your income decline, buying a home and committing to a mortgage is probably a bad idea.

Your credit score

Your credit score makes a big difference in your mortgage interest rate. As of May 29, the national average mortgage rate for a borrower with a FICO score above 760 was 4.251%, while the average mortgage rate for a borrower with a FICO score between 640 and 659 was 5.294%.

If you borrow $300,000 at 4.251%, your monthly payment would be $1,476 and the total cost of your mortgage would be $531,358. But if you borrowed instead at 5.294%, your payment would be $1,665 and the total cost of your mortgage would be $599,327. Having a lower credit score would cost you $2,268 per year, and you’d pay almost $68,000 more for your home.

Because the costs of bad credit are so high when borrowing a large amount over a long time, it’s often worth waiting to buy a home until you’ve improved your score. You can raise your credit score by developing a history of on-time payments and reducing the total debt you owe so you have a better credit utilization rating.

If you have a late payment on your credit report, ask your lender if they’d be willing to remove this black mark on your record as a courtesy. Many lenders will, in most circumstances, if you’ve reliably paid on time. And check your credit report for errors as you don’t want incorrect information lowering your score.

Your down payment

In 2017, the median down payment for a new home purchase was 10%, according to the National Association of Realtors. A down payment below 20% means you’ll have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI).

PMI protects your lender in case of foreclosure — the insurance pays the lender if your home is foreclosed on and sells for less than you owe. Although you’re the one who pays for PMI, you don’t benefit directly. PMI has an annual cost equal to between .5% and 5% of the total loan amount, depending on your credit, the total loan cost, and the amount that would likely be paid out if a claim was made on the insurance. On a $300,000 loan, if PMI costs equaled 1%, you’d pay $3,000 annually or $250 per month.

Not only is paying PMI a waste of money but buying a home with a low down payment or no down payment can be a big mistake for another reason: It leaves you very vulnerable to fluctuations in the real estate market.

If you buy a home with just 10% down and home prices fall even slightly, you may need to come up with cash to bring to closing if you must move — or you could be forced to ask your lender if you can do a short sale, which could ruin your credit.

Home values wouldn’t have to fall a full 10% for you to find yourself in financial trouble if you made just a 10% down payment. You have closing costs to pay if you sell, along with around 6% in commission to a realtor, so even a slight drop in the price of a home could mean you’re effectively underwater, because you wouldn’t generate enough from the sale to pay off your mortgage and other costs of selling. And the smaller your down payment, the more likely it is you’ll end up in this situation.

Waiting to buy a home until you can put at least 20% down gives you a financial cushion so if you need to move but your house isn’t worth what you paid for it, you won’t be in dire financial straits.

Your savings for closing costs

When you buy a home, you’ll need money in the bank for closing costs. Home buyers typically pay around 2% to 5% of the value of the property in closing costs, according to Zillow. In April 2018, the median price of a new home was $312,400, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Assuming you paid at the low end, you’d be looking at closing costs of around $6,248. And these costs could go higher.

Closing costs cover expenditures for home appraisals, land surveys, loan applications and origination fees, property taxes, transfer taxes, recording the deed, a home inspection, title insurance, homeowner’s insurance, and more. While some home buyers borrow for closing costs and roll the costs into their loan, this would mean paying interest on closing costs over several decades. Borrowing would also adversely impact your loan-to-value ratio. The loan-to-value ratio is the amount of your loan compared with what your home appraises for. It usually needs to be below 80% so that you qualify for the best interest rates and avoid PMI. Borrowing an extra $6,248 means you may no longer be within this ratio.

Your emergency fund

Having an emergency fund is important before you buy a home, for a few reasons.

First, it can protect you from being foreclosed on. Foreclosure can happen if you’re unable to afford to make payments on your home. Having an emergency fund valued at three to six months of living expenses — including your mortgage — ensures you can keep making mortgage payments for a long time in the event of a job loss or other financial calamity.

You also want to ensure you can afford the costs of home repairs. As a homeowner, you can’t just call your landlord if the roof leaks or the water heater breaks. You could regularly incur expenses of several thousand dollars or more once you own a home. And the older your home is, the more likely it is you’ll incur big costs.

While ideally you’ll save a home-maintenance fund and put aside around 1% to 2% of the value of your home each year for routine repairs and big projects, many home buyers have little or no money set aside after saving for a down payment. If you don’t have a home-maintenance fund or emergency fund, you could end up in debt if something goes wrong.

Savings for the move and getting your new home set up

When calculating how much you need in savings, don’t forget to factor in the cost of moving. You may need to pay professionals to move your possessions or may need to rent a moving truck and purchase moving boxes. When you’ve moved into your new home, there may also be furniture and other incidentals to buy.

The costs of getting set up in your new abode can be several thousand dollars. Make sure you’re prepared so you don’t end up in debt for furniture or sleeping on the floor of your new house.

Your other debts

Finally, it’s important to consider whether you have a substantial amount of other debt.

Mortgage lenders look at your debt-to-income ratio when deciding if you can qualify for a loan and what your interest rate will be. Your debt-to-income ratio equals total monthly payments on your debt — including mortgage costs — divided by your gross monthly income. If you gross $4,000 per month and have total debt of $2,000, including a $1,400 house payment, a $300 car loan, and a $300 student loan payment, your debt-to-income ratio would be 50%.

Most mortgage lenders will not give you a loan if your debt-to-income ratio exceeds 43%. Unfortunately, this can make it difficult for you to purchase a home if you have many financial obligations or a substantial amount of student loan debt.

If your debt-to-income ratio is too high for you to qualify for a mortgage, you’ll have no choice but to wait to buy a home. You can work on paying extra money toward your debt to bring your ratio down, or consider purchasing a cheaper home so your housing costs are lower and you fall within the 43% ratio.

Thinking about your short-term and long-term goals

If your finances are in order and market conditions are good, it still may not be the best time to buy a house. You also need to consider what your future plans are.

In particular, make sure you’re going to stay in the same place for a while. This is important because a home is a very illiquid asset. Eighty-nine percent of homeowners used a real estate agent or broker to sell their house in 2017, according to the National Association of Realtors. This means most home sellers who listed their homes paid commission. Since commission averages about 6% of a home’s value, the costs are substantial. You’ll also have closing costs to pay when selling your home.

In order for your home to hopefully appreciate enough in value to cover the cost of a sale, most financial experts recommend buying a home only if you plan to stay for at least two to five years. Of course, there are never any guarantees about what the housing market will do, but the longer you stay put, the more likely it is you’ll break even on the home purchase even after paying costs associated with a move.

You also don’t know how long it will take to find a buyer, so if you suspect you may need to move quickly, tying yourself down with a home is a bad bet.

So, is now the best time to buy a home?

As you can see, there’s no one right answer to the question of when is the best time to buy a home. By considering your personal financial situation, your plans for the future, and the state of the real estate market, you can make a fully informed choice about whether now is the right time for you to buy.

Ultimately, buying a home is not just a financial investment, but it also gives you the opportunity to set down roots and build traditions. It can be a great purchase — just as long as you’re responsible about when and how you buy.

Something big just happened
I don’t know about you, but I always pay attention when one of the best growth investors in the world gives me a stock tip. Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner and his brother, Motley Fool CEO Tom Gardner, just revealed two brand new stock recommendations. Together, they’ve tripled the stock market’s return over the last 13 years.* And while timing isn’t everything, the history of Tom and David’s stock picks shows that it pays to get in early on their ideas.

Courtesy of The MOTLEY FOOL

Written by- Christy Bieber

Continue reading

Make Your Home Winter Ready

Getting yourself ready for winter is a snap. Gloves? Check! Scarf? Right here. But readying your home for a long, cold season is another story. So, until someone invents a turtleneck sweater you can put around your house when it gets cold, there’s some organizing to do. We’ve got the tips to help you.

Strategy for Saving

Organizing your home for winter can seem like an annoying and perhaps unnecessary chore. But the financial benefits will outweigh any feelings of being “put out.” Winter heating costs can skyrocket if your windows are poorly insulated, your plumbing breaks, or if the heating system is out-of-date. Ensuring your home is prepped properly can save you a nice chunk of change while protecting your property for years to come.

Break It Down

Looking at a giant to-do list is overwhelming. To save frustration, break it down into two or three jobs you can tackle over the next three to four weekends. First up, windows. Check each one in the house for drafts and insulation needs. The following week, inspect pipes to avoid an unfortunate burst in January. You can make things even easier by dividing the job among the family. Assign each person a room to inspect and report back on whether it’s ready for winter.

Three Steps to a Safe Season

#1: Prep the Plumbing

Drain the water from your outdoor faucets and garden hoses and arrange to have any in-ground sprinkler pipes blown out. Roll up the garden hoses and store them inside. Identify any “problem” pipes that are prone to freezing in the house and consider using heat tape to keep them warm during extremely cold weather. If the worst happens, ensure everyone in the family knows how to turn off the water at the source. This will minimize leaking when and if a pipe bursts.

#2: Heat Things Up

Everyone enjoys cozy evenings by a crackling fire?  Ensure your fireplace is ready to provide warm nights all winter. Be sure to have the chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional before the first frost. Also, have a professional perform a routine check of the heating systems before cold weather arrives. This should include vacuuming the vents and other heating components. If your furnace has a filter, check to see if it needs replacing. For more energy savings, consider installing a setback thermostat that keeps the home cooler when you are asleep or away.

#3: Seal the Leaks

Keep drafts to a minimum this winter. If you have them, install storm windows and doors — and don’t overlook the basement. Add or replace worn weather stripping around the doors and windows and caulk any gaps. If doorstops are worn, replace them. If any pipes or ducts travel through an exterior wall, be sure to use caulking and weather-stripping around all entry points. These steps will block any potential entry points for cold air. That’s an idea you can warm up to.
Courtesy of HGTV

By: Sarah Welch and Alicia Rockmore


Continue reading

The Changing Market!!!

Are we in the middle of a market change? Most Real Estate professionals will have varying opinions, but in my assessment we have shifted toward a seller’s market. Not to the extreme in which the media has proclaimed, but definitely getting away from buyers purchasing homes at a reduced price. 

The first sign of this can be seen in the distressed sales market.  Foreclosure inventory has decreased 18% over the last two years.  Gone are the days of having your pick of foreclosed homes to buy at rock bottom prices.  Most of the last decade has been spent in recovery mode. This may have caused a whole generation to have a negative feeling towards home ownership.  Before the “Crash of 2008” people were moving an average of every 3-5 years, statistics now show a 10-year average.  People were choosing to stay and fix up what they had, while waiting for the market to rise. Has the day come for that to change?

The recent rise in interest rates is causing more buyers to jump into the real estate market.  Simply because, higher rates cause less buying power for the consumer.  Which has resulted in a 13% rise in closed sales in the last two years. Currently there is not enough inventory available on the market. Real Estate professionals are concerned this may cause another bubble in the market.  A 6-month inventory supply is a normal balanced market.  Once housing inventory dips below a 6-month supply, the market will shift into a seller’s market.  Certain neighborhoods throughout Hampton Roads have already seen this trend.  Home building needs to be ramped up to meet the demand of the Millennial & Baby Boomer generation. 

Hampton Roads is fairly lucky in the fact we are “protected” literally and figuratively by the military.  We are one of the largest transient areas in America, which allows the southeast region to stay relatively stable.  We never see the highs of the market like the big cities, but we also don’t experience the massive lows either.  Hampton Roads is a great area to invest in financially. Rentals and the resale of homes are always needed to keep up with demand of our growing military and government contractors.  So, don’t be afraid to invest in our Hampton Roads Real Estate market, we tend to survive!! 

As always, if you or someone you know is ready to buy or sell…

Give the Thompson Team a call!!


Continue reading