Optimistic Future for Housing Market

The near-term future for the housing market is mostly healthy, announced Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) Chief Economist Mike Fratantoni, although some troubling issues have yet to abate.

“We expect this growth to continue over the next few years,” said Fratantoni at the MBA Independent Mortgage Bankers Conference. “We could see an early start to the spring homebuying season.”

Frantantoni praised the overall state of the economy, noting the impact of job and wage growth on housing.

“We have raised our outlook on economic growth,” Fratantoni added. “Overall, the tax bill will be a positive for the economy.”

Frantantoni noted the MBA revised its forecast for the Federal Open Market Committee’s plans to raise rates—the trade group initially predicted three rate hikes for 2018, but has adjusted that for four hikes. “One result of that will be mortgage interest rates approaching five percent by the end of this year and exceeding five percent in 2019 and beyond,” he said.

However, a few dark clouds persist on this otherwise pristine horizon. One involves housing inventory—or, more accurately, the lack thereof.

“People are not putting their homes up for sale, and there are an increasing number of consumers who want to buy homes,” Fratantoni said. “We are simply not meeting demand, and that is going to continue to drive up home prices.”

The second problem involves labor shortages in the home construction sector. “Nearly 82 percent of home builders are reporting an inability to find skilled labor,” Fratantoni said. “Builders are complaining that their crews are getting hired away before they can complete the current jobs.”

Fratantoni also expressed concern that the shrinking quantity of affordable home ownership opportunities will continue to grow tighter, especially in the pricier major metro areas. “What I am concerned about in these high-priced markets is that we are pricing out potential buyers,” he said. “This is a supply problem, not a price problem.”

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What does the new Tax Law mean for Real Estate?

It’s not often that a new year brings major changes to how we’re taxed. Now that the President has signed the tax bill into law, it’s predicted to have a significant impact on the economy and therefore the real estate market in Idaho.

One school of thought is that more money in Americans’ pockets means that they may accelerate their plans to buy a home. More buyers with more disposable income paired with low housing inventory might drive home prices even higher.

On the other hand, some real estate professionals think that the new tax law could dissuade buyers because the cap on mortgage interest deduction has been lowered from $1 million to $750,000. Of course this only affects higher end homes so most will be unaffected (especially in Idaho).

Only time will tell what actually happens to the real estate market, but most people are expecting another very strong year!

If you’re looking to buy or sell a home this year, please feel free to contact me for help!

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Home Safety is More than Locked Doors and Alarms

SecurityWhen it comes to home security, most homeowners think about door locks and alarms. These are, of course, very important. However, there is also a lot you can do around your property to prevent the possibility of a break-in.

One important part of home security is outdoor lighting. Your home doesn’t need to be lit up like a baseball diamond at night, but your exterior lighting should illuminate your yard enough to be a deterrent to burglars.

Some burglars hide around the property and wait for someone to arrive and open the door so they can use that opportunity to force their way into your home.

Security experts suggest that you walk around your property and look for areas where someone could hide, such as behind tall shrubbery or behind a tool shed. Make sure these areas are well lit.

Pay particular attention to lighting around exterior doors, especially the back door.

Experts also recommend that exterior lighting be installed with a timed dimmer. The lights can then be set to cast a bright light in the early evening, and then a dimmer light throughout the rest of the night.

Lights installed with motion detectors can also be effective in certain areas. The sensors will cause the light to turn on or brighten when someone comes onto that part of your property. Generally, thieves will flee as soon as they see a light turn on.

Do you hide a spare key under the front door mat or in a flower pot? You may think you have found a clever spot, but experienced thieves know all the common hiding places. So, if you need to have a spare key available, put it in a small combination lock box and hide the box. Even if a burglar finds the box, he won’t be able to open it and access the key.

For more tips feel free to contact me anytime!

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Painting to Sell

PaintingA fresh coat of paint is the fastest and most inexpensive way to make your property more attractive to buyers. It can make just about any room look stylish and new.

The challenge is determining what paint colors and options you should choose out of the hundreds available. Should you be daring and select “designer” colors? Should you consider stippling, ragging and other effects?

Experts say to keep it simple. Stick to just two or three traditional colors for your entire home. The simple consistent tones will make your property appealing to the tastes of more buyers.

Need more tips? Contact me today….

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How To Tell if a Neighborhood is Improving

ForSaleWhen you’re looking for a new home, you want to find one in a great neighborhood – or, at least, in a neighborhood that is on the upswing. How can you tell if a particular area is improving? Here are some common indicators:

  • Pride of ownership. Take a walk around the neighborhood. Do you get a sense that people take good care of their homes? Are the lawns mowed? Is the landscaping trimmed? Are flowers planted? Homeowners are more likely to look after their properties when they like where they are living.
  • Home improvements. Are people investing in their homes? Are they getting their driveways re-done? Their windows replaced? Are there signs of home improvement projects? If so, this is a clear indication that homeowners like the area enough to invest in their properties.
  • Real estate sales activity. Do homes tend to sell quickly in the area? Do they sell for a good price? If so, the neighborhood is probably in demand. If people want to live there, it’s a desirable area.
  • Business investment. Are businesses investing in the surrounding area? Is there an increase in the number of upscale shops, health clubs, restaurants, and other commercial enterprises that often locate near desirable neighborhoods?
  • Community involvement. Are there signs that the community plays an active role in the look and lifestyle of the neighborhood? Are there neighborhood picnics, yard sales and other get-togethers? Check Facebook to see if the neighborhood has a community page.
  • City plans. Find out what plans the city has for the area. Will there be road improvements done in the near future? Are there any major construction projects on the schedule, such as a new school or community center? Although such projects can be disruptive in the short term, they may improve the neighborhood – and, as a result, boost the value of any home you buy – in the long-term.

If you need help finding this information, contact me today.

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Creating a Realistic New Home Budget

BudgetYou’re probably aware that there’s more to the cost of a new home than its purchase price. So to help you make an informed decision, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much do you expect to pay for moving expenses? Don’t forget to include packing materials in your calculations.
  • “Closing costs” are the extra charges you will have to pay at closing. How much do you expect your closing costs to be?
  • Estimate how much you’ll pay for activating your phone, internet service, cable television, and other utilities at your new home. These little costs can add up.
  • Will your new property require painting, repairs, and other preparations once you move in? How much will they likely cost?
  • Will you need to purchase new furnishings, decor, and other items for your new home? What’s your budget for those items?

The more aware you are of the true costs of a home you’re interested in buying, the better choices you’ll be able to make about that home. If you decide to buy, you’ll be able to do so with much more confidence. For more helpful tips, please contact me.

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Give Your Outdoor Space a Wash & Haircut

PowerWashWhen preparing a home for sale, most people focus on making the inside look as appealing as possible. But the outside of your property deserves your attention too. After all, it’s the first thing a potential buyer sees.

You can dramatically improve the appearance of your property by giving it a “wash and haircut”!

Clean the driveway, walkways and deck or patio. A pressure washer — which can be rented from most home improvement centers — works best, although you can do nearly as good a job with a water hose and walkway cleaner.

Trim hedges and shrubs. Mow the lawn. Pull any weeds out of flower beds.

These small measures will help you make the best first impression on buyers. For more helpful tips on how to sell your house please feel free to contact me.

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Home Inspectors Help More Than You May Think

InspectorIf you’re thinking of buying a particular home, you’re probably aware that you should get a qualified home inspector to examine it. In fact, most offers will include a condition that the property be inspected before the sale becomes final.

A good home inspector will go over the property from top to bottom, inside and out. He or she will look for things like cracks in the foundation, out-dated wiring, repairs that need to be done, and aging components (such as the roof and furnace). The inspector will also provide a timeline for the replacement of any of the major components including HVAC windows, roof, etc.

Basically, a home inspector helps you understand the condition of the home and the related expenses you should expect.

But it can also be very beneficial for a seller to hire a home inspector. Getting your current home inspected before you list it for sale can help sell your property faster and for the best price.

Say you put your home on the market. You get an offer. That offer is conditional on a home inspection. What if the inspector uncovers a major issue, like a leak you weren’t aware of, or some problem with the wiring? The buyer could potentially walk away from the deal.

If, however, you got your home inspected first, you would know about those issues in advance and could deal with them appropriately.

So a good home inspector can be more valuable than you think!

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Putting a Price on Memories

valueYou visit a garage sale on a sunny Saturday morning and find a bicycle that you think would be perfect for your child. You look at the price tag and it’s about twice as much as you would expect to pay. When you question the owner, he says, “That bike has a lot of sentimental value for me. I couldn’t let it go for less.”

Chances are, you’ll pass on the bike. The owner sees the bike and happily remembers teaching his daughter to ride it. What you see is just a bike! You can’t buy someone else’s memories.

This scenario sometimes plays itself out in real estate. A homeowner has fond memories of his home. He may have renovated the den himself and is proud of his work. He may delight in memories of family BBQs on the deck.

That doesn’t mean the house will sell for more than its market value.

So when you put your property on the market, make sure emotions don’t get in the way of pricing it properly.

Fortunately, memories will stay with you, even without your house. You’ll be able to happily take them along to your next home.

If you’re looking to buy or sell a house in the near future, please contact me.

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Drive the Neighborhood

NeighborhoodFinding the right home involves more than just finding the right property. The location plays an important role as well. The last thing you want is to be dazzled into buying what looks like a dream home, only to discover later on that the location makes it inconvenient to get to work, school and other activities.

So when you see a property you like, take a drive around the area. Drive to the local school your kids will be attending. Drive to the highway you take to work. Drive to activities you and your family enjoy, such as golf, movies, and swimming.

By spending some time exploring the area by car, you’ll get a feel for what life is going to be like once you live there.

For more information, please contact me.

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