What Happens if Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac go away?

waving goodbyeDissolving Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac may hurt borrowers
Source: The LA Times

What will the proposed elimination of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mean for consumers? In the absence of a government guarantee, experts contend that mortgage rates are likely to rise, and the widespread availability of 30-year mortgages would be jeopardized. Economists at Moody’s Analytics estimate the average mortgage borrower would see interest rates increase by one-half to three-quarters of a percentage point.
Read the full story

Click here to start searching for your new home or list it for sale before rates go any higher!

Should you Overprice or Underprice Your Home for Sale?

anchorShould Home Sellers Overprice or Underprice Real-Estate Listings?
Source: The Wall Street Journal

When setting an asking price, there are two major strategic approaches: overpricing when inventory is low to get higher initial offers, or pricing homes below nearby properties to instigate a bidding war in a market with pent-up demand. But what’s the best method? New research on a behavioral trait called “anchoring” sheds some light on the power of price.  Read the full story

Click Here to to find home values in your neighborhood to help price your home for sale.

Do you ask Mom and Dad for the cash to buy that home?

parent loanAsking Mom and Dad for Cash to buy that Home

Source: Wall Street Journal

Loans from family members could go the extra mile in making a down payment, but financial experts say parental help is most useful when it comes as a gift rather than a loan during the mortgage application process. A family loan may not be viewed favorably by a lender and could lead to disqualification for a mortgage since the loan is considered unsecured debt.  Read the full story.

Click HERE to find out what your home is worth in today’s market.

How much longer will the low housing inventory Last?

out of stockHome shoppers advised to stay patient amid overheated housing market
Source: The LA Times

It’s a seller’s market, so experts are advising home buyers that patience will pay off at a time when the inventory of available homes for sale is low. Experts contend that in six months to a year from now, the inventory of unsold homes should improve markedly, and it should be easier to qualify for financing.
Read the full story.

Click HERE to find your next home in a tight market.

What Worries Buyers Most?

worried buyer7 Things That Worry Buyers Most about the Buying/Selling Process
Source: Chicago Agent Magazine

Tight supplies, rising rates and bidding wars have characterized market conditions for many buyers looking to secure the property of their dreams. A new survey conducted by Trulia and Harris Interactive shows that 41 percent of respondents are concerned that mortgage interest rates will rise before they are ready to buy. Finding a suitable home and qualifying for a mortgage were other major concerns. Read the full story

Click Here to find out the current value of your home or an area where you are interested in buying.

How do I compete with the All-Cash buyer?

cash buyerHomebuyers are facing competition from all-cash buyers on top of rising home prices and low inventory. Such cash buyers include foreign investors and baby boomers with sufficient equity. Tips to compete with these buyers include getting pre-approved, making a competitive bid, considering properties that might be overpriced, and freeing up additional cash.
Read the full story

Click Here for the ten things you should NEVER do before buying that next home.

Does Renting still make sense? Take our Poll.

rent or buyHousing costs among working renter households rose for the third consecutive year due primarily to falling incomes and rising rental housing costs, according to the 2013 Center for Housing Policy’s Housing Landscape report. Nationally, working renters saw their housing costs rise by 6% from 2008 to 2011, while their household incomes fell more than 3%. More than one in four working renter households (26.4%) spent more than half of their income on housing costs in 2011 — an increase of more than three percentage points since 2008. (Center For Housing Policy)

So the question is, as a renter does it make more sense to start planning how you are going to buy a home versus wasting dollars on something with no future value?  What do you think?

Seven Smart Strategies for Bathroom Remodeling

bathroom remodel7 Smart Strategies for Bathroom Remodeling

Original Post By: John Riha

Here’s how to get the bathroom of your dreams without making your budget a nightmare.

A mid-range bathroom remodel is a solid investment, according to Remodeling magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report. An average bath remodel of $15,782 will recoup about 65.2% of those costs when it’s time to sell your home, and a more extensive $50,000 job returns about 58%. In addition, you can maximize the value of your investment by using these smart strategies, which will create a stylish yet budget-friendly bathroom.

1. Stick to a plan

A bathroom remodel is no place for improvisation. Before ripping out the first tile, think hard about how you will use the space, what materials and fixtures you want, and how much you’re willing to spend.

The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) recommends spending up to six months evaluating and planning before beginning work. That way, you have a roadmap that will guide decisions, even the ones made under remodeling stress. Once work has begun—a process that averages 2 to 3 months—resist changing your mind. Work stoppages and alterations add costs. Some contractors include clauses in their contracts that specify premium prices for changing original plans.

If planning isn’t your strong suit, hire a designer. In addition to adding style and efficiency, a professional designer makes sure contractors and installers are scheduled in an orderly fashion. A pro charges $100 to $200 per hour, and spends 10 to 30 hours on a bathroom project.

2. Keep the same footprint

You can afford that Italian tile you love if you can live with the total square footage you already have. Keeping the same footprint, and locating new plumbing fixtures near existing plumbing pipes, saves demolition and reconstruction dollars. You’ll also cut down on the dust and debris that make remodeling so hard to live with.  Make the most of the space you have. Glass doors on showers and tubs open up the area. A pedestal sink takes up less room than a vanity. If you miss the storage, replace a mirror with a deep medicine cabinet.

3. Make lighting a priority

Multiple shower heads and radiant heat floors are fabulous adds to a bathroom remodel. But few items make a bathroom more satisfying than lighting designed for everyday grooming. You can install lighting for a fraction of the cost of pricier amenities.

Well-designed bathroom task lighting surrounds vanity mirrors and eliminates shadows on faces: You look better already. The scheme includes two ceiling- or soffit-mounted fixtures with 60 to 75 watts each, and side fixtures or sconces providing at least 150 watts each, distributed vertically across 24 inches (to account for people of various heights). Four-bulb lighting fixtures work well for side lighting.

4. Clear the air

Bathroom ventilation systems may be out of sight, but they shouldn’t be out of mind during a bathroom remodel.  Bathroom ventilation is essential for removing excess humidity that fogs mirrors, makesbathroom floors slippery, and contributes to the growth of mildew and mold. Controlling mold and humidity is especially important for maintaining healthy indoor air quality and protecting the value of your home—mold remediation is expensive, and excess humidity can damage cabinets and painted finishes.

A bathroom vent and water closet fan should exhaust air to the outside—not simply to the space between ceiling joists. Better models have whisper-quiet exhaust fans and humidity-controlled switches that activate when a sensor detects excess moisture in the air.

5. Think storage

Bathroom storage is a challenge: By the time you’ve installed the toilet, shower, and sink, there’s often little space left to store towels, toilet paper, and hair and body products. Here are some ways to find storage in hidden places.

  • Think vertically: Upper wall space in a bathroom is often underused. Freestanding, multi-tiered shelf units designed to fit over toilet tanks turn unused wall area into found storage.Spaces between wall studs create attractive and useful niches for holding soaps and toiletries. Install shelves over towel bars to use blank wall space.
  • Think moveable: Inexpensive woven baskets set on the floor are stylish towel holders. A floor-stand coat rack holds wet towels, bath robes, and clothes.
  • Think utility: Adding a slide-out tray to vanity cabinet compartments provides full access to stored items and prevents lesser-used items from being lost or forgotten.

6. Contribute sweat equity

Shave labor costs by doing some work yourself. Tell your contractor which projects you’ll handle, so there are no misunderstandings later.

Some easy DIY projects:

  • Install window and baseboard trim; save $250.
  • Paint walls and trim, 200 sq.ft.; save $200.
  • Install toilet; save $150.
  • Install towel bars and shelves; save $20 each.

7. Choose low-cost design for high visual impact

A “soft scheme” adds visual zest to your bathroom, but doesn’t create a one-of-a-kind look that might scare away future buyers.

Soft schemes employ neutral colors for permanent fixtures and surfaces, then add pizzazz with items that are easily changed, such as shower curtains, window treatments, towels, throw rugs, and wall colors. These relatively low-cost decorative touches provide tons of personality but are easy to redo whenever you want.

How Early do you start thinking about buying a Home?

buying processBuying a home is a serious investment and one that most people think long and hard before actually slapping money on the table.  The buying process begins long before buyers actually contact an agent. On average, buyers started considering a purchase nearly six months (23.7 weeks) before contacting a real estate agent, up notably from 12.2 weeks last year. Read more:

Click HERE to watch a video on “What you DON’T want to do before you Buy that Home.”

Register Here for our FREE Home Buying Class the second Saturday of every Month.

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How do you compete with Other Buyers and all-cash Investors when buying a home?

compete with cash buyersFor Buyers, only the most fit will survive and succeed in purchasing a home – those with excellent credit and a sizeable down payment can compete with Investors paying all cash.  According to C.A.R.’s 2013 Home Buyer Survey, 96% of buyers use the internet to find a home and 70% of those use their smartphones to do so.  Not a laptop, not an i-Pad…. their phone.  That is a significant change in how buyers shop for homes.  Other factors Buyers will face in order to compete include:

  • Tighter lending standards with 85% of buyers obtaining 30-year fixed loans (they have to put more “skin” in the game than before)
  • Higher Down payments; the average is now 25%
  • Rising interest rates
  • It takes longer to find a home due to lower inventory of houses on the market ( average of 9.8 weeks)
  • Instant Text notifications from Listing sites allow buyers to “jump” on a new listing before others,
  • In multiple offer situations you will need to add a “cover story” page to your offer that makes you unique and appeals to the Seller’s emotional side.

Yet there is good news on the horizon.  As the number of lower-priced homes available on the market begins to decline, Buyers will find the competition leveling out as Cash Investors rarely delve into properties that are priced over $500k.

Click HERE to watch a video on “What you DON’T want to do before you Buy that Home.”

Register Here for our FREE Home Buying Class the second Saturday of every Month.

Keller Williams Realty-Linear-Black-Print

CA BRE # 01929144