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September 2014     






Shopping for Interest Rates

While interest rates have remained at low levels, many analysts are predicting that mortgage rates will be heading upward. With this in mind smart homeowners are rushing to lock in the low rates. The following tips will help interested homebuyers in shopping for the best rate.

How to shop: If you simply call up and ask a lender for interest rates the lender can tell you almost anything. One lender might offer a “floating” rate, while the next would offer you a forty day rate. Instead, before you call up you need to know two things: how many points you want to pay and how long you want to lock in the rate. You also want to call all the lenders on the same day. This way you will get a common basis of comparison for the different quotes.

Getting a reliable quote: Beware of lenders who promise unreasonable low rates. This does not mean that lenders are unreliable; however there is an incentive for the lender to fudge the quote in order to gain your business (the bait). Then when you go in to fill out the paper work the lender will change the rate on you (the switch).

How to Really Shop for a Lender: The best way is to get a referral, then shop other lenders. Do it properly, telling the lenders how much you are willing to pay in points and how long you want to lock in the rate. Make all your calls on the same day. Tell the lender you have filled out an application and that you will fax it in, so the rate has to be something he can deliver.



Exposure is the Name of the Game

Exposure is the key to selling your home fast and getting top dollar. With good exposure your home will be viewed by more people, thereby increasing the chances of an offer on your home. If you are looking to sell your home quickly then it is definitely in your interest to contact a REALTOR®, as it is unlikely that you will be able to generate as much exposure as an experienced professional.

Why is it that a REALTOR® is able to generate so much more exposure than the average homeowner? Part of the explanation can be found in the fact that most REALTORS® have marketing plans that consist of print ads, an online presence, and a network of clients interested in real estate. A second reason is that for many REALTORS® this is a full time job and they are willing to put all their experience and time to the sale of your home. The final reason is that the REALTOR® has access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and through this is able to network with every agent in your market area. As soon as you list your home with a REALTOR® this information is disseminated to all agents in the market, who are then able to match it to buyers that they are working with – maximizing your exposure and minimizing the time it takes to sell your home.

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Choosing the Right Roof

Keeping a roof over your family's heads is the single most important responsibility apart from keeping them fed. As a home owner, it is inevitable that at some point in your life that roof will need to be replaced. Fortunately, unless caught in a natural disaster, your roof will not need replacing often. Nevertheless, replacing a roof is a major undertaking with many options to keep in mind.

One of the first decisions you will need to make is which type of roofing material is going to be used. This decision takes some time and consideration and it is important to be aware of the different options available to you. With this in mind, I have provided some information about the different options available to you and some non aesthetic considerations you will want to acknowledge.

Types of roofing available:

Asphalt - This type of material is very versatile and is considered to be architecturally correct for almost any type of home across the country. Asphalt is one of the most common types of roofing material used and comes in a variety of colors.

Wood Shakes and Shingles - Wood shakes are generally made of cedar. Wood roofs are often seen on older homes and would probably not be considered practical for most modern homes. Wood is popular because it has an attractive rustic appearance and is a natural insulator.

Clay Tile - Clay tile is most prominent in Southwestern architecture. This style of roofing is generally found on homes that incorporate Spanish and Italian designs.

Slate - Slate roofing never really caught on in the West Coast. It is usually found on older building in the East Coast located close to the quarries from which it was mined. Modern builders tend to stay away from slate because it does not fit most contemporary architecture styles and it is unwieldy to work with. Renovators interested in retaining historical authenticity will generally use slate and some custom homes are still built with slate roofing.

Metal - Metal roofs are mainly used for utilitarian purposes such as protection from strong winds and excessive moisture. Metal roofs were popular on Victorian-era homes and some contemporary home designs.

Fiber Cement - This material is durable and available in a variety of textures and colors. The hardiness of fiber cement roofing makes it a good fit for homes situated close to an ocean or in hot, humid climates. Other roofing material tends to break down more quickly when exposed to the moisture, salt, wind, and heat present in such areas.

Features to consider:

Ease of Installation and Repair - Asphalt, wood, and metal roofing are easy to install, comparatively lightweight, and fairly easy to repair. Unlike asphalt and metal, wood roofing needs to be laid over open planks. Clay, slate, and fiber cement are all heavy, therefore requiring strong supports, and they are difficult to install and repair.

Longevity - A new asphalt roof should last anywhere between 12 and 25 years, depending upon climate conditions. This is also the approximate lifespan for cedar shingles as; however wood shakes are more durable and last anywhere from 25 to 75 years. A fiber cement roof should be expected to last 20 to 30 years, steel roofing will last 20 to 50 years, clay tiles will last about 50 years, and slate should last 50 to 100 years.

Cost - What effect will each of these options have on your checkbook? A roofing project is comprised of two cost elements, materials and installation. The heavier roofing materials (slate, fiber cement, etc…) are generally more expensive to purchase and install. Asphalt is generally the most affordable option with wood shanks or shingles following a distant second.

Market

Existing-Home Sales Up in June, Unsold Inventory Shows Continued Progress

Existing-home sales increased in June and reached an annual pace of 5 million sales for the first time since October 2013, while rising inventory continues to push overall supply towards a more balanced market, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, climbed 2.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million in June from an upwardly-revised 4.91 million in May. Sales are at the highest pace since October 2013 (5.13 million), but remain 2.3 percent below the 5.16 million-unit level a year ago.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said housing fundamentals are moving in the right direction. “Inventories are at their highest level in over a year and price gains have slowed to much more welcoming levels in many parts of the country. This bodes well for rising home sales in the upcoming months as consumers are provided with more choices,” he said. “On the contrary, new home construction needs to rise by at least 50 percent for a complete return to a balanced market because supply shortages – particularly in the West – are still putting upward pressure on prices.”

Yun also noted that stagnant wage growth is holding back what should be a stronger pace of sales. “Hiring has been a bright spot in the economy this year, adding an average of 230,000 jobs each month,” he said. “However, the lack of wage increases is leaving a large pool of potential homebuyers on the sidelines who otherwise would be taking advantage of low interest rates. Income growth below price appreciation will hurt affordability.”

Total housing inventory at the end of June rose 2.2 percent to 2.30 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 5.5-month supply at the current sales pace, unchanged from May. Unsold inventory is 6.5 percent higher than a year ago, when there were 2.16 million existing homes available for sale.

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage dropped for the second consecutive month to 4.16 percent in June from 4.19 percent in May, and is the lowest since last June (4.07 percent).

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