If you’re among those struggling to decide whether to buy versus rent, consider these 10 reasons to take the plunge into homeownership. For example, you can take advantage of currently low interest rates and prices. Despite creeping back up, interest rates remain relatively low from a historical perspective, and at the same time, home prices in many areas remain soft. That can make for an appealing buyer’s market. And unlike rent, a fixed mortgage can’t go up (even if inflation does). Jack Otter, author of “Worth It … Not Worth It?” suggests making a 20 percent down payment and taking out a 30-year fixed mortgage to lock in today’s low interest rates. “Mortgage rates haven’t been this low since GIs were heading home from France. Lock in a low monthly payment, and you’ve just taken a huge step in protecting your family against inflation,” he writes in his book. [Read this article]
This week’s featured pin comes from Indian Land, NC! Built by Lennar Charlotte in Carolina Reserve Meadows, this dining room is open and features elegant wainscoting and a Sea Gull Lighting five light chandelier in antique brushed nickel. A pristine example of how neutrals can make a room feel warm, the walls are painted with Sherwin Williams Tony Taupe (SW7038) and the wood floors are done in Mohawk Oak Town Red Oak Natural.
This beautiful dining room inspired our followers to share some love on Pinterest, but what are your thoughts? Do you like the open room or prefer a more separate dining space? Do you love the different textures used to decorate, from the dining room chairs to the lamp bases? Do you adore the neutral palette? Or would you prefer a pop of color in this room? Leave your comments below or head over to Pinterest to give us your feedback!
While the housing market has cooled in many major cities since last year, other cities have only gotten hotter. In certain areas of Texas, North Carolina, Colorado and the Pacific Northwest, homes are selling like hotcakes thanks to strong job and population growth, worsening inventory shortages and, as Redfin’s CEO pointed out in December, relative affordability. Austin, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Portland, Raleigh, San Antonio and Seattle are among Redfin’s fastest markets. In February, a total of 37.9 percent of homes went off the market in less than two weeks in these eight markets, compared with 30.7 percent last year, and 22.5 percent across 27 markets. Speed isn’t the only thing that’s impressive. While the overall housing market has seen home sales drop since last year, sales in these eight markets are surprisingly steady given the limited number of homes available for sale. [Read this article]
Of the approximately 350 metro markets nationwide, 59 returned to or exceeded their last normal levels of economic and housing activity, according to the most recent National Association of Home Builders/First American Leading Markets Index (LMI). This represents a net gain of 11 metros year over year. The index’s nationwide score ticked up to .88 from a March reading of .87. This means that based on current permit, price and employment data, the nationwide average is running at 88 percent of normal economic and housing activity. Meanwhile, 28 percent of metro areas saw their score rise this month and 83 percent have shown an improvement over the past year. “I think the big news here is that regions outside of the energy states continue to gain ground,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “The job market continues to mend and with that we will see a steady release of pent up demand of buyers.” [Read this article]
You’ve decided to sell your home, and you want to get top dollar for it. And you’ve seen TV shows where homeowners spend thousands of dollars staging their homes for sale, but there’s an important detail to consider: You don’t have thousands and thousands to spend. The good news is there are many things you can do to spruce up the look of your home without shelling out a lot of money. “Updating isn’t as expensive as it used to be,” says Lori Matzke, a home staging expert in Minneapolis who teaches workshops nationwide. “There’s a lot of DIY information out there.” First impressions matter, and that’s why you want to start by making sure your home exudes curb appeal. Go all out with small do-it-yourself projects. Cut the grass, trim the bushes, get rid of dead branches and consider planting some flowers. Replacing the mailbox and house numbers and painting the front door can also make your home more appealing to a prospective buyer driving by. If the house looks dirty, wash the siding or stucco. “I’ve seen houses that look really frumpy on the outside and great on the inside,” Matzke says, “but you can’t get [potential buyers] in the door.” [Read this article]
If you were at risk of losing $5,000, $10,000 or even $15,000 and could do something to stop it, would you? Would you sit by and twiddle your thumbs, or would you leap into action and do something to protect your stash? The answer is a no-brainer: you’d leap into action. Yet according to a new study, more than half of adults ages 23 to 29 years old who rent their homes haven’t bothered to take out renters insurance, putting all their stuff (and add it all up, you’ve got a lot of stuff) at risk. Just as homeowners buy homeowner’s insurance to cover their home and belongings, renters can and should get renter’s insurance to do the same thing. Most renters don’t have the cash sitting around to replace all their stuff. So why do so few buy renters’ insurance? One reason: while homeowner’s insurance is almost always required if you are paying for your home with a mortgage, there are no blanket rules or laws requiring that you purchase a renter’s policy. [Read this article]
If you’re buying a home, chances are you’ll take out a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. It’s the most popular home financing option, according to Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored entity that works to help homeowners get mortgages. In the last couple of years, those who took out home loans overwhelmingly chose the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage: It accounted for 85 percent of the home-purchase loan market in 2012, according to Freddie Mac, and 90 percent in the first half of 2013. Even if you’re planning to go this traditional route, it’s nice to know what you could do instead. Here are some alternatives to the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. If you aren’t going to get a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage is the next best alternative, according to many mortgage experts. The downside is that you’ll have higher monthly payments than with a 30-year mortgage, but the upside is that you’ll pay off the home faster. [Read this article]
The U-Haul 2013 Top 50 U.S. Destination Cities Report is in. According to U-Haul moving data reflective of nationwide statistics for calendar year 2013, families moving to Houston took the No. 1 spot again, for the fifth year in a row. For the fourth year in a row, Orlando, Fla., took the No. 2 spot. Las Vegas and Chicago ranked No. 3 and 4 respectively, while San Antonio held at No. 5 for the third year in a row. The ranking reflects destinations for movers renting a truck one way and considers every city in the country, regardless of size. Other cities in the top 20 include Austin, San Diego, Dallas, Sacramento, Charlotte, Phoenix, Tampa, Jacksonville and Tucson. [Read this article]
Often cited as a “red flag” for audits, the home office deduction is in fact a legitimate business deduction with particular importance for certain careers and small business owners. Moreover – from the housing economics perspective – IRS data concerning the deduction, along with Census data reporting who works at home, can shed light on an important and growing role for homes: workplaces for business owners and telecommuters. There’s no doubt that the practice of working at home is on the rise. According to data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, in 1997 7% of workers (9.2 million individuals) reported working at home at least one day a week. By 2010, that total had grown to 9.4% (13.4 million), an increase of more than four million or 35%. Not surprising, workers in industries that involve more individual independence or technology tend toward greater use of the deduction. For example, educators, the information technology sector, professional services (lawyers, accountants, architects, etc.), and those in the arts and entertainment sectors are all more likely to claim the home office deduction. [Read this article]
When home buyers are shopping around for a new home, are they looking for sustainable features? Yes, according to a recent report from the National Association of Realtors that identifies the who, what, when, where, and why of home buyer and seller behavior, and breaks downs the trends by each respondents respective generation. The report highlights the environmentally friendly features that home buyers consider “very important” when looking to purchase a home. This chart shows which characteristics top buyers’ list of criteria for a new home. [Read this article]