March Employment Report Shows 19,500 Real Estate-Related Jobs Created

April 11, 2014

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The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its March employment report, with total non-farm payrolls increasing by 192,000 from January and the unemployment rate holding at 6.7 percent. Real estate-related payrolls grew by 19,500, an increase of 2.6 percent year over year. The change in real estate-related employment for February was revised upward from an increase of 19,000 jobs to 22,000 and the change for January remained at 55,000 jobs. Based on these revisions, real estate-related employment grew by 96,000, or 1.1 percent, over the last three months. March construction employment grew by 19,000 jobs from the prior month, a 2.9-percent increase year over year. Financial services employment increased by 1,000 jobs from February and was up 0.7 percent from a year ago. [Read this article]

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Selling Your Home: Fixing Those Little Hairline Cracks In Your Walls

April 11, 2014

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Without question, any hairline cracks in your walls should be repaired before putting your home on the market, said Laura DeVita, a real estate saleswoman with Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty in Rye, N.Y. “You don’t want prospective buyers coming in and thinking there’s a problem with the foundation or something that they don’t know about, which could cause a greater expense,” she said. “It may be superficial, but they don’t know that.” That advice holds true regardless of the age of your home, Ms. DeVita said. “People want to see it clean and nice, whether it’s a historical property or new construction,’” she said. “You never want a prospective buyer to start speaking about your property in a disparaging way.” Superficial cracks in walls happen for several reasons, said John Buchbinder, a contractor who owns Grand Renovation in Brooklyn. “Where wood meets plaster or plasterboard, you can get cracks,” he said. “Plasterboard does not move very much, but wood expands and contracts, and eventually, cracks open up.” [Read this article]

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5 Ways To Save On Lawn Care

April 11, 2014

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As the weather warms up and flowers begin to blossom, Americans with grassy yards will soon be thinking about mowing and lawn care. The National Gardening Association estimates that U.S. households spent roughly $29.5 billion on their lawns and gardens in 2013, an average of about $347 per household. Lawn and garden costs can vary depending on factors like the size of your yard and how much rain it receives. But as Mark Clement, host of the MyFixitUpLife radio show and blog of the same name, points out, “the easiest and [least expensive] lawn to take care of is a healthy one. It may take some work to get there, but healthy lawns – those that are fed regularly, watered properly and seeded at the best times of the year – fight off weeds better and look great doing it.” Here’s how to keep your grass healthy and your costs low. [Read this article]

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7 Budget-Friendly Spring Cleaning Tips

April 11, 2014

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With winter weather finally behind us, spring has ushered in warmer temperatures and the reminder that it’s time to spruce up your home and garden and tackle those annual “spring cleaning” tasks. You might be dreading deep-cleaning the kitchen, washing all the windows and getting down on your hands and knees to scrub the tub, and the costs might make you cringe as well.  The average American adult spends more than $500 per year on household cleaning supplies. So if you are on a tight budget, never fear. There are simple ways to save some green, while getting your house clean. April is typically a great time to buy cleaning products. With Earth Day this month, you will see organic and natural cleaning products on sale. Save money on cleaning supplies by ditching paper towels for cotton rags and cloths. You can wash in the laundry and reuse, avoiding the need to shell out more money on disposable paper products. [Read this article]

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Top 10 Markets For First-Time Home Buyers In 2014

March 29, 2014

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The study examined five key factors that make particular markets ideal for first-time buyers: market popularity, prices, inventory, time on market and unemployment rates. Florida had the most market of any state, with the metropolitan areas of Tampa-St.Petersburg-Clearwater, Orlando and Jacksonville all making the list. “As we head into home-buying season, these markets show favorable conditions for first-time buyers, which is encouraging because these buyers are crucial to the housing market,” said Steve Berkowitz, CEO of Move Inc. “First-time buyers have a widespread impact on the local housing markets. In transitioning from renters to owners, new buyers pay property taxes and other fees and taxes associated with homeownership that benefit local schools and services.” Other markets on the list include Fort Worth, Dallas, Raleigh-Durham and Phoenix. [Read this article]

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Home Prices In 20 U.S. Cities Rose 13.2% In Past Year

March 29, 2014

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The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values in 20 cities increased 13.2 percent from January 2013, the smallest gain since August, after rising 13.4 percent in the 12 months through December. Compared with the prior month, prices rose 0.8 percent. Price appreciation on a year-over-year basis has eased in recent months as higher mortgage rates and unusually severe winter weather slowed demand for properties. Smaller increases in asking prices will help improve affordability, providing support for the residential real-estate market, which has been a source of strength for the economy. “The housing recovery may have taken a breather due to the cold weather,” David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P index committee, said in a statement. “Expectations and recent data point to continued home-price gains for 2014. Although most analysts do not expect the same rapid increases we saw last year, the consensus is for moderating gains.” [Read this article]

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NAHB Reveals Most Popular Features Found In New Homes

March 29, 2014

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During New Homes Month in April, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is sharing with home buyers the most popular features in new single-family homes in 2014. Builders from across the country were surveyed on what features they were most likely to include in a typical single-family home this year, revealing that convenience, livability and energy efficiency are top priorities. “Newly constructed homes can suit the specific requirements of today’s home buyers,” said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly. “And now is a great time to consider buying a new home, as consumers can take advantage of competitive home prices and low interest rates to find the perfect new home for their families.” The features that are most likely to be included in a typical single-family home this year are:
(1) a walk-in closet in the master bedroom, (2) low-e windows, (3) a laundry room and (4) a great room. Energy efficiency is a key theme with Energy-Star rated appliances, programmable thermostats and Energy-Star rated windows at the top of the list. [Read this article]

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6 Ways To Improve Your Credit

March 29, 2014

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You probably know that your credit is a big factor in getting a loan, but you may not realize just how much of an impact it can have on all aspects of your financial life. Your credit can influence everything from interest rates and insurance premiums to apartment rentals and even job eligibility. The good news: You don’t have to earn a high income or be flush with cash to have great credit. “The most important thing you can do is make your payments on time and don’t take on too much credit card debt,” says John Ulzheimer, the credit expert for CreditSesame.com. Meanwhile, it doesn’t take drastic measures to improve your credit scores over time. Here’s what you need to know. [Read this article]

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Austin Tops List Of Fastest Growing Cities

March 29, 2014

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The energy surge. The boom in high tech. The housing rebound. Those are just some of the factors helping America’s biggest cities attract new residents. New data released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau crunches population counts in the 12 months leading up to July 1, 2013. Among metro areas of one million residents or more, Austin topped the list. Austin’s massive University of Texas is known for its engineering and computer science programs, which have spawned many local tech businesses and incubators. It has also attracted a number of bigger tech companies looking to recruit young talent. In January, the city’s unemployment rate fell to 4.7%. Oil booms helped other cities like Houston and San Antonio make the top ten. Meanwhile, some cities, including Phoenix and Orlando, are bouncing back from years of economic uncertainty. Other cities on the list include Raleigh, Denver, Nashville and Charlotte. [Read this article]

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Grinning Screws Bring Glee To Humdrum Home Improvement Projects

March 29, 2014

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For those who don’t exactly qualify as “handy” or normally approach toolboxes with a sense of reluctance and fear, even the simplest home improvement projects can result in giant headaches and minor injuries. Sure, there’s that sense of pride and accomplishment once you’ve put together that bookshelf or installed those blinds without any sort of huge mishap. But getting to that point isn’t always easy. Screw :) is meant to turn those home improvement-related frowns upside down. These merry emoji screws may not be all that practical (you have to use a custom smiley face screwdriver, naturally) for most grunt-inducing projects. However, the cutesy screws could come in handy for special projects in which you want the screw heads to be more visible. [Read this article]

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