Home Equity Grows for 62-and-Over Homeowners

 

Retirement-aged homeowners saw a combined 2.8 percent increase of $170.7 billion in home equity in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to a recent report from the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association, boosting their total housing wealth to $6.2 trillion.

A 2.4 percent increase in home values for owners 62 and older in Q4 2016 drove the NRMLA/RiskSpan Reverse Mortgage Market Index (RMMI) to 221.75, an all-time high since the index was first published in 2000. On a year-over-year basis, the RMMI index rose by 9 percent in 2016, compared to an increase of 8.6 percent in 2015 and 8 percent in 2014.

“The strong RMMI in the fourth quarter of last year shows that home equity continues to be a valuable asset for homeowners 62 and older,” says NRMLA President and CEO Peter Bell. “It’s time for consumers to study what it means to have home equity and to learn about its strategic uses, including how it can be used to support retirement goals.”

Recent research from the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and a new Issue in Brief from the Center for Retirement Research (CRR) at Boston College show that home equity has gone largely underutilized by older homeowners who have been unwilling to consider housing wealth as a resource for retirement funding. NCOA and CRR both show that limited awareness and knowledge of home equity tools contribute to the low take-up of financial products such as reverse mortgages.

To learn more about home equity, contact me today.

Source: National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association

Do’s and Don’ts for a Smooth Mortgage Financing Process

Tips for a Smooth Mortgage Financing Process

You’re almost a new homeowner—you’ve submitted all your financial documents to your mortgage consultant and you’ve been approved for your mortgage loan. Congratulations!

But to celebrate, don’t go out and buy furniture for your new home right away. In fact, any large purchases made between the time of loan approval and closing could delay your settlement date or jeopardize the financing of your home.

Mortgage lenders often run a second credit report and conduct an overall financial health check-up just before your closing date. They want to ensure your ability to repay the loan remains unchanged from when your loan was originally approved.

To help ensure a smooth financing process, here are some dos and don’ts from the team atProsperity Home Mortgage, LLC.

  • Do contact your mortgage consultant before making any changes to your employment.
  • Do continue making payments on existing accounts.
  • Do call your mortgage consultant if you are concerned something will affect your loan.
  • Don’t make major purchases with credit, co-sign another loan or max out existing credit cards.
  • Don’t assume that closing existing lines of credit or paying off collections will improve your credit score.
  • Don’t deplete savings to pay off credit debts.
  • Don’t deposit large amounts of money into your bank account(s).
  • Don’t change bank accounts or transfer funds within existing accounts.

Any of these actions could affect your mortgage financing process. Since everyone’s situation is different, it’s best to contact your mortgage consultant if you have any specific questions.

10 Easy Improvements to Make on Your Fixer Upper

Mar 22 2017 – 10:01am by Housecall

House and key shaped paper cutout, calculator and magnifier on wooden table.

By Cary Teller

There is something awesome about buying a fixer upper and doing the renovations yourself. Some people fix them up a bit at a time, using cash as they have it available. If you want to make a big impact by doing small things, here are 10 things you need to include.

1. Change Out the Lighting

Nothing says outdated like an old-fashioned gold chandelier. Lighting is something that can be updated easily and won’t cost a bunch of money. It is one of the smallest things you can do that will have the biggest impact.

2. Paint

There is an old saying that states “if a barn needs to be painted, slap some paint on it.” You will be amazed at what some paint can do to your home. A new hue can cover imperfections and give the room the blast of color it needs. Forget drab, white walls that are lackluster. Give your home a color makeover.

3. New Fixtures

Just like the lighting, the fixtures in the home become outdated quickly. Start with the kitchen faucet and then move on to the bathroom. You can update and upgrade a fixer upper by just adding these small touches.

4. Paint Cabinets/Add New Hardware

If you have new cabinets in the budget, then you should go for it. However, if your budget is limited, then you may want to try to paint them. Painting old cabinets and installing new hardware will give the kitchen a facelift. If the cabinets are old but sturdy, then you can bring them back to life. Painting is inexpensive and has a huge impact.

5. Rip Out Old Carpeting

Carpet is great when it is new; however, when it is old and dingy, it can really have a negative impact on a space. Hardwoods are the best option, followed by laminate floors. However, if you are stretched for money, you may try a bag floor or a penny style one. There are creative options online that allow you to do great things with your floors for less.

6. Add Curb Appeal

The curb appeal of the home is everything. It does not matter how great the inside looks if the outside is in shambles. Clean up any dead plants and add some new. Be sure to pick flowers and shrubs that bloom at different times. This will allow you to have color year-round. Add some shutters and a fresh coat of paint to the porch. Use decorative numbers to display the address. Finally, replace the mailbox if necessary.

7. Repaint Ceilings

Ceilings are often overlooked. They are usually white and the color is reserved for the walls. However, people do not realize how dirty these ceilings can be. A fresh coat of paint on the ceiling can really enhance the whole room. The walls are not the only thing that needs to be painted.

8. Upgrade the Exterior Façade

The biggest impact you can have on the outside of a home is to replace or paint siding. If you have it in the budget, you can add brick and stone accents. Most fixer upper homes have chipping paint and worn out siding. Splurge for some nice siding or paint a great color to update the home’s look.

9. Replace the Windows

New windows are expensive, but they are important. If you have old windows in your home, you need to spend the money to upgrade them. Windows are great for keeping the elements at bay. You will save yourself money in the long run by sealing off old-drafty openings.

10. Update the Heating and Cooling Unit

To help the process of heating and cooling a home, you need to make sure the home has an updated HVAC unit. The air filters are just as important as the unit. Filters with a rating of Merv 11, have “astro pleating” to help ensure no dirt or dust gets into your system. Extend the livelihood of your unit by selecting quality air filters.

Checklist: Your Spring Home Maintenance

Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

As the days get longer and warmer, there are signs of spring everywhere, from the blooming of yellow daffodils to the trees sprouting new buds. Spring also signals the beginning of the peak rental season. Most renters move between the months of May and September, which is the perfect time to consider ways to maximize the appeal of your property.

To help, we’ve put together a few tips from your Long & Foster Property Management team.

  • Landscaping: The first impression renters get of your rental property is the landscaping. The yard needs to be well groomed, with plenty of curb appeal to attract qualified renters.
  • Power Wash: Use a power washer to clean decks, driveways and walkways. While cleaning, inspect for any damage.
  • Repair Cracks in Walkways and Driveways: Fix small cracks now before they expand.
  • Paint: Touch-up paint makes the house look tidy and provides a protective barrier from the weather.
  • Clear AC Unit: Trim plants and shrubs around outdoor AC compressor to provide good airflow.
  • Prune hedges and trees: Proper pruning not only encourages healthy growth, but also keeps the landscaping looking nice and orderly. Additionally, keeping trees trimmed will help prevent bigger safety issues down the road.
  • Mow Often: If your property is vacant, it’s important to have the grass mowed regularly – at least once a week for health and appeal.

Remember, a clean and well-maintained property not only attracts good tenants, but also strengthens your relationships with your current tenants.

Animal-related considerations play a role in determining living situations

When It Comes to Homeownership Decisions, Pets Rule

RISMEDIA, Wednesday, March 22, 2017— Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

A lot goes into the decision to buy, sell or remodel a home. After all, this is one of the most significant investments of your lifetime, so there are a lot of factors to be weighed and considered…including how happy your pet will be.

Yes, you read that right. In fact, 81 percent of respondents to a recent report from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) reported that animal-related considerations play a role in determining their next living situations. In 2016, 61 percent of U.S. households either had a pet or planned to get one in the future, so it stands to reason that our animal companions will play a significant role in our housing decisions for the foreseeable future.

According to NAR’s 2017 Animal House: Remodeling Impact report, 99 percent of pet owners said they consider their animal part of the family, and 89 percent of those surveyed said they would not give up their animal because of housing restrictions or limitations. In fact, 12 percent of pet owners have actually moved in order to accommodate their furry, finned or feathered family member, and 19 percent said they would consider moving to accommodate their animal in the future.

No one knows the relationship between homeowners and their animal friends better than REALTORS®. Those surveyed for the report said that one-third of their pet-owning clients often or very often will refuse to make an offer on a home because it is not ideal for their pet.

Other interesting statistics from the report include:

  • 67 percent of REALTORS® say animals have a moderate to major effect on selling a home. If you’re selling your home, make sure you’ve cleaned or replaced any areas affected by pet damage or odors.
  • 52 percent of respondents said they had completed a home renovation project specifically to accommodate their pet, such as fencing in their yards, adding a doggie door or installing a pet-friendly laminate flooring.
  • 80 percent of REALTORS® consider themselves animal lovers, so you’ll have lots of support in accommodating your pet’s housing needs when buying!

Maria Patterson is RISMedia’s executive editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at maria@rismedia.com.

When Downsizing Make a Little Money in the Process!

Need to Downsize? Make a Little Money in the Process

If you’re getting ready to downsize, or are settling the estate of a loved one, you will be confronted with the often overwhelming task of getting rid of furniture and belongings. These tips from MaxSold will not only help you streamline the process, but possibly bring in some money along the way:

Decide What to Keep
The KonMari Method of decluttering from Marie Kondo offers the sage advice of keeping those items that bring you joy and that you also have room for. If an item doesn’t fall into both of these categories, set it aside in a separate room or designated nook of the house.

Don’t Go Straight to the Dump
Instead of adding to landfills, try to recover money for your unwanted items. What may be “junk” in your eyes is just the thing someone else may be looking for, whether it’s a broken-in easy chair or a box of extension cords.

Take Your Time with High-Value Items
If you’re getting rid of something that truly has value, take your time and price it right. If you post an ad online and get an instant response, you might have underpriced the item. Conversely, if you’re getting no responses, you may have priced your item too high. Auction sites—like MaxSold—might be the best option, as they encourage bidding, and therefore, a good price for your prized possession.

Avoid Storage
If you can’t get the price you think an item deserves, you may think storage is a good option while you hold out for the right price. However, this strategy usually ends up costing you more, as you pay potentially thousands for storage while your item depreciates in value. Unless you have a family member to give it to, a better financial decision is to get it sold.

Research Online Sales Sites
When looking for the right site to sell your items through, do your research. Choose a company with proven methodologies, good online reviews and a process that eliminates security risk.

Source: MaxSold

For more tips on bringing in money as you downsize, contact me today.

White Comes in Many Shades

How to Choose the Perfect Shade of White

Designers and homeowners continue to love the look of white walls for kitchens, dining rooms and living spaces, but there are hundreds of shades in the white color palette. Choosing the right one is critical to achieving the look and ambience you’re striving for.

“You’ll want to consider three key factors when choosing the perfect white,” explains Sara McLean, color expert at Dunn-Edwards. “Number one is your home’s lighting; second is where you live, and third is the architectural style.”

According to McLean, north-facing rooms don’t tend to have as much natural light, needing warmer whites to give the space some life. Warm whites are those with yellow, brown or even red undertones.

Conversely, south-facing rooms get more sunlight, so cooler whites—those with subtle gray or blue tints—can help add balance. “Be sure to paint large samples on the walls and live with them for a couple days. You’ll be able to see how the light reflects off each color at different times of the day.”

Where you live is yet another factor that has a big influence on which whites to choose for your home. Warmer whites work well in northern climates, which have cooler, bluer natural lighting. Conversely, southern climates tend to have warmer, natural lighting, so cooler whites can help create a clean, cool look.

Your home’s architectural style can also help narrow down your choice for whites. Warmer whites are ideal for traditional Spanish-style and desert ranch and Craftsman homes. Tropical designs come alive with tinted and warmer whites that reflect the natural elements in the room, such as wood and bamboo. Mid-century modern homes and Scandinavian designs tend to favor neutral and cooler whites.

Be sure to carry out your due diligence instead of just choosing any white. The differences among them may be subtle, but the variance in results is dramatic.

Source: Dunn-Edwards Paints

Contact me today for more home decorating tips and real estate information.

5 Ways to Add Spring To Your Home

5 Ways to Let Spring into Your Home

By Maria Patterson

No matter how mild or harsh your winter may have been, spring is a rite of passage that should be recognized throughout your home with elements of renewal. This will not only serve as a refresh for your living environment, but for your state of mind as well. Here are some simple yet highly effective ways to infuse spring throughout your home:

  1. Lighten up…literally. One of the best things about spring is the extension of daylight hours, so make sure to let all that extra light into your home. Trade in heavy drapes for sheer curtains and keep shades and blinds raised as often as possible. Survey your yard and trim back any trees and bushes that may be blocking the flow of light into your home.
  2. Bring spring growth indoors. Among the sweetest harbingers of spring are buds, bulbs and new green growth. Capture this inspiration indoors by forcing bulbs in a decorative pot or collecting forsythia branches in a vase to force their famous yellow blooms indoors. Cut forsythia stalks at an angle once the weather has been above freezing for a few days, but before they bloom. Place them in water right away, and watch them work their magic.
  3. Play with color. Take some of your favorite spring colors—yellow, purple, bright green, soft pink—and add them to your home décor with throw pillows, table linens, towels and pillow shams. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, paint a wall, a set of shelves, or your cabinet doors in a spring shade.
  4. Fresh air. When the temperature permits, open your windows and let in that refreshing spring air. Even if it’s just for an hour during the warmest part of the day, the fresh air will help weed out winter mustiness and renew the air quality in your home.
  5. Spring scents. Cut or buy a bunch of lilacs or hyacinths and place them in vases around your home. Alternatively, light candles in spring-time scents to permeate your home with the scents of the season.

For more ways to infuse spring into your home, contact me today.

Personalize Your Home With These 5 Tips

5 Ways to Make a Personal Statement at Home

By Maria Patterson

There’s so much advice out there about neutralizing your home design for maximum resale value that our personalities are in danger of getting lost in the shuffle. Unless you’re getting ready to put your home on the market soon, go ahead and let your individuality shine through with interior design that reflects your tastes and interests. Here are five easy ways to do so:

1. Make it a grand entrance. Maybe it’s an unusual door knocker or a doorbell that plays Beethoven’s 5th—or a whimsical piece of statuary or planter filled with something unexpected, like a well-stacked group of beach rocks. Try hanging a small sign with a favorite saying that welcomes guests. Whatever you choose, small touches like these make a personal statement before anyone even gets inside.

2. Put furniture in the ‘wrong’ room. Remember when Joey and Chandler opted for a foosball table over a kitchen table? Maybe something similar will work for you. Perhaps there’s a spot in your kitchen for a chaise lounge? Add a loveseat to a bedroom instead of the requisite side chair, or an antique, full-length mirror in your living room. When done tastefully, furniture in unexpected places can work wonders by making a very memorable impression.

3. Make your walls a self-expression. Don’t play it safe when it comes to wall décor. Go beyond the usual framed prints and accent mirrors and do something that reflects your personality. Music lover? Frame and hang beloved album covers or concert posters. Traveler? Turn a wall into a collection of photographs and framed objects that reflect your favorite destinations. Poet? Use stencils to inscribe your favorite quote right on the wall. Artist? Go a step further and add a mural.

4. Put your passions on display. Whether it’s comic books or collectible snowmen, weave your collection into your interior design with creative and tasteful shelving or a display unit. The key here is to choose one area—don’t let your collection take over your entire home.

5. Show off your green thumb indoors. If you’re a plant lover, don’t refine your passion to the garden. Incorporate more indoor plants and flowers within your home and keep your hobby going year-round. Select a sunny spot and start cultivating an orchid or African violet collection. Or choose strategic locations for hanging plants, using attractive planters made from copper, ceramic or other finishes of your preference.

Remember, one of the many benefits of owning versus renting is that there are no restrictions when it comes to design. So make a personal statement and make your home your own.

Learn more about making a personal statement through home décor by contacting me today.

10 Things to Inspect Before You Rent

10 Things to Inspect before You Rent

Are you or a family member in the market for a rental? Make an informed choice by following this inspection checklist from the experts at RentHop:

1. Cellphone reception
In today’s world, we tend to assume we can get great coverage anywhere and everywhere. That’s not necessarily so. When you’re touring a potential apartment, make a call or two on your mobile device from a couple of different rooms. While you’re at it, ask the landlord about WiFi. Some include it in the utilities as a rental incentive.

2. Water pressure and temperature
While you can’t climb in and take a shower during a walk-through, be sure to turn the shower on and test the pressure and temperature with your hand. If it’s not up to par, find out why. Perhaps it’s a temporary situation due to work being done in the building, or something that the building management can repair.

3. Pests
No one wants company when they move in. The best way to check for pests is to open cabinets and drawers and look for droppings, and check walls, baseboards and around plumbing pipes for cracks and holes. You can also ask the landlord for confirmation of when the last pest-control treatments were completed. Be proactive and ask questions—you have every right to.

4. Power outlets and electrical work
When visiting an apartment, bring something small to test as many outlets as possible. Or, pick up an Electrical Receptacle Wall Plug AC Outlet Ground Tester from your local hardware store. It should cost about $5 – 10 and will check the circuit status for each individual outlet in the apartment. While you’re at it, check all the lights in the apartment to make sure they turn on and off properly.

5. Appliances
Just as you’re checking the outlets and the water pressure, test the appliances as well. Open and inspect the fridge, microwave, dishwasher, oven, garbage disposal and any other gadget that comes with the apartment. If something isn’t in working order, ask the landlord what the plan for repair or replacement is.

6. Night-time vibe
Neighborhoods can be very different once the sun goes down, so make sure you visit your potential new location at night. Is it lively or desolate? Well-lit or dark? Are businesses still open, or has everything shut down? Make sure you’re comfortable with how the area feels at night.

7. Parking
If you’ll be dependent upon a car for your daily commute, find out about the parking situation. Is there a lot with assigned spots? If not, visit the lot during the morning and evening rush hour and see how easy it is to get a spot. If you have to rely on street parking, find out if there are alternate side rules to contend with. Your best bet here is to ask other tenants, as they’ll give you the skinny on parking pros and cons.

8. Neighbors
One of the most important factors to check into is who your neighbors will be. Talk to as many other tenants as you can, not only to get a feel for the vibe of the building, but to ask questions about landlord and building maintenance. Ask them what they like best about living there and what they can’t stand. This will go a long way in helping you make the right decision.

9. The lease
The item you should inspect most carefully of all is the lease. Take your time and read it from top to bottom, asking questions whenever something is unclear. You don’t want to be unpleasantly surprised later on by something you unwittingly agreed to in the lease. Look for policies on subletting, renovations, security deposit, renewal and pest control.

10. Damage
Make sure you take photos and document anything that is wrong with the apartment before you move in—a hole in the wall, a tear in the carpet, a cracked window. You need evidence that such damage was not caused by you, otherwise, it could jeopardize your security deposit when it comes time to move out.

Contact me today for more tips on how to choose the perfect rental property.