By: Dona DeZube Published: February 21, 2014
Home prices are rising in many U.S. markets, but headwinds from winter storms, tight inventory, tough credit standards, and rising mortgage interest rates continue to hold back sales.
A lack of houses for sale continued to lift home prices in much of the country, but also pushed down the number of existing homes sold in January, data from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® shows.
The weather wasn’t helping either. “Disruptive and prolonged winter weather patterns across the country are impacting a wide range of economic activity, and housing is no exception,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Some housing activity will be delayed until spring.”
He also blamed slower home sales on headwinds created by tight credit, limited inventory, rising home prices, and higher mortgage interest rates. “These issues will hinder home sales activity until the positive factors of job growth and new supply from higher housing starts begin to make an impact,” Yun said.
The median existing-home price in January was $188,900, up 10.7% over the past year. The median home price is the point at which half of homes sold for more and half sold for less.
The number of existing single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops sold in January dropped 5.1% from a year ago. Last month’s level of activity was the slowest since July 2012.
Flood Insurance Woes
NAR President Steve Brown said that in addition to disruptive weather, higher flood insurance rates are affecting the market in areas designated as flood zones, which account for roughly 8%-9% of all markets.
“Thirty percent of transactions in flood zones were canceled or delayed in January as a result of sharply higher flood insurance rates,” he said. “Since going into effect on Oct. 1, 2013, about 40,000 home sales were either delayed or canceled because of increases and confusion over significantly higher flood insurance rates. The volume could accelerate as the market picks up this spring.”
Congress is considering legislation to halt new flood insurance rates so the FEMA can complete an affordability study and determine the full impact of the law.
Related: Should You Buy Flood Insurance?
Fewer Foreclosed Homes for Sale
One factor that’s helping boost prices is a decline in the number of distressed homes — foreclosures and short sales — on the market. Distressed homes typically sell at a discount.
Related: Foreclosure FAQs
How Long Does It Take to Sell?
Even though the number of homes for sale rose a slight 2.2% in January, there’s still only a 4.9-month supply of homes for sale nationally at the current sales pace. A supply of 6.0 to 6.5 months represents a rough balance between buyers and sellers.
Median time on market:
Thirty-one percent of homes sold in January were on the market for less than a month.
Who’s Buying Homes?
NAR noted some important changes among the population of homebuyers:
1. First-time buyers accounted for 26% of purchases in January. That’s the lowest market share for first-time buyers since NAR began monthly measurement in October 2008. In the past, about 40% of home sales involved first-time buyers.
2. One-third of sales were to cash buyers.
3. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 20% of homes in January, compared with 21% in December and 19% in January 2013. Seven out of 10 investors paid cash in January.
Other data from the NAR’s existing home sales survey showed:
Up or Down
Jan. 2014 Median Price
|Median Price Compared
with Jan. 2013
|Single-family home sales||Down 5.8%||$188,900||Up 10.4%|
|Condo and co-op sales||Up 1.8%||$188,700||Up 13.0%|
|Northeast home sales||Down 3.1%||$241,100||Up 6.6%|
|Midwest home sales||Down 7.1%||$140,300||Up 7.6%|
|South home sales||Down 3.5%||$161,500||Up 9.4%|
|West home sales||Down 7.3%||$273,500||Up 14.6%|
Fax: 419 592-7021
By: G. M. Filisko
Published: March 11, 2010
Ask detailed questions about their experience and skills to help you find the right agent for your home sale.
1. How long have you been selling homes?
Mastering real estate requires on-the-job experience. The more experience agents have, the more likely they’ll be able to handle any curveballs thrown during your home sale.
2. What designations do you hold?
Designations like GRI (Graduate REALTOR® Institute) and CRS® (Certified Residential Specialist), which require that agents complete additional real estate training, show they’re constantly learning. Ask if agents have designations and, if not, why not?
3. How many homes did you sell last year?
Agents may tout their company’s success. An equally important question is how many homes they’ve personally sold in the past year; it’s an indicator of how active and aggressive they are.
4. How many days on average did it take you to sell homes?
Ask agents to show you this data along with stats from their local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) so you can see how many days, on average, their listings were on the market compared to the average for all properties in the MLS.
5. How close were the asking and sales prices of the homes you sold?
Sometimes sellers choose their agent because the agent’s suggested listing price is higher than those suggested by other agents. A better factor is the difference between listing prices and the amount homes actually sold for. That can help you judge agents’ skill at accurately pricing homes and marketing to the right buyers. It can also help you weed out agents trying to dazzle you with a lofty sales price just to get your listing.
6. How will you market my home?
The days of agents putting a For Sale sign in the yard and hoping for the best are long gone. Look for an agent who does aggressive and innovative marketing, especially on the Internet.
7. Will you represent me exclusively?
In most states, agents can represent the seller, the buyer, or both in a home sale. If your agent will also represent buyers, understand and consent to that dual representation.
8. How will you keep me informed?
If you want weekly updates by email, don’t choose an agent who plans to contact you only if there’s an offer.
9. Can you provide references?
Ask to talk to the last three customers the agent assisted. Call and ask if they’d work with the agent again and if the agent did anything that didn’t sit well with them.
10. Are you a REALTOR®?
Ask whether agents are REALTORS®, which means they’re members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR). NAR has been an advocate of agent professionalism and a champion of homeownership rights for more than a century.
Other web resources
More on choosing an agent
G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who’s worked with many real estate agents in the past 20 years. A frequent contributor to many national publications including Bankrate.com, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.
Published: December 16, 2013
If you’re hallway-challenged, we’ll show you how to make those odd spaces work harder and look brighter.
In fact, Cofield designed my four-bedroom house with nary a hallway to be found.
He placed two bedrooms (including the master suite) on the main floor at the end of the dining and living rooms. He put two bedrooms on the second level at the head of the stairs, so the landing is the only mini-hallway in the house.
The flow is fantastic because it wastes not — just what we wanted.
Related: Do You Need an Architect for Your Remodeling Project?
Dream Up New Space
Even though you may be stuck with hallways, your hallways don’t have to be stuck in the narrow, dark past. A little rethinking can make those passages work a lot harder and look a lot better.
If you still have books: Install floor-to-ceiling bookcases with a rolling ladder in hallways that are at least 4 feet wide. You can build them between studs or mount them on the drywall. Oak shelves are strong but expensive (5-shelf bookcase: $135); particleboard is a better value (5-shelf: $59) though you’ll sacrifice some strength.
If you’re an art lover: Hall walls are perfect spots for family photos and third-grade artwork lit by recessed lights. To display and appreciate large art, you’ll need a hallway that’s at least 5 feet wide. If you have a blank wall at the end of the hallway, hang artwork there; it’ll draw the eye down the hall, making the trek down that runway less boring.
If you have hallway linen closets: Convert them into:
More is better, and combining different types of lights is better still:
Another way to bring in light is to widen doorways and replace wood doors with full or partial glass doors. This works best with doors to laundry rooms, dens, bathrooms, and other non-bedroom spaces.
Used etched glass or frosted glass, which adds a visual punch while protecting privacy and letting light shine through.
Do Away with Walls
In some instances, you may be able to eliminate hallway walls. For example, eliminate the wall between a hallway and a kitchen and you can annex the space to your kitchen.
You can replace load-bearing walls with support beams hidden within a chase or with posts hidden within columns. Make sure you consult a structural engineer or architect who will determine the best way to open space and keep your house from caving in.
Fax: 419 352-2654
VM: 419-354-4871 ext. 114
By: Dona DeZube Published: November 8, 2013
Knowing what appeals to today’s
homebuyers, and considering those trends when you remodel, can pay off
years from now when you sell your home.
Two new surveys about what homebuyers want have me feeling pretty smug about my own home choices. Maybe you’ll feel the same.
Privacy from neighbors remains at the top of the most-wanted list
(important to 86% of buyers), according to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF
REALTORS’® “2013 Community Preference Survey.” Privacy is no doubt the
best feature of my mid-century ranch home, since I can only see one
neighbor’s house and it’s a couple hundred feet down my driveway.
It may not be practical to move your neighbors farther away (although
I’m sure many people wish they had that superpower), but you can
increase your home’s privacy (and therefore its resale value) by
planting a living privacy screen of trees and shrubs or by physically screening off your patio.
Related: Trees Contribute to Property Value, Energy Savings, and More
3 More Takeaways for the Next Time You Remodel
1. More and more generations are living together.
Another NAR survey, the “2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers,” found
14% of buyers purchased a home suited to a multigenerational household
due to children over the age of 18 moving back into the house, cost
savings, and the health and caretaking of aging parents.
I did that back when my parents were still alive, and it worked out
great for everyone. I didn’t have time to let my infant daughter nap on
my shoulder all afternoon, but my mom did. She couldn’t drive to church
meetings at night, but I could take her. And neither of us liked
cleaning the gutters, but my husband didn’t mind that chore.
Even if you’d rather live in a cardboard box than with your mother, you might want to consider the multigenerational living trend
when you’re remodeling. For instance, opting for a full bath when
finishing the basement could offer more convenience for you now and
boost your home’s resale value by making it more appealing to a
2. On average, homeowners live in their home for nine years.
That’s up from six years in 2007. Since you’ll be in your home for a
long time, it makes sense to remodel to suit your taste but also with
long-lasting marketability in mind. After all, you don’t want to have to
redo stuff. For instance, you can go for trend-defying kitchen features, like white overtones and Shaker-style cabinets, which work with a variety of styles.
I feel compelled to caution against going so far out of the norm for
your neighborhood that it’ll turn off potential buyers even nine years
from now. (It never hurts to get your REALTOR®’s opinion on your
Related: Home Upgrades with the Lowest ROI
3. Homebuyers love energy efficiency. Heating and
cooling costs were “somewhat” or “very important” to a whopping 85% of
buyers. If your home could use an energy-efficiency upgrade, go with
projects that have a solid return on investment, like sealing your air leaks and adding attic insulation.
You’ll save money on your utility bills now and when you’re ready to
sell, your home will appeal to buyers looking for efficiency.
By the way, to take back your energy bills, you need to do at least four things. One to two fixes won’t cut it, thanks to rising energy costs.
About two-thirds of survey respondents also thought energy-efficient
appliances and energy-efficient lighting were important. Tuck away your
manuals and energy-efficiency information when you buy new appliances
and lighting. When you’re ready to sell (in nine years) you can pull
those out and display them where buyers will see them.
Fax: 419 782-0989
VM: 419-782-0978 ext.123
By: G. M. Filisko
Published: March 11, 2010
By knowing how much mortgage you can handle, you can ensure that home ownership will fit in your budget.
As a rule of thumb, you can typically afford a home priced two to three times your gross income. If you earn $100,000, you can typically afford a home between $200,000 and $300,000.
To understand how that rule applies to your particular financial situation, prepare a family budget and list all the costs of homeownership, like property taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities, and community association fees, if applicable, as well as costs specific to your family, such as day care costs.
How much money do you have for a downpayment? The higher your downpayment, the lower your monthly payments will be. If you put down at least 20% of the home’s cost, you may not have to get private mortgage insurance, which costs hundreds each month. That leaves more money for your mortgage payment.
The lower your downpayment, the higher the loan amount you’ll need to qualify for and the higher your monthly mortgage payment.
Lenders generally follow the 28/41 rule. Your monthly mortgage payments covering your home loan principal, interest, taxes, and insurance shouldn’t total more than 28% of your gross annual income. Your overall monthly payments for your mortgage plus all your other bills, like car loans, utilities, and credit cards, shouldn’t exceed 41% of your gross annual income.
Here’s how that works. If your gross annual income is $100,000, multiply by 28% and then divide by 12 months to arrive at a monthly mortgage payment of $2,333 or less. Next, check the total of all your monthly bills including your potential mortgage and make sure they don’t top 41%, or $3,416 in our example.
The tax benefits of homeownership generally allow you to afford a mortgage payment—including taxes and insurance—of about one-third more than your current rent payment without changing your lifestyle. So you can multiply your current rent by 1.33 to arrive at a rough estimate of a mortgage payment.
Here’s an example. If you currently pay $1,500 per month in rent, you should be able to comfortably afford a $2,000 monthly mortgage payment after factoring in the tax benefits of homeownership.
However, if you’re struggling to keep up with your rent, consider what amount would be comfortable and use that for the calcuation instead.
Also consider whether or not you’ll itemize your deductions. If you take the standard deduction, you can’t also deduct mortgage interest payments. Talking to a tax adviser, or using a tax software program to do a “what if” tax return, can help you see your tax situation more clearly.
G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who’s owned her own home for more than 20 years. A frequent contributor to many national publications including Bankrate.com, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.
Fax: 419 891-1092
VM: 419-897-2700 x 278
By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon Published: November 1, 2012
The Pilgrims were on to something when
they planned a Thanksgiving potluck; here are other good ideas that’ll
simplify your T-Day kitchen cleanup.
Plan a potluck: The first Thanksgiving was a potluck; so let your guests share the fun and bring dishes to share. Then make sure they take home their serving bowls and platters, which will cut down on dishes to wash and put away.
Decide on disposable: Leave Mom’s good dishes in the breakfront and set your table with disposable — and recyclable — place settings. Party stores sell plastic dishware that look like real china (12 dinner plates for about $13). After eating, collect and toss. If you can’t stand to set a table with anything but your best, use disposables for hors d’oeuvres and dessert.
Triple-duty cookware: Cut down on cleanup by selecting cookware that can go from oven to table to freezer. Or, serve food in edible containers, such as bread bowls or hollowed-out winter squash, which you can either consume or compost.
Empty fridge: Start your holiday with a clean slate, which will make the inevitable mess less daunting than piling clutter onto clutter. Before beginning Thanksgiving prep, pick up depressing home clutter and clean out your fridge to make room for ingredients and leftovers.
If possible, designate a shelf for Thanksgiving food, which should be empty when you start your meal, then filled with leftovers when you’re finished. In a week, clean out that shelf again. Make soup from leftover meat and veggies, and then freeze. Compost wilted greens. Toss old dairy products.
Prepare roasting pans: You won’t have to clean what you don’t get dirty. So line your turkey roasting pans with heavy-duty aluminum foil, or cook the bird in a bag. Pour drippings into a pot to make gravy, then throw away the liner.
Line garbage cans: Double- or triple-line garbage cans, which saves time when the cleaning campaign begins. After you toss a trash bag, there’s another waiting for action.
Soaking bin: Soak pots and pans as soon as you transfer food to platters. But instead of filling the sink with soaking pots, designate a small trashcan as the soaking spot. Fill it will soapy water and dirty pots, and hide it under a sink or in a mudroom. That way, your sink is free throughout the evening to clean as you go and rinse dishes on the way to the dishwasher.
Stop stains: Don’t let stains on carpet or rings on furniture set. While wine stains are still wet, dab with go-to cleaner hydrogen peroxide mixed with a few drops of dish detergent; blot with a clean cloth. Get rid of water stains on wood furniture with a dab of white toothpaste (not gel). Rub in the direction of the grain.
Pump up the music: Up-tempo music will give you a second wind for cleaning. So turn off the soothing dinner tunes and get rocking with our cleaning playlist.
Fax: 419 891-1092
VM: 419-897-2700 ext. 238
Professional and Personal Qualifications
My Pledge To You…
In keeping with Welles Bowen’s “Tradition of Excellence” I pledge to partner with you to accomplish your unique real estate goals. I’ll put my marketing expertise and extensive personal, community, and corporate connections, from 25+ years in the local broadcasting industry, to work for you. I’ll be dilegent and communicative in my efforts to ensure that you are 100% satisfied with your buying and selling transaction(s). Call me for a free consultation!
Tips on How To Prepare Your Home for Holiday Guests
By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon/Published: November 14, 2011
Is your home ready for holiday visits from friends and family? Here’s how to prepare for the invasion.
I’m lucky and have a guest suite always ready for holiday guests. But even with a dedicated space, preparing my home for the annual onslaught of friends and family takes time and forethought.
Some preparations for holiday guests take only a few minutes; some take a lot longer. My advice: Start preparing your home for the holidays now.
The day before guests arrive is no time to pull apart junk drawers and clean out linen closets. Declutter guest rooms and public areas — foyer, kitchen, living room, den, and dining room. Remove anything unnecessary from countertops, coffee tables, and ottomans; if it’s out of sight, keep it out of mind, for now.
If you run short of time, bag up the clutter and store it in car trunks, basements, and out-of-the-way closets. Sort and arrange after your guests depart.
Light the way: Even though you can navigate your home blindfolded, your guests can’t. Make sure outside lights are working so they don’t trip on the way to your door. Put motion-activated night lights in hallways, bathrooms, and bedrooms to ensure safe passage after the sun sets.
Child proofing: Ask parents to bring hardware that keeps their small ones safe, such as baby gates and cabinet locks. Transfer toxic cleaners and medicines from base to wall cabinets. Hide matches and lighters.
Fire prevention: If you didn’t freshen smoke detector batteries when you switched the clocks to Daylight Savings Time, change them now. After your guests arrive, run a quick fire drill: Make sure they can locate exits and fire extinguishers, and that they know how to open windows and doors.
Your home’s foyer is the first place guests see, so make a good first impression.
Upgrade exterior entry doors or give old doors a new coat of paint. Polish and tighten door hardware, and oil hinges to prevent squeaks.
Remove scratches from hardwood floors, stairs, and wood railings. Place a small rug or welcome mat at the entrance to protect floors from mud and snow.
Clear out shoes, umbrellas, and other clutter.
Add extra hooks to walls so guests can hang coats and hats.
Add a storage bench where guests can remove boots and shoes.
Your kitchen is command central during the holidays, so make sure it’s ready for guests and extra helpers.
To increase storage, install a pot rack to clear cooking items off countertops and ranges.
Move your coffee station into a family room so guests don’t crowd the kitchen when you’re trying to fix meals.
If you like to visit while you’re cooking, place extra stools and chairs around the perimeter of your kitchen so guests can set a spell.
If you’ve got a guest room, replace the ceiling fixture with a ceiling fan and light combo, which helps guests customize their room temperature without fiddling with the thermostat for the entire house.
To carve sleeping space out of public areas, buy a folding screen or rolling bookcase, which will provide privacy for sleepers. Fold or roll it away in the morning.
Bring toilet paper, towels, and toiletries out of hiding, and place them on open shelves so guests can find them easily.
If you don’t have enough wall space for shelves, place these items in open baskets around the bathroom.
Also, outfit each tub with a bath mat (to avoid falls) and each toilet with a plunger (to avoid embarrassment).
What tips do you have for getting ready for guests this holiday season?
WellesBowen.com - © Copyright 2014 Tele-Home, LLC. -- All Rights Reserved.