Whether you own a home or are looking to buy or sell one, here are some useful tips, ideas and advice. When you are ready to make a move our team members are here for you.

Homebuyers, Home sellers, Market conditions, finance

Slowing Sales Create Opportunity

After an astonishing 114 consecutive months of year-over-year home price gains, existing home sales eased two percent on a seasonally adjusted annual rate between July and August 2021.  Have rising home prices finally become too much for homebuyers? Not yet. The median existing-home sales price rose 15% year-over-year, according to The National Association of REALTORS (NAR), largely due to a continuing dearth of available homes for sale. Existing supplies nationwide are at a meager 2.6 months on hand, which means that at the current sales pace, supplies would end quickly.

Most impacted by slim inventories and rising prices are first-time buyers who accounted for 29% of sales in August, down from 30% in July and down from 33% a year ago in August 2020. So, what does this mean for you – the homebuyer who may feel discouraged?

Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said that “potential buyers are out and about searching, but much more measured about their financial limits, and simply waiting for more inventory.”

With winter approaching, housing sales tend to slow, especially with holidays pending. This affords buyers more opportunity to purchase a home “in the off season.” In addition, when buyers are pushed to their limits, they begin to withdraw from the hunt, leaving sellers with fewer showing and offers. 

Stay firm. Don’t “offer over list price” or try to compete with all-cash offers from corporate buyers. Eventually, prices will come down, and near-record-low interest rates will continue to be available for some time to come.  

finance, homebuyers, homeowners

Ways Your Monthly Payments Can Change

This is one of the best times to get a fixed-rate mortgage. Since interest rates have hovered near record lows for years, they’re bound to go up rather than further down.

You could get lower mortgage payments temporarily with an adjustable rate mortgage or hybrid loan that employs a fixed rate for five years or so and adjusts to market rates when the fixed term expires. Your payment could reset to a much a higher and less affordable interest rate in the future.

A far safer option is the fixed rate mortgage with a rate that never changes over the life of the loan. Even so, your monthly payment can change in other ways.

If you put less than 20 percent of your home’s purchase price as a down payment, lenders will require that you pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI). Expect your payments to rise by 0.3 percent to 1.2 percent of the loan amount. In some cases, PMI can be removed.

Your monthly payments should include escrows for hazard insurance. The amounts can change, so monitor your annual insurance statements from your insurer when it’s time to renew. Your lender will divide the annual amount into monthly payments for your lender to add to your escrow.

Your property tax authority will send you a new statement annually, usually in the spring or early summer. Your tax basis will be based on the purchase price you paid. Most communities place annual limits on increases to avoid homeowner sticker shock.

Home Maintenance, Home Improvement, Homeowners, Homebuyers

How to Spot Termite Damage

Termites look like ants with white wings that eat wood and can cause considerable damage to your home. These are some signs that you might have an infestation:

You can hear them in your walls. Faint movement and tapping could be termites. Look for tiny holes in your sheetrock, plaster, wallpaper and moldings. Dirt channels or ripples that go up the length of your drywall is likely termite activity. Tapping and prodding on the wood around your home may reveal termite activity or damage if the sound is hollow. 

You see their droppings. Termites keep their homes clean, so they tend to deposit their offal outside of your walls.

There are dark or soft spots in your wood. Easily scratched wood may be infested.  Wood floors will droop, buckle, or sag if termite-damaged. Sawdust may be present. You’ll also see discolored or blistered wood from termite tunneling damage.

You find mud tunnels, tubes, or mud piles. These will appear near your foundation.

Unfortunately, you can’t always tell if tunnels, mounds and other signs are current, so if you’re buying a new home, make sure you have a termite inspection by a professional service.  And, if you’re a homeowner, call a professional termite exterminator to remediate any damage. Check your home periodically for signs of infestation, particularly in damp areas such as basements, laundry rooms, crawlspaces, etc.

Check with your neighbors to see if they’ve had termite activity lately. When other houses are treated for infestations, their termites might head over to your house.

Home Improvement, Homeowners, Home sellers, Homebuyers

How Much Paint Should You Buy?

Conventional wisdom says that it takes approximately one gallon of paint to cover a room up to 400 square feet, but this is a single-coat estimate is for a small room like a bathroom, according to Glidden.com. But other variables impact how much paint you should buy, such as the size and number of doors to the room, the height of the ceiling, the size and number of windows and whether you have crown molding, wainscotting and other decorative elements. 

Your favorite brand of paint most likely has a rough online calculation tool, such as BenjaminMoore.com, as well as a more detailed estimate. To make sure you have enough, round up to the nearest gallon. That way, you’ll have some leftover paint for touch-ups. If there’s any doubt, confirm the amount by taking your room measurements to your local paint dealer.

There are some circumstances where you’ll need more product. If you’re painting dark walls a lighter color or trying to cover stains or odors, you’ll want to cover the area with a primer before you begin painting. Kilz.com recommends that you use primer to cover everything from permanent marker, graffiti, grease and nicotine stains to stains from water damage, rust or ferrous (iron-based) stains. Severe stains such as those caused by fires, pets, smoke, floods or bodily fluids may require the help of professionals.

Be sure to keep notebook or online record of the color, brand and type of paint you choose.

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