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Selling Your Home? Is Your Listing 'Pet-Friendly'?
Selling Your Home? Is Your Listing ‘Pet-Friendly’? | Keeping Current Matters
One of the many benefits of owning your own home is the freedom to find your ‘furever’ friend. By pointing out the aspects of your home that make it ‘pet-friendly’ in your listing, you’ll attract these buyers rather than alienate the 61% of American households that have a pet! If you are one of the many homeowners looking to list your home for sale, how do you stand out to the millions of pet parents searching for their dream homes? Whether a dog person, a cat person, or someone who prefers the company of another pet species, 99% of pet owners say that they consider their animal to be family. When finding a home, 95% of animal owners believe it is important that a housing community allows animals. A recent study by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that there are many aspects of the home buying, selling and owning experience that have been greatly impacted by American’s love for their pets. This should come as no surprise as $66.75 billion was spent on pets in the U.S in 2016, with $70 billion projected for 2017. NAR’s President William E. Brown shed some light on the impact of pet owners and their home search,
“In 2016, 61 percent of U.S. households either have a pet or plan to get one in the future, so it is important to understand the unique needs and wants of animal owners when it comes to homeownership. REALTORS® understand that when someone buys a home, they are buying it with the needs of their whole family in mind; ask pet owners, and they will enthusiastically agree that their animals are part of their family.”

The Power of Pets When Choosing the Right Home

  • 89% of pet owners say they would not give up their pet due to a housing restriction
  • 81% of Americans say their pets play a role in their housing situation
  • 31% of animal owners have refused to put in an offer on a home because it wasn’t a good fit for their animals
  • 19% of Americans say they would consider moving for their pet
  • 12% percent have moved for their pet
New home builders have actually begun installing retractable pet gates that tuck away neatly inside door jams as a highly requested feature in new homes to attract pet-parents, according to Builder.com. So, if you are a homeowner looking to sell in today’s pet-friendly environment, point out the features of your home that will attract pet owners:
  • Fully fenced in backyard – (91% of pet owners ranked this as the most important feature of a home to accommodate their pet)
  • Locations of dog parks/walking paths/pet-friendly beaches in the area (71% ranked this as the top feature of any neighborhood they would consider)
  • Proximity to veterinarians/groomers/pet supply stores (31%)

Bottom Line

Americans love their pets and will look for pet-friendly features in the home they wish to buy, so take advantage of this knowledge by pointing out your home’s ability to meet their needs.

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on May 19th, 2017 2:28 PMLeave a Comment

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4 Tips for Effectively Making an Offer
4 Tips for Effectively Making an Offer | Keeping Current Matters
So, you’ve been searching for that perfect house to call a ‘home,’ and you finally found one! The price is right, and in such a competitive market, you want to make sure that you make a good offer so that you can guarantee that your dream of making this house yours comes true! Freddie Mac covered “4 Tips for Making an Offer” in their latest Executive Perspective. Here are the 4 tips they covered along with some additional information for your consideration:

1. Understand How Much You Can Afford

“While it's not nearly as fun as house hunting, fully understanding your finances is critical in making an offer.”
This ‘tip’ or ‘step’ should really take place before you start your home search process. As we’ve mentioned before, getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and will allow you to make your offer with the confidence of knowing that you have already been approved for a mortgage for that amount. You will also need to know if you are prepared to make any repairs that may need to be made to the house (ex: new roof, new furnace).

2. Act Fast

“Even though there are fewer investors, the inventory of homes for sale is also low and competition for housing continues to heat up in many parts of the country.”
According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report, the inventory of homes for sale is currently at a 3.7-month supply; this is well below the 6-month supply that is needed for a ‘normal’ market. Buyer demand has continued to outpace the supply of homes for sale, causing buyers to compete with each other for their dream homes. Make sure that as soon as you decide that you want to make an offer, you work with your agent to present it as soon as possible.

3. Make a Solid Offer

Freddie Mac offers this advice to help make your offer the strongest it can be:
“Your strongest offer will be comparable with other sales and listings in the neighborhood. A licensed real estate agent active in the neighborhoods you are considering will be instrumental in helping you put in a solid offer based on their experience and other key considerations such as recent sales of similar homes, the condition of the house and what you can afford.”
Talk with your agent to find out if there are any ways that you can make your offer stand out in this competitive market!

4. Be Prepared to Negotiate

“It's likely that you'll get at least one counteroffer from the sellers so be prepared. The two things most likely to be negotiated are the selling price and closing date. Given that, you'll be glad you did your homework first to understand how much you can afford. Your agent will also be key in the negotiation process, giving you guidance on the counteroffer and making sure that the agreed-to contract terms are met.”
If your offer is approved, Freddie Mac urges you to “always get an independent home inspection, so you know the true condition of the home." If the inspector uncovers undisclosed problems or issues, you can discuss any repairs that may need to be made with the seller, or cancel the contract.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re buying your first home or your fifth, having a local professional on your side who is an expert in their market is your best bet in making sure the process goes smoothly. Happy House Hunting!

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on May 16th, 2017 11:42 AMLeave a Comment

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3 Reasons the Housing Market is NOT in a Bubble
3 Reasons the Housing Market is NOT in a Bubble | Keeping Current Matters
With housing prices appreciating at levels that far exceed historical norms, some are fearful that the market is heading for another bubble. To alleviate that fear, we just need to look back at the reasons that caused the bubble ten years ago. Last decade, demand for housing was artificially propped up because mortgage lending standards were way too lenient. People that were not qualified to purchase were able to attain a mortgage anyway. Prices began to skyrocket. This increase in demand caused homebuilders in many markets to overbuild. Eventually, the excess in new construction and the flooding of the market with distressed properties (foreclosures & short sales), caused by the lack of appropriate lending standards, led to the housing crash.

Where we are today…

1. If we look at lending standards based on the Mortgage Credit Availability Index released monthly by the Mortgage Bankers Association, we can see that, though standards have become more reasonable over the last few years, they are nowhere near where they were in the early 2000s. 3 Reasons the Housing Market is NOT in a Bubble | Keeping Current Matters 2. If we look at new construction, we can see that builders are not “over building.” Average annual housing starts in the first quarter of this year were not just below numbers recorded in 2002-2006, they are below starts going all the way back to 1980. 3 Reasons the Housing Market is NOT in a Bubble | Keeping Current Matters 3. If we look at home prices, most homes haven’t even returned to prices seen a decade ago. Trulia just released a report that explained:
“When it comes to the value of individual homes, the U.S. housing market has yet to recover. In fact, just 34.2% of homes nationally have seen their value surpass their pre-recession peak.”

Bottom Line

Mortgage lending standards are appropriate, new construction is below what is necessary and home prices haven’t even recovered. It appears fears of a housing bubble are over-exaggerated.

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on May 15th, 2017 3:59 PMLeave a Comment

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Tax Return Depressing? Owning a Home Could Help
Tax Return Depressing? Owning a Home Could Help | Keeping Current Matters
Many Americans got some depressing news last week; either their tax return was not as large as they had hoped or, in some cases, they were told they owed additional money to either the Federal or State government or both. One way to save on taxes is to own your own home. According to the Tax Policy Center’s Briefing Book -“A citizen's guide to the fascinating (though often complex) elements of the federal Tax System” - there are several tax advantages to homeownership. Here are four items, and a quote on each, from the Briefing Book:

1. Mortgage Interest Deduction

“Homeowners who itemize deductions may reduce their taxable income by deducting any interest paid on a home mortgage. The deduction is limited to interest paid on up to $1 million of debt incurred to purchase or substantially rehabilitate a home. Homeowners also may deduct interest paid on up to $100,000 of home equity debt, regardless of how they use the borrowed funds. Taxpayers who do not own their home have no comparable ability to deduct interest paid on debt incurred to purchase goods and services.”

2. Property Tax Deduction

“Homeowners who itemize deductions may also reduce their taxable income by deducting property taxes they pay on their homes.”

3. Imputed Rent

“Buying a home is an investment, part of the returns from which is the opportunity to live in the home rent-free. Unlike returns from other investments, the return on homeownership—what economists call “imputed rent”—is excluded from taxable income. In contrast, landlords must count as income the rent they receive, and renters may not deduct the rent they pay. A homeowner is effectively both landlord and renter, but the tax code treats homeowners the same as renters while ignoring their simultaneous role as their own landlords.”

4. Profits from Home Sales

“Taxpayers who sell assets must generally pay capital gains tax on any profits made on the sale. But homeowners may exclude from taxable income up to $250,000 ($500,000 for joint filers) of capital gains on the sale of their home if they satisfy certain criteria: they must have maintained the home as their principal residence in two out of the preceding five years, and they generally may not have claimed the capital gains exclusion for the sale of another home during the previous two years.”

Bottom Line

We are not suggesting that you purchase a house just to save on your taxes. However, if you have been on the fence as to whether 2017 is the year you should become a homeowner, this information might help with that decision. Disclaimer: Always check with your accountant to find out what tax advantages apply to you in your area.

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on April 24th, 2017 1:29 PMLeave a Comment

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April 11th, 2017 9:13 AM

Careful...Don't Get Caught in the Rental Trap!

Careful…Don’t Get Caught in the Rental Trap! | Keeping Current Matters There are many benefits to homeownership. One of the top benefits is being able to protect yourself from rising rents by locking in your housing cost for the life of your mortgage.

Don’t Become Trapped

Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist at realtor.com, reported on what he calls a “Rental Affordability Crisis.” He warns that,
“Low rental vacancies and a lack of new rental construction are pushing up rents, and we expect that they’ll outpace home price appreciation in the year ahead.”
In the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University's 2016 State of the Nation’s Housing Report, they revealed that The number of cost-burdened households rose to 21.3 million. Even more troubling, the number with severe burdens (paying more than 50% of income for housing) jumped to a record 11.4 million. These households struggle to save for a rainy day and pay other bills, such as food and healthcare.

It’s Cheaper to Buy Than Rent

In Smoke’s article, he went on to say,
“Housing is central to the health and well-being of our country and our local communities. In addition, this (rental affordability) crisis threatens the future value of owned housing, as the burdensome level of rents will trap more aspiring owners into a vicious financial cycle in which they cannot save and build a solid credit record to eventually buy a home.” “While more than 85% of markets have burdensome rents today, it’s perplexing that in more than 75% of the counties across the country, it is actually cheaper to buy than rent a home. So why aren’t those unhappy renters choosing to buy?”

Know Your Options

Perhaps you have already saved enough to buy your first home. HousingWire reported that analysts at Nomura believe:
"It’s not that Millennials and other potential homebuyers aren’t qualified in terms of their credit scores or in how much they have saved for their down payment. It’s that they think they’re not qualified or they think that they don’t have a big enough down payment.” (emphasis added)
Many first-time homebuyers who believe that they need a large down payment may be holding themselves back from their dream home. As we have reported before, in many areas of the country, a first-time home buyer can save for a 3% down payment in less than two years. You may have already saved enough!

Bottom Line

Don’t get caught in the trap so many renters are currently in. If you are ready and willing to buy a home, find out if you are able. Have a professional help you determine if you are eligible for a mortgage.

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on April 11th, 2017 9:13 AMLeave a Comment

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Incomes Need to Rise at This Pace to Stay on Track With Rents

Incomes Need to Rise at This Pace to Stay on Track With Rents

Rent raised? You’ll need a raise.

According to a new analysis by Zillow, the average renter would need his or her income to grow by $168 to keep up with an expected 1 percent rise in rents over the next year. Many renters, however, would need more—in some cases, much more—to keep costs manageable.

Renters in Seattle, Los Angeles, Boston, Sacramento, and Orlando would be in need of the biggest pay bumps, according to the analysis. In Seattle, renters would need an additional $1,248, while in Orlando, renters would need an additional $672.

Renters in San Antonio, Detroit, Las Vegas, Austin and Columbus would be in need of the smallest—$84 in San Antonio and $264 in Columbus.

“For a long time now, renters have faced an affordability crisis when it comes to housing, and renters in some hot markets will still need significant raises just to keep up with rising rents,” says Dr. Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow. “Incomes have a ways to go to bring rental affordability closer to historical levels, but recent gains are being met with slowing rent appreciation—a welcome sign for renters.”

Appreciation is grinding to a halt in many major metropolitan areas—conditions which, combined with growing incomes, make them ideal for renters. These include New York, Chicago, Houston and Miami, according to the analysis.


Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on April 10th, 2017 12:38 PMLeave a Comment

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Consumer Confidence in Economy & Housing is Soaring
Consumer Confidence in Economy & Housing is Soaring | Keeping Current Matters
The success of the housing market is strongly tied to the consumer’s confidence in the overall economy. For that reason, we believe 2017 will be a great year for real estate. Here is just a touch of the news coverage on the subject.

HousingWire:

“Consumers’ faith in the housing market is stronger than it’s ever been before, according to a newly released survey from Fannie Mae.”

Bloomberg:

“Americans’ confidence continued to mount last week as the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index reached the highest point in a decade on more-upbeat assessments about the economy and buying climate.”

Yahoo Finance:

“Confidence continues to rise among America’s consumers…the latest consumer sentiment numbers from the University of Michigan showed that in March confidence rose again.”

MarketWatch:

“U.S. consumers are the most confident in the U.S. economy in 15 years, buoyed by the strongest job market since before the Great Recession. The survey of consumer confidence rose…according to the Conference Board, the private company that publishes the index. That’s the highest level since July 2001.”

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on April 7th, 2017 11:04 AMLeave a Comment

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What Are the Experts Saying about Mortgage Rates?
What Are the Experts Saying about Mortgage Rates? | Keeping Current Matters
Mortgage interest rates have risen over the last few months and projections are that they will continue their upswing throughout 2017. What impact will this have on the housing market? Here is what the experts are saying: Laurie Goodman, Co-director of the Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center:
“In 1984, 1994, 2000, and 2013, every time we have rate increases, we have increases in nominal home prices. We expect this to be more pronounced, as there is a big demand-and-supply gap at the present time.”
Scott Anderson, Chief Economist for Bank of the West:
“The tightening labor market, rising wage growth, high levels of consumer confidence and a millennial generation with a pent-up demand for housing should allow the housing market to weather the storm of gradually rising interest rates.”
Ivy Zelman in her latest “Z” Report:
“Although we strongly believe that the housing supply-demand imbalance for single-family homes will continue to drive above-average home price appreciation, just as falling mortgage rates aided pricing power on the margin in recent months, we expect the opposite effect to become evident in the coming months. As such, we project year-end home price inflation of 4.8% for 2017 and 4.1% for 2018.”
Bob Walters, President & COO of retail mortgage lender Quicken Loans:
“A modest increase in mortgage rates won’t have much of an effect on home purchases. A buyer may need to slightly re-evaluate which homes they can afford, but it’s not likely to make an impact on qualifying, in most cases.”
First American Chief Economist Mark Fleming:
"Our survey data shows that mortgage rates would have to be significantly higher to have any meaningful impact. The house buying power that borrowers have, even with rates below five percent, still remains historically strong."

Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on March 27th, 2017 9:59 PMLeave a Comment

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March 23rd, 2017 2:34 PM
4 Great Reasons to Buy This Spring!
4 Great Reasons to Buy This Spring! | Keeping Current Matters
Here are four great reasons to consider buying a home today instead of waiting.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that home prices have appreciated by 6.9% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.8% over the next year. The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have remained around 4% over the last couple months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac & the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting that rates will increase by at least a half a percentage point this time next year. An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home.

3. Either Way, You are Paying a Mortgage

There are some renters who have not yet purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage - either yours or your landlord’s. As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to build equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity. Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you?

4. It’s Time to Move on with Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise. But what if they weren’t? Would you wait? Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide if it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe now is the time to buy.

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.


Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on March 23rd, 2017 2:34 PMLeave a Comment

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Magical sunrise over sleepy, foggy neighborhood

As rising rents sweep the country, the channel between the cost of owning and the cost of renting continues to slim. According to the latest Florida Atlantic University national index, today’s active rental prices make for a great time to purchase a home.

“We are not where we were in 2012, when nearly any purchase was a sound financial decision,” said Ken Johnson, Ph.D., real estate economist and index authors, in a recent press release. “However, overall, we are now in a situation where aggressive marketing from sellers combined with due diligence and sound negotiation from buyers is creating a housing market that’s more in line with what we’ve seen historically.”

The index, called the Beracha, Hardin & Johnson Buy vs. Rent (BH&J) Index, shows that 15 of the 23 cities studied are set in buy territory, while another five are only marginally in rent territory. This news only further fortifies the positive outcome of the latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, which showed home prices rising at the highest annual increase since June 2014, roughly 5.8 percent year-over-year. Out of the 23 cities studied in the BH&J index, the only urban places to show discouraging market conditions are Dallas, Denver and Houston.

“The scores for Dallas, Denver and Houston have worried us for some time now,” said Eli Beracha, Ph.D., co-author of the index and assistant professor in the T&S Hollo School of Real Estate at FIU. “The last time we saw scores of this magnitude, housing market crashes soon followed.”

The overall verdict seems to be, if you can afford to buy in, the time to do so is now.

To reach their finding, the FAU index incorporated property appreciation from housing markets around the country. This data is joined by rental, maintenance and alternative investment data streams. Together, these factors can indicate when (and why) housing markets might change direction.

For more information, visit http://business.fau.edu/buyvsrent


Posted by Cheryl Talbot ABR,GRI,e-PRO,SFR on March 14th, 2017 11:44 AMLeave a Comment

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