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  • by on December 26, 2016 in For Sellers,

    In todays market, with home prices rising and a lack of inventory, some homeowners may consider trying to sell their home on their own, known in the industry as a For Sale by Owner (FSBO). There are several reasons why this might not be a good idea for the vast majority of sellers.

    Here are the top five reasons:

    1. Exposure to Prospective Buyers

    Recent studies have shown that 94% of buyers search online for a home. That is in comparison to only 17% looking at print newspaper ads. Most real estate agents have an internet strategy to promote the sale of your home. Do you?

    2. Results Come from the Internet

    Where did buyers find the home they actually purchased?

    51% on the internet34% from a Real Estate Agent9% from a yard sign1% from newspapers

    The days of selling your house by just putting up a sign and putting it in the paper are long gone. Having a strong internet strategy is crucial.

    3. There Are Too Many People to Negotiate With

    Here is a list of some of the people with whom you must be prepared to negotiate if you decide to For Sale By Owner:

    The buyer who wants the best deal possibleThe buyers agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyerThe buyers attorney (in some parts of the country)The home inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the houseThe appraiser if there is a question of value4. FSBOing Has Become More And More Difficult

    The paperwork involved in selling and buying a home has increased dramatically as industry disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. This is one of the reasons that the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 8% over the last 20+ years.

    The 8% share represents the lowest recorded figure since NAR began collecting data in 1981.5. You Net More Money When Using an Agent

    Many homeowners believe that they will save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real estate agents commission. The seller and buyer cant both save the commission.

    Studies have shown that the typical house sold by the homeowner sells for $185,000, while the typical house sold by an agent sells for $245,000. This doesnt mean that an agent can get $60,000 more for your home, as studies have shown that people are more likely to FSBO in markets with lower price points. However, it does show that selling on your own might not make sense.

    Bottom Line

    Before you decide to take on the challenges of selling your house on your own, sit with a real estate professional in your marketplace and see what they have to offer.

  • Sellers: Give Buyers What They Want

    BY BRENDON DESIMONE ON 17 OCT 2016

    You have more control over how long your home stays on the market than you think.

    Every seller hopes their home will sell quickly, and for a good price. So it can be frustrating when your home doesnt sell, while the house down the street gets snapped up.

    The homes are in the same location, with similar square footage, and the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms, so they should sell for the same price and in the same amount of time. Right?

    If youre in this situation, you may be quick to blame your agent, the lack of advertising, the photographs, or the listing description. But the real problem could lie in how youve presented your home on the market.

    To understand the seller experience, lets look at two different approaches to listing a home.

    The story of the home that didnt sell

    Maybe you think you can sell your home without updating it first. Many sellers start out with this perspective, and find their homes sitting on the market with no activity.

    Lets imagine this sellers home. Theyve lived there 30 years, raised their family, and now want to move on. They dont exactly know where they want to go after they sell, but theyllfigure that out later.

    Herein lies the problem. Without an exit strategy or solid post-sale plan, they cant possibly be in a position to sell in todays market. As a result, they reject the pricing or home preparation suggestions of a great local agent, and instead go with the agent who tells them what they want to hear.

    They list the home as-is, to very little buyer activity. The local agents tour the home, and it leaves them with a negative first impression. They arent excited about the house, and that comes across to their buyer clients.

    All the while, the number of days on the market ticks up. Every potential buyer notices this, and thinks theres something wrong with the house. The seller cycles through two or three agents, and a year later they sell the house for much less than they should have. All the while theyve paid taxes, mortgage interest, and maintenance costs.

    The story of the home that sold

    Now lets think about the home that got snapped up at the sellers desired price. These sellers reached out to their agent well before they planned to move, and indicated that they wanted to downsize and move closer to the city.

    They didnt have an exact plan just yet, but wanted to be in touch with agents to understand the market, its dynamics, and what would be required of them to sell successfully.

    Working with their agent,they put a six-month plan in place to organize an estate sale, move their oversized furniture to storage, and make necessary repairs to the home.

    They also invested money in light staging and small cosmetic changes, including painting Suzies dark purple room to a more neutral color, and taking down their old window coverings. They traveled down memory lane as they packed up old photos, diplomas, and decorations from the African safari they took as a family 10years ago.

    They understood that the home, as they lived in it, isnt what todays buyers want. Meanwhile, theyve explored their next stage of life options and decided to rent in the city for a year.

    Once they made that decision, they were ready to list. The local agents tour and love the house. The listing gets lots of buyer activity, and the sellers have a deal within 30 days, and can move on to the next phase of their life.

    Why do sellers resist?

    Selling a family home after many years can be incredibly stressful. A homeowner who hasnt emotionally detached from their home, and their experiences there, cant possibly be objective. They think theyre ready to move on and just want to be done with it.

    But sellers need to realize that while its their home first, its also an investment. If a well-intentioned agent says your home isnt salable in its current condition at your desired price, you may feel insulted but its important to consider the perspective of todays buyers.

    The buyers are the customers, after all. Imagine walking into a shoe store to find that they dont sell the latestmodelof Nike sneakers. If so, you would walk out and locate the store that did, right?

    Give the buyers what they want

    Most buyers want a turn-key home. They dont want to spend a penny on repairs or upgrades, and they dont have time to do the work. They have busy schedules and demanding jobs. The thought of closing on a home and then hiring an architect, painter or a designer is more than they can handle. They want a clean, move-in ready home that they can show off to their friends on day one.

    Show them a home with gray or white walls, newly finished hardwood floors and lots of white in the kitchen and bathrooms, and they will jump on it.

    Sellers who invest time and money in preparing their home before listing it will sell quicker and for more money. And thats what every seller wants.

  • 3 Reasons to Hire a Sellers Agent

    If youre selling your home, you should expect a list of expenses. The commission you pay the sellers agent is usually one of the biggest, around 6% of your homes selling price. This pays for the valuable work your seller's agent, also known as a listing agent, does for you: preparing the home, marketing it, showing it topotential buyers and helping you through the selling process.

    Some owners try to save money by not working with an agent and listing their homes for sale by owner. But FSBOs, as theyre known in the trade, requiretime, effort and real estate know-how.FSBOsalso incur their own expenses, ones that people who hire listing agents dont have to pay.

    For most homeowners, it pays to hire a listing agent. Heres why:

    Read More
  • Written by on for RealtyTimes.com Wednesday, 20 July 2016 3:04 pm

    You have signed a contract to purchase a house. Your potential lender has qualified you for the mortgage loan, on the condition that the house will appraise high enough to support the loan. Now you have learned that the appraisal has come in too low, and the lender is not prepared to commit the loan.

    You have a number of options.

    Let's take this example. Your contract price is $500,000, and you are seeking a loan which will be 80 percent of the purchase price -- or $400,000. Such a loan will help you avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI) premiums. However, the lender has appraised the house for only $480,000, and will only lend you $384,000.

    Here are some of your options.

    1. Cancel the deal. Read your sales contract carefully. Do you have a financing contingency, and do you still have time to terminate the contract if you cannot get the financing spelled out in the contract. If you have any questions about this, check it out with your attorney. Did you include a contingency for obtaining an acceptable appraisal? Read your contract carefully.

    2. Put up more cash. You originally intended to put down $100,000 of your own money and get a $400,000 loan. Since the lender is only willing to lend you $384,000, you can -- if you have the cash and want to use it -- put up the additional $16,000 (or $116,000), and still buy the house. However, if the appraisal is truly accurate, give serious thought as to whether you may have overbid on the price. And don't forget to plug into your equation closing costs -- such as title insurance, recording taxes, title search, etc.

    3. Change the terms of the loan. Obtain a first trust in the amount of $400,000, and a second trust in the amount of $16,000. This will help you avoid PMI. Talk with your lender about this; not all lenders like to use this approach.

    4. Challenge the appraisal. You have the absolute right to obtain a copy of the appraisal. Read it carefully, and discuss it with your attorney and your real estate agent. You should then talk with the appraiser and/or the lender. If you believe there were errors in the appraisal, demand that the appraiser return to the property, and reevaluate the situation.

    Keep in mind, however, that appraising property is not a science; at best, it is an attempt to determine what a piece of property is worth, based on a number of different methods of evaluation. While appraisers use such benchmarks as square footage, replacement value and other similar concepts, the bottom line in my opinion is that appraising a house is a very subjective exercise. Since no two houses are really similar, there has to be a lot of subjectivity involved in any assessment.

    The best test of market value: what a buyer is willing to pay and a seller is willing to accept for the house.

  • by from Keeping Current Matterson May 16, 2016 TheNational Association of Realtorsmost recent Existing Home Sales Reportrevealed that home sales were up rather dramatically over last year in five of the six price ranges they measure.

    Only those homes priced under $100,000 showed a decline (-4.6%). The decline in this price range points to the lower inventory of distressed properties available for sale and speaks to the strength of the market.

    Every other category showed a minimum increase of at least 4.6%, with sales in the $250,000- $500,000 range up 15.2%!

    Here is the breakdown:

    What does that mean to you if you are selling?

    Houses are definitely selling. If your house has been on the market for any length of time and has not yet sold, perhaps it is time to sit with your agent and see if it is priced appropriately to compete in today's market.

  • FIVE SMART HOMEBUYER STRATEGIES

    Written by RealtyTimes Staff on Thursday, 05 May 2016 3:30 pm

    The National Association of REALTORS has announced that there's a housing supply shortage. Homes are selling quickly and home prices are starting to inch up again. It's becoming a seller's market in many areas.

    Any time the market changes, it's time to change strategies. During a buyer's market, buyers have the upper hand and can make more demands to sellers over their homes' price and condition. During a sellers' market, buyers concede the upper hand to sellers and are more willing to accept higher prices and terms.

    When homes are in short supply, buyers don't have the luxury of taking their time, teasing sellers with lowball offers, demanding that every little thing be fixed, and shopping for homes with multiple real estate agents. Do these five steps instead.

    Make a good first impression. Not only do you need to impress sellers, you need to impress real estate agents. Hire one agent and let him or her profile your needs to the marketplace. Be specific about your must-haves so you don't waste your agent's and your time viewing homes that lack what you want most. When you find the home you want, send the seller a letter along with your offer outlining why you love the home.

    Get preapproved by a lender. Not only will you know how much home you can buy, you'll be ready to make an offer quickly. Your real estate agent can include the fact that you're financially preapproved by your lender in with the offer, which will carry weight with the seller.

    Shop within your price range. In a seller's market, it's wise to shop for homes within or slightly below your price range. This will give you more room to make full-price offers or above in case the home you want is in a bidding war with other buyers. You'll be able to pay your own closing costs. Trying to buy a home out of your reach during a seller's market will only cause you and your agent frustration.

    Be flexible. No home is perfect. To get more home for your money, you might shop for an older home that needs renovation. Try to look past ugly wallpaper and stained carpet and visualize the home with more attractive finishes. You may be able to get more living space in an established neighborhood than with a newer home that is priced higher for similar square footage.

    Be ready. Be ready to see a new listing at a moment's notice. Be ready to make an offer when you believe this is the right home for your household. Once a seller has accepted your offer, proceed as if you're in a normal market. Set a reasonable closing date that accommodates the seller as much as possible. Confirm the offer with your lender. Schedule the inspections you'll need and don't nitpick the seller over small things.

    Whether you're in a buyer's market or a seller's market, you should feel good about the home you choose, the deal you make, and the courteous way you treated all parties to the transaction.

  • 6/30/16 $45,000 Price Reduction on 43670 Piasano Pl., Temecula, CA, 92592. This beautiful home on 2.5 acres with 3613 Sq. Ft, has a welcoming covered front porch with large foyer, formal living and dining room, 4 large bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths, vaulted ceilings, custom built-in cabinets. Walk through the French Doors to a large office or hobby room. The formal living room has a beautiful fireplace with a large hearth. The Chef's Kitchen with granite counters, stainless steel appliances and beautiful custom cabinets allows for more than one cook! The large family room with fireplace offers access to the sun room with beautiful views of the Temecula Valley. The master bedroom has custom built-in cabinets with extra shelving, another fireplace, and en suite master bath that does not disappoint with a large walk-in shower and separate tub. Additional bedrooms have attached baths. Laundry day is a delight in this spacious laundry room with extra storage. The property is well landscaped with citrus, oak, and many varieties of palm trees. In addition to the pool and spa there is plenty room for RV, and boat parking. Room to plant your vineyard! - See more at: 43670 Piasano Pl., Temecula, CA, 92592.

  • From KeepingCurrentMatters.com

    by on March 14, 2016 in First Time Homebuyers, For Buyers, For Sellers, Move-Up Buyers, Pricing

    As a seller, you will be most concerned about short term price where home values are headed over the next six months. As either a first-time or repeat buyer, you must not be concerned only about price but also about the long term cost of the home.

    Let us explain.

    There are many factors that influence the cost of a home. Two of the major ones are the homes appreciation over time, and the interest rate at which a buyer can borrow the funds necessary to purchase their home. The rate at which these two factors can change is often referred to as The Cost of Waiting.

    What will happen over the next 12 months?

    According to CoreLogics latest Home Price Index, prices are expected to rise by 5.5% by this time next year.

    Additionally, Freddie Macs most recent Economic Commentary & Projections Tablepredicts that the 30-year fixed mortgage rate will appreciate to 4.5% in that same time.

    What Does This Mean to a Buyer?

    Here is a simple demonstration of what impact these projected changes would have on the mortgage payment of a home selling for approximately $250,000 today:

  • From Zillow Porchlight

    TIPS & ADVICE / STORY / BY ON 22 FEB 2016

    Be a smart and savvy buyer to land the home of your dreams.

    The home-buying experience often portrayed in advertising generally seems to focus on couples and families. But these days, only 40 percent of first-time home buyers are married, down from 52 percent in the late 80s, according to Zillow research.

    The process of purchasing a home for a sole owner may be fairly similar to that of anyone else, but there are a few slight differences in how a single buyer might approach the home-buying experience.

    Here are five ways to make your solo house hunt a success.

    Find your agent

    Don't choose the first real estate agent you find in an online search. Try posting a query on social media to get insights from your friends and family, and search for agents in your area, taking plenty of time to read reviews. Look for positive agent reviews that may comment on purchasing alone versus as a couple.

    Once you find a few agent options, meet with each of them. You'll want to ask plenty of questions don't let them do all the talking.

    Read up on your resources

    So you've met with multiple agents and found the one for you. Great! But having a wonderful real estate agent doesn't mean you don't need to read up on your own.

    Don't rely on your agent to explain very detail of the process. They probably will, and should, but its your job to be an informed buyer. Head to the library or check out online resources to find out your rights as a buyer and learn about home-buying programs.

    When you're deciding how much home you can afford, consider all recurring expenses that come with owning a home. Think beyond mortgage payments and closing costs include expense ssuch as home maintenance and repairs.

    And if you're nervous about being turned down for a loan because you're buying on your own, try not to be. While qualifying for a loan on one income may mean you purchase a smaller home, it doesn't mean you cant buy. In fact, banks are not allowed to discriminate against potential home buyers based on marital status.

    Singles buying a home on one income should consider an FHA loan, as borrowers with good credit can qualify for a small down payment.

    Choose the right home type for you

    Are you looking for something to grow into? Or do you want a small starter home you can rent out in the future? Whatever your current and future home needs are, know that you have options regarding the type of home you purchase.

    Buying a condo or townhouse may leave you with a lower mortgage, but don't forget about possible homeowners association dues and storage fees. And while a smaller place means less to maintain for one person, regular maintenance is still a homeowner must.

    House hunt with confidence

    Pursuing home ownership on your own doesn't mean you have to decide everything solo. Bring one or two of your close friends who have recently purchased a home and who you know can offer honest feedback.

    If you plan to move to the suburbs to get more house for your buck, consider if you'd really be happy living away from your favorite downtown spots. Try commuting to and from your potential home from work, your friends homes, and your favorite shops and restaurants. If you discover its a tad too far for comfort, narrow your home search.

    Once you find a few neighborhoods you love, look at the crime data. There are plenty of online tools that can help you check the safety of a neighborhood. And as you scope out houses and communities, take note of enclosed backyards and security gates. Because there may not be someone home during hours you're typically away, you'll want to be mindful of security precautions during your house hunt.

    Make an informed offer

    If you're buying as a singleton, you may not have someone by your side to help you figure out what to offer or how to negotiate. This is where finding the best real estate agent for you will serve you well. Talk to your agent about how your offer may stack up against recent sales in the area, as well as the possible concessions you can get from the sellers.

    Whether you've just started considering purchasing your first home or you're newly single and buying on your own for the first time, these five steps will ensure you're a smart and savvy solo buyer, and help you land a home of your own.

  • A Roundup of Magical Autumn PlantsWRITTEN BY CATRIONA TUDOR ERLER

    Summer is waning and the garden is beginning to fade, but that doesnt mean it cant still pack a lot of punch. The go-to perennials for autumn color include chrysanthemums (some are more hardy than others) and asters. With a range of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees, you can make magic in your late-season garden. Consider adding some of the following plants to your garden this fall.

    Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale)

    The odd common name comes from the former practice of using the dried leaves for snuff. The snuff was used to induce sneezing to rid the body of evil spirits (but the plant can be toxic, so dont try this today). The late-summer and early-fall blooms range in color from yellow to burnt orange and rust. Check out named varieties such as Mardi Gras, Sahins Early Flowerer, and Canary with heights varying from 25 tall.

    Aster Raydons Favorite(Symphyotrichum oblongifolium var. angustatusRaydons Favorite)

    While most asters sport masses of dime-sized flowers, Raydons Favorite gives you two-and-a-half times the value with quarter-sized purple-blue blossoms that cover the plant. This workhorse perennial is compact in form, growing 1824 tall, and performs with enthusiasm in even the worst soils and weather. All these qualities earned Raydons Favorite the 2016 Garden Plant of the Year award from the Garden Club of America.

    Monkshood

    This old-fashioned perennial has vivid violet-blue, hooded flowers that appear in mid-autumn. An erect plant that stands 4 feet tall, its dark green leaves are palmate and deeply lobed, making a dramatic statement even when not in flower. All parts of the plant are toxic, hence the Greek name, Aconitum, which means unconquerable poison. Another common name is wolfsbane because it was used to poison wolves.

    Bugbane (Actaea simplex Hillside Black Beauty, formerly Cimicifuga simplex)

    The common name points to the fact that this striking plant will keep bugs at bay due to its odoriferous insect repellant properties. Visually most effective when planted in clusters, the ferny, purple- to bronze-tinted foliage grows 2 tall, making a striking statement all summer long. Prepare to be dazzled in September and October when the 46 tall, fluffy, white flower spires shoot up from the plants, contrasting beautifully against the dark foliage. You and the butterflies will enjoy the display. The plants, which are hardy from USDA zones 48, prefer partial to full shade. In the Pacific Northwest, consider growing the native bugbane,Actaea elata.

    Blueberry (Vaccinum spp.)

    Enjoy three seasons of delight with blueberries. In spring, dainty, bell-shaped flowers hang from the branches. Later in summer, you can savor the delicious, nutrient-rich fruit (an extra bonus is if you grow them without pesticides or other poisons). In fall, the leaves turn orange, yellow, or wine red. Choose northern or southern types, depending on where you live (check with your local nursery for advice). All northern varieties have brilliant fall color; for the best color for southern varieties, opt for the V. corymbosum ONeal and Jubilee hybrids. Blueberries have a wide climate range from USDA zones 510.

    Late-summer and early-fall blooms range in color from yellow to burnt orange and rust.

    Sneezeweed(Helenium autumnale)

    Photography provided by iStockphoto.com/Anna Yu.

    Best Native Trees & Shrubs for Autumn Foliage

    1Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum), USDA zones 410, orange-red color, mature height 5070, spread 25

    2Red Maple (Acer rubrum), USDA zones 39, red autumn foliage, mature height 4060, spread 40

    3Black Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica) USDA zones 39, fall display of various shades of yellow, orange, bright red, and purple, often on the same branch, mature height 3050, spread 30

    4Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum) USDA zones 59 fall foliage yellow, red or even purple, mature height 2530, spread 20

    5Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) USDA zones 49, deep orange, scarlet, purple, and yellow in fall, mature height 3060, spread 2540

    6Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), USDA zones 38, yellow leaves in early autumn, spidery flowers in late autumn, early winter, mature height 1530, spread 1520

    7Serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora Autumn Brilliance), USDA zones 49, brilliant red to orange-red fall foliage, mature height and spread 1525

    8Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia), USDA zones 49, white apple blossom-like flowers in spring; red fruits in late summer and autumn; and brilliant orange-red fall foliage, mature height 10, spread 6

    9Sweet Gum (Liquidambar styraciflua), USDA zones 59, star-shaped leaves turn red, orange, and burgundy in fall, mature height 6080, spread 4060

    10Fothergilla (Fothergilla major), USDA zones 58 fragrant, white, bottlebrush-like spring flowers, warm gold and orange foliage in fall, mature height and spread 6

    The Nancy Hughes Group

    951-704-4644

    Nancy@NancyHughesGroup.com

    TheNancyHughesGroup.com

    Cal BRE# 00859916

    As featured in Home By Design Magazine

    Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. All measurements are approximate. Copyright 2016 By Design Publishing. All rights reserved.

  • See how designers and homeowners cleverly incorporate container gardens into their home designsMany of us, especially those who live in apartments and condos, know what its like to feel limited by our square footage and lack of outdoor space. But that doesnt mean plants cant be part of our lives. In fact, in a small space they can even be more of a focus. These container gardens featured previously on Houzz utilize creativity and style where soil and space are lacking.Margot Hartford Photography1. Think creatively about vessels. Author and garden designer Baylor Chapmans apartment in a converted box factory in San Francisco showcases her passion for plants and nature, as well as her collection of unusual furniture and decor.On her apartments balcony, both of these passions are combined in a vertical garden made with repurposed wood window shutters. Succulents, which can sometimes grow in the crevices between rocks, sit comfortably in a little bed of soil between each louver. See more of this nature-filled San Francisco apartmentstephane chamard2. Set the stage. When architect and interior designer Stephane Chamard moved into a loft in a converted candy factory in Toronto with his husband, he decided it needed an update. After painting every surface white, the couple filled the loft space out, including adding an abundance of potted plants. The ragged jumble of plants against the stark white backdrop shows a tension, and was also designed by Chamard to represent a winter garden. The plants frame the sitting area and provide a backdrop for the electric-blue vintage Djinn chairs by Olivier Mourgue. See more of this modern Toronto loftTONIC Design3. Surround a tub. In a converted wool factory in Brisbane, Australia, the designers of this luxe master bathroom used translucent glass and a row of tropical foliage to create distinct zones for the tub and the rest of the bathroom. Both features also create privacy in the open space.The plants provide textural contrast in the minimalist room filled with sleek, modern materials, while their linear planting still fits the bathrooms style. See more of this industrial apartment in BrisbaneKirkwood McCarthy4. Plant an adjacent exterior wall. What was once a run-down workshop in East London is nowarchitect Fiona Kirkwoods three-story home. As part of the renovation, she sunk the first level to below street level, butshe wanted to make sure this new basement still had a pleasing view and received plenty of natural light.A tiered indoor-outdoor entry courtyard got some greenery with a vertical garden. Kirkwood planted the wall using Woolly Pocket living wall planters and filled them with flowers, herbs and evergreens from the New Covent Garden flower market. The wall, which receives direct sunlight, softens the patio, enhances the view from the sunken living area and provides the kitchen with fresh herbs. See more of this renovated London home | How to Add a Living WallLisa Atkinson Photographer5. Line a basic entry. Justine Savage has packed every square inch of her apartment inMornington Peninsula, Australia, with personality-filled decor and furniture. A floral designer, Savage also included a lot of hanging and potted plants to give the apartment life and color. Instead of starting inside the house, Savage used her front entry as a launchpad for her homes decor. What could have been a set of bare concrete steps leading to the front door features cheery containers filled with dahlias and succulents. Not only does this arrangement soften the concrete, but it also gives visitors a taste of her personality early on. See more of this sunny, flower-filled apartment in AustraliaMartin Hulala6. Add living wallpaper. In contrast to the electronic devices below, this swath of golden pothos adds a solid plane of living foliage. I used living plants because it has positive impact on my health and psyche, architect and homeowner Rudolf Lesk says. Moreover, it creates a natural opposite to the modern materials and all the technology. Occasional watering keeps the plants happy in their hydroponic inserts (pots filled with clay granules). At night, theyre bathed in a spectrum of LED lights. See more of this minimalist Slovakian apartmentBonnie McCarthy7. Bring the view in close. Living at the beach means the water is just a short walk away, but it also usually means your neighbors are even closer. Kris Crenwelge and John Bellemy, who live in Redondo Beach, California, decided to solve the issue of nearby neighbors in a way that also brings a bit of the coastal view inside. Window boxes filled with mounding grasses screen the windows while still providing the homeowners with an attractive view.See more of this updated home in Los Angeles | See how to build a modern window boxMichelle JarniSave8. Shrink the concrete patio. Matt Walters and Liz Hamer didnt have an open yard around their Melbourne, Australia, rental house, but they did have a cracked concrete patio.What started as a few potted-plant gifts from Hamers mother has evolved into a lush container garden oasis. The plants in a variety of sizes, shapes and textures soften the edges of the patio, increase its perceived size and create a dynamic patio landscape. See more of this eclectic house and garden in MelbourneCharmean Neithart Interiors, LLC.9. Add a rooftop Zen garden.High above a bustling commercial area in Los Angeles, on the top floor of an industrial building, a Japanese penthouse offers a retreat from the busy world below. A built-in raised bed filled with gravel and a specimen pine tree provides the wraparound deck as well as the adjacent living area with a focal point and a bit of green.See more of this Pasadena penthouse
  • FromRealtyTimes

    Written by Jaymi Naciri for RealtyTimes on Sunday, 26 June 2016

    Has the tide finally turned on granite? In the last few years, granite has continued to be a popular choice for kitchen counters, but has lost ground to quartz, which is now the go-to for homebuyers and renovators, not to mention design shows and flippers. If you're getting ready to redo your kitchen or are building a new home, here are all the reasons to swaddle your counters in quartz.

    1. Endless options

    Whether you're looking for something super sleek or want to replicate the look of natural stone without the maintenance, you can find it in quartz.

    "One of the main reasons quartz has exploded in popularity is due to appearance," said HGTV. "Quartz has the look of stone while also allowing homeowners to customize the design. While granite offers many options in terms of appearance, you may have to search for the right piece that matches your color scheme. With quartz, the selection process is much easier."

    2. May be better for larger surfaces

    The prevailing trend in kitchens today is an open kitchen with a large island. But large slabs of granite to cover an entire surface in one piece are hard to come by, sometimes even nonexistent depending on the size, and are expensive if they are found. More likely, more than one granite slab will need to be used for a large island or expansive countertops. Because quartz is engineered, it can be created in larger slabs. And if more than one slab is needed, seaming them together looks, well, seamless because there is no need to carefully color match natural pieces together as you would do with granite.

    3. Easy maintenance

    Granite needs to be resealed one a year, which is no big deal for most people. But the daily care required of granite can push them toward toward a solid surface like quartz. "With quartz, cleaning the counter is easy. The quartz washes off with soap and water and looks as good as new. You don't have to use special bacteria-preventing soaps,"said Leeza Surfaces.

    4. No staining

    A main consideration for many people when choosing countertops is warding off stains. Juice, wine, or other food and drinks can permanently stain granite. According to HGTV, "Some oils and acids can stain" as well.

    5. Scratches and burns

    Granite can also scratch and burn, ruining the look. Quartz is scratch resistant and able to handle hot pots without burning or discoloring, although it's not recommended you put anything super hot directly down on either surface.

    6. Cost

    Granite can be less expensive than quartz depending on the grade of the stone, but, when it comes to exotic granite, "Quartz is less expensive," said Leeza Surfaces.

    7. Eco-friendliness

    "The only way granite ends up in your kitchen is if it's quarried and that uses a lot of energy. If you opt for a high-end slab from Italy, for example, there will be considerable transportation involved. Try using indigenous stone when possible or visit salvage shops for pieces that can be cut to fit your needs," said HGTV. "Since quartz is engineered, it can be more environmentally-friendly than granite if you use regionally manufactured stone and local fabricators. This cuts down on the distance the material needs to be transported."

    If that's not enough to convince you, maybe these quartz kitchens will do the trick.

    MSI Stonekitchen countertops

    Pinterest

    Decorpad

    Floform

  • They're more affordable than you think, and the benefits make them a bright idea.HOME IMPROVEMENT / STORY / BY for Zillow

    The decision to add solar panels to your home can seem daunting. The unknowns and assumptions of costs and installation tend to leave homeowners uneasy about going solar.

    However, just as home automation once seemed overwhelming, adding solar panels to your home is becoming more of the norm. U.S. solar power grew 30 percent in 2014 from 2013 with the Solar Energy Industries Association expecting continued growth through 2016.

    California already generates more than five percentof its annual utility-scale electricity generation from utility-scale solar power, becoming the first state to do so.

    The reasons to invest in solar panels are abundant. In addition to increasing your homes value and saving money on your electric bill, solar panels also help homeowners decrease their carbon footprint. Within 20 years, a residential solar power system can offset literally tons of carbon dioxide.

    Addressing the myths

    If youre still skeptical, know that quite a few myths about going solar exist. Here are the most common myths about solar panels.

    I could never afford solar panels. The average cost to cover ahomes roof with solar panels is $29,000, according toTech Insider. Ten years ago it was $43,000. That makes the cost of a solar roof lower than the average price of a new car in the U.S. This doesnt even account for renewable energy tax credits you may receive; you can claim a 30-percent rebate for installing solar panels to your home. There are even solar panel leasing program options if you dont feel ready for such a purchase. This solar panel installation cost calculator will give you the estimated cost of the benefits of using solar power in your home, as well as your expected daily savings.My solar panels wont work if the weather is bad. False. Germany is the solar energy capital of the world, and often faces long, dismal winters. Solar panels run off of UV light, so a cloudy sky wont turn off your power.Solar panels will require too much maintenance. Solar panels do not require much maintenance at all, actually. While rain will often do the trick, the general recommendation is to clean your panels by hosing them off annually. Most of your maintenance work involves simply making sure there is no debris on your roof that may cover any part of your panels.Can your home handleit?

    If youre ready to start thinking more seriously about going solar, your first step is to see if your home can handle solar panels. Surprisingly, approximately only 25 percent of roofs are suitable for solar panels.

    Research the following questions as you consider solar panels:

    What are the measurements of my roof?What are the electrical and building codes in my area?Does my neighborhood have any rules regarding solar panels?Does my state have laws regarding solar access rights in place?

    Youll also want to find a contractor who is certified to work with photovoltaic (PV) systems. A professional can help you determine if your home is a good fit for solar panels. Before you commit to any service, though, find out how long your contractor has been in business, how many installations their team has completed, and what kind of insurance they have. Making sure the contractor is North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners certified is another must. And its completely acceptable to ask for a portfolio or a list of recent projects and references.

    An alternative to panels

    No worries if your home isnt yet ideal for installing solar panels. Alternatives like solar shingles are also worth considering. Solar shingles are a cheaper option, and look much like tar and sand shingles, blending in with your roof more than solar panels.

    Like solar panels, they work by capturing sunlight and transforming it into usable energy. Theyre usually only one foot wide, and can be stapled directly to roofing cloth, just like normal shingles.

    If you think your home may be a good candidate for solar panels or shingles, give it a shot. With little to lose and so much to gain and a new solar panel going up every 150 seconds in the U.S. 2016 may be your year to go solar.

    fromZillow

  • Photo courtesy of Zillow Digs.Cosmetic Improvements for Crush-Worthy Curb Appeal

    Itll be love at first sight when buyers get a glimpse of your homes updated exterior (and you may just fall for it all over again, too).

    Paint the front door

    The front door is a direct representation of your homes interior style. It gives you the opportunity to show off your flair for design without breaking your budget.

    The color you choose to paint your front door can also make or break your homes overall exterior appearance. Go bold with yellow, turquoise, or even bright redto make a statement and show off your creative personal style.

    Photo Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

    If youre looking to add sophistication to your exterior palette, opt for a clean white, gray, or black for a chic appearance.

    Swap out the porch furniture

    Now that spring is in full swing, its time to dust off the furniture on your front porch or patio or maybe update your look entirely. This years patio furniture trends feature modern chair and table silhouettes, a citrus color palette, and plenty of greenery.

    If youre deciding on a modern scheme for your porch or patio furniture, look to chairs and ottomans outfitted in contemporary materials like vinyl. This look is perfect for a home that is either transitional or contemporary style because the blocky yet streamlined furniture reflects the houses unique exterior.

    Photo Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

    Citrus color palettes provide a punch to exteriors that need an extra oomph. Use lime green and bright orange to accent your homes patio via hurricanes, cushions, and throw blankets. Add greenery throughout the space using pots, trellises, garden boxes, and hanging planters.

    Read More

  • Curb Appeal: What It Really Is, and Why It Matters

    A great-looking yard and exterior help attract potential buyers, but todays sellers need to take it a step further.

    Lets face it, first impressions matter. We care about how we dress for a job interview, and we spent extra time in front of the mirror before that first date. When it comes to selling a home, first impressions matter, too.

    The term curb appeal derives from real estate sales and home design. For years, buyers have formed their first impressions of homes while standing in the street or sitting inside the car, just beyond the curb. Before the advent of text messaging and smartphones, a buyer would get a phone call or fax from their agent about a new listing. The initial drive-by would determine whether or not they would go for an actual showing.

    To get that buyer in the door, the seller spent hours, even days, seeding new grass and planting flowers, painting their front door, mulching, weeding and cleaning up the yard. If the home didnt appeal from the curb, buyers moved on to the next house. Curb appeal was always the single most important piece of the home sale puzzle.

    Read More

  • CREATE A BEAUTIFUL OUTDOOR SPACE ON A BUDGET

    Written by Realty Times Staff on Thursday, 10 March 2016 9:48 am

    The lawn and landscape outside your home can be your own personalized creation, and it does not have to be expensive. It is through the effort of creating what you want within your limitations both financial and physical that you come to love the space you craft. By learning frugal methods to care for your lawn and landscape, you can have the lawn you want within the budget you can afford.

    By installing native plants, mulching appropriately and minimizing the size of your actual lawn, you can save a lot of money on maintenance and watering. Your local Master Gardener group, or the local city government, will likely have information on xeriscaping for your area. Lush green lawns are certainly beautiful and pleasant to play on, but they are also resource intensive. Unless you are one of the lucky few that live in an area with heavy rainfall, you will spend large amounts of money keeping a large lawn alive.According to Bankrate.com, a 4,000 square foot lawn takes an average of 2,500 gallons of water a week to stay green, or about $400 a year in water costs.

    Cost Effective Lawn Care Tools

    Once you have minimized your lawn space, you can determine exactly what tools you need to care for your landscape. If the lawn is small enough, a push reel mower may be enough. Push mowers can be hard to use if you have physical limitations, though. Electric push mowers are also another excellent option. Older models used to require an extension cord, but newer models are often cord-free, according to Natures Finest Seed. Other accessories, like leaf blowers, can also ease your cleanup and make for a nicer looking landscape. Electric models are not terribly expensive,and can offer a quick solution to sidewalk clutter.

    Compost Organic Waste

    Composting is a wonderful way to recycle your food scraps into valuable fertilizer or top soil. Small bags of compost can be expensive and it seems silly to pay so much when you can just make your own. Pre-made compost containers are always an option, but you do not have to spend a lot of money if you have a little out-of-the-way space to make a pile. Chicken wire and wood scraps are enough to cordon off a small area for dumping your organic waste, including lawn clippings, food scraps, leaves and anything else the naturally decays. Remember to turn the pile every month or so, and eventually you will have your own fertilizer.

    Read More

  • TODAY'S HOMEOWNERS WANT MAXIMUM VALUE WITH MINIMAL UPKEEP

    Written by fiberondecking.com on Thursday, 25 February 2016 12:01 pm

    Spending on discretionary home improvements (including kitchen and bath remodels and deck additions) rose by almost $6 billion between 2011 and 2013, according to a 2015 report compiled by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. "Improving America's Housing -- Emerging Trends in the Remodeling Market" noted that while residential and non-residential construction numbers are still sluggish, there is increased interest and activity in the home improvement industry. Among the reasons:

    The housing downturn led many homeowners to fix up properties rather than trade up.

    Federal and state stimulus programs spurred investments in energy efficiency upgrades.

    Growing demand for rental units motivated owners to improve their properties.

    US housing stock (roughly 130 million homes) continues to depreciate normally.

    The amount of money individuals are spending per project is increasing as well, a trend not seen since before the housing crash.

    Easy-to-maintain exterior products are top priority

    The findings are good news for our economy and a rallying cry for the remodeling enthusiasts among us. Of course, although we love remodeling our homes, most of us would agree we are not so fond of home maintenance -- particularly the expensive, time-consuming variety. In fact, when the American Institute of Architects (AIA) surveyed homebuyer preferences in 2013, low-maintenance exterior products were voted the most popular characteristic of home design.

    A recent article on houselogic.com highlighted several remodeling projects that will add value and enjoyment to your living space without piling on the maintenance chores. Here's a sampling:

    Fiber-cement siding

    An ingenious mix of sand, cement, and cellulose fibers, fiber-cement siding is long-lasting, resistant to fluctuating temperatures, and insect-, rot-, and fire-proof. Newer versions feature baked-on paint finishes that are guaranteed for 15 years, minimizing time and money needed for maintenance. Fiber-cement siding also delivers an impressive ROI, according to houselogic.com, making it worthy of consideration if you're in the market for new siding.

    Learn Moreat RealtyTimes.com

  • From HouseLogic

    DIY gone wrong is your worst nightmare. Sleep better with these tips to master DIY know-how.

    With a solid DIY skill set, tackling a project like installing a kitchen backsplash is no problem. But when a project requires speciality skills like major electrical work you might be better off hanging up your tool belt and calling a pro. Image:Urban Charm at Home

    That electrical issue? Or fixing a leaky roof? Even though you (and your BFF, YouTube) have pulled off many DIY projects, you know there are projects youve no business trying on your own. But what about those projects that fall somewhere in between I got this and Im calling the pros? How can you know if a project is really DIYable for you?

    For Lucas Hall, finding that answer has been trial and error. As a DIY landlord for more than two years and founder of Landlordology, an online resource for landlords, hes gutted three homes and renovated countless others. Im just handy enough to be dangerous, Hall says. Hes suffered more than his fair share of DIY disasters, and with each, hes learned a valuable lesson about his own limits, as well as how he can do better next time.

    Think 10 Steps AheadWhen Hall updated a tiny kitchen in one of his rentals, he installed a brand-new, expensive fridge and then built a peninsula countertop extension.We thought it was the greatest idea, he says. But adding the peninsula narrowed the space in front of the refrigerator, making it impossible to remove without lifting it entirely up and over the extension. (Ever tried to lift a fridge?)Read more: HouseLogic

  • With me is Dan Stephenson (Founder of Rancon Real Estate), Diane Caddy and Karen Crichfield

    On Thursday, February 23 - Rancon Real Estate held its Annual Awards Ceremony - to recognize the Top Agents for 2016. I am proud to have been honored as one of the top two agents at Rancon for the year - closing escrow on 38 transactions - with over $20 Million in sales! Im very proud of this accomplishment because Rancon has over 135 excellent agents. I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on my experiences with Rancon Real Estate over the past decades - and to thank you for the friendship and support you have given me over the years!

    My goal has always been to provide guidance, assistance and excellent service for my friends and clients ~ using my experience and expertise to help in making wise decisions on real estate matters. The market - and our area - have gone through many changes since 1983. My first clients were land buyers and investors - who came to Rancho California looking for gold! The next phase was young families moving to Temecula and Murrieta to take advantage of the low-priced housing, great schools and to raise their families in this beautiful area. Over the years, I have had the honor of helping these families grow into new, larger homes, helped their children buy homes, or helped parents downsize when the kids moved out - through all phases of their lives! Dealing with slow markets, interest rates as high as16%, rising prices, recessions, constant changes - it has never been boring! One thing I did not expect when I started as a Realtor was the rewarding experiences I have had in making such great friends over the years, and being able to be a trusted adviser.

    Of course, I know my success is due to the support that you have given me over the past 34 years that I have been at Rancon - and I want to take this opportunity to send my sincere thanks to you for the friendship that has grown, the referrals you send to me, and kind words I always hear from you!

    Over the past years, I have grown my team to include Diane Caddy and Karen Crichfield - who are licensed agents and do an incredible job assisting me in caring for our clients, and Janet Ferrara - who is our tech person, internet guru and marketing genius! We also have an incredible support staff at our beautiful new office at the corner of Margarita and De Portola - and the reason I have stayed at Rancon for over 34 years - is simply because it is the best Brokerage by far!Always,

    Nancy Hughes

  • Rancon Real Estate has moved the Temecula offices. We are now located at 44025 Margarita Road, Ste. 100, Temecula, CA 92592.

  • TIPS & ADVICE / from Zillow STORY / BY ON 13 MAY 2016

    How to Best Support Seniors on Moving Day

    Moving is always stressful, but it can also be highly emotional for seniors. Heres how you can be there for your elderly loved ones.

    When moving day arrives for an elderly relative or friend, emotions may be running high, but youll want risk of physical injurytobe low. From packing their things to the big moving day, the key to a successful move is good planning and communication. Here is how you can support your loved ones during a move.

    Downsizing help

    Downsizing means letting go of possessions some of which mayhave a lifetime of memories attached. Deciding what to keep and what to let go of can be an emotional journey. A safer home with less clutter and fewer hazards is the reward, but your loved ones will need your help to stay on track.

    Plan ahead.Start sorting early. Give your loved ones the time they need to make good choices about which possessions they are going to keep. This is an emotional time; allow them enough time to process.

    Know how much space is in their new home.Take a trip to your loved ones new home and measure the size of their rooms and closets. Write down these dimensions to use as reference for how much they can bring.

    Stay realistic.Talk to your loved ones honestly about what they will need in their new place. Remain realistic about the limitations of their new space. Separate out what they need from what they want.

    Keep some nonessential.There will be a few items your loved ones cant bear to part with. Find a creative way to display them in the new place so that the new house feels more like home.

    Dont take away their control.Keep your loved ones involved with the moving process. Give them as much choice as possible. You can always limit their choices but give them control by asking, This or that?

    Pack smartly

    Moving is not only an emotional process, but a physically taxing one. Make sure everyone stays safe on moving day by packing smart.

    Pack a bag of essentials.It should include medications, toiletries, reading glasses, pajamas and a change of clothing for each person moving. This will keep your loved ones comfortable during the move and prevent important items from being misplaced.

    Leave the light packing to your loved one.Your elderly loved ones will want to help. Have them stick to light items like clothing. To minimize back strain, lay everything out on a table instead of the floor.

    Dont overload boxes.If a box is uncomfortable to lift and maneuver, it is already too heavy. Spread items out rather than loading them all in a single box. Use a dolly to move heavy or bulky items.

    Pack in a logical order.Pack like itemstogether and label boxes clearly. Youll be able to find what your loved one wants to unpack first, without having to dig through everything else.

    Move safely

    On the big moving day there will be a lot of heavy objects being moved and items put where they shouldnt be. Keep a close eye out to make sure everyone involved stays safe.

    Take multiple days.If possible, spread out the moving process. Start moving nonessentials into the new place before your loved ones make the move. The more you set up now, the less stressful the final moving day will be.

    Plan where everything will go.The more times you move a box, the more danger there is of straining your back. Dont move things until you know where they will go.

    Keep hallways and pathways clear.Organize boxes in neat piles away from heavy traffic zones. Trim overgrown shrubs or tree branches that cross paths. Place mats over slippery surfaces.

    Lift properly.Squat down and lift with your legs and arms, not your back. Wear comfortable, nonrestrictive clothing and closed-toe shoes.

    Enlist the help of relatives.Moving isnt a one-person job. Your loved ones will need all the help they can get. Call your relatives over and have them help with the heavy lifting.

    More than just a move

    Moving will be tough on you and the family, but remember that it is your loved ones who areleaving their home behind.

    Relocatingto a new house is more than just the move itself. Its meeting new neighbors and exploring a new neighborhood. Its unpacking and decorating the blank walls. Its remembering where the extra soap was put, and getting used to new noises outside at night.

    The transition will take time. Be there for your loved ones. They will need your support during this time of change.

  • City of Temecula - the Heart of Southern California Wine Country

    https://youtu.be/JzPOkzw4jyg

  • Inflatable, portable PhotonGrill cooks your food with nothing but the sun

    The barbecue of the future is here. Meet PhotonGrill, an inflatable 100 percent solar-powered grill that lets you ditch the charcoal for greener cooking. Perfect for camping and areas with fire bans, the lightweight, fire-free and fuel-free PhotonGrill is designed for portability and easily folds down to fit in a backpack. The best part? Its NASA-inspired technology is so efficient the grill reaches 500F in just five minutes.

    Recently launched on Kickstarter, the PhotonGrill is available at a discount for early bird backers and comes with a lightweight carrying case, solar-optimized pan, BBQ tongs, and an air pump. The portable and durable grill weighs only seven pounds and can easily be set up in just three minutes. A pot can also be attached for cooking. An optional add-on module will transform the PhotonGrill into a highly efficient power generator so you can charge your electronics with sun-powered electricity wherever you go.

    Heres how the PhotonGrill works: once fully inflated, the grill, made of lightweight plastic film, takes on the form of a reflective parabolic mirror that concentrates the energy contained in the rays of light into a small area, creating highly-localized energy thats powerful enough to cook with. The design team says the technology was based on experiments carried out by NASA in the 1960s

    By using heat to thermally deform the plastics polymers structure, the plastic is able to remember and transform into the desired parabolic shape when inflated, says the PhotonGrill team, who also claim the grill has 1,000 watts of power. Set atop a stable tripod, the parabolic mirror is made with highly robust polymer foils tested to ensure they can withstand all contingencies, even a large splash of boiling grease. PhotonGrill is looking to raise $111,964 on Kickstarter to bring the solar-powered grill to production.

    Courtesy of California Association of REALTORS. Click Here for Original article.

  • Happy Beautiful Earth Day spread the Sunshine!Nancy Hughes GroupRancon Real Estate(951) 704-4644www.temeculamurrietahomesearch.comnancy@nancyhughesgroup.comCA BRE #00859916If there are problems with how this message is displayed, click here to view it in a web browserNancy Hughes Group 2016 Powered by Elevated NetworkIf you prefer not to receive further emails please click here to unsubscribeWrite us at: 27740 Jefferson Avenue, Suite 100, Temecula, CA 92590

  • Here are some interesting statistics on different living arrangements - multi generational homes, older children returning to live with their parents, roommates,etc, and I haveseen many examples of this in recent years in the Temecula/Murrieta area.

  • TIPS & ADVICE / from Zillow Porchlight STORY / BY ON 16 FEB 2016

    From the time the Federal Reserve raised rates in December 2015 to mid-February 2016,mortgage rates dropped to their lowest level in three years. We examined why mortgage rates would drop after a Fed hike, andsince the downward mortgage rate trend is continuing,here is a refinance reference guide.

    2016 rate recap and outlook

    Rates drop when economic uncertainty causes investors to sell riskier stocks and buy safer bonds. When bond prices rise on this buying, bond yields (or rates) drop.

    This is whats been happening in 2016 as non-U.S. economic weakness has caused global investors to buy the safety of U.S. Treasury and mortgage bonds.

    In December 2015, 30-year fixed rates were about 4% on conforming loans, 4.125% on high-balance conforming loans, and 3.875% onjumbo loans. As bonds have rallied since then, rates on all these loan tiers are down as much as 0.5%, which translates into lower monthly payments as follows: $85 lower on a $300,000 mortgage, $170 lower on a $600,000 mortgage, and $253 lower on a $900,000 mortgage.

    This savings alone is strong rationale for a refinance, and rates could drop even further in the next few months if non-U.S. weakness persists. But even in a downward rate trend, rates rise and fall along the way. (See When to lock your rate below for more on how to lock in the lows.)

    Factors driving a 2016 refi boom

    Refinances aren't just about rates. They're also about income, asset, and property eligibility.

    During previous post-crisis rate dips, many refinances were derailed because people owed more than their homes were worth, their income was down or disrupted, and lender guidelines were abnormally tight.

    Now the U.S. economy is more supportive of refinances, with stable or increasing home prices, low unemployment of 4.9 percent, income trending up, low inflation helped by a steep drop in oil prices, and lender guidelines more flexible now than any other post-crisis rate dip.

    Reasons to refinance

    The most obvious reason to refinance is for a lower rate and monthly payment, but there are a few other refinance objectives to consider:

    Shorten your loan payoff period. For example, you could go from a 30-year loan to a 15-year loan, which has lower rates and higher payments because you pay it off in half the time but when rates dip, payments on 15-year loans become more feasible.Access cash. A cash out refinance allows you to access your homes equity for other financial objectives, such as retirement investing or funding home improvements.Consolidate debt. If you qualify, you can roll non-housing debt like student loans, credit cards, and car loans into a home refinance. This helps improve your credit score, and also converts that non-tax-deductible debt into tax-deductible debt.Eliminate mortgage insurance or a second mortgage. If you bought your home with less than 20 percent down using mortgage insurance or a second mortgage, and your homes value has increased to the point that you now have 20 percent equity, a refinance can eliminate mortgage insurance or a second mortgage.Credit score impacts of rate shopping

    Credit scoring models know people shop for mortgages, so more than one mortgage-related credit run wont reduce your score if youfinish shopping within 14 days.

    Choose a lender early

    A rate quote is based on a refinance closing within a certain number of days typically 30-60 days and longer rate locks have higher rates. So choose the lender you want to work with early, and get them all of your required documentation so they can perform on the shortest (and therefore cheapest) possible rate lock timeline.

    Required documentation

    Even if you refinance with a lender you've worked with before, federal laws require them to update your employment, income, asset, and debt documentation for a new loan.

    Your home must qualify

    In addition to you qualifying for the loan, your home must qualify, too. An appraisal report must prove your home is worth enough to make the refinance work, and lenders can require certain repairs prior to loan closing like water-related damage or safety issues such as loose railings.

    If you're a condo owner, the condo building will be subject to a list of requirements. Ask your lender to brief you on condo requirements in advance of locking your refinance.

    Handling your second mortgage

    If you have a second mortgage you intend to leave in place, the second mortgage holder must agree to the terms of the refinance before the refinance closes. This is required even if you have a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) with a zero balance. This can add time to the process, and, again, longer rate locks have higher rates.

    Cost or no-cost refinance?

    Refinance viability is all about how it takes monthly savings from a refinance to repay refinance closing costs ($2,000 to $4,000, depending on your market). But if you paid to refinance, then rates dropped more, you'd risk losing money.

    So when rates are declining, you can choose to do a no-cost refinance. The rate will be slightly higher on a no-cost refinance, but then you're not wasting closing costs if you refinanced again soon after because rates dropped.

    Your lender can help determine the best path based on your profile and rate market expectations.

    When to lock your rate

    Before locking a refinance, find a lender to pre-approve you using your full documentation and home value estimate so you can be sure you're being locked on a program and timeline the lender can perform on. And if your refinance pre-approval is ready to go, its easier to lock rate lows on a moments notice as rates bounce up and down on each trading day.

    What to do if rates drop after you've locked your rate

    Rates change daily, and if rates drop after you commit to your rate lock, lenders have renegotiation policies that enable you to capture part of that drop.

    For example, if rates dropped .25 percent after your rate lock commitment, typical lender renegotiation policies would allow you to drop your locked rate by .125 percent.

  • Americans Think Homeownership is a Sound Investment

    Media Contact: Jane Dollinger / 202-383-1042 / Email

    WASHINGTON (October 14, 2015) A vast majority of Americans believe that buying a home is a solid financial decision, and most believe they could sell their home for at least its initial purchase price, according to a new survey from the National Association of Realtors. The 2015 National Housing Pulse Survey also found that a preponderance of Americans think that now is a good time to buy a home.

    The survey, which measures consumers' attitudes and concerns about housing issues in the nation's 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas, found that more than eight in 10 Americans believe that purchasing a home is a good financial decision, and 68 percent believe that now is a good time to buy a home. Seventy-one percent believe they could sell their house for what they paid for it, a jump of 16 percentage points from 2013.

    When asked for reasons about why homeownership matters to them, respondents answers did not change significantly from past years. Building equity, wanting a stable and safe environment, and having the freedom to choose their neighborhood remain the top three reasons to own a home.

    "Homeownership is part of the American Dream, and this survey proves that dream is alive and thriving in our communities," said NAR President Chris Polychron, executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Ark. "Realtors believe that anyone who is able and willing to assume the responsibilities of owning a home should have the opportunity to pursue that dream in a safe, responsible way, which is why NAR advocates homeownership issues and educating potential buyers about achieving their property investment goals."

    The number of renters who are now thinking about purchasing a home has increased since the last survey in 2013, up from 36 percent to 39 percent. Sixty-one percent of renters stated that owning a home is a priority for their future. According to the survey, 80 percent of respondents believe that pre-purchase counseling programs and classes are very or somewhat important. Forty-five percent of homeowners who said they did not take a counseling program, reported they would have taken part in one had it been easily available to them.

    Attitudes about the housing market have improved in recent years. Forty-nine percent of respondents indicated that they feel activity in the housing market has increased in the past year, compared to 44 percent in 2013 and 12 percent in 2011. Eighty-nine percent expect home sales in their area to either increase or remain the same. Concern about foreclosures has also declined, with only 15 percent of respondents indicating that foreclosure is a major concern.

    In addition to improved attitudes about the housing market, survey participants also showed an improved outlook regarding the economy. Only 36 percent think that job layoffs and unemployment are a big problem, a substantial drop from 45 percent in 2013.

    Perceived obstacles to homeownership have remained mostly unchanged compared to recent years; 78 percent of respondents point to college debt and student loans as the main obstacle to making a home purchase affordable. Seventy-six percent of participants said they have a full-time job but still did not make enough money to purchase a home. Seventy-four percent believe they do not have enough money for a down payment and closing costs.

    As the market has improved, concern about the cost of housing has increased. Two-thirds of survey participants said that home prices are more expensive than they were a year ago. There is additional concern over the lack of available housing; 41 percent said the lack of affordable homes is either a very big or fairly big problem in their area, an increase of 9 percent points from 2013.

    For adult millennials under the age of 35, the burden of student debt is their chief concern, with 86 percent of respondents naming college debt as an obstacle to homeownership. Over half reported that their housing costs are a financial strain on their budget, 65 percent are concerned about high rental prices, and 60 percent are concerned about high home prices. However, millennials tend to have a more upbeat and positive view about the future of the nation than older Americans, with 42 percent of millennials saying that the country is headed in the right direction compared to only 20 percent among those aged 50 and older.

    The 2015 National Housing Pulse Survey is conducted by American Strategies and Myers Research & Strategic Services for NARs Housing Opportunity Program. The telephone survey polled 1,000 adults nationwide in the 50 most populous metropolitan statistical areas. An additional 250 interviews were conducted with millennial adults (born after 1981) from the same geography. The study has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

    The National Association of Realtors, "The Voice for Real Estate," is America's largest trade association, representing more than 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

    Courtesy National Association of Realtors. Click Here for Original Article.

  • CoreLogics latest Equity Report revealed that one million borrowers regained equity in their homes in 2015. The outlook for 2016 remains positive as well, as an additional 850,000 properties would regain equity if home prices rose another 5% this year.

    The study also revealed:95% of homes valued over $200,000 now have a positive equity position87% of homes valued under $200,000 have entered a positive positionThe 11.5% growth in home equity in Q4 marked the 13th consecutive quarter of double digit gains

    Below is a map showing the percentage of homes with a mortgage, in each state, that have positive equity. (The states in gray have insufficient data to report.)

    Significant Equity Is On The Rise

    Anand Nallathambi, President & CEO of CoreLogic, believes this is great news for the long-term health of the U.S. economy. He went on to say:

    The number of homeowners with more than 20% equity is rising rapidly. Higher prices driven largely by tight supply are certainly a big reason for the rise, but continued population growth, household formation and ultralow interest rates are also factors.

    Of the 91.5% of homeowners with positive equity in the US, 72.6% have significant equity (defined as more than 20%). This means that nearly three out of four homeowners with a mortgage could use the equity in their current home to purchase a new home now.

    The map below shows the percentage of homes with a mortgage, in each state, with significant equity.

    Bottom Line

    If you are one of the many homeowners who is unsure of how much equity youhave in yourhome and arecurious about your ability to move, meet with a local real estate professional who can help evaluate your situation.

  • The loan amount you're approved for isn't necessarily what you can afford. Here's why.

    By Kayla Albert | Nov 16, 2016 11:49AM

    With floor plans, square footage, and finishes all over the map, sorting through homes whether in Alexandria, VA, or Seattle, WA is infinitely easier with a price point in mind. But while a lender can tell you what your current financial picture allows you to qualify for, thats not necessarily how much home you can afford. In fact, relying solely on this piece of information can put you in a financial bind.

    Credit health, income, and debt load all key elements lenders consider are important but not the full picture. Other factors, the things your lender isnt required to look at, can quickly turn an affordable home into a burden or crowd out other important financial priorities. Consider these five factors when assessing how much home you can really afford.

    1. Your budget and spending habits cant handle it

    Unless your expensive and growing shoe collection has resulted in a large amount of revolving consumer debt, your lender doesnt need to know about it. They need to be aware of your spending habits only if they have adversely impacted your credit health or debt load, or if you appear to be making unusually large purchases throughout the loan process.

    But spending habits, regardless of what they look like, are huge indicators of whether a monthly mortgage payment is doable or a massive financial stretch. You could already be spending every single penny of your disposable income, which would result in a growing debt problem if you throw an expensive house into the mix.

    2. Youll be faced with additional home expenses

    Using front-end debt-to-income calculations (housing expenses, including taxes and insurance, divided by gross income) and back-end debt-to-income calculations (monthly debt expenses divided by gross income), lenders determine how large of a mortgage you can reasonably assume. But while they consider additional costs like property tax and homeowners insurance, they dont consider other costs you could be incurring with a home.

    If you are moving from a small apartment to a poorly insulated single-family home, your utility costs could skyrocket. Maybe your landlord paid for water and trash pickup two more expenses youll now be responsible for. These costs may seem small on their own, but add them up and its potentially several hundred dollars a month.

    Home maintenance and repairs can also be a huge additional burden. Does your home need a new furnace or a new roof? Even if you know at move-in what repairs need to be made, your lender doesnt have to take these huge expenses into consideration. But you should.

    3. You cant reach your savings goals (or save at all)

    Meeting your financial responsibilities every month without going into the red is half the battle. The other half is making sure your finances are prepared for an emergency and your wealth is growing at the same time.

    Lenders want to ensure you have assets to cover a down payment, closing costs, and at least a few months of the mortgage payment, plus taxes and insurance. (The number of months depends on loan type and borrower risk.) However, they arent in the business of making sure you can continue to save after you assume the mortgage. Thats up to you. If the size of a mortgage crowds out essential financial moves like saving for retirement, its not sustainable in the long term.

    4. Youre planning big life changes

    Planning on leaving your job in the next six months to start a business or stay home with your kids? That could have a huge impact on the state of your finances and the amount of money you have at your disposal. But your lender is unlikely to ask about those future plans, relying on your ability to maintain your original debt-and-income picture throughout the home-buying process (and after it closes too). Lenders are required to look only at past financial decisions and current financial health. They want to know you will continue to pay your mortgage into the future, but they cant predict if life events will render a home unaffordable. Its up to you to anticipatethose potential changes and make adjustments today to be prepared.

    5. Youll be financially strapped and stressed

    Agreeing to an expense that could put your finances on rocky ground impacts more than you might think. In a survey conducted this year by PricewaterhouseCoopers, 52% of participants said they were experiencing financial stress, and 45% reported rising stress levels over the past 12 months and those numbers are even higher among millennials. A large portion of respondents said this stress has resulted in lost productivity at work, increased health issues, and problems in their personal relationships.

    So, whats the bottom line? Lenders are looking at the numbers, while the bigger picture says much more. Even if you can technically afford a monthly payment doesnt mean you should agree to it. Instead, take a comprehensive look at your finances and determine whats right for you. When you are in a financially comfortable home, youll be glad you did.

  • From Zillow Porchlight

    Learn how to fix doorknob holes ... and stop cringing every time a door swings.

    Does someone in your house perhaps a young someone tend to throw open doors with reckless abandon? Or maybe the door just bangs against the wall because you dont have a good door stop in place.

    More than likely,this has caused a hole in your wall from the doorknob hitting it.

    If this is the case, no worries! Its something you can easily take care of yourself.

    All you need to do is repair the hole, strengthening the wall at the contact point, and then make sure that you get a solid, effective door stop installed.

    Fixing the hole in the wall

    Lets first talk about getting that hole repaired.

    The quick fix

    There is a very simple method to temporarily shore up the hole. If you dont have time to fix the wall properly, by all means go ahead and do the quick fix. But recognize that its only a temporary solution, and you will ultimately have to repair the wall.

    What you need for the quick fix is a circular piece of plastic called a doorknob wall shield. It has a self-adhesive, so you just press it on to the wall over the hole. You can pick one up at a home improvement store for about $5, and presto! This is a good temporary fix that will protect the wall from further damage from the doorknob.

    The permanent fix

    The permanent repair is made in the same way that you would repair a large hole in drywall, which is by using a drywall patch and installing wood backing behind the patch. It takes a bit more effort, but the repair will be very sturdy, secure, and long-lasting. And the job can easily be done by a beginner DIY-er.

    Choosinga solid door stop

    Now that the hole in the wall is repaired, you can think about installing (or replacing) a door stop, which will provide true protection for the wall from the doorknob. Door stops are generally inexpensive and fairly simply to install.

    There are three basic types of door stops:

    Baseboard.This isthe type you will see most often in homes. They are shaped like a peg, and have a rubber tip at the end. They are always installed on the baseboard, rather than the door.Hinge pin.As their name implies, hinge pin door stops are attached to the door hinge. They restrict the door from opening wide enough to hit the wall. They work best on lightweight doors.Floor-mounted.Installed on the floor, this type is generally used to protect furniture and other items that may be in the doors path, rather than the wall itself. Some floor-mounted door stops also contain magnets to hold the door open.

    Now that you have the hole repaired and the new door stop in place, you wont have to worry about the doorknob causing holes for a long time. And you can let the kids open the door with gusto worry-free.

    You can do this!

    Want more DIY tips? Watch more of See Jane Drillshome improvementvideos.

  • Written by Realty Times on Thursday, 16 June 2016 4:14 pm

    Summer is here, which means you need to take a hard look at your deck. Given winter's inclement conditions, there's a good chance your deck is in need of some attention. Here are some quick and easy steps for getting it in shape:

    #1 Clean your deck.

    Regular cleaning prevents your deck from graying and looking worn down. You can employ a few different methods to keep it spotless:

    Use a hose: Use a garden hose with a spray nozzle to get rid of debris and dirt. Pressure wash: High-pressure water can get between slats and take off any stubborn debris. The cost to pressure wash a deck is about $250. Scrub it down: For really harsh debris, you might need to get down on your hands and knees to remove the buildup or stains.

    #2 Check for repairs.

    Once the deck is clean, you can inspect for any potential damage points. Keep an eye out for:

    Broken boardsMissing stainTermite holesCracks

    You can DIY most of these problems, but if you have termites infesting your deck, think about hiring a pest control service. Otherwise, consider replacing boards or restaining the surface.

    #3 Sand it down.

    If your stain is stripped away, consider sanding the surface. If you don't want to spend all day sanding, you can rent a floor sander. After you've sanded your decking smooth, apply a finish.

    #4 Stain or seal your deck.

    Once you've sanded down the surface, think about sealing or staining. Finishes help protect against water damage, mildew and inclement weather. Here are some considerations when determining whether to seal or stain a deck:

    Seal: Seal your deck if you like a natural look. Sealing your deck will cost about $790 and you can choose from avariety of sealing products.Stain: Staining will cost about $850, depending on the size of the deck. You can stain your deck in different colors and finishes.

    #5 Consider a brightener.

    Use a brightener if your deck has stains or grey spots. You can apply brightener using a garden spray hose. A fresh coat of brightener will renew the appearance of your deck without expensive and time-consuming repairs.

    Conclusion

    Make sure to keep your deck in shape with regular maintenance and cleaning. Most of these jobs you can do as DIY projects. But don't be afraid to call a deck professional when the situation is beyond your expertise.

  • 11 Fall Maintenace Tasks to do This Weekend fromZillow Porchlight

    Put down that pumpkin spiced beverage and take care of these maintenance to-dos before winter sets in.

    By Shannon Ireland

    Scents of pumpkin spice lattes and warm apple cider have started to fill the air, sweaters populate the fronts of closets, and trees prepare to unveil the full extent of their beauty by changing leaf colors from green to vibrant hues.

    But before you cozy up with a fleece blanket and your favorite horror film, its crucial to tackle a few home maintenance projects.

    Why is seasonal maintenance important?

    The answer is simple: Seasonal maintenance can help keep your home looking and functioning properly, and save you money because youll catch problems before they get out of hand.

    Plus youll get the added bonus of sleeping easier at night knowing youve taken all necessary precautions.

    Tis the season to

    1. Rake it in

    Few things are more beautiful than a yard speckled with crimson, golden, and tangerine-colored leaves. But failing to dispose of them can kill your grass and inhibit growth in the spring months.

    Grab your rake and enjoy the crisp temperatures of the season. You can always treat yourself to a pumpkin treat when the raking is done.

    2. Clean the gutters

    Speaking of leaves, when they clog your gutters, rainwater cant flow through and will eventually spill over. So what, right? This overflow can damage your homes siding, roof, and/or foundation.

    Its better to remove the leaves from your gutters than to chance the buildup turning into a costly problem.

    3. Check the roof

    While were on the subject of the roof, fall is a great time to check that all shingles are in place and in good shape before winter snowstorms pop up on your radar.

    4. Conduct a walking inspection

    Take a walk around the exterior of your home, keeping an eye openfor damage along the pathways leading to your home. Cracks could mean loose cement or gravel, increasing the likelihood that someone could trip or slip and fall.

    To ensure the safety of visitors, seal any cracks you see. Be sure to inspect the siding and foundation while youre at it, and tackle any repairs as soon as possible.

    5. Cracks and gaps can cause problems indoors, too

    When you shut doors and windows, make sure there arent any spaces allowing air to escape. If there are, seal them.

    You may not think much of these little gaps right now, but you will when you open your heating bill and see how much youre paying to keep the whole neighborhood warm, or when you find out that a mouse has made your cabinet his home for the winter.

    6. Store summer staples

    Patio furniture is susceptible to damage from winter weather. Since you probably wont spend as much time outside except for roasting marshmallows overthe fire pit move outdoor furniture, trampolines, and other summer staples into storage.

    7. Make it a clean sweep

    Schedule a time to have your chimney and heating system cleaned and maintained, including swapping old filters for new ones. Its important that everything is in good working condition to decrease the likelihood of house fires.

    8. Pipe down

    Shut off the water supply to exterior faucets and insulate your pipes before the weather dips below 32 degrees. This will help prevent pipes from freezing, bursting, and flooding your home.

    9. Take time to vent

    Your dryer vent, that is. Cooler weather means more static electricity, which means lint buildup in your dryer can ignite more easily. Clean your dryer vent to help prevent this problem and keep it working more efficiently.

    10. Testing 1, 2, 3

    Test safety devices, such as smoke alarms, and check the expiration date on your fire extinguisher. In case a fire ignites, its important to know that you and your family will be alerted and able to get out of the house quickly and safely. And that youll be able to extinguish smaller fires before significant damage is done.

    11. Check your home insurance coverage

    Can your insurance weather the storm? The final item on your fall home maintenance checklist should always be to call your insurance agent. Arrange a time to walk through your coverage to ensure your home will be protected, no matter what situation may arise.

  • Image:Lene Lyndrup Nrgaard

    The Most Common Spring Cleaning Mistake (Plus 8 Others)

    By: forHouseLogic

    If you really want an allergy-proof home, avoid this typical spring routine.

    Who doesn't want to throw open the window in spring? Think twice. Besides that fresh breeze, you're welcoming pollen.

    Once theres even a glimmer of spring, youre ready to throw open your windows and let the breeze blow away the winter funk. Well, you might want to rethink that spring cleaning ritual this year.

    If youre an allergy sufferer (and who isnt?), thats the last thing you want to do, says Dr. Neeta Ogden, a spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. It will allow pollen to settle in your home.

    If you really cant skip that spring breeze, avoid opening them in the morning, pollen counts are highest in the morning; they decrease late in the day and at night.

    And thats not the only common spring-cleaning mistake homeowners make. Here are eight more to avoid:

    1. Not Looking UpYouve worked up a sweat and everythings starting to sparkle, but then you realize your ceiling fan is coated in dust. Uh, oh. Once you start wiping the fan, dust will scatter on what youve already cleaned. Thats why you should always look up to see what needs dusting before you start cleaning at eye level. Tackle hard-to-reach places like the tops of bookshelves, crown molding, and window ledges.2. Starting to Clean Without a PlanYou wake up motivated today youre going to get all your spring cleaning done! But by noon, your house is in disarray, and not one single room is finished. Ugh. Thats why Briana Norde, owner of Caliber Cleaning Inc. says it pays to break up the biggest cleaning project of the year into smaller, more manageable tasks.She recommends conquering your hardest job first, like the kitchen, which she calls the most time-consuming room. With that first accomplishment under your belt, youll have the momentum to take on the remaining tasks. The key is to give yourself plenty of breaks. And theres nothing wrong with spreading it out over several days.3. Ignoring That Weird-Looking Vacuum AttachmentDont let your carpet hog the vacuum. The crevice tool, Norde says, is not used nearly enough. Use it between your wall and refrigerator to get out the accumulated dust thats otherwise unreachable, and run it around the edge of your baseboards to clean where standard upright vacuums cant reach.4. Skipping the MattressThink of how much time you spend in your bed. Yet, you probably clean the top of your fridge more often than your mattress. Your mattress harbors millions of dust mites, which cause various respiratory conditions including sneezing, a runny nose, itchy eyes, and skin rashes (not to mention just being plain gross).[Dust mites] food is human skin scales, so the bed is just heaven for them, says Ogden.She recommends using a vapor steam cleaner to root out the itchy devils, then wrapping it in an anti-allergen mattress protector.At the very least, sprinkle your mattress with baking soda and let it sit for awhile. Then (using the attachment mentioned above) vacuum it up.For 4 more tips read more: http://bit.ly/1YDsbkK