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  Sat May 06

4/10/2016 The Number of Sold Properties by Month Mar-15 vs Mar-16

   
  Sat Apr 29

6 reasons you should buy a house now!

They continued, "Well, you may not be stupid or broke. Maybe you already have a house and you don't want to move. Or maybe you're a Trappist monk and have forsworn all earthly possessions. Or whatever. But if you want to buy a house, now is the time, and if you don't act soon, you will regret it. Here's why: historically low interest rates."

 

They were talking about rates hovering around five percent. Today, rates are under four percent for a 30-year fixed-rate loan.

Reason No. 1 to buy now: Rates are low

"Low mortgage rates continue to keep ownership less expensive than renting," said Investopedia. "Even a small change in interest rates has a significant effect on what you'll pay each month and over the life of a 30-year mortgage. Take a $172,000 30-year mortgage, for example ($172,000 is 80% of the median sales price for existing homes of $215,000 after a 20% down payment). With an interest rate of 4%, you would pay $821.15 each month. At an interest rate of 5%, the monthly payment would be $923.33, and at 6%, the payment rises to $1031.23."

Reason No. 2: Rents are high

In many markets, rents are rising to unsustainable levels, reports the National Association of Realtors (NAR). "In the past five years, a typical rent rose 15% while the income of renters grew by only 11%."

The cities with the highest rent increase since 2009 include New York, San Jose, San Francisco, Denver, and Seattle. For the rest of the list, click here, and to see how much more renting can cost you over a lifetime, check out Riskology.

Reason No. 3: Qualifications are easier

During the real estate downturn of the mid-2000s, banks and lenders tightened the reins, and often only the most qualified applicants could get approved. Post-recession, qualifications have loosened. Buyers who can't show solid income and a minimum credit score probably won't be offered a risky interest-only ARM today, however, those with less-than-perfect credit and minimal funds still have options. The Federal Housing Association (FHA) minimums are a 620 credit score and a 3.5 percent down payment.

Reason No. 4: Private mortgage insurance fees are down

Buyers who put less than 20 percent down on their home generally incur a monthly fee in the name of private mortgage insurance (PMI). In January 2015, the government announced lower PMI rates on Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, which equates to a savings of about $900 a year. Seventy-five dollars a month may not seem like much, but every little bit helps when you're committing to an investment as large as a home.

Reason No. 5: It's still one of the best investments out there

In fact, some would say it's the very best investment out there.

"Buying a home is the best investment any individual can make. Affordability is still at an all-time high," said CNBC.

Not only as a comparison between buying and renting, but as a measurable asset, homeownership stands up—as long as buyers make a smart decision.

"The largest measurable financial benefit to homeownership is price appreciation," said Investopedia. "Price appreciation helps build home equity, which is the difference between the market price of the house and the remaining mortgage payments."

Reason No. 6: It feels good

You know that pride of ownership thing? It's true. Really. Nothing compares to the feeling of walking into a home that's yours for the first time. Or painting the walls a color other than white. Updating the kitchen. Making it your own. Not worrying about your rent being raised. And, of course, watching your equity grow over time.

   
  Fri Apr 28

Rent Or Purchase ?

 

House in HandsTrulia released their Rent vs. Buy Report last week. The report explained that homeownership remains cheaper than renting in all of the 100 largest metro areas by an average of 38%!

The other interesting findings in the report include:

  • Even though prices increased sharply in many markets over the past year, low mortgage rates have kept homeownership from becoming more expensive than renting.
  • Some markets might tip in favor of renting this year as prices continue to rise faster than rents and if – as most economists expect – mortgage rates rise, due both to the strengthening economy and Fed tapering.
  • Nationally, rates would have to rise to 10.6% for renting to be cheaper than buying – and rates haven’t been that high since 1989.

Buying a home now makes sense. You can lock in a mortgage payment before home prices and mortgage rates rise as experts expect they will. If you rent, your housing expense will only continue to increase.

   
  Sat Apr 22

4 Reasons to Sell Your Home Now

Mid-March to mid-April is the best time to hang the sale sign nationally, with homes selling 15% faster and for 2% more than the average sale, according to Zillow. The window tends to be a little earlier for sellers in warmer climates and a little later in colder climates. 

"It's still predominately a seller's market, but less so than the last year or two," said Stan Humphries, Zillow's chief economist. "Some advantages are moving back to buyers; but largely and broadly ... it's still favoring the sellers." 

Here are four reasons you might want to list your home: 

1. Low housing supply: Tight inventory is a main reason the ball is still in the sellers' court. 

The level of unsold homes was 4.6 months in February, according to the National Association of Realtors. That means it would take a little less than five months for all available inventory to sell. In a normal market, a five-to-seven month supply is considered balanced, said Danielle Hale, director of housing statistics at the NAR. 

Tight inventory tends to prop up home prices and can result in multiple offers and spur bidding wars. 

But at the same time, low supply is also keeping some sellers in their homes. "They aren't typically going to sell and then rent," explained Hale. If sellers aren't comfortable that they will be able to find a new home, it can keep them off the market. "There needs to be more construction in the market to ease the pressure," she said. 

2. Fewer cash buyers: All-cash and investment buyers helped buoy home sales in the last couple years. And while the acceleration of home prices has slowed from its recent double-digit growth, experts still expect modest gains this year, but with fewer cash buyers. 

All-cash offers made up nearly 31% of sales in 2014, according to RealtyTrac, a 13% drop from 2013 and the lowest level in four years. 

"We are predicting a more stable and sustainable housing market in terms of price growth," said Ralph McLaughlin, Trulia's housing economist. "A lot of the growth we saw was from cash buyers, but now we are thinking those buyers will play less of a role." 

3. Higher interest rates: While mortgage rates remain low, experts predict more buyers will enter the market in the coming months. 

The Federal Reserve's recent hint that higher interest rates are coming sooner rather than later could prompt buyers to start their house hunt in order to take advantage of lower mortgage rates

"When interest rates are thought to be escalating, we see a wave up activity with people getting off the sidelines," said Budge Huskey, president and CEO of Coldwell Banker Real Estate. 

4. Rising rents: Rising rental prices could motivate tenants to make the leap into home ownership. Rent prices have risen 15% nationwide in the past five years in 70 metro areas across the U.S. and income growth hasn't kept up, according to NAR. 

"Every time there's an increase, it triggers the decision processes on whether [renters] should go into the market and buy," said Huskey. Getting more buyers into the market, especially first-timers, can help sellers feel more comfortable about their prospects. "It allows others to move up the chain in the market." 

But higher rents can be a double-edged sword, according to Humphries. "Renting is so darn expensive already it makes it hard to save for a down payment."

   
  Sat Apr 22

5 Ways to Enhance Curb Appeal

Boosting your home’s curb appeal is a must when placing your home on the market. When readying your home for sale, consider making cost-effective upgrades that add value, rather than over-the-top remodeling projects. According to Remodeling magazine’s 2015 Cost vs. Value Report, several exterior improvements recoup the most return, including new entry doors, siding and roofing.

“Choosing the right renovations to ensure your home stands out among the rest is key,” says Matt Hess, Power Home Remodeling Group, “and with intense focus on increasing curb appeal this year, we recommend moving that to the top of the to-do list and avoiding over-upgrades and mammoth projects where you won’t get your money back.”

These high-ROI exterior projects that enhance curb appeal include:

Replacing Entry Doors – Updating your home's front door can drastically impact its value and draw in a potential buyer. Think about replacing a door with half-glass panels or a change in color, and modernize the look with a mortise lock with lever handle and matching finish.

Creating Functional Outdoor Living Spaces
 – Outdoor living is here to stay, and buyers are taking notice. Consider enhancing your backyard with a new high-end feature or large gathering area, such as a patio with comfortable furniture, a stone fire pit, an outdoor kitchen or a fireplace with an out cove.


Modernizing the Siding – New vinyl siding and trim can make even an older home look brand new. Choose a color that balances both personal taste and long-term ROI. Newer trends include bolder shades like deep blues and heavy greens, while bright white homes continue to resonate. For those who like a pop of color, consider a neutral siding – maybe a taupe or gray – with a bolder trim color.

Making Minor Updates to Landscaping – Add seasonal flowers or a stone border to spruce up your garden. You could also create your own wall garden to grow herbs in mason jars – a feature many buyers will appreciate, says the Power Home Remodeling Group.

Lighting Up with LEDs – LED lights continue to be a popular, inexpensive trend and are a great way to subtly light your yard. From rope lights to walkway or garden fixtures, there are all sorts of LED options that coordinate with your home's exterior. They are dimmable and low-maintenance – you don't have to worry about going outside to turn them off or on.

   
  Sat Apr 22

Remodeling? Recoup Your Investment When You Sell

Remodeling? Recoup Your Investment When You Sell

Before you pour your savings into a new kitchen and a rainforest shower for the master, think about whether or not you'll be able to recoup your investment when it comes time to sell. 

If you have equity in your home, you can make improvements, but don't go over the limit of what other buyers can spend for a home similar to yours in your neighborhood. 

While it's tempting to make your home more beautiful, you have to consider the rest of your neighborhood. If most residences in your neighborhood are three-bedroom single-story homes, buyers are unlikely to shop in your area for two-story four-bedroom homes. 

Buyers want to shop for a home where there is the most selection of homes that fit their criteria. If they want a swimming pool, they're going to look in neighborhoods where many homes have pools. They won't be aware of your home if you have the only pool in your subdivision.  

That's why over-improving for the neighborhood is a bad idea. Not only will you not get your money back for some updates, your home my be harder to sell because of them.  

Another reason buyers don't tend to pay as much for updates as you might think is broad differences in taste. Your updates may include choices your buyer wouldn't have made because of several reasons:  

You only improved one or two rooms, leaving the rest of the home looking unfinished. 

Your updates were too radical, such as cold minimalism in a traditional setting. 

Your updates masked a problem but didn't solve it, such as a kitchen that's too small. If the kitchen is still too small after you've put in granite counters, don't expect buyers to care. 

You failed to do necessary repairs and updates that were less visible than the new décor but buyers noticed anyway. 

Your updates are beautiful but require a lot of cost and upkeep. 

Buyers want to make a home their own, and don't want to be distracted or confused by design statements that they don't agree with. Enjoy your home while you can, but make sure your new look can be easily depersonalized when it comes time to sell. 

Don't expect to set a listing price based on what you've put into your home no matter how long you own it. Your home will be worth market value no matter when you sell, whatever the value is for that point in time. 

All the improvements in the world won't change that basic fact. Your home and the improvements you make are only worth what willing buyers say they will pay. 

Before you begin renovations, talk to your Realtor and your lender. They will help you develop a reasonable plan for updates that will add value to your home. 

   
  Thu Apr 13

Home Purchase in Winter

As the temperature in many areas of the country starts to cool down, you might think that the housing market will do the same. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Here are 4 reasons you should consider buying your dream home this winter instead of waiting for spring!

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that home prices have appreciated by 6.3% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 5.2% over the next year.

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates are Projected to Increase

Your monthly housing cost is as much related to the price you pay for your home as it is to the mortgage interest rate you secure.

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage are currently at 4.08%. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac & the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting that rates will increase by this time next year.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home.

3. Either Way You’re Paying a Mortgage

There are some renters who have not yet purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent free, you are paying a mortgage - either yours or your landlord’s.

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity.

Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you?

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

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide whether it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe now is the time to buy.

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


   
  Thu Apr 13

Compelling Reasons to Buy and Sell in 2016

2016 is shaping up to be a great time to list or purchase a new home. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or current homeowner, there are many compelling reasons to make a move in the current real estate market. Here are just a few:

 

1)The market has recovered. Following the enormous real estate boom and subsequent bust in the early years of the new millennium, the real estate market is finally equalizing. That's great news for home owners who purchased property when prices were at an all-time high, only to see their equity disappear when the bubble burst. Home owners who have felt trapped due to being "underwater" on their mortgages can begin to see some relief.

 

2)Winter is finally behind us. Spring is historically the busiest time of year for the real estate market, and this year is no exception. We may have seen an initially slow start to the beginning of the season as homebuyers continued to hibernate, waiting for the vestiges of winter to clear. But with winter in the rearview mirror, there is a great uptick in market movement.

 

3)It's a fortuitous time to sell. If you're a seller, the great news is that it's a seller's market out there, with low amounts of inventory. Prospective homebuyers are competing for available properties, which means that properties are bound to see price increases and bidding battles as buyers duke it out with competing offers.

 

4)It's a fortuitous time to buy. If you're a buyer, interest rates continue to be very attractive. In fact, they are still close to historic lows. Meanwhile, lenders are loosening the reins on mortgage qualification requirements, meaning that there are options even for prospective buyers without stellar credit and the means to fork over a sizeable down payment. And PMI (private mortgage insurance) fees are lower for buyers who can't afford that 20% down.

 

5)Renting is expensive. Even as mortgage interest rates remain low, rents are continuing to climb in many markets at a pace that is not matched by household income. This means that if you're currently renting a property, making an investment in a home now could actually save you so money in the short term as well as in the long term.

 

6)Home ownership is (still) a great investment. For many people, a new home is the single largest investment they will ever make. Creating equity is a smart financial move, but home ownership goes beyond a fiscal investment in the future. Put simply, home ownership feels good. Having a place of one's own is a source of pride and attachment. For many people, it represents the realization of the American dream.

 

If you're thinking of buying or selling a home this year, contact your real estate agent to get the ball rolling. He or she will be able to provide you with sound advice about how to make this year's market work for you.

   
  Mon Feb 06

$$$$ Sales are up !!! Good NEWS

Press Room

Empire State home sales set record in August

Sep 22, 2016
Albany, NY – Sept. 22, 2016 – Homes sold at a record-setting pace across New York State during August with 13,912 closed sales, according to the housing market report released today by the New York State Association of REALTORS®. The previous record was 12,938 closed sales in August 2007. The statewide median sales price increased 3.8 percent compared to August 2015.
 
“With eight months in the books, sales are more than 11 percent ahead of last year and well on the way to surpassing the 100,000-mark for the fourth consecutive year,” said Duncan R. MacKenzie, CEO of the New York State Association of REALTORS®. “The continued growth in the statewide median sales price is being driven by the steady decline in the number of homes available for sale.” 
 
“Low inventory conditions have not yet translated into a slowing of sales,” MacKenzie said.  “While mortgage rates and other market conditions are expected to remain favorable, we believe that buyers facing the challenge of fewer choices for their next home is a potential headwind for the market.” 
 
The year-to-date (Jan. 1 – Aug. 31) sales total of 82,791 was 11.3-percent above the same period last year. August 2016 closed sales increased by 8.1 percent compared to a year ago to reach 13,912. 
 
The year-to-date (Jan. 1 – Aug. 31) statewide median sales price was $235,000, an increase of 2.2 percent from the same period in 2015. The August 2016 statewide median sales price of $257,291 represents an increase of 3.8 percent compared to the August 2015 median of $247,941.
 
August pending sales reached 13,113, up 13.1 percent compared to a year ago. 
 
The months supply of inventory dropped 28.6 percent at the end of August to 7 months supply. It was at 9.8 months at the end of August 2015. A 6 month to 6.5 month supply is considered to be a balanced market. Inventory stood at 77,933, a decrease of 20.1 percent compared August 2015.
 
   
  Fri Feb 03

SMOKING POT IN YOUR RENTAL

As the movement to legalize marijuana blazes through the nation, landlords and building managers may be wondering whether the right to ban the drug from their properties is going up in smoke. The truth around the issue is a bit hazy.

State laws legalizing some form of pot use don’t prevent landlords from writing lease agreements prohibiting marijuana on their properties. “If a landlord does not want marijuana cultivated, grown, or used on the property, the lease should directly address this and state such prohibition,” says Lesley Walker, associate counsel for the National Association of REALTORS®. “For existing lease agreements, a landlord could consider having tenants sign an addendum that specifically addresses the presence and use of marijuana on the property.”

But the laws don’t necessarily support such agreements either. When a state law says no person shall be penalized for using marijuana, does evicting a tenant who violates a property owner’s no-pot policy constitute a penalty? The question is still being tested in the legal system, but housing experts say state courts are likely to err on the side of “yes.” So for landlords and property managers, there’s real concern not only about creating a zero-tolerance policy but also about enforcing one.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, and four of those states—Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington—have also legalized recreational pot. (Voters in D.C. also approved recreational marijuana in November, but the measure was struck down by Congress.) And while no state explicitly requires landlords to accommodate tenants who wish to use the drug at home, many of these states prohibit landlords from discriminating against medical marijuana patients by refusing to rent to them.

Still, marijuana laws are in flux. The federal government, which has long held that any form of pot use is illegal, effectively ended its ban on medical marijuana in late December after President Barack Obama signed a bill prohibiting federal funds from being spent to prosecute medical marijuana users. This may change the situation in California, for example, where residents with medical conditions have the right to “full and equal accommodations” in housing. Before the recent federal change, such protection didn’t necessarily include medical marijuana, says June Barlow, general counsel for the California Association of REALTORS®. But the new law could lead to medical marijuana accommodations in California.

The State’s Prerogative

It’s incumbent on practitioners who work as property managers to monitor changing laws, as more than half of the country’s 1.1 million REALTORS® live in jurisdictions where marijuana is legal in some form, according to NAR.

Here’s a possible scenario: A medical marijuana patient asks her landlord to let her smoke pot in her apartment. The landlord denies her request, but the tenant does it anyway, believing that her state’s law gives her the right. The landlord takes her to court to evict her. Although the state doesn’t explicitly require housing accommodations for pot, the law is in its infancy and a legal precedent has not been set. A judge may decide the legality of medical marijuana in the state means the tenant’s use should not be restricted and she should not be evicted.

“As far as evictions go, enforcement [in states that have legalized marijuana] has gone from criminal to civil, and that’s very difficult,” says Fred Prassas, CPM, GRI, a founding member of property management firm PMC Management Group in LaCrosse, Wisc., and  a real estate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Prassas, a former president of the Institute of Real Estate Management, spoke about the topic at NAR’s property management forum last May. “State laws give landlords the right to prohibit marijuana,” he says, but in states where use is legal, judges may not uphold such prohibitions.

So far, Prassas says, cases of this nature are only beginning to show up in  lower courts, and no recorded decisions have been made yet. But he has spoken to real estate professionals involved in these cases who believe the tide is turning in tenants’ favor.

The federal law change may further weaken landlords’ rules. While marijuana technically remains an illegal drug at the federal level, the government’s pledge not to prosecute medical marijuana users could make it more difficult for landlords to rely on federal law to argue their case.

States are less compelled to enforce a law the federal government has been lenient on, says Megan Booth, a senior policy representative for NAR.

Strengthening Your Position

Until legal standards are in place, there’s only one thing landlords can do to potentially strengthen their position in court: Follow the advice of NAR’s Walker and write more precise lease agreements.

If a lease agreement says only that illegal substances, or “criminal activity,” are not allowed on the premises, that won’t include a prohibition on the use of marijuana where it is legal under state law. Also, a “no smoking” policy doesn’t explicitly ban other forms of marijuana use, such as “vaping”—the practice of mixing THC with a propylene glycol–based liquid and vaporizing it—or baking pot into food items (such as brownies).

If tenants sign a lease agreement explicitly denying their right to use marijuana in any form on the premises, they have less legal recourse, says Booth. “The more explicitly it is spelled out in your lease, the more protected you are.”

What If You’re OK With Pot?

Certainly, there are landlords who take a more liberal approach to marijuana use.  For them, legal concerns may be less significant, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t consider another potential ramification: loss of property value.

In Denver, where both medical and recreational marijuana is legal, marijuana use in properties is becoming a stigma, suggests Jack O’Connor, broker-owner of The Denver 100. “I’ve had people ask if living near marijuana will hurt their kids’ health. I don’t have all the research, but you can’t say 100 percent that it won’t,” O’Connor reasons.

Public sentiment is in favor of marijuana legalization—52 percent of Americans support it, according to a Pew Research Center report last year—but that could change. “People are in favor of it being allowed,” Prassas says, “but that doesn’t mean they want their neighbors smoking it.”

Colorado’s real estate contracts and forms are due to be updated by Jan. 1, 2016, and O’Connor expects the new forms will include disclosure requirements around pot-friendly properties. That could require real estate professionals to inform buyers when homes—particularly condos—are in or near buildings where pot is used or allowed. No state currently requires such disclosures. O’Connor’s company, though, already makes it standard practice.

“We look at it as a potential disclosure of a defect,” O’Connor says. “If a house had a cigarette smoker, that would be a defect because of the odor. It’s the same with marijuana, and there’s no question that marijuana smoke is more potent than cigarette [smoke].”

And it’s not just the smoke that landlords need to think about; growing may raise issues, too. In some states, it’s legal to grow up to six pot plants for personal use. But cultivating the plants requires a high volume of humidity, which can cause mold in units and buildings.

As state marijuana laws evolve, so must best practices for landlords, property managers, and brokers. For now, you may have to read between the lines to discern the right path forward. The best advice is to pay careful attention to the wording of both your state’s laws and your own lease agreements.

   
   
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