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10257057 - happy family celebrating buying their new houseShould you continue to rent or is it time to buy? Generally, the more time you plan to live in a home, the more sense it makes to buy. If you have just moved to a community, renting — at least initially — may be a better option as you get to know different neighborhoods. Another factor: your job. How stable is your employment? Buying could make more sense right now if you aren’t thinking about switching jobs, your employer is not reducing its workforce, or if your company isn’t planning to move you to a different city or state.

Another way to evaluate the rent-versus-buy decision is the U.S. Breakeven Horizon, compiled by real estate website Zillow.com. This analysis is designed to provide an estimated number of years one needs to live in a home for buying to make more sense than renting. Factors such as expected growth in rents and home values, price-to-rent ratios, and mortgage interest rates are included in the analysis. For a look at the Breakeven Horizon in the area you are thinking of buying, go to this link.

While interest rates aren’t quite as low as they were at the end of 2012, for example, they are still quite favorable. Take a look at average mortgage rates since 1971 and you’ll see that rates are slowly increasing, so locking in a favorable rate now may be a great strategy for you if you’re already considering buying a home. Lower mortgage rates help families stretch their home buying dollars.

Do you have questions about whether buying a home is the right choice for you and your family? We’re here to help!


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Summer is a busy time of the year for real estate. That’s due in great part to logistics. It’s easier for many households to move in the summer. Many families with children try to time their moves in June and July so their children can start the upcoming school year in their new school. Many corporate relocations also are scheduled for the summer months. It’s a popular time for buying and selling homes. Here are some tips for putting your home’s best foot forward if you’re selling this summer:

Make sure your yard is tidy. While you’ve probably already given your home a thorough spring cleaning, concentrate on the outdoor spaces that prospective buyers will be eyeing. Be sure to keep your lawn mowed, trees trimmed and your yard free of weeds. Get rid of clutter both inside and outside of your home to give it a fresh look. If you can’t hide unsightly items, consider stashing them in a garage, or renting a storage unit while showing your home.

Flowers are always nice. Invest in some affordable annual flowers to plant in and around your yard. Choose bright colors that pop and complement your existing landscaping. Hanging flower baskets and ready-made potted plants are small additions that can make a big impact on your home’s curb appeal.

Create an outdoor dining area. Can prospective buyers piture themselves hosting family barbecues or dining privately under the stars? Organize an area with outdoor seating and a place to grill or serve meals. Investing in a few lounge chairs and an umbrella can create an instant outdoor oasis.

Set the stage for summer. Finally, bring the outdoors in with a splash of summer décor. Change out pillows and linens for a beach theme, add summer-scented candles, and accent your furniture with cheerful indoor plants and flowers. Keep the indoor temperature cool — no one wants to tour a hot and stuffy house.


50788865_MWhich renovation projects provide the biggest return on your investment when it comes time to sell your home? You can get a pretty good idea of which upgrades offer a better ROI than others by taking a look at Remodeling Magazine’s Cost Vs. Value Report.

The report shows, on average, how much of the cost of 21 popular remodeling projects you may be able to recoup when a property is sold. Data is available on a national and regional basis, as well as for cities. The report can help you home in on individual projects that provide the biggest bang for your buck.

According to the report, homeowners on average stand to recoup 98.3% of the cost of replacing a garage door, while the installation of a steel entry door returns on average 91.3%. The addition of a wood deck has an average return on investment of nearly 82.8%, followed by minor kitchen remodel (81.1%); siding replacement (76.7%); new vinyl windows (74.3%) and bathroom remodel (70.1%). Some of the most costly projects offer the lowest return on investment, such as the installation of a backyard patio (47.6%) and major kitchen remodel (59%).

The report doesn’t take into account, of course, the enjoyment you and members of your family get from the remodeling project while you still live in the home. If you’re planning to stay put in your home for a long time, remodeling might be less about return on investment and more about how much pleasure it brings to your daily life. For more information on the Cost Vs. Value report, go to this link.


32498400 - mortgage concept. isolated on white background 3dThe appraisal is an important part of the home buying process. But what happens if the appraisal comes up short of the agreed-upon selling price?

Here’s an example: A home is listed for sale for $350,000. It’s a multiple bidding situation, so you offer a higher price of $370,000 to gain an edge over other buyers. Your offer is accepted by the seller. However, your lender’s appraisal comes back and it shows the value of the home is only $350,000. That means the lender is only going to provide you with a loan based on that amount.

When an appraisal comes in lower than expected, home buyers have a few choices. If you really want the home and have the cash on hand, you could make up the difference with a larger downpayment. You also could try to negotiate a lower selling price. The seller doesn’t have to lower the selling price, of course, and will understandably be reluctant to do so. In some cases, the buyer and seller each give a little, with the seller lowering the price and the buyer making a larger downpayment.

Another option is to see if it’s possible to order a second independent appraisal or to appeal the existing appraisal. Your lender can let you know if there’s any type of appraisal review process. You and your real estate agent will have to analyze the appraisal to make sure the appraiser included all relevant comparable sales on the report

Lastly, if you have an appraisal contingency in your offer, you have the option of walking away. It’s a last-ditch option if all other efforts fail.


41917682_MYou found a home that’s in the right neighborhood and an easy commute to work. The only problem: It’s listed for sale in ‘as-is’ condition. What does that mean? A home that’s being offered for sale in ‘as-is’ condition means that the owner is making no guarantees about the condition of the property and will make no repairs or improvements. It means the price reflects the fact that repairs may be needed.

Being listed in ‘as-is’ condition doesn’t necessarily mean there is something wrong with a home. Most bank-owned properties are listed for sale ‘as is,’ but you also may find an individual seller lists a property this way because they can’t afford or don’t want to make repairs to the property. They just want to sell it.

While ‘as-is’ condition shouldn’t cause you to rule out a property, this is definitely not the time to skip the home inspection. If you decide to make an offer, you should make it contingent upon an inspection. (That’s good advice when buying any type of home.) Also know that you can still negotiate on price with a property being sold ‘as-is’. Just because a seller isn’t willing to make any repairs, doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t lower the selling price to compensate for what you discover during the inspection process.


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