Category Archives: real estate sales

Americans Doing More Home Improvement Projects

Americans Doing More Home Improvement Projects

Homeowners, feeling more secure in their jobs, are tackling maintenance projects delayed during the recession. That’s lifting the fortunes of the home-improvement industry.
By Sandra M. Jones April 13, 2011
Reporting from Chicago—

After several years of perusing real estate listings and spending Sunday afternoons at open houses, Denise Majeski decided to stay put and fix up her 25-year-old Gurnee, Ill., home.

As the housing market languished even as the economy improved, Majeski determined the financially prudent course would be to fix up the house a little at a time, starting with replacing the windows and renovating the bathrooms.

“Initially we were thinking about moving,” said Majeski, 55. “But that would require a mortgage and additional amounts of money. We can do a home improvement at a pace that we can afford.”

It is a choice more homeowners are making these days and one that is lifting the fortunes of the long-suffering home improvement industry.

Seasonal hiring at Lowe’s Cos., the nation’s No. 2 home improvement retailer, is up 15% this spring as homeowners, feeling more secure in their jobs, tackle maintenance projects delayed during the recession.

And Home Depot Inc., the largest home improvement retailer, in February reported its first annual sales increase since 2006, before the housing market crashed. The home improvement business is stabilizing despite the continued weakness of the housing market, Home Depot Chief Executive Frank Blake said at the time.

“People are doing what it takes to be happy where they are,” said Jack Horst, retail strategist at Kurt Salmon, a consulting firm. “They are more likely doing maintenance and replacement than big fundamental changes.”

A few buckets of paint, brighter lighting and some new door handles are enough to make Rebecca and Bill Klies happy in their new home. The couple, in their 30s, bought their first condo last October in a short sale, in which a lender allows a homeowner to sell a property for less than the amount owed on the mortgage.

Now the Klieses spend weekends at Home Depot and Lowe’s getting ideas on how to fix up their West Loop loft without spending a fortune. They’ve swapped out light fixtures, recaulked the shower, put up new towel racks, installed a ceiling fan in the bedroom, bought new light switch plates, painted several rooms and touched up the molding.

“These are simple little fixes that make a big difference overall,” Rebecca Klies said.

At the same time, home improvement stores are getting an extra sales boost as homeowners dig out from a winter of lengthy cold spells. The severe weather has left shingles, gutters and downspouts in need of repair and lawns littered with broken shrubs and damaged trees.

“These are the have-to-do projects,” said Jim Kane, president of Home Depot’s northern division. “We’ve just come through a tough winter, and the winter has just taken its toll on all those things.”

Maintenance and repairs account for about 40% of Home Depot sales, up sharply from recent years when home sales slowed, said Daniel Binder, an analyst at Jefferies & Co., in a report last month.

Spending on home remodeling is expected to rise 9.1% in the first quarter to $125.1 billion from the same period a year ago, according to a widely followed index from Harvard University‘s Joint Center for Housing Studies. The last time remodeling activity for a three-month period topped $125 billion was the second quarter of 2008.

The center predicts the industry to gain momentum this spring with sales jumping 12.7%, to $132.9 billion, in the second quarter from a year ago, before tapering off to a 6.5% gain, to $123.5 billion, in the third quarter.

More homeowners are tackling basic house projects on their own instead of using general contractors, bringing in electricians or plumbers only for the toughest jobs, said Rich Cowgill, Chicago-area chapter president of the National Assn. of the Remodeling Industry.

Cowgill said he had noticed an increase in the size of the do-it-yourself classes he teaches as a volunteer at ReStore for Habitat for Humanity as more homeowners try to lay tile, replace windows or put up drywall.

“People are dressing up their homes because they’ve come to the realization with housing devalues that they’re not going to move,” said Cowgill, who also owns a home remodeling business.

Kris and Dennis Cortes of Flossmoor, Ill., are typical of the post-recession home remodelers, industry experts said. The parents of five children said they chose to stay in the home they bought 20 years ago and to give the house a face-lift. They are adding a couple of gables to the roof, installing a new garage door and updating the landscaping.

“We could buy the megamansion, but we choose not to,” said Kris Cortes, 46. “We’re choosing to allocate our resources more toward education, charity and savings. I do think the country at large is headed in that direction.”

smjones@tribune.com

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-home-improvement-20110413,0,7527522.story

Buying a Home in Today’s Market

Buying a Home in Today’s Market

As a first time homebuyer you probably have many questions. Besides how to get a mortgage and finance your new home, you should consider whether buying in today’s market makes sense for YOU and what price you should pay in order to get to the home of your dreams.

When is the best time to buy?

There are many factors and aspects to consider before anyone can say when is the best time to buy. All in all today, being a buyers market gives you leverage when buying a home. Low home prices result from this excess of supply over demand. What is essential is that you make your decision after having considered both the real estate/housing market and the mortgage market. Currently low home prices combined with low interest rates make purchasing real estate a viable and good decision.

Want to know more about the mortgage market outlook? Then read The Real Estate Report from AMSI Broker, Robb Fleischer for local market trends in San Francisco http://rereport.com/sdc/print/RobbFleischerSF.pdf

Ultimately, the best time to buy is when you are personally ready to settle in, when your finances are in order and when the home prices are low. (…and in today’s market, when interest rates are low, and with the availability of inventory it does make perfect sense).

How to qualify to buy a home?

 

Before you start your search for your home, you should get pre-qualified, to find out if you do qualify to take on such a significant purchase, but also to find out how much you can afford. The first step should be to get your finances in order and get pre-approved for a mortgage, so you know the types of loans, financing and rates extended to you.

Want to know more about how to qualify to buy a home? Then read our article on “How to qualify to buy a homehttps://amsires.wordpress.com/2011/03/02/699/

 

How to know which price to pay?

 

Buying a home is a process one must learn, whether you are a first time buyer or a savvy investor. Each transaction is unique and differs from another. It is important that you work with a professional expert or good team so the entire process is efficient.

Working with a real estate professional is important; not only he or she will make the process smooth for you but also check all disclosures, and make sure you do not pay more than the current market value of the house of your choice. A real estate agent knows how to evaluate a property but also how to negotiate the best price, which will satisfy both you as the buyer and the seller, and ultimately make you the new homeowner!

Want to know more about real estate sales? Then visit our website www.amsires.com

Benefits of Buying a Home

Benefits of Buying a Home

Great investment

Home values fluctuate over the years, but show a steady increase over time. Statistically home prices have risen constantly in the US and real estate has been a proven investment to build wealth. Most likely home value keep up with the inflation or exceed it to one or two percent (or more depending on the region).

Stable and secure environment

Owning a home means that you and your family can settle in a stable and secure environment.

Independence

It will be your own home and you can remodel and renovate the place whenever you want (subject to zoning and building codes), and have the place you always wanted. As long as you abide with Condo and Building rules, you can make your home the place you always wanted to be.

Building equity

When you are paying rent, that money goes to someone else, without any benefit to you besides the right to live in a space. When you pay into a monthly mortgage for your own home or investment, instead of paying a monthly rent, you are investing into something you will be eventually be yours; you are acquiring an asset and investing in your future or retirement.

In the process of paying back your mortgage you more and more own the home and build equity.

Property taxes

IRS Publication 530 contains tax information home buyers. There are many deductions and benefits that first-time buyers or investors can take advantage of when it comes to property.

In 1978, the passage of Proposition 13 in California established the amount of assessed value after property changes hands and limited property tax increases to 2 % per year or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.

Mortgage interest deduction

A mortgage payment includes the items principal, interest, taxes and insurance (PITI). The largest component of your mortgage payment especially the first years after the purchase is the interests, which is deductible from your taxes.

Capital gain exclusion

If you lived in your house for two of the past five years, you can exclude up to $250,000 for an individual or $500,000 for a married couple of profit from capital gains.

For more information about  buying a home read here.

Disclaimer: Please consult with a Tax attorney or specialist. Real estate agents cannot give tax advice.


Median Home Price Bounces Back

After hitting a two year low in January, the median price for single-family re-sale homes tacked on 4.9% in February from January. Year-over-year? Not so good. The median price was off for the sixth month in a row, falling 7.2%.

Home sales fell to their lowest level since January 2009. The 116 home sales last month were 5.7% lower than last February.

Click here to read more Median Home Price Bounces Back

Things To Know About Buying Foreclosures

Things to Know about Buying Foreclosures

Are you thinking about buying a foreclosed home for yourself or as an investment? Due to the fact that foreclosures are sold below market price, you will definitely get a great investment when purchasing a foreclosed home.

Even though you might not spend as much money on a foreclosed home as you would on a conventional home, before making a lifetime investment you should know in what you invest. Therefore you should start getting familiar with foreclosures and how to prevent from the risk to invest in the wrong property.

What does foreclosed mean?

Foreclosed means, that a borrower/owner cannot pay the loan or mortgage payments back. The lender has to secure the loan and starts the foreclosure process.

The pre-foreclosure process in California starts from the time the borrow/owner misses his first payment. The owner will receive a “Notice of Default”. From then on the owner has 90 days time to find the missing payment, within this 90 days of notice the mortgage company will prepare to bring the home on the market. The foreclosure sets in after the 90 days and the owner will receive a “Notice of Sale”.

How you benefit from buying a foreclosed home

  • Buying a foreclosed home means you spend less money on a property with more market value
  • Some lenders are willing to lower the down payment or interest rate or will not charge closing costs since the mortgage is in default
  • You have a wide selection on foreclosed homes
  • The property can be sold for more money later

What you should know before buying

It’s important that you work with an agent or broker who is experienced with the process of buying foreclosed homes.

Before putting down an offer you need to know what you are buying. It is important that you have the property inspected by a home inspector and find out about the real conditions of the property.

Don’t buy a property you have never seen at an auction. Instead buy REOs through a real estate agent.

The foreclosure process has 4 steps. For you the buyer it is important to know in which state the property is for your strategy to buy.

You need to know that many laws that usually protect you in a conventional real estate transaction do not apply to a foreclosed property.

The property will be sold under market price but might need some renovations. When buying a foreclosed property you have to keep that in mind when making your calculations.

Always do a title search on a property. You have to know if there are any existing encumbrances or liens on the property. Oftentimes property taxes need to be considered.

In some cases the previous owner refused to move out and vacant the property even after the title was transferred. This will lead to an eviction process and you as the new owner have to evict the tenant.

How to Qualify to Buy a Home – Mortgage Guidelines

How to Qualify to Buy a Home – Mortgage Guidelines


When you are considering buying a home, the first step you should take before looking for your dream house is getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Find out if you qualify for a loan, and for what type of loan and mortgage rate you qualify for.

The variables a lender is examining

A lender will review all your financial data to see if you qualify to buy a house. The variables a lender is examining are your income, debt, credit and savings.

The most important of this is your income. Not only your gross monthly income has to be reviewed but also the type of work and the lengths of employment.

If your income is based on a commission your income will often be examined on a required two-year history.

In case you are self-employed, you must be self-employed for two years. Your income will be determined based on your federal tax return after all the deductions.

How credit scores affect mortgage rates

Your credit score affects your mortgage rate. Most lenders use a credit score designed by Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO). As a borrower you should access your credit report and ensure that your credit score is as strong as possible.

Scores range from 300 – 850. A score below 620 is considered sub-prime and indicates high-risk to lenders and would cause in a charge of higher rates and fewer choices of loans, 620 to 650 is good but you may still be viewed as a high-risk candidate, and above 720 is seen as excellent credit.

To qualify for the best mortgage rates and to have more loan choices you should at least have a score of 720.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies to one free credit report from all three major credit reporting bureaus – TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian – for every consumer every 12 months (visit annualcreditreport.com to order your free report). Make sure that your credit history is accurate and request the reports from each company and check if there are any errors.

The ratio a lender uses

There are two calculations a lender uses.

The first or front mortgage ratio, are your total monthly housing expenses to income ratio. Which include principle, interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI).

The second or back mortgage ratio is your total housing expense (PITI) plus all other monthly debt divided by your gross monthly income. Which is your income before taxes are taken out.

Mortgage debt to income is the ratio a lender uses to calculate if you qualify for a mortgage. A house payment should not exceed about 30 % of your gross monthly income for a conventional loan.

How to prepare in advance to get approved?

  1. Since the most important factor is income, you should have a verifiable source of income.
  2. Get your finances in order. Pay your debt on time, which includes all your loans, leases and credit cards. Loans can be paid off to qualify for a mortgage, but credit cards sometimes cannot, depending on the lender.
  3. You should check your credit report for errors and monitor your credit score.

How to find the right lender or bank?

Do you know what you should be looking for in a lender or bank? On of the most common criteria when it comes to choosing the right lender or bank are credibility, dependability, and longevity in the marketplace.

When you are like most people you probably ask someone you trust for a recommendation. But when it comes to your mortgage, you should always consider that your situation might be different from your friend’s situation. Therefore always consider that you should find a lender or a bank that fits your needs the best.

Visit our website for more information about buying a home visit.

Home Prices Start Year on Down Note

Local Market Trends San Francisco

The median price for single-family, re-sales homes plunged in January, falling to its lowest level since January 2008. The median price dropped 15.1% from December and was off 12.8% year-over-year.

Sales also dropped from December, but that hap- pens every year. Home sales were actually 19.8% higher than the year before. That’s the second month in a row home sales have been higher than the year before.

Click here to read more  Home Prices Start Year on Down Note