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Mortgage Rates Are Back on the Rise

NAR Daily News Magazine - October 25, 2018 - 11:00pm

“While higher borrowing costs will keep some people out of the market, buyers with more flexibility could take advantage of the decreased competition,” says Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Categories: Real Estate

Getting Your Clients’ Homes Ready for the Fall

RisMedia - October 25, 2018 - 2:12pm

No matter when a homeowner lists their home, some principles of staging hold true. Overall, homes will benefit from having neutral interior wall colors, rather than vibrant or bold colors. Keeping the listing clean is always a must, as well as decluttering, and keeping it odor-free.

However, once these basic staging needs are taken care of, you can go a step further with your clients and help them add some seasonal personalization and maintenance to make their home stand out even more to prospective buyers.

When your clients see you as a partner who’s got their backs, they’ll trust you and refer others to you, as well. Seasonal content, such as this infographic on getting your home ready for fall, is a great way to build trust and keep in touch with your sphere. Find the infographic below, and if you want to take it a step further share through email this personalized Fall Checklist with your clients so you stay top-of-mind this season, click here to download!

Patty McNease is director of Marketing at Homes.com. For more information, please visit marketing.homes.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Categories: Real Estate

Solar Panels, Elevators, a Dog Shower? Here Are 12 Cutting-Edge Items for Your Next Home

RisMedia Consumer News - October 25, 2018 - 1:46pm

(TNS)—Shopping for a new home? It’s not all about square footage, counter tops and closet size.

Homes are changing. You’ve got homework to do. Decisions to make. Some will affect your pocketbook for years. Others will improve your quality of life the day you move in.

And one … well, it’ll just make your pooch less smelly.

Here’s a quick tour of cutting-edge amenities now offered at some new-home communities:

California Room
For years, builders would slap an awning on the back of the house and call it a patio. Now, homes frequently come with a modern and stylish upgrade called the California Room.

It’s an indoor-outdoor space with a ceiling and just one or two walls. It can be used as a second dining room, outdoor kitchen or even a living room with couches and flat screen TV. It may have a ceiling fan, fireplace and tile or polished concrete floor. Depending on the level of extravagance, a California Room may add $7,000 to $20,000 to the home price.

The Disappearing Wall
Some homes that don’t have California Rooms instead come with a disappearing back wall made of accordion-style, bi-fold doors that fold aside, opening your great room to the backyard.

“It has huge style points,” recent Folsom, Calif., homebuyer Ian Cornell says. “It looks great and when you are relaxing, I anticipate that feeling of open space and connecting to outdoors.”

Baby boomers, some now in their early 70s, want homes they can stay in as physical limitations set in. Home builders call it “aging in place.”

Builder Mike Paris of BlackPine Communities estimates the elevator adds $25,000 to $35,000 to the price of the house, depending on how many “stops” it has—but you don’t have to buy the elevator yet. The spaces on each floor also serve as closets, pantries and storage rooms.

“This gives the buyer the peace of mind that they can age in place without incurring the cost when they may not need the elevator at that time,” Paris says.

Doggy Showers
Fewer young homeowners have kids. More have dogs, though—and many of us consider our dogs full-fledged family members.

Introducing the indoor doggy shower, with tiled walls and hot and cold faucets, often located in the laundry room.

“It’s about three feet-wide, two feet above the ground. A special faucet to wash at your waist. It’s like a half-tub,” says Matt Gustus of Anthem United Homes.

Other builders are adding doggy drawers in the kitchen of new homes: Slide open the bottom cabinet drawer, and it holds your pet’s eating dish and water bowl. Slide it back in and it’s out of sight. No tripping or accidentally kicking the water bowl.

Solar, Now
Going solar is like getting braces. The row of panels on the roof isn’t pretty, but it could pay off with a smile in the long run.

The California Energy Commission will require most new homes to have solar starting in 2020, but some home builders are including solar now as standard equipment. Should you get one? It may require some calculations, based in part on how long you plan to live in this house.

The Energy Commission estimates solar could add $10,000 to the cost of a new home, but the panels could cut average monthly utility bills by $80.

A ‘Tesla’ in the Garage
If you buy a home with a solar rooftop, should you order a solar energy storage battery for your garage, too?

Technology expert Bob Raymer of the California Building Industry Association says it may be a smart move, as utility companies increase rates during new “time of day” electricity pricing.

“There are going to be a lot of homeowners with sticker shock,” Raymer says.

A solar battery in the garage will allow homeowners to minimize evening utility bills by storing their own daytime solar energy, then tapping into it in the evening. The batteries aren’t cheap, though, costing anywhere from $4,000 to $15,000. Tesla is among the makers. Some in the industry say prices will come down if you wait a few years.

Piggy Bank Attics
Energy efficiency is about more than rooftop solar. The real bang for your buck may involve a new approach to attic insulation. Raymer of the BIA suggests buyers ask their builder if the attic can include energy-saving insulation techniques now that will be required in 2020. It involves adding R19 insulation in the attic’s ceiling rafters, basically along the underside of the roof.

That will keep attic temperatures far closer to room temperatures in the house below, which will cool air conditioning ducts that run through the attic, making it easier for them to do their job of delivering cool air through the house.

Cooking With Gas? Nope
New-home energy efficiency is a fast-changing realm. A pioneering company, De Young Builders in Fresno, Calif., is constructing some of the first “zero-net energy” homes in the state.

For cooks, though, going no-carbon means stovetop cooking without gas. That’s going to be a tough sell for some traditionalists. De Young and other builders hope to make it easier by offering electricity-based induction stove tops as an alternative.

Next Gen Homes
Lennar Homes officials say more buyers are multi-generational families who want to live under one roof, but want some distance from each other. So the company’s begun building in-law apartments that are embedded in the main home, with a front door of their own, but with another door to the main house.

They call them Next Gen homes. The apartments have kitchenettes, a living room, bathroom, bedroom, washer and dryer and sometimes their own patio. Grandparents can live there. Or boomerang 20-somethings back from college. Or special needs adult children who can benefit from some independence.

A homeowner can rent the space out to a tenant for extra income, but that may be a little close for comfort. The main house and embedded unit share the same utilities. Plus, you can sometimes hear noise on the other side of the wall.

Foiling Porch Thieves
New homes are techier than ever. Doorbells now double as cameras and loudspeakers. You can see who’s at your front door via a smart phone app while sitting in your office miles away. If it’s someone selling a product, you can pretend you are home, politely saying no thanks. If it’s a delivery service, you can, if you choose, code them into the house, so they don’t have to leave the box on the porch.

Other Tech Options
Smart thermostats: You can set the temperature via smartphone app before you get home, or, some thermostats watch and learn your rhythms and adjust the temperature on their own.

Lennar Homes has introduced “Wi-Fi certified” homes that put an end to an annoying modern issue—reception dead zones. Their system even extends to the backyard. An Amazon rep comes to your house when you move in to help you program your system, which includes Amazon’s Alexa technology.

©2018 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)
Visit The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.) at
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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Categories: Real Estate

Is Opendoor Your Next ‘Co-Listing Agent’?

NAR Daily News Magazine - October 24, 2018 - 11:00pm

The iBuyer giant is testing a new program to list properties in cooperation with outside real estate professionals.

Categories: Real Estate

Buyers May Be Snubbing New Homes as Affordability Worsens

NAR Daily News Magazine - October 24, 2018 - 11:00pm

New construction inventory is at the highest level in years, but new-home sales dropped in September for the fourth consecutive month.

Categories: Real Estate

Realogy to Launch Corcoran, Climb Franchises

NAR Daily News Magazine - October 24, 2018 - 11:00pm

The real estate giant plans to expand the brands into new markets—some of which are likely to be international locations.

Categories: Real Estate

Bump in Contract Signings Points to Future Housing Gains

NAR Daily News Magazine - October 24, 2018 - 11:00pm

Despite lower affordability, housing demand remains strong, and buyers are “waiting to jump in once more inventory becomes available,” NAR says.

Categories: Real Estate

3 Big Mistakes When Staging a Living Room

NAR Daily News Magazine - October 23, 2018 - 11:00pm

Be careful! The way you rearrange furniture in this residential hub for social activity can really hamper comfort and style. 

Categories: Real Estate

Why Home Buyers Need to Hurry

NAR Daily News Magazine - October 23, 2018 - 11:00pm

It may be tempting to wait, but researchers predict a nearly 10 percent increase in the size of mortgage payments by next July.

Categories: Real Estate

How Real Estate Seminars Can Net You More Leads

NAR Daily News Magazine - October 23, 2018 - 11:00pm

Hosting a home buying or selling seminar or webinar can be a great way to generate more business. Here’s how to do it. 

Categories: Real Estate

Homeowners Putting the Brakes on Remodeling

NAR Daily News Magazine - October 23, 2018 - 11:00pm

As the housing market slows, homeowners are halting their plans to upgrade their spaces.

Categories: Real Estate

5 Signs Your Clients are Ready to Buy a Vacation Home

NAR Daily News Magazine - October 23, 2018 - 11:00pm

Taking the leap and buying a second home is a serious venture. Help your clients feel comfortable and guide them into making their dreams a reality.

Categories: Real Estate

Buying in the Future? Start Saving Today

RisMedia Consumer News - October 23, 2018 - 2:32pm

This Could Take a While

With inventory low and prices rebounding, affordability has become one of the foremost housing issues—both for buyers entering the market, and homeowners looking for a new, but practically priced property after selling. According to new research, accumulating enough for a down payment can take over seven years—and even longer in pricey spots.

If the average buyer earning the median national income saved 10 percent of it per month, it would take 7.2 years to amass a 20 percent down payment on the average home in the U.S., according to an analysis recently released by Zillow. Buyers in California are in for the longest savings stretch: 18.4 years in Los Angeles; 18.3 years in San Francisco; and 21.8 years in San Jose—the longest of the markets in the report. Buyers have an easier path in Pittsburgh, where it takes 4.8 years, and in Cincinnati, Indianapolis and St. Louis, where it takes 5.1 years.

The disparity between earnings growth and home prices is substantial, the analysis shows. Incomes have increased 52.6 percent in the past 20 years, while appreciation has hit 98.6 percent.

“The simple fact that home values have far outpaced income growth, lengthening the time needed to save for a down payment, contributes to millennials’ struggles to enter homeownership,” says Skylar Olsen, director of Economic Research at Zillow. “Saving up for a down payment can be tough, especially when the cost of everyday life outpaces the money you put into the bank. It requires good budgeting and long-term planning. It’s one reason why more and more first-time home buyers are looking to family and friends for financial help when coming up with their down payment.”

While 20 percent down is ideal by many measures, it’s not a requirement; in fact, borrowers can be eligible for as low as 3 percent, depending on the loan and their situation. For guidance, contact your REALTOR®.

“Even if you don’t have plans to buy a home in the next year or two, it’s not a bad idea to start setting aside savings for a future home purchase,” Olsen says. “It’s also important to remember that there are many options for mortgages requiring less than 20 percent down.”

For more information, please visit www.zillow.com.

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Categories: Real Estate

This Is the Average FICO Score—How Does Your Score Stack Up?

RisMedia Consumer News - October 23, 2018 - 2:15pm

(TNS)—The average credit score in the United States hit an all-time high in 2018, according to a new report from the credit scoring company FICO.

The average FICO credit score reached 704 in April—up four points from the year prior, according to the semiannual report released in late September. The steady improvement in credit quality signals American consumer credit and financial health is strong as the Federal Reserve’s rate hikes make borrowing more expensive.

Ninety percent of top lenders factor in FICO scores when making lending decisions, according to FICO. The three-digit number influences the ability to land an apartment, buy a car and even finance a smartphone.

“Since bottoming out at a score of 686 in October 2009, we have seen eight consecutive years of increases in the national average FICO score,” Ethan Dornhelm, vice president of FICO Scores and Predictive Analytics, says in the report.

A FICO score of 800 or higher is generally considered exceptional. The 670 and up range is good to exceptional, and 669 or below is considered fair or poor.

Fewer People With Low Scores
The boost in the average FICO score can largely be explained by fewer consumers posting scores below 550 paired with more people hitting the so-called super-prime range above 800, according the report.

To come up with its scores, FICO looks at how often consumers are paying their bills on time, what percentage of available credit they’re using, the average age of their lines of credit, their total number of accounts, derogatory marks in their credit report and other related factors.

The average credit score is partly stronger because fewer people are falling behind in their bills and ending up with accounts turned over to third-party debt collection agencies. Twenty-three percent of consumers had one or more collection account on file as of April—down from 25.8 percent in 2017, according the report.

There’s also reason to believe more people are seeking credit responsibly. The percentage of the population with one or more “hard” inquiries posted to their file hit a four-year low of 42.2 percent, according to FICO.

Older people score higher in general than younger people, but the average FICO score shifted up this year 4-5 points for age groups across the board, according the report.

Consumer Education Helps Boost Scores
“Another potential driver of the continued increase in the national average FICO score could be increasing consumer education and awareness about their FICO score,” Dornhelm says in the report.

This summer, Discover Financial Services released a report that found 85 percent of U.S. consumers are aware of their credit standing. Research from FICO and Sallie Mae suggests that consumers who frequently check their FICO scores make better financial decisions and are more likely to have higher scores.

Various companies provide consumers with tools to track their credit standing, including Discover’s Credit Scorecard and Intuit’s Turbo. The services offer soft credit pulls that do not affect users’ credit scores negatively.

Consumers can also request free copies of their credit reports annually from each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Copies can be obtained online at AnnualCreditReport.com. These reports do not provide consumers with their credit scores, but rather the underlying payment and debt information that helps inform those measures.

You can also get your TransUnion credit report and score for free with Bankrate.

©2018 Bankrate.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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The post This Is the Average FICO Score—How Does Your Score Stack Up? appeared first on RISMedia.

Categories: Real Estate

Brokerages Wrestle With Growth of Pocket Listings

NAR Daily News Magazine - October 22, 2018 - 11:00pm

In markets starved for more inventory, real estate professionals are struggling with being out of the loop for homes that their buyers could want.

Categories: Real Estate

Will Garages Become Extinct?

NAR Daily News Magazine - October 22, 2018 - 11:00pm

As autonomous vehicles become widespread and the popularity of car-share programs rise, analysts are already calling on the death of structures for car spaces in residential homes.

Categories: Real Estate

Nearly 4M to Get a Credit Boost: Good for Mortgages?

NAR Daily News Magazine - October 22, 2018 - 11:00pm

Many consumers may see their scores move higher, following an announcement of a new program from FICO.

Categories: Real Estate

Property Frenzies Abound Ahead of Amazon’s HQ2 Announcement

NAR Daily News Magazine - October 22, 2018 - 11:00pm

Some investors are already betting on the winner and snatching up real estate ahead of the online retail giant’s announcement of its chosen city.

Categories: Real Estate

10 Off-Beat Cities Named Best Places to Retire

NAR Daily News Magazine - October 21, 2018 - 11:00pm

Older buyers and sellers may not have thought of the top city as a place that potentially could fulfill all their needs.

Categories: Real Estate

3 Ways to Keep a Home Clean Longer

NAR Daily News Magazine - October 21, 2018 - 11:00pm

These unusual techniques can keep your listing shining without putting in elbow grease multiple times.

Categories: Real Estate