Real Estate: Your First Home – Maintain a Home Maintenance Budget

 Something that often surprises new homeowners is the cost of home maintenance and repairs. But the investment (both time and dollars) of routine home maintenance is minimal, compared to the cost of replacing a heating system, gutters or roof.   Professional home appraisers estimate that a neglected home can lose 10 percent of its appraised value. Appraisers determine depreciation (the rate at which a house is losing value) based on the home’s economic age (the number of years the home is expected to survive).   According to the U.S. Census, the annual cost of home maintenance costs average more than $3,300. Lending institutions estimate 1 to 3 percent of the price of the home, which means $2,000 to $6,000 annually for a $200,000 property. Your budget should increase as your home ages.   Think of your home like your body. If you treat it with preventive medicine and regular check-ups, there’s a good chance you will offset problems, or at least, catch them when they are small and manageable. Researchers at Syracuse University suggest that maintenance actually increases the value of your home of about 1 percent each year – similar to how wellness activities help improve your biological age.   An easy way to be prepared is to create a “reserve for replacements” – cash to be used strictly for home repairs and maintenance. Experts also advise regular inspections to get a jump on potential problems. Tackling one room a year is a good way to manage home upkeep. It’s also a smart idea to keep a notebook of all repairs and upgrades that can be shared with potential buyers.   Allen Tate Home Services is a great resource to help with home maintenance and repairs. It would be our pleasure to introduce you.  

Real Estate: Buying Your 1st Home – Helpful Tips

You’re buying your first home and anticipating the joys of having your own place, not to mention the nice tax benefit. And while there’s a good chance that family and friends are offering helpful “advice,” you’ve likely turned a deaf ear to them – because this is YOUR home and YOU know what you want.   But for the same reasons you are working with a Realtor to help you navigate the process, you can benefit from the mistakes of first-timers who have come before you.   Consider these suggestions from other first-time home buyers:  
  1. Ask for what you really want. If your home of choice needs renovations and the sellers are willing to help, let them know your preferences. And ask for the appliances or curtains if you want them.  
  2. Don’t overlook the details. Check for adequate storage space, electrical and phone outlets, and overhead lighting. Measure to make sure your furniture will fit in the rooms – and through the hallways.
  3. Budget for expenses AFTER closing. You’ll be surprised how much blinds, curtains, paint, furniture and accessories will add up. And no one wants to wait months to make the new place look like home.
  4. Drive the commute and explore the area. How far is the home from work or school? What’s located nearby? What’s located within walking distance? (See “Neighborly Advice”)
  5. Meet the neighbors. Neighbors can become your best friends or your worst nightmare. If you’ve found “the one,” introduce yourself and gain some insight on the people you’ll see everyday.
  6. Think before you sell. Your modestly priced first home could appreciate significantly in a matter of years. Before you sell quickly, consider hanging on to it as an investment.
  Questions about buying your first home? We’d love to share more tips with you.  

Real Estate: 3 Questions You Must Answer Before Buying a Home

  If you are thinking about purchasing a home right now, you are surely getting a lot of advice. And most of that advice is probably negative. Why buy now with prices still falling? Don’t you realize real estate is no longer a good investment? Don’t you know that people who bought five years ago lost their shirt? We understand the concern your friends and family have. However, let’s look at whether or not now is actually the perfect time to buy a home. There are three questions you should ask before purchasing in today’s market: 1. Why should I buy if house prices are still depreciating? We believe that in most parts of the country prices will in fact soften in 2011. Price is the major concern for anyone selling a home. When you are buying, COST should be your primary concern however. Your monthly payment (cost) is definitely impacted by the price of the home you purchase. The other major component is the interest rate. Waiting for prices to bottom out while rates are increasing can wind up costing you more over the life of the mortgage. Over the last seven weeks, rates have increased over 1/2 a point going from 4.17 to 4.86. Looking at the attached chart shows this increase. Waiting for prices to bottom out seems to make perfect sense. Yet, at a time when rates are increasing, it might NOT make sense. Make sure you have a mortgage professional help you with this math before making a decision. In an article last week CNN Money reported: “You can kiss those record lows goodbye,” said Greg McBride, chief economist for Bankrate.com. Keith Gumbinger of HSH Associates, a provider of mortgage information said that the market reached a new plateau. “I don’t think we’re going back to a 50-year low anytime soon without an economic collapse,” he said. “Rates will probably never revisit those levels.” 2. When will I begin to see appreciation if I buy now? This is a great question. Macro Markets, LLC is a company that studies housing prices. They started their Home Price Expectation Survey in 2010.  They ask 100+ housing industry experts to project housing prices through 2015. The most current survey shows that the experts are predicting prices to soften until 2012. The experts then project prices to rise reaching a cumulative appreciation of over 10% by 2015. Purchasing a home today makes great sense from a financial standpoint. Think of the old axiom: You want to buy low and sell high. We may be at the low point regarding the COST of a home. But, this decision should not only be a financial one. That leads us to our third and final question: 3. Why am I buying a home in the first place? This truly is the most important question to answer. Forget the finances for a minute. Why did you even begin to consider purchasing a home? For most, the reason has nothing to do with finances. The Fannie Mae National Housing Survey shows that the four major reasons people buy a home have nothing to do with money:
  • A good place to raise children and for them to get a good education
  • A place where you and your family feel safe
  • More space for you and your family
  • Control of the space
What non-financial benefits will you and your family derive from owning a home? The answer to that question should be the reason whether you decide to purchase or not. Bottom Line The COST of a home will probably remain relatively unchanged even if prices continue to depreciate. Don’t allow money to get in the way of you making the right decision for you and your family. In the long run, the finances will work in your favor anyway. by The KCM Crew

Real Estate Market: Mortgage Rates Hit Lowest Level on Record

WASHINGTON (AP) — Mortgage rates fell this week to the lowest level on record, giving consumers added incentive to lock in low payments for home purchases and refinanced loans. The average rate for 30-year fixed loans sank to 4.69 percent, from 4.75 percent last week, mortgage company Freddie Mac said Thursday. That’s the lowest point since Freddie Mac began tracking rates in 1971. The previous record of 4.71 percent was set in December. Rates for 15-year and five-year mortgages also hit lows. Mortgage rates have fallen over the past two months as nervous investors have shifted money into the safety of Treasury bonds. The demand for Treasurys has caused Treasury yields to fall. And mortgage rates tend to track the yields on long-term Treasurys. Yet the falling rates have yet to spark a home-buying boom — or energize the economy. New-home sales collapsed in May after homebuying tax credits expired. The economy also remains under pressure from high unemployment. And many people don’t qualify under tightened lending rules. “As long as prospective homebuyers are still concerned about their jobs and financial well-being, many will be reluctant to take the plunge, even though affordability has never been better,” said Greg McBride, senior financial analyst with Bankrate.com. Low rates throughout the economy also hurt one group of Americans: savers. Puny rates are especially hard on people living on fixed incomes who are earning next to nothing on their savings. Lending activity remains sluggish. Mortgage application volume dipped 6 percent last week from a week earlier, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Refinancing activity fell 7 percent. And mortgage applications to buy homes slipped 1.2 percent. Many Americans owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth — often called “under water” — and can’t refinance. The Obama administration has launched programs to help borrowers refinance if they owe up to 25 percent more than their home’s value and have loans owned or guaranteed by mortgage giants Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. About 291,000 homeowners have participated as of March. Yet that’s a small fraction of the nearly 15 million homeowners who are under water, according to Moody’s Economy.com, and cannot refinance. In hard-hit areas in Nevada and Florida, for example, home prices have fallen 50 percent or more from their highs. Record-low rates can’t rescue those homeowners. “It’s not the desire to refinance; it’s the ability to refinance,” Chris Brown, a loan officer with Trinity Mortgage Co. in Orlando, Fla. “A lot of the people who can already have.” Given the costs of refinancing, some mortgage experts say a refinancing can be worthwhile if you can shave at least 0.75 percentage point from an existing rate. Others suggest waiting until you can lower your rate by at least a point. Despite some lenders’ ads, refinancing is never free. A fee normally goes to the mortgage broker or lender. There are also fees for title insurance, a new appraisal, document processing and other charges. Often, mortgage brokers or lenders create the appearance of a “no fee” mortgage by adding the costs to a total loan amount or by charging a higher interest rate. People considering refinancing should factor in such fees. They should also calculate how many months it would take to recover them. For those who expect to stay in their home for two years or less, the fees might outweigh the savings from a lower rate. Freddie Mac collects mortgage rates on Monday through Wednesday of each week from lenders around the country. Rates often fluctuate, even within a given day. Rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to an average of 4.13 percent. That was the lowest on records dating to September 1991. It was down from 4.2 percent a week earlier. Rates on five-year adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 3.84 percent, down from 3.89 percent a week earlier. That was also the lowest on Freddie Mac’s records, which date back to January 2005 for such loans. Average rates on one-year adjustable-rate mortgages fell to 3.77 percent from 3.82 percent. That was the lowest average since May 2004. The rates do not include add-on fees known as points. One point is equal to 1 percent of the total loan amount. The nationwide fee for loans in Freddie Mac’s survey averaged 0.7 a point for 30-year, 5-year and 1-year loans. The average fee for 15-year loans was 0.6 of a point. Alan Zibel, AP Real Estate Writer, On Thursday June 24, 2010, 12:11 pm                                

Real Estate Market: Real Estate Crystal Ball…What Would It Show?

  If we only had a real estate crystal ball. “Where are we and where are we going?”  Are questions that we get asked a lot lately.  Well, we don’t have a real estate crystal ball but here are some answers based on trends that are now becoming apparent. First, market activity has improved dramatically over this time last year.  It has been over 12 months since the stock market hit bottom.  Investor confidence is returning.  Many Americans are feeling more confident about their wealth – so long as they have stability in their job.  Allen Tate Company’s sales volume has increased 25% YTD vs. same period last year and each month is showing stronger gains. The 2009 tax credit certainly helped the market with first-time buyer tax credits.  The extension of those credits and the addition of the repeat buyer credit are helping us right now.  There remains uncertainty of what will happen as those credits expire April 30.  If you plan to take advantage, NOW is the time!  Please contact the Lee Ann Miller Team to get started and get under contract by April 30.  There will be NO better time than now to buy a home. Prices remain well below the peak of several years ago and I expect any appreciation to be slow in coming.  While many industry leaders are declaring “increases in average sale prices”, look carefully at this.  The higher-end market is beginning to see signs of activity now.  Those sales are having a positive influence on the average sale price but it is my opinion there is very little true appreciation in the market.  Nonetheless, long-term opportunities are plentiful right now. Interest rates remain at or near 5%.  Two influences will impact rates in the near-term.  The Fed is preparing to cease purchasing “Mortgage Backed Securities”, so it is likely that rates will rise slightly as the open market investors will demand higher returns.  Opposing that influence is the position by the Fed that they intend to keep rates at historical lows for the foreseeable future.  Bottom line – I expect rates to remain between 5% – 6% in 2010. So, this is very good news for you.  The buying opportunity right now is as good as it will get.  The market activity has improved dramatically.  The higher-end market activity is thawing.  Please call us if you are interested in a summary of your personal needs.  We would be delighted to assist you or your friends. Sincerely, The Lee Ann Miller Team     .

Is Charlotte, NC still in the Housing Market Gutter?

                                                                                                                      January 27th 2010   Business Insider recently posted 21 cities and how they are doing in this market. Take a look at the Charlotte market. Charlotte, North Carolina   Monthly Change (October to November): 0.27% Current Rate of Collapse (Y/Y): -5.51% Peak To Trough: -11.13% To view the good and bad of the other 20 cities, click on the link below http://www.businessinsider.com/hows-your-city-doing-2010-1#charlotte-north-carolina-10 While this is good news to the Charlotte real estate market; remember real estate is not a national market but a local market. So let’s spread the good news about Charlotte!! –The Lee Ann Miller Team         704-896-5141 Office www.LeeAnnMiller.com    Allen Tate Company

2009 Housing Market Ends on a High Note!

Extra Extra

 

 As 2009 comes to a close, we want to share plenty of good news with you on the residential real estate front.

 

First, we are thrilled to see the federal government pass the extension and the enhancements to the home buyer’s tax credit.  This will significantly help the real estate market lead the economy into stronger times.  To summarize the new program:
  • First-time buyers are eligible for up to an $8,000 credit and now have until April 30, 2010 to be under contract (and close by June 30, 2010).
  • Repeat buyers who have lived in their current home for at least five consecutive years of the past eight years are eligible for a tax credit up to $6,500.
  • Higher income limits – Both first-timers and repeat buyers may purchase a principal residence up to $800,000. Income limits to qualify have been increased to $125,000 for single tax filers and $225,000 for joint filers.
  • Credits are effective NOW – The new legislation replaces the former tax credit scheduled to expire November 30.
  • Credits do not need to be repaid – The credits for both first-time buyers and repeat buyers are true credits and do not need to be repaid unless the home is sold within three years of purchase. The credits are claimed on the buyer’s federal income tax return filed for the year they purchase their home.
  • Interest rates are still historically low and selection is excellent. The rates are likely to rise in March when the Feds will pull back on the purchase of mortgage-based securities. Act now to lock in those low rates.
In 2009, we saw a true benefit from the previous “First time buyer’s tax credit” which this program has replaced and enhanced.  We are very optimistic the new program will prove to spur even more sales activity – a true catalyst to economic improvement. Additionally, the Lake Norman market has continued to show signs of improvement.  While 2009 activity will end the year behind 2008, the second half of 2009 was stronger than 2008.  We expect this trend to continue and my forecast is for 2010 to be markedly improved over 2009.  There will be one critical impact in 2010 – interest rates are expected to rise in the second quarter as the Fed has indicated an intention to reduce their financial support for mortgage-backed securities which are keeping rates artificially low to spur economic growth.  The time to buy or trade residential real estate will never be better than now through April 30, 2010. Lastly, I expect prices to stabilize somewhat.  While foreclosure activity remains high, the demand will improve and that inventory will be absorbed.  We do not see prices rebounding to previous highs in the near future. We look forward to assisting you with your real estate needs.  Feel free to call us or visit our website at www.LeeAnnMiller.com  where you will find more than 130,000 homes searchable throughout the Carolinas. Best wishes for a very happy holiday season and New Year.

         The Lee Ann Miller Team

 

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704-896-5141 Office

www.LeeAnnMiller.com

Purple is in!

LUXE TRENDS 11 2009  (Purple is In)

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704-896-5141 Office

www.LeeAnnMiller.com

 

October Home Sales Results Are In…

Cheering RE market

 

 

 Carolina Multiple Listing Service (CMLS) recently released the results for the month of October, $20 million sold and $20 million closed for the Carolinas real estate market. Also, happy to report that the sales volume is up 129% (yes more than double) from October 2008 and closed volume up 44% from October 2008.  We think we are starting to see a turnaround.  It may be a slow & gradual rebound, but let’s be thankful for the rebound!

 

Contact The Lee Ann Miller Team today to begin your journey in this positive real estate market.

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704-896-5141 Office

www.LeeAnnMiller.com       

It’s Time to Get off the Fence

Fence 2

Buying a home is one of life’s most important decisions – and one of the most gratifying. Yet today’s economy has kept home buyers “on the fence” – and paralyzed about moving forward in pursuit of their goals and dreams. “Lack of decision making results in deferred dreams and lost opportunities,” said Rhoda and Jeffrey Makoff, authors of Get Off the Fence! “But you want to feel that you have made the right choices at each opportunity, especially the major crossroads.” “When you have decided what your dream is, what your goals are and what your plan is, all you need to do is get off the fence and just do it,” said business philosopher Jim Rohn. “Making the effort to get off the fence is the hardest move, as after that, everything will flow easily as you put your plans in motion.” Lower home prices, interest rates at 25-year low, and a strong inventory make this a perfect time to buy a home. If you’re ready to make a move – or just thinking about it, Allen Tate Realtors will make sure you’re standing on solid ground. Let “The Lee Ann Miller Team” know how we can help you get off the fence and get on with living the best possible life.                                                                                Lee Ann Miller Team Logo w/Tate                                                                          704-896-5141 Office                                                                       www.LeeAnnMiller.com