All posts by Tim McBrayer

Tips for Exterior Home Painting

Looking to give the outside of your home a fresh finish? This can seriously up your curb appeal and create great ambiance before you even step foot inside. To help you get a great exterior paint job, heed this advice from Sara McLean, color expert and stylist for Dunn-Edwards.

– The main body color is what most of the home will be painted, and it sets the tone for the rest of the home.

– If you have a change in material, such as an entry feature, second roofline, dormer windows, or any other secondary main material feature, include a second main color to complement the first.

– Add an accent color to highlight smaller details, such as doors and shutters.

– Tie everything together with a trim color around the windows, fascia and eaves.

– If you're not ready to paint the entire exterior, you can still give your house a facelift with some practical touch-ups on accent pieces. Fresh, bright paint on the front door, stair rails, balconies, shutters or window sashes can make a statement. Plus, it's easy to change the color on these smaller details every year or two.

– What direction does your home face? If it receives full southern or western sun exposure, those areas will fade faster than the back or sides of the house. Certain colors, like yellow, orange and red will fade faster. On the company's color chips, the letter "I" indicates colors that are recommended for interiors only.

– Select a high-quality paint to help reduce UV color fade, look better and last longer.

– Choose a color scheme that blends with the neighborhood. If you belong to a Homeowner’s Association (HOA), check to see if there are any color restrictions.  

– You can minimize attention to unattractive elements, such as downspouts, air conditioning units, vents and gutters by painting them the same color as the wall of the house or by choosing a trim color that’s a similar shade.

Source: Dunn-Edwards

Thanks for visiting my Blog site. If you would like to discuss this topic with me or get more information please contact me by calling 919-247-4667 or emailing me at Tim@TheTrianglesBroker.com. And you can always visit my personal real estate website for lots of additional information and to search for homes at www.TheTrianglesBroker.com or www.BuyAndSelllingTriangleHomes.com  McBrayer – The Triangles Broker.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

Planting Guide: Trees

While nothing dramatically changes your landscape as much as a new tree, trees also pose one of the most difficult challenges in terms of planting. Follow these guideline from the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) to ensure your tree enjoys a long, healthy life in its new home:

  • Measure the height and diameter of the root ball or root spread.
  • Dig the hole just deep enough to allow the first structural root to be at a level grade. The diameter of the hole should be two to three times the diameter of the root ball or root spread.
  • Set the tree on undisturbed solid ground in the center of the hole. The tree should be planted so that the root flare, the base of the tree trunk where the roots begin to "flare-out," will be visible above grade.
  • Backfill with soil from the planting hole, using water to pack or settle the soil around the root ball. Do not tamp soil by stepping on it.
  • Mulch the planting area with 2 – 4 inches of an organic, composted mulch, such as wood chips. Do not mulch up to or against the trunk. Start the mulch six inches away from the tree trunk.
  • Trees should be pruned after planting to remove broken, damaged, diseased or dead branches.
  • Stake and/or protect the trunk of the tree if there’s a real potential for wind damage or lawn-mower injury. Remove the string, rope, wire or other ties used with supports when the staking is no longer needed or the tree could be injured or even killed from girdling by the wire.
  • Prune to develop a good branch structure once the tree has become established in its new home, usually one to three years after planting. Never remove more than 25 percent of total foliage in one year.
  • Fertilizing is not recommended at the time of planting.

Find a Professional
A professional arborist can assess your landscape and work with you to determine the best care for your trees. Contact the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), a public and professional resource on trees and arboriculture since 1938. TCIA has more than 2,300 member tree care firms and affiliated companies who recognize stringent safety and performance standards and who are required to carry liability insurance. TCIA also has the nation's only accreditation program that helps consumers find tree care companies that have been inspected and accredited based on: adherence to industry standards for quality and safety; maintenance of trained, professional staff; and dedication to ethics and quality in business practices. For more information, visit www.tcia.org or www.treecaretips.org.
 
An easy way to find a tree care service provider in your area is to use the "Locate Your Local TCIA Member Companies" program. You can use this service by calling 1-800-733-2622 or by doing a zip code search on www.treecaretips.org.
 
If you’d like more homeowner information, please contact me.

Thanks for visiting my Blog site. If you would like to discuss this topic with me or get more information please contact me by calling 919-247-4667 or emailing me at Tim@TheTrianglesBroker.com. And you can always visit my personal real estate website for lots of additional information and to search for homes at www.TheTrianglesBroker.com or www.BuyAndSelllingTriangleHomes.com  McBrayer – The Triangles Broker.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

Financial Stress? It May Be Time to Get Smarter About Money

Money woes are a reality even for the gainfully employed, say the results of the 2018 Purchasing Power® Financial Stress Survey conducted by Harris Poll. According to the research, over 4 in 5 (87 percent) of those who are employed full-time or have a spouse employed full-time are at least somewhat stressed about their current finances.

"Although the U.S. economy is healthy and the stock market continues to rise, employees are still stressed about their finances. Many struggle to pay their household bills because financially-fragile employees don't necessarily benefit from these trends," explains Purchasing Power President Scott Rosenberg.

The survey also revealed that 39 percent of full-time employees feel that their financial stress level increased over the past 12 months; 46 percent said it stayed the same; and 16 percent report that it decreased.

Of those who reported their stress level had declined in the past 12 months, 57 percent said an increase in their household income contributed to that decrease; 50 percent indicated they had decreased the amount of their expenses (such as paying off balances and eliminating unnecessary services/activities) and 20 percent revealed they had used financial tools to help better budget their money.

For those experiencing financial stress, a lack of financial literacy and poor financial habits is often at the root of the problem. Check out the following survey results:

Main Causes of Financial Stress

  • Household bills are the major reason cited for causing financial stress:
  • Household bills (e.g. mortgage/rent, utilities and transportation) – 47 percent
  • Lack of funds to cover unexpected expenses (e.g., car repair, home repair) – 43 percent
  • Retirement planning (e.g., little or no retirement savings, no post-employment plan) – 37 percent
  • Healthcare expenses (e.g., deductibles, prescription costs, medical bills) – 34 percent
  • High credit balance – 30 percent
  • Accumulating credit card debt – 29 percent
  • Lifestyle changes (e.g., loss of/decrease in household income, family addition, increase in household occupants, elderly care) – 25 percent
  • Education (e.g., tuition, daycare fees, student loan payments) – 21 percent 

Unexpected Expenses
Respondents also pointed to stress caused by unexpected expenses in the past 12 months. Some of the most common ones included:

  • Vehicle repair/replacement – 57 percent
  • Medical – 43 percent
  • Home repairs (such as roof, boiler, siding) – 40 percent
  • Replacing/upgrading major home appliance that stopped working – 29 percent
  • Travel (funeral, visit sick relative, unexpected move) – 18 percent 

These employees were also asked how they paid for the unexpected expense they incurred in the past 12 months. They reported using the following methods:

  • Credit card – 49 percent
  • Emergency savings – 31 percent
  • Money they planned to use for other household bills – 30 percent
  • Cash – 23 percent
  • Borrowed from family/friends – 13 percent
  • Took out a loan (payday, title, home equity) – 13 percent
  • Debit card – 13 percent
  • Sold something (jewelry, electronics, car) – 9 percent
  • Borrowed from retirement savings (401K, IRA) – 7 percent

Of course, one of the best ways to start reducing financial stress is to start or increase your savings, no matter how small. Talk to a financial advisor to come up with a plan for reducing expenses and adding a nest egg to help alleviate the pressure.

If you’d like more homeowner information, please contact me.

Thanks for visiting my Blog site. If you would like to discuss this topic with me or get more information please contact me by calling 919-247-4667 or emailing me at Tim@TheTrianglesBroker.com. And you can always visit my personal real estate website for lots of additional information and to search for homes at www.TheTrianglesBroker.com or www.BuyAndSelllingTriangleHomes.com  McBrayer – The Triangles Broker.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

5 Things to Check When Viewing a Home

If you're shopping for a home right now, you're likely seeing dozens of properties. While this is great news for prospective buyers, there are a handful of essential things you should be looking for when doing a walk-through.

Roof. When entering or exiting the property, take a moment to look up. While you can't always tell if the roof is well-maintained by looks alone, missing or warped shingles are a sign that the roof has been neglected.

Rust. Check any major appliances that will be coming with the house for signs of rust or neglect. Think the HVAC system and water heater.

Warping. Examine the corners of rooms and the angles of doors. Are things tilted or warped? This could point to issues with the foundation.

Moisture. If the home smells musty, or the wood around the windows is soft or rotted, it's likely that there’s some sort of moisture leak, be it from a pipe, an improperly fitted or warped window, or a funky foundation.

Lots of listings. If there are numerous listings on any given street, there might be a reason why. Do your research before purchasing a property in an area that others are running from. 

Thanks for visiting my Blog site. If you would like to discuss this topic with me or get more information please contact me by calling 919-247-4667 or emailing me at Tim@TheTrianglesBroker.com. And you can always visit my personal real estate website for lots of additional information and to search for homes at www.TheTrianglesBroker.com or www.BuyAndSelllingTriangleHomes.com  McBrayer – The Triangles Broker.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

Wise Ways to Water Your Yard

Whether you’re in a community with watering restrictions or not, it’s common sense to look for ways to maximize efficiency when watering your lawn and gardens. Rain Bird, a supplier of irrigation products for residential, commercial, golf, and agricultural applications, offers these steps to help you use water wisely:

  • Understand your soil. The soil type in your yard will greatly affect your watering schedule and influence the type of sprinkler you choose.
  • Determine your water pressure. Water pressures vary greatly. If you have high pressure, make sure you install products equipped with pressure-regulating devices, which can save you up to one gallon per minute, per sprinkler.
  • Design a smart landscape. Use drought-tolerant plants when possible. Reserve your use of grass for areas with high value, visual prominence or frequent physical use.
  • Divide your yard into separate zones so groundcover, shrubs and trees can be watered separately and less frequently.
  • Use a rain sensor to automatically shut off your sprinkler system when it rains.
  • Maximize performance by regulating water pressure. Pressure regulation can save up to one gallon per minute, per sprinkler, by delivering the right amount of water to get the job done, without any waste.
  • Prevent puddles. Use sprinklers with pre-installed check valves and low precipitation rates to prevent soggy areas, which can kill landscape or encourage fungus to grow.
  • Use drip irrigation for flower beds and shrubs to deliver the water directly to the base of plants, saving up to 80 percent over watering with traditional sprinklers. Drip irrigation also prevents weeds and encourages healthier plants by watering each plant's root zone, eliminating overspray and evaporation.
  • Use mulch. Applying mulch helps drainage, encourages root development and improves soil by making nutrients more available to plants, while conserving water.
  • Water between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. when the sun is low, winds are calm and temperatures are cool. This minimizes water loss due to evaporation and windy conditions, and helps avoid fungus growth on leaves. Check with your local water provider to see what days and times you’re allowed to water.
  • Break up watering times into shorter segments. Applying more water than the ground can absorb leads to excess runoff.
  • Water less frequently. Deep, infrequent watering will train the plants' roots to grow deeper and more robust.
  • Water only when your plants demand it. If your plant leaves are beginning to curl and your footprints are staying longer than usual, it's time to water. 
  • When in doubt, consult with a landscape professional to come up with the right plan for a water-efficient yard and garden that will stay green and colorful all season long.

 If you need more real estate information, feel free to contact me.

Thanks for visiting my Blog site. If you would like to discuss this topic with me or get more information please contact me by calling 919-247-4667 or emailing me at Tim@TheTrianglesBroker.com. And you can always visit my personal real estate website for lots of additional information and to search for homes at www.TheTrianglesBroker.com or www.BuyAndSelllingTriangleHomes.com  McBrayer – The Triangles Broker.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

Tax Refund? Spend It on Your Home

According to CNN Money, about eight out of 10 people filing their taxes this year are getting a refund, with the average amount being about $2,800. While it may be tempting to put that money toward an island getaway, an even better way to spend your tax refund is by using it to grow one your biggest investments: your home.

"While some people may choose a spontaneous purchase with their refund dollars, smart homeowners choose to pay down their debt or invest in a project with solid payback,” says Roger Murphy, president of Hy-Lite, a U.S. Block Windows Company. “Using refund dollars to enhance your living experience in the kitchen or bath pays off every day. Whether it’s purchasing a much-needed appliance, fixing plumbing issues or replacing an old window, these are enhancements you’ll enjoy continually throughout the year.”

While Murphy’s company specializes in decorative glass privacy windows, there are many improvements that instantly up your home’s value. According to Remodeling magazine’s 2018 Cost vs. Value Report, which measures the average cost of 21 popular remodeling projects and their average resale value one year later, garage door replacement has the highest ROI at 98.3 percent (up from 85 percent year-over-year). Backyard patio jobs garnered the lowest ROI, at 47.6 percent (down from 54.9 percent year-over-year).

Nationally, when it comes to renovation ROI, curb appeal still wins. Here are the top five projects with the greatest ROI in the report's "midrange" cost category:

Manufactured Stone Veneer (97.1 percent ROI)
– Average Cost: $8,221
– Average Resale Value: $7,986

Entry Door Replacement (Steel) (91.3 percent ROI)
– Average Cost: $1,471
– Average Resale Value: $1,344

Deck Addition (Wood) (82.8 percent ROI)
– Average Cost: $10,950
– Average Resale Value: $9,065

Minor Kitchen Remodel (81.1 percent ROI)
– Average Cost: $21,198
– Average Resale Value: $17,193

Siding Replacement (76.7 percent ROI)
– Average Cost: $15,072
– Average Resale Value: $11,554

Before you go on that shopping spree with your check from Uncle Sam, think about how you might spend it on your home instead. You’ll be the beneficiary in the long-run!

If you need more real estate information, feel free to contact me.

Thanks for visiting my Blog site. If you would like to discuss this topic with me or get more information please contact me by calling 919-247-4667 or emailing me at Tim@TheTrianglesBroker.com. And you can always visit my personal real estate website for lots of additional information and to search for homes at www.TheTrianglesBroker.com or www.BuyAndSelllingTriangleHomes.com  McBrayer – The Triangles Broker.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

Waiting Period After Distressed Sale

“How long do we have to wait to qualify for another mortgage” is the question concerning people who’ve had a foreclosure, short sale or bankruptcy. The loan types for the new loan will differ in amounts of time to heal credit scores based on the event.43296989-250.jpg

The following chart is meant to be a general guide for how long a person might have to wait. During this waiting period, it’s important that the person be current on all payments and maintains a history of good credit.

A recommended lender can give you specific information regarding your individual situation and can make suggestions that will improve your ability to qualify for a mortgage. This process should be started before looking at homes because of the time constraints listed here can vary based on current requirements and possible extenuating circumstances of your case.

Waiting periods Distressed sales 2.png

We want to be your personal source of real estate information and we’re committed to helping from purchase to sale and all the years in between. Call us at (919) 247-4667 for lender recommendations.

Waiting Will Cost More

With the first quarter of 2018 in the books, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage is nearing what Freddie Mac predicted it would be in the second quarter. If this pace continues, rates will exceed the five percent mark expected by the end of the year.42814186-250.jpg

The Fed has had its first of an expected three raises for this year and two more are expected in 2019. While these rates are not directly related to mortgages, they certainly have an effect.

Delaying the decision to purchase or refinance could be an expensive missed opportunity. A $270,000 mortgage at 4.44% has a principal and interest payment of $1,358.44 per month. If the rate were to rise one-percent in the next twelve months, the payment would be $1,522.88.

The $164.44 increase would cost a homeowner an additional $13,812.97 in seven years and close to $60,000 over the full term of the loan.

The question facing people is “what would you spend $164.44 each month if you had acted sooner to get the lower rate?”

If you’re curious to know what your “missed opportunity” could be costing you, try this Cost of Waiting to Buy calculator . Use 0% increase on price change if you are refinancing a home you already own.

FHA Advantages

The Federal Housing Administration, operating under HUD, offers affordable mortgages for tens of thousands of buyers who may not qualify for other types of programs. They are popular with both first-time and repeat buyers.

The 3.5% down payment is an attractive feature but there are other advantages:fha3.png

  • More tolerant for credit challenges than conventional mortgages.
  • Lower down payments than most conventional loans.
  • Broader qualifying ratios – total house payment with MIP can be up to 31% of borrower’s monthly gross income and total house payment with all recurring debt can be up to 43%. There is a stretch provision taking it to 33/45 for qualifying energy efficient homes.
  • Seller can contribute up to 6% of purchase price; this money must be specified in the contract and can be used to pay all or part of the buyer’s closing costs, pre-paid items and/or buy down of the interest rate.
  • Self-employed may qualify with adequate documentation – two year’s tax returns and a current profit and loss statement would be required in addition to the normal qualifying and underwriting requirements.
  • Liberal use of gift monies – borrowers can receive a gift from family members, buyer’s employer, close friend, labor union or charity. A gift letter will be required specifying that the gift does not have to be repaid.
  • Special 203(k) program for buying a home that needs capital improvements – requires a firm contractor’s bid attached to the contract calling for the work to be done. The home is appraised subject to the work being done. If approved, the home can close, the money for the improvements escrowed and paid when completed.
  • Loans are assumable at the existing interest rate with buyer qualification. Assumptions are easier than qualifying for a new mortgage and closing costs are lower.
  • An assumable mortgage with a lower than current rates for new mortgages could add value to the property.

Finding the best mortgage for an individual is not always an easy process. Buyers need good information from trusted professionals. Call (919) 247-4667 for a recommendation of a trusted lender who can help you.