Category Archives: Real Estate and Housing News

America s Favorite Investment? Real Estate

Looking for the best way to invest your money long-term? Most Americans say real estate is the way to go.

According to a recent report from Bankrate.com, when asked the best way to invest money not needed for more than 10 years, 28 percent of U.S. adults replied real estate, followed by cash investments (23 percent), the stock market (17 percent), gold/other precious metals (15 percent) and bonds (4 percent).

The Bankrate.com survey has been conducted five years in a row and this is the third straight time real estate has grabbed the number one slot. Interestingly, the stock market has never placed higher than third, which is particularly surprising since the S&P 500 is up more than 50 percent since the question was first asked in July 2013.

Republicans and households with annual incomes of $75,000 or more were the only demographic groups to select stocks as their preferred long-term investments. Baby Boomers and members of the Silent Generation were more likely to choose stocks than millennials and Gen Xers.

The Bankrate.com Financial Security Index dipped slightly recently, but is still at its third-best reading since the Index debuted in Dec. 2010. Four of the five components have improved from 12 months ago: job security, comfort level with debt, net worth and overall financial situation. However, Americans are feeling slightly worse about their savings relative to last year.

Feel free to contact me if you’d like more information about investing in real estate.

Source: Bankrate.com

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. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Achieving a Near Perfect Indoor Environment for Your Home

By Ashley Morse

Editor's Note: This was originally published on RISMedia's blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin' now at blog.rismedia.com:

Achieving the ideal indoor environment involves managing quite a few elements within the home. In addition to keeping you and your family comfortable, the right indoor air system regulates circulation and can keep allergens, various pests and irritants away from you, your family and your guests. 
 
Though many homeowners want to achieve the perfect home environment, short of living in a sterile lab, the perfect indoor environment doesn't exist. Fortunately, there are a number of technologies available today that make it easy to achieve near perfect conditions that let you live in comfort.
 
What Does a Near Perfect Indoor Environment Involve?
When it comes to indoor environmental quality, there are a number of factors involved. Interior factors taken into consideration when constructing a home involve lighting, external sound or vibrations, and air quality and temperature.
 
Given these factors, what should homeowners ultimately expect? For one, lighting should provide the right balance of natural and artificial ambiance for desired tasks. Interior illumination has taken a major step forward by covering a wide spectrum of light ranges that work with the body's natural daily rhythms.
 
Second, sound dampening insulation should not only minimize noise pollution from the outside; it should also include activities from adjacent rooms.
 
Finally, the central air conditioning unit should provide a level of air quality that is pure and free from harmful pollutants, toxicants and contaminants.
 
As homeowners and/or their family members spend most of their time at home, air quality becomes a necessity to a good home life.
 
The Importance of Air Quality
The importance of indoor air quality cannot be overstated, especially in the cases of people with allergies, asthma or other respiratory diseases. Poor indoor air quality can have significant negative effects on one's health. Ozone and particulates can worsen respiratory conditions, trigger asthma attacks and cause allergic reactions. 
 
Multiple studies reinforce the impact of air quality on health. The National Institutes for Health concluded significant causal relationships between dust mites and cat allergens and asthma, for example. A 2014 study by the World Health Organization reported 7 million premature deaths annually from poor air quality.
 
How Can Homeowners Improve Air Quality?
Fortunately, there are a number of appliances and technologies that can help to improve indoor environmental quality. Each of these can have a significant impact on air quality in your home.
 
Smart Thermostat: These programmable devices let you cool or heat your home remotely via a smartphone, tablet or desktop. These devices let you save energy and adjust the temperature while you are en route home from work, for example. Some models even can detect outdoor allergens and adjust accordingly.
 
Air Purifiers: By cleaning the air, a purifier helps to eliminate dust, pollen and bacteria, all of which can trigger allergies. When the purifier uses a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter, a purifier can dramatically improve air quality.
 
Humidifiers and Dehumidifiers: Dryer air can irritate nasal passages and the lungs while moist air can harbor bacteria and mold. Keeping the humidity levels regulated is important to keep the indoor air healthy.
 
By regulating your environment in the areas of sound, light and air, that near perfect indoor environment is now within reach of each and every homeowner.
 
Ashley Morse is manager of Operations at The Cooling Company, a provider of air conditioning, heating and plumbing repair services in the Las Vegas Valley. 

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. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Save Money Through Energy Efficiency

(Family Features)–As much as half of the average homeowner's monthly utility expenses go toward cooling and heating, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). For many households, that makes energy the largest home-related expense each month, next to a mortgage payment.

Fortunately, numerous technological advances are making it easier than ever to manage home energy use. In fact, the DOE estimates you can save as much as 10 percent a year on energy costs by simply adjusting the temperature up or down when you're away during the day. Installing a programmable thermostat that never forgets to adjust on a busy morning and kicks back on before you arrive home can help you earn these savings and reduce energy consumption.

Home Automation
Newer smart, programmable thermostats can be controlled remotely by internet-connected devices, such as tablets and smartphones. Some models can also monitor your energy usage and system efficiency, providing data to help you make further adjustments to how you operate your HVAC system.

Lighting is another major energy challenge. However, smart light bulbs let you adjust your home's ambiance (and energy usage) with just a couple of quick taps. Paired with motion sensors that detect movement (or a lack thereof) and adjust lighting accordingly, smart bulbs can help reduce the waste of energy caused by lighting unused rooms.

Similarly, smartphone applications that connect to other appliances, utilities and home features offer the best of personalized comfort and convenience while providing tools to help minimize your home's energy consumption.

Zoned Climate Control
If you're like most homeowners, there are parts of your house that simply don't get much use or only get used during certain times of the day. Maintaining the temperature in those uninhabited areas can be costly and wasteful. As an alternative, an option such as zoned climate control allows you to stay comfortable in the rooms you use without spending a fortune on energy bills.

While a zoned system is generally considered a premium home feature, it isn't unattainable and actually offers long-term savings, due to its energy-efficient operation. The home is divided into zones, designated by floors, rooms or areas – however the homeowner chooses – which eliminates the "all on" feature of traditional air conditioners.

A system like Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating's Zoned Comfort Solutions offers a true zoning-system with convenient controls and automation, along with whisper-quiet operation. Both ducted and non-ducted units are available depending on the space and occupant needs. Additionally, some models have advanced filtration features to help eliminate allergens, contributing to improved air quality.

For a new build, installing a zoned system from the outset is relatively simple. However, zoned systems are also a possible solution for replacing your home's HVAC system or rectifying a problem with a single uncomfortable room. Pairing the system with sensors or remote app controls can bring operating costs even lower through computerized automation.

Renewable Energy
Another option to offset some of your home's energy and utility costs is generating your own renewable energy through solar or wind power systems. Installation depends on many variables, such as how much energy you use, local codes and standards, and whether the house and surrounding terrain are situated to allow you to capture adequate natural power. For a home under construction, your builder should be able to offer guidance; for an existing home, contacting a local renewable energy organization or state office is a smart first step.

Cost Control
A state-of-the-art zoned climate control system can be configured to your specific needs, but all the customization options can make it tricky to predict how much your installation might cost. Taking into account these variables can give you a better sense of how much you'll be spending.

 New equipment. Each system includes an outdoor unit, indoor unit(s), controls and parts including the refrigerant line-set, wiring and electrical accessories. Conditioning one room or zone comes at a significantly different price than cooling and heating a home with eight or more zones. Generally, new equipment comes in between $3,000-$15,000, depending on the number of zones and size of the home.

Labor. This is what you will pay a licensed HVAC contractor to install the system (and remove your old one, if necessary). Contractors' labor prices vary widely, but expect to spend an amount roughly equal to your equipment cost, depending on your geographic location and the complexity of the installation.

Additional costs. Depending on your existing system, you may incur costs for items such as electrical work to install a new 240V outlet ($200-$1,000, or more if your electrical panel requires a new circuit); an equipment pad, stand or brackets for the outdoor unit ($50-$300); ductwork (prices vary greatly depending on the home); and controller options (approximately $200-$300 each).

Unique situations. Some homes, such as older homes, high-performance homes and homes in extreme cold-weather regions, often require auxiliary heat or specialized designs or equipment, all of which can impact the cost of the system. However, with Mitsubishi Electric's Zoned Comfort Solutions, 100 percent heating down to a 5 F outdoor temperature can be attained.

Rebates. Some states offer rebates for the installation of more energy-efficient appliances, including HVAC systems. These rebates can help offset some of the upfront costs associated with installing zoned systems. Consider speaking with a professional or researching available rebates in your region before purchasing a new system.

Source: Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating

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. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Preparation Is Key for Buying or Selling Home

Whether you’re buying or selling a new home, preparing well in advance is crucial to a successful transaction. In fact, of over 13,000 U.S. residents surveyed, the number one regret for both buyers and sellers was not starting their home search or prepping their home to sell soon enough. 

The Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends reveal strategies for how to buy and sell in today's highly competitive market.

Buyers

Keep your options open. More than half (52 percent) of buyers said they also considered renting, and more than one third (37 percent) of first-time buyers seriously considered continuing to rent. Savvy shoppers will have a Plan B in place, hoping to buy if it works out, but willing to sign a lease for a home if they don't make a deal by the time they need to move.

Be realistic with your budget. Once you set it, stick to it: first-time home buyers are more likely to exceed their budget than repeat buyers (39 percent vs 26 percent). Before you meet with a lender to determine how much mortgage you'll be approved for, take a good look at your individual finances and spending preferences to determine the monthly payment range that you feel you can comfortably afford.  

Get your financing squared away early. Plan to meet a few lenders four to six months ahead of when you're planning to buy to ensure you can make a competitive offer quickly when you find your dream home. The majority (82 percent) of buyers get pre-approved, with 77 percent getting pre-approval from a lender before finding a home on which they are interested in placing an offer.

Find an agent with a winning track record. Take the time to find an agent who has expertise in fast negotiation, leveraging escalation clauses, and winning bidding wars. Only 46 percent of buyers got the first home on which they made an offer, demonstrating that competition is now part of the process.  

Communication is key. Make sure your preferred method – and frequency – of communication matches that of your agent. One third (33 percent) of all buyers preferred phones call with their agent over emailing (21 percent) or texting (15 percent). Buyers can use the agent reviews on Zillow to learn more about prospective agents and their clients' experiences. 

Sellers

Start early and be strategic. Sellers consider putting their home on the market for five months before they list it. But the top seller regret is that they wished they spent more time prepping for the sale. Many cities have a magic window in the spring when homes have a higher likelihood of selling quickly for more money.

Work with an agent from the start. The vast majority (90 percent) of sellers who sold quickly and for more than list price worked with an agent, and two out of three (58 percent) began working with an agent at the very beginning of their selling journey.

Pay attention to your online curb appeal. The majority of buyers begin their search online. Sellers who sold their home for more than list price made imagery and home information available online: 48 percent had professional photos taken of the home, 30 percent shot video footage and 21 percent even shot drone footage.

Home improvements can be a worthwhile investment. Sellers who fetched above list price tackled home improvement before listing their home, being 50 percent more likely to take on a large project like modifying an existing home plan and 20 percent more likely to renovate a kitchen than the average seller. 

Don't be afraid to try again. In many markets, nearly half of listing views occur in the first week the home is on the market. Twenty-six percent of those who sold above list price took their home off the market once to adjust the sales price, opting to start anew rather than letting the home languish on the market with minimal activity. 

Source: www.zillowgroupreport.com

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. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Survey: Optimism About Household Finances Edges Up

Consumers are a touch more optimistic about their household finances, expecting not only their household incomes to grow, but also their household spending, according to the results of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's Survey of Consumer Expectations (SCE) for February 2017.

More consumers are confident they will not miss a minimum debt payment in the next three months; their expectation for more earnings, however, dipped, though remained within a range observed since August 2016.
 
In terms of housing, less consumers expect home prices to change—a share also remaining within range, this time observed since mid-2015. Consumers in the South and West, as well as those with a high school education or less and/or an income less than $50,000, were less likely to expect a change.
 
On the employment side, consumer perceptions of the likelihood of losing a job in the next year fell to its lowest level in four months. Consumer perceptions of an expanding unemployment rate also fell, to its lowest level in 19 months.
 
Consumer expectations concerning inflation were unchanged.
 
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York

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. ©2017. All rights reserved.

10 Tips for Homebuyers and Sellers This Spring

Spring is here, and so is spring home-buying and -selling. Buyers and sellers preparing to take action this season should put those plans into play now—according to Zillow Group's Report on Consumer Housing Trends, the No. 1 regret for both buyers and sellers is "not starting their home search or prepping their home to sell soon enough."
 
"This spring, both buyers and sellers should be prepared for fast-moving sales, intense negotiations, and even bidding wars," says Jeremy Wacksman, CMO at Zillow Group. "Home shoppers and sellers are motivated to become more strategic and knowledgeable about what's happening in their neighborhood. Understanding whether you are in a buyer's or a seller's environment will help you manage your expectations and will give you insight into what you're going to need to bring to the table in order to close the deal."
 
For buyers, that means:
 
Keep your options open. More than half (52 percent) of homebuyers surveyed in the report said they also considered renting, and more than one-third (37 percent) of first-time buyers seriously considered continuing to rent. Savvy shoppers should have a Plan B in place, hoping to buy if it works out, but willing to sign a lease for a home if they don't make a deal by the time they need to move.
 
Be realistic with your budget. Once you set it, stick to it. First-time home buyers are more likely to exceed their budget than repeat buyers (39 percent versus 26 percent), according to the report. Before you meet with a lender to determine how much mortgage you'll be approved for, take a good look at your individual finances and spending preferences to determine the monthly payment range that you feel you can comfortably afford. (Use Zillow's mortgage calculator to help with you with the math.)
 
Get your financing squared away early. Plan to meet a few lenders four to six months ahead of when you're planning to buy to ensure you can make a competitive offer quickly when you find your dream home. The majority (82 percent) of buyers get pre-approved, with 77 percent getting pre-approval from a lender before finding a home on which they are interested in placing an offer.
 
Find an agent with a winning track record. Take the time to find an agent who has expertise in fast negotiation, leveraging escalation clauses, and winning bidding wars. Only 46 percent of buyers got the first home on which they made an offer, according to the report, demonstrating that competition is now part of the process. Use search tools, like Zillow's Agent Finder, to choose an agent based on sales and listing activity, area of expertise and reputation.
 
Communication is key. Make sure your preferred method—and frequency—of communication matches that of your agent. One-third (33 percent) of all buyers surveyed in the report preferred phone calls with their agent over emailing (21 percent) or texting (15 percent). Buyers can use the agent reviews on Zillow to learn more about prospective agents and their clients' experiences. 
 
And for sellers:
 
Start early and be strategic. Sellers consider putting their home on the market for five months before they list it—but the top seller regret is that they wished they spent more time prepping for the sale. Many cities have a magic window in the spring when homes have a higher likelihood of selling quickly for more money.
 
Work with an agent from the start. The vast majority (90 percent) of sellers surveyed in the report who sold quickly and for more than list price worked with an agent, and two out of three (58 percent) began working with an agent at the very beginning of their selling journey.
 
Pay attention to your online curb appeal. The majority of buyers begin their search online. Sellers who sold their home for more than list price made imagery and home information available online: 48 percent had professional photos taken of the home; 30 percent shot video footage; and 21 percent shot drone footage. Zillow's video walk-throughs give sellers an easy way to show home features that are hard to capture in photos.
 
Home improvements can be a worthwhile investment. Sellers who fetched above list price tackled home improvements before listing their home, being 50 percent more likely to take on a large project like modifying an existing home plan and 20 percent more likely to renovate a kitchen than the average seller. 
 
Don't be afraid to try again. In many markets, nearly half of listing views occur in the first week the home is on the market. Twenty-six percent of those who sold above list price took their home off the market once to adjust the sales price, opting to start anew, rather than letting the home languish on the market with minimal activity. 
 
For more information, please visit www.zillow.com.

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. ©2017. All rights reserved.

New-Home Sales Heat Up to Seven-Month High in February

New-home sales heated up to a seven-month high in February at 592,000, a 6.1 percent increase, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The average new-home sales price was $390,400, while the median was $296,200. New-home listing inventory was 266,000—5.4 months supply.
 
New-home sales sizzled compared to a tepid January, when activity was stifled by limited new supply.
 
"This growth was likely spurred by several factors, including a warm winter that allowed builders to stick to construction schedules, last year's strong home construction starts, and a gradual shift from building apartments to individual homes," says Joseph Kirchner, senior economist at realtor.com®.
 
"While this growth is encouraging, it's important for house hunters to keep in mind that builders have been focusing on the more pricey part of the market; affordable options are still in short supply. That's a key reason why existing-home sales dropped in February while sales of new homes went up—existing home sales include both affordable and premium homes. During that month, sales of existing homes under $100,000 plummeted 15 percent and sales of homes in the $100,000 to $250,000 range fell 2 percent, while sales of more expensive existing homes soared."
 
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

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. ©2017. All rights reserved.