Thursday, September 27, 2012

Political Signage and Your Home

political signage and your homeAs we get closer to the next election, political opinions are being a little more freely discussed no matter where you live in the U.S.  Issues and debates are sure to bring out even more exposure to political discussion and are likely to bring that conversation to your home. You may even start to see signs go up in your neighborhood supporting specific measures, parties, or people.

Did you know that certain governmental jurisdictions have laws in regards to political signage that affect the neighborhood surrounding your home?

In 1994 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that outdoor political signs are protected under the First Amendment speech rights, however, some states have enacted laws to define that protection a little more clearly.

In California, for instance, a law was passed last January that allows renters the ability to display political signs under six total feet without penalty from property owners on elections, recalls, public offices, or community issues in the ninety days leading up to an election.  There are specific instructions relating to multi-use residences, as well, so it’s good to be aware if you plan to place political signs near your home.

In Wisconsin, you can show political signs around your home, but placing signage on highways will result in fines if they are deemed a safety issue for motorists.  In some states, like New York, you may need to file an application or permit prior to placing your political sign. Other states and individual cities, such as Provo, Utah, allow signage on private homes and vehicles with the owner’s permission but restrict the placement of handbills on vehicles, which is good to know if you are involved in a specific campaign.

The point is to be aware and informed.  Use your first amendment right of expression to its fullest, but make sure that you are complying with local regulations when using your home as the canvas.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Decorating Your Home For Fall

There’s a crispness in the air as autumn approaches, pulling to the mind images of goblins, ghosts and ghouls and memories of sweet and wholesome treats. This time of year is one where cobwebs on your home, be they spun from nearby spiders or purchased from a local craft store, have a tendency to be in vogue. As you think up ways to make your home more festive this season, keep in mind that simplicity and detail can go a long way to creating a look that’s spooky for visitors without being considered scary.

Some easy ways to manufacture a ghoulish look can be found with just a few basic items. Consider taping some dark colored transparent “spooky” fabric to your front door to darken up the look of your home a bit. A few rubber bats or ghosts hung just right in the eaves or a lone creature or skeleton leaning over a balcony can create a spooky element to any home in a flash, too!

If you want to add a little more menacing decor to your entrance, consider webbing, plastic fencing, tombstones or skulls. A crafty and cute touch can be had with an assortment of miniature pumpkins or carved, lit jack-o-lanterns, as well. As you prepare the entrance to your home, consider who your visitors will be and how you can add to their fun. Perhaps a candy jar or motion detecting decoration is just the right touch to add some fright.

On the night of any gathering in your home, consider renting a fog machine or playing a bit of scary music to add to the intrigue and mysteriousness as guests enter your home. Plan for games and stories and use lighting that will enhance the mood in your home, as well. You’ll find that simplicity will allow you to embrace some traditional fright into the decor of your home and still provide for plenty of tricks and treats.

Also stand by for my 31 days to  HALLOWEEN 2013 with ideas of things you and your family can do everyday of the Month of October!

Friday, September 21, 2012

3 Buyer Questions and Winning Answers to Move Them Off the Fence

Since I deal with homebuyers on a regular basis, I frequently hear the same three queries. Each person may frame them differently, but at core, they all are asking the same three questions.

Here are some suggestions on how to handle these questions to help your buyers address the real issue, “Is now a good time to buy for me?

Question #1: I heard prices may continue to fall – why should I purchase a home now?

The answer: Price is not the only consideration.

Even though the market is going UP in many places, some are still worried about a potential collapse. Homebuyers worried about falling prices need to think about the total cost of their loan and the interest rates that drive them. Buyers who try to second-guess the market may end up paying much more over the long run.

For example, a buyer who purchases today for $375,000 with 20% down will have a mortgage of $300,000. If they lock in at a rate of 4% fixed for 30 years, monthly payments will be $1,432.25 and the total cost of the loan will be around $515,610.00. *

If the buyer holds off and prices drop five percent, he or she could save about $70 per month. However, if the prices drop five percent and interest rates climb just one percent, that waiting buyer will pay about $97 more each month and $35,168 more over the life of the loan.

I’ve seen so many buyers try to second-guess the market and fail. And there is always a price tag associated with that failure – sometimes a hefty one.

Tip: If you want to do this calculation for your buyers, you don’t have to be a loan expert. Download Trulia’s new free Mortgage App for the iPhone and iPads and check out the mortgage calculator.

Question #2: If I buy now, when can I expect to see appreciation?

The answer: Be brutally honest, no one really knows. Initial projections showed appreciation could start nationwide in 2014. Recently this date was pushed back to 2016 and anyone currently watching the market knows that in many places prices have actually started going up in the past few months. The problem is, we don’t know how long this growth will be sustained.

Historically, buyers didn’t purchase homes because of the potential for appreciation in value. Freedom from tyrannical landlords was at the top of the list.

Unfortunately, after the housing collapse that began mid-2006, the idea of appreciation is now firmly cemented into most homeowner’s minds.

Buyers whose primary goal is potential appreciation need to sit with you and write out a list of buying “Pros and Cons” to help make the decision – and, price appreciation shouldn’t be on the list.

Question #3: “Is it better to rent or buy?”

The answer: It totally depends on WHY you are buying.

If your buyers can make their projected mortgage payments and the monthly bottom-line is their focus, recent research shows it’s 45 percent cheaper to buy.

If you’re working with house hunters who are looking for short-term gains or quick profit, tell them they shouldn’t bother.

For buyers looking to be free of rental restrictions and petulant landlords, want the ability to renovate to their heart’s content, want to benefit from the significant income tax deductions and can afford the monthly payments, it’s a great time to buy.

Ultimately, the decision to buy is a big one and there’s no blanket answer for the house hunting masses. The best thing any agent can do is give their clients the truth and show them the decision to buy is (and has always been) personal.

Save yourself some time. Incorporate these suggestions into your responses when you’re first meeting to help your buyers make the hard call.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Consider Hiring a Handyman for Your Home

Perhaps you have some home projects you just can’t find the time (or inclination) to start. With the holidays coming up, it may make sense to hire a handyman for smaller tasks. Do you have someone you already use or are you stumped wondering where to turn? No matter the answer, these tips can help you find someone in no time!

Decide on Your Project - Smaller repair projects are perfect for a handyman. However if you want a remodel, plumbing, or electrical work done, it may be best to turn to a contractor licensed in that field of work.

Ask Around - Your neighbors and friends are great sources for referrals on home repairs. As a real estate agent, I also work with many contractors and handymen and can give you some ideas, too, on who to contact, depending on the scope of your project.

Determine the Cost - Find out how much the work will cost before it’s started. Sometimes services are billed hourly with you supplying materials, sometimes hourly plus parts, and oftentimes you can agree on a lump sum to make it easiest.

One Project at a Time - Your handyman may have many talents, but you’ll want to test his skills before laying out too many projects in the beginning. On the other hand, creating a a small package deal may work to your financial advantage. If he has good or great recommendations and provides financial incentive for a multi-layer job, it may be worth considering.

Hopefully these ideas will help you as you find ways to spruce up your home and glide easily into the holiday season. If you need suggestions on who to call for referrals or other home related needs, please keep me in mind.  You can always consider me your source for advice relating to your home and the local real estate market.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Home Buying Made Easier with Low Interest Rates

Better Home Buying with Low RatesToday’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS) compiled by Freddie Mac showed a slight decrease or stay in mortgage rates. If you are in the market to buy a home, now is an excellent time to lock in a great rate for purchasing a home.

Continued low interest rates create more opportunities for home buyers who can qualify.

  • A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage currently averages 3.55% (with an average 0.7 point) in comparison to last week’s 3.59% and the 4.12% fixed rate mortgage offered at this time last year.
  • The 15-year fixed rate mortgage remained the same, at an average 2.86% (with 0.6 point), versus the 2011 15-year fixed rate of 3.33%.
  • The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage was down slightly, as well, averaging 2.75% (with 0.7 point) instead of last week’s 2.78% and last year’s 2.96%.
  • The 1-year Treasury-indexed adjustable-rate mortgage dropped a bit, too, coming in at 2.61% (including an average 0.4 point), rather than 2.63% one week ago and the 2.84% seen in 2011.

Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac Vice President and Chief Economist explained, “Mortgage rates were little changed over the holiday week amid mixed economic data releases. Although consumer spending rose 0.4% in July, representing the largest gain in five months, the core price index was unchanged suggesting little threat of inflation. Consumer confidence picked up slightly in August according to the University of Michigan, but remained below this year’s peak in May. And the manufacturing industry contracted for the third consecutive month in August.”

So, taking all that into consideration, now may be the perfect time for you to sell or buy a home. Call or email me to find out the latest news, get pre-approved, or find out about available homes for sale in our community. I’d love to help you with your real estate needs!