Signed Contracts for US Homes Increase, Report Shows.

Home contractIn the latest sign that the U.S. real estate market is improving, more Americans signed contracts to purchase homes in February than in nearly a year.

The National Association of Realtors released the data, which showed that the seasonally adjusted pending home sales index increased 3.1 percent to 106.9 in February.

That’s the highest it’s been since June 2013!

If you’re preparing to list your home anytime soon on the local housing market, we encourage you to continue reading to learn more about this trend!

US Home Sales Are On the Rise!

Here are some additional highlights from the recent National Association of Realtors report:

  • Buying activity increased in the Midwest and West during the month of February, although it actually decreased slightly in the Northeast and South.
  • Existing homes sold at an annual pace of 4.88 million in February, which is slightly below last year’s levels.
  • The supply of homes was just 4.6 months, compared to five months a year ago. It should be noted that a six month inventory is considered a balanced market.
  • Average 30-year fixed rates were 3.69 percent last week, according to the mortgage giant Freddie Mac. That was down from a 52-week high of 4.41 percent recently.
  • Home prices have increased 17 percent since the middle of 2012, which is when the market bottomed out.
  • Analysts are particularly encouraged by the recent gains because it means that the housing market was able to overcome such unforeseen and uncontrollable hurdles like freezing weather and a particularly harsh winter.

Experts say that the upturn suggests that the spring home buying season will be robust.

They added that home sales are likely to be further supported since the unemployment rate is down to 5.5 percent.

In fact, the unemployment rate is down to its lowest level in nearly seven years!  And employers have added 3.3 million jobs during the last year, including 295,000 jobs in February.

All of this is giving would-be home buyers more buying power as well as consumer confidence. This, in turn, is leading more to enter the national housing market in search of their dream home.

We’re Your #1 Real Estate Resource!

We hope you found the above information insightful as a prospective home seller.

As you can see, it really is a great time to list your property on the market.  After all, there’s plenty of pent-up home buyer demand and home sales activity appears to be picking up.

Please check back here soon for more valuable insight on that national housing market and how it may impact you.  We’d be happy to offer our expert insight in order to help you enjoy a successful outcome as a home seller!

Report: US Home Prices See Gains in February

home pricesThe national housing market continues to show gains, with home prices rising year-over-year during the month of February.

This is fantastic news as it shows that the U.S. real estate market continues to rebound from the Great Recession.

If you’re considering listing your home anytime soon, please continue reading to learn more about current national housing market trends.

A Closer Look at Recent US Sales Activity

CoreLogic released its February 2015 CoreLogic Home Price Index and the conclusions are favorable for home sellers.

Here are some of the highlights of that report:

  • US home prices (including distressed sales) increased by 5.6 percent in February 2015 compared to February 2014.
  • That increase marks three years of consecutive year-over-year increases in national home prices.
  • Month-over-month, national home prices (including distressed sales) increased 1.1 percent in February 2015 compared to January 2015.
  • 26 states and Washington DC were at or within 10 percent of their peak prices during the month of February.
  • Six states, including Colorado (+9.8 percent), New York (+8.2 percent), North Dakota (+7.7 percent), Texas (+8.5 percent), Wyoming (+8.4 percent) and Oklahoma (+5.2 percent), marked new home price highs since January 1976 when the CoreLogic HPI began.
  • When you exclude distressed sales, home prices increased by 5.8 percent in February 2015 compared to February 2014.
  • And home prices increased by 1.5 percent month over month compared to January 2015.

Certain states stood out for various achievements during the month of February:

  • If you include distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were: Colorado (+9.8 percent), South Carolina (+9.3), Michigan (+8.5 percent), Texas (+8.5 percent) and Wyoming (+8.4 percent).
  • If you exclude distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were: South Carolina (+9.7 percent), New York (+9.2 percent), Colorado (+9 percent), Texas (+7.9 percent) and Florida (+7.8 percent).
  • If you include distressed sales, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to February 2015) was -12.2 percent. If you exclude distressed sales, the peak-to-current change for the same period was -7.8 percent.
  • If you include distressed sales, only Connecticut had a decline in home prices, with a 0.9 percent decrease.
  • The five states with the largest peak-to-current declines, including distressed transactions, were: Nevada (-35.4 percent), Florida (-32.4 percent), Rhode Island (-29.6 percent), Arizona (-28.4 percent) and Connecticut (-24.7 percent).
  • If you include distressed sales, the U.S. saw 36 consecutive months of year-over-year increases.
  • 92 of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population had year-over-year increases in January 2015.
  • Those core based statistical areas that saw year-over-year declines were: Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD; Philadelphia, PA; Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT; New Orleans-Metairie, LA; Rochester, NY; Worcester, MA-CT.; Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY; and New Haven-Milford, CT.

Based on recent market data and projections, the CoreLogic HPI Forecast suggests that home prices, including distressed sales, will increase by 0.6 percent month over month from February 2015 to March 2015 and on a year-over-year basis by 5.1 percent from February 2015 to February 2016.

If you exclude distressed sales, home prices are expected to increase by 0.5 percent month over month from February 2015 to March 2015 and by 4.8 percent year over year from February 2015 to February 2016.

How Can We Help You With Your Next US Home Sale?

If you’re interested in entering the market anytime soon as a home seller, please make sure to contact us.

We would be happy to assist you by further analyzing recent market activity to see how it may affect your specific efforts as a home seller.

Shop Smart for Your Dream Home During the Spring Buying Season

Home Buying 14This is the time of year that has home buyers and home sellers alike excited: The Spring Home Buying Season!

For buyers, it’s a great time to purchase a home because the school year is coming to an end and residents have all summer to move before it’s back in session. For sellers, it’s a great chance to reach a lot of home buyers as they navigate the market searching for their dream home.

In preparation for the spring home buying season, we wanted to share with you some tips on how you can shop smart as a home buyer. Enjoy!

4 Home Buying Tips for the Spring Market

Don’t just rely on the Internet for your home searches. While you can certainly find a treasure trove of information on the Internet, it’s not the only way to find your dream home. In addition to searching real estate websites, you might consider also getting out and canvassing homes for sale the old fashioned way. After all, Internet pictures and listing information only tell part of the story. For full context, you need to view the home in person. And don’t hesitate, either! This year’s spring home buying market is expected to be particularly competitive and so you want to make sure you get to that home before other buyers do.

Learn about current market values in trend. Obviously, every market is going to be slightly different and so it behooves you to lean about your local housing markets specific trends. Let’s consider the recent Case-Shiller 2014 home price index, which shows you how much of a difference there can be among major markets. In that report, San Francisco saw the largest annual regional gain at 9.3 percent. Meanwhile, other major markets like New York, Chicago and Washington DC saw less than 2 percent. A qualified and experienced agent can talk with you about current trends and how they impact you.

Lock in low mortgage rates now. Those near-historic lows won’t be around forever. Thus, make sure you get a good mortgage rate now. By doing so, you ensure that your monthly mortgage will be reasonable for you. And in some cases, you may qualify for a larger or more expensive home thanks to low mortgage rates. Here’s another reason to get a mortgage now: In January, the Federal Housing Authority (which backs loans for borrowers who make low down payments), lowered the annual insurance premium it requires from 1.35 percent of a home loan to just 0.85 percent. All told, the Housing Department estimates that will save FHA homeowners roughly $900 a year.

Keep “Sweeten-the-Deals” Strategies in Your Back Pocket. As previously mentioned, this is going to be a competitive spring home buying season. In other words, you may face a bidding war. So to prepare, consider ways that you can sway the seller in your favor. This might include an escalation card, which is the amount that you’d automatically be willing to pay above a competing bid. You might also consider foregoing certain contingency clauses. Contingencies are stipulations that allow buyers to get out of contracts. These include appraisals, home inspections and financing contingencies. By removing such contingencies, you’re likely to impress the home seller enough to want to accept your offer.

We Are Your #1 Resource for Home Buying Tips

We hope you found the above information helpful as a prospective home buyer. Please make sure to check back here soon for even more tips that will help you as you navigate the market!

Have a great day!

The National Real Estate Market Shows Positive Signs of Growth

Home Selling 8Things are certainly looking up on the national real estate market! According to a recent report from the national Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, home prices increased during the month of January despite cooling home sales.

Experts believe that a tightening inventory helped to spur the rise in home prices.

This is important information for home sellers as it will help determine their home selling strategy on the local housing market. So continue reading to learn more!

What National Home Sellers Should Know About the Market

Here are the highlights of the most recent report from Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Index:

  • National home prices increased 4.6 percent year over year in December, bolstered by increased of 9.3 percent in San Francisco and 8.4 percent in Miami.
  • Home prices in Chicago increased 1.3 percent year-over-year while Cleveland and Washington saw price gains of 1.5 percent.
  • Here are some additional cities mentioned in the report, including their year-over-year index change:

Atlanta: 5.1
Boston: 3.8
Chicago: 1.3
Cleveland: 1.5
Dallas: 7.5
Denver: 8.1
Detroit: 2.8
Las Vegas: 6.9
Los Angeles: 5.5
Miami: 8.4
New York: 1.9
San Francisco: 9.3
Washington: 1.5

  • Meanwhile, experts described how regional housing indicators in the south and west were generally positive while the harsh winter continued to hold back home sales in the Northeast and Midwest.
  • Specifically, existing home sales in the West dropped 7.1 percent in the month of January, according to National Association of Realtors’ data released Monday.
  • Meanwhile, national home sales decreased 4.9 percent month over month.
  • Sales in the Northeast dropped 6 percent month over month, while declining 4.6 percent in the South and 2.7 percent in the Midwest.
  • Home sales were, however, up year over year in all four regions in January.

How Can We Help Make Your Real Estate Dreams a Reality as a Seller?

Please contact us for more valuable insight on the current state of the national housing market and how it may benefit you as a home seller. We would love to assist you!

And make sure to check back here next time for even more information that will aid you in your real estate endeavors!

Report: US Home Prices On the Rise

Home Buying 5The National Association of Realtors recently announced the latest US real estate figures and the numbers are encouraging for anyone considering selling their home.

Evidently, home price growth accelerated in much of the country during the fourth quarter of 2014.

This is a fantastic development for anyone hoping to get a good price on their home for sale. Continue reading to learn more.

What You Should Know About US Home Sales

Here is an overview of the highlights of the most recent real estate market report:

  • The median price of an existing single-family home increased year-over-year in 86 percent of 175 metropolitan areas.
  • 24 areas had price gains of 10 percent or more.
  • That figure is up from 16 regions during the third quarter.
  • Meanwhile, prices declined in 24 areas.
  • Experts credit the home price acceleration at least in part to low mortgage rates and improving employment conditions.
  • Still, home price gains are reducing affordability in areas across the country, which had 25 percent growth on average over the last three years.
  • At the end of the fourth quarter, there were 1.85 million previously-owned homes listed for sale, down from 2.01 million a year earlier.
  • The number of markets that saw year-over-year price gains in the fourth quarter has increased.
  • The median price for an existing single-family home in the three months through December was $208,700, which is up 6 percent from the fourth quarter of 2013.

A Different Effect Seen in Canada

As US home prices have increased, a lot of Canadian cities are seeing declines in home prices.

According to the market data:

  • Home prices have started trending downward in several major Canadian cities, including Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary and Hamilton, Ont.
  • Still, at least two major cities showed gains. On an annual basis, home prices were up 7.4 percent in Toronto and up 5.1 percent in Vancouver.

When It Comes to Real Estate, Knowledge is Power

We take pride in being able to provide you with the most up-to-date market information so that you can make informed decisions as home buyers and sellers.

Check back soon for even more updates on the state of the national housing market and how that may impact you as a buyer or seller.

New US Home Sales and New Housing Starts See Major Surge

ConstructionRegardless of whether you’re navigating the new home sales market or the new construction market, you’ve likely heard some great news over the last few weeks.

That’s because both sectors of the national housing market have made gains recently, according to media reports.

If you’re planning on entering the market anytime soon as a buyer or seller, we recommend you continue reading to learn more about the latest trends on the housing market.

A Closer Look at US Single-Family Housing Starts

According to a recent Reuters article, groundbreaking for U.S. single-family homes increased to its highest level in more than 6 years in December.

Experts say that this, coupled with a huge jump in permits, hints at a recovering housing market.

Here’s what national data revealed about single-family housing starts:

  • Single-family housing starts jumped 7.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 728,000-units.
  • That figure is the highest level it’s been since March 2008.
  • The jump in housing starts offset a 0.8 percent fall in groundbreaking for the multi-family homes segment.
  • These two factors combined lifted overall housing starts 4.4 percent to a 1.09 million-unit rate last month.
  • It should be noted that Wall Street had forecast starts rising to a 1.04 million-unit pace.
  • For all of 2014, groundbreaking increased 8.8 percent to 1.01 million units, the highest since 2007.
  • Single-family housing starts in 2014 were also the highest in seven years.
  • Single-family permits increased 4.5 percent to their highest level since January 2008.

Equally Positive Signs Seen on for New Home Sales

Meanwhile, sales of new homes also showed signs of growth in recent months.

Here’s what Reuters recently reported about this subsection of the market:

  • Sales increased 11.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 481,000 units.
  • New home sales, which make up roughly 8 percent of the housing market, saw a total of 435,000 homes sold compared with 429,000 in 2013.

We’ll Help You Become an Informed Buyer or Seller

We truly believe that the more informed buyers and sellers are about the local housing market, the more likely they are to enjoy a successful outcome on the market.

That’s why we bring you pertinent information about the housing market every month.

Check back here soon for even more information about the current state of the housing market and how it may affect you.

Young Buyers Returning to the US Housing Market En Masse

Home Buying 6A key factor in the housing market recovery is returning to the national market en masse, much to the elation of housing market analysts.

According to a recent Bloomberg article, more and more first-time home buyers are entering the market because they feel more confident about the economic recovery.

Faster economic growth and a labor market that’s approaching “full employment” (according to the Federal Reserve) are aiding in that rise in confidence among first-time home buyers.

Even if you’re not a first-time home buyer, this news is sure to benefit anyone who is navigating the national housing market right now.

Fannie Mae Economist Makes Positive Predictions for 2015

Douglas Duncan, a chief economist at Fannie Mae in Washington, made the following predictions about the year ahead:

  • There will be a 6.3 percent increase in mortgage lending for purchases this year.
  • This increase follows a 9.6 percent decrease in 2014.
  • Increasing confidence in the job market is the strongest indication that home sales will improve.

Thomas Reuters Consumer Sentiment Poll Reflects Similar Optimism

Recently Thomas Reuters partnered with the University of Michigan for a consumer sentiment poll and this is what they found:

  • Consumers expect an increase of 1.7 percent in their incomes in 2015, the highest since 2008.
  • Those under 45 years old expect the biggest gain at 4.7 percent.

More Encouraging Factors From The National Economy

Meanwhile, economic growth (bolstered by consumer spending as well as business investment) is increasing. In fact, the Commerce Department reported that the US grew by 5 percent in the third quarter, which is the fastest since 2003.

The Fed said it expects the economy will expand between 2.6 percent and 3 percent in 2015, up from 2.3 percent to 2.4 percent in 2014.

Plus, the economy added more than 2.7 million jobs in 2014, which is the most since 1999, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And the jobless rate will average 5.2 to 5.3 percent, which is at the level last seen before the financial crisis.

All of this job growth and creation means that the median household income in 2014 increased 1.6 percent to $53,880 through November. Experts say that rate should increase through 2015.

Which Brings Us Back to the First-Time Home Buyer

All of this growth and prosperity is driving young home buyers to the market. As they enter the market, more homes will change ownership, freeing up existing home owners to buy bigger and better homes.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: You need a regular stream of first-time home buyers to aid in the growth of any housing market. Thus, we’re thrilled that more and more first-time home buyers are coming back to the market.

Your #1 Resource for Real Estate News

We hope you found today’s news on first-time home buyers as encouraging as we did!

Check back here soon for more valuable information on the current state of the housing market and how it may impact you as a buyer or seller.

Report: US Home Inventory Low, Making It a Great Time to Sell

Home RelocationHappy New Year! We hope you and your loved ones enjoyed a wonderful New Year’s Eve and that you’re as excited and hopeful about 2015 as we are!

And if you’re a prospective home seller, a recent report from the National Association of Realtors suggests that there’s a good chance you can get a great price on your home right now.

According to the recent report, US home sales recently hit a six month low, with inventory at a low point too.

While this may seem discouraging at first blush, this actually suggests that those homes that are being sold on the market are being met with increased demand. After all, home buyers have a smaller selection of available homes to choose from than in recent months.

The key to sealing the deal on your home for sale and getting a great price is expert marketing.

A Closer Look at This Recent Real Estate Report

Here are some of the highlights from the recent National Association of Realtors report:

  • Existing home sales decreased 6.1 percent to an annual rate of 4.93 million units.
  • That figure is the lowest it’s been since May
  • Meanwhile, home inventories reached an eighth month low.
  • Home sales were up 2.1 percent from a year ago during the month of December.
  • Meanwhile, the U.S. housing index was down 0.2 percent as shares in the largest homebuilder (D.R. Horton) decreased 0.4 percent. Lennar Corp fell 0.43 percent and Pulte Group decreased 0.19 percent.
  • Also, the inventory of unsold homes decreased 6.7 percent from a year ago, to 2.09 million.
  • At November’s sales pace, it would take 5.1 months to sell all homes currently on the market. A six month supply is usually considered a healthy balance between supply and demand.
  • The decreased supply of homes means that the median home price increased 5 percent from a year ago.

Experts say that fickle wage growth as well as higher home prices have kept a lot of first-time home buyers out of the market.

Still, experts also say that with job gains and wage growth expected in early 2015, more and more first-time home buyers are likely to enter the market in the coming months.

In fact, during the month of November, first-time home buyers accounted for 31 percent of all transactions, which is the biggest share they’ve occupied since October 2012.

For comparison purposes, first-time home buyers comprised 29 percent of all transactions in October.

Expert Real Estate Marketing is Key to Selling Your Home

As you can see, there is plenty of opportunity to get a good price on your home, you just have to make sure your home stands out to prospective and qualified home buyers.

That’s where working with an experienced real estate agent can help. A professional will be able to create a custom-made marketing plan for your home that will maximize its exposure to the right buyers.

This will ultimately lead to you getting your home sold in a relatively short amount of time and for a great price!

Check back here soon for more expert insight on the national housing market and how it may impact you as a seller.

Here’s to a happy and prosperous 2015 for you and your family!

5 Predictions for the US Housing Market in 2015

PredictionAre you a current home owner who is considering listing your property on the market in 2015?

If so, then you’re likely to enjoy a lot of success!

After all, Realtor.com recently released its top predictions for the housing market in the New Year. And all of them seem to favor home sellers.

Let’s Take a Closer Look at National Housing Market Predictions

Millennials will enter the market en masse. This is something the housing market has needed for the last couple of years: More Millennials entering the market as first time home buyers. And according to projections, that’s what you can expect in the New Year, with more than two thirds of household formation being credited to this demographic. Helping matters is the fact that about 2.5 million jobs are expected to be added next year, improving home buying power.

There will be an increase in existing home sales. These sales are expected to increase 8 percent during the New Year. Meanwhile, as more people gain employment and increased incomes, distressed property inventory is expected to decline. All of this means a lower real estate inventory. This coupled with a surplus of buyers will create a seller’s market.

Home prices will rise. This generally follows when housing inventory shrinks. In fact, prices are expected to increase by an average of at least 4.5 percent in the coming year. Thus, if you’re thinking about possibly selling your home, 2015 is likely going to be a good year for doing so.

Mortgage rates will increase as well. For much of 2014, these rates have hovered around 4 percent and under. But with the previously mentioned factors and the Federal Reserve’s expected rate hike in the early part of 2015, residents can expect home loans to shoot up to 5 percent in 2015. If you have been thinking about re-financing, it makes sense to do it sooner rather than later since mortgage rates are likely to increase.

Home affordability will decline. With all of these changes on the market expected, home affordability is projected to decrease by 5 to 10 percent. This will be driven by price appreciation, mortgage rate hikes and tighter housing inventory. Again, if you’re thinking about possibly selling your home, 2015 is likely to be a good year for home sales.

See You In 2015!

We hope that as a home seller, you’ve found the above predictions encouraging.

We’ll be back in the New Year to discuss whether these real estate predictions come true and to revisit how they will impact buyers and sellers.

For now, we hope you and your family have a happy holiday season!

10 Winter Home Improvements That Are Worth The Investment

ChecklistWe hope everyone had a memorable Thanksgiving Day last week and enjoyed the long holiday weekend.

With December officially upon us, residents can expect temperatures to continue to dip as we head into the New Year.

So today, we wanted to share with you some relatively easy home improvements that you can make that will save you money during the winter months.

Home Tips for Saving Yourself Money This Winter

Here are 10 home improvements that you can make this winter that will save you both money and energy:

Caulk around windows and doors, making sure that all cracks and holes are sealed. This will keep the cold air out of your house, which will keep your heater from working overtime. If necessary, you might also consider adding or replacing weather stripping.

Add area rugs to your tile and wood floors. This creates an extra layer of insulation in your home and also makes it easier to walk around your home in bare feet during the winter time.

Install glass doors that close off your fireplace. This will not only keep cold air from coming down and through your house but it will also prevent warm air from escaping through the chimney. Also, if you use your fireplace, make sure to close the flue when you’re finished.

Insulate your attic door. For instance, you can buy covers for your attic staircases or openings. This will actually help you reduce energy costs all year long.

Cover your windows. Even if you don’t have storm windows, you can create your own with a window insulation kit. And inside your house, consider using insulated drapes.

Buy Insulated Garage Doors and Exterior Doors. Typically, the garage doors that come with most homes aren’t insulated. You can change that to save on energy costs.

Add insulation to your home throughout. This includes in the attic as well as the crawl space, garage and basement. Experts recommend that you add insulation if you haven’t done so in more than 20 years.

Reverse Ceiling fans. Some people may not be aware of this but you actually have the option of reversing your ceiling fans. Running them counterclockwise makes it cooler during the summer months but by making them clockwise, they will circulate warm air back into the room.

Replace your furnace filters. Just like with anything else, dirty furnace filters will make it work less efficiently. Generally speaking, filters should be changed every month during the heating season.

Replace your outdated furnace altogether. If your furnace is older, you might consider purchasing a newer unit that is going to produce more heat with less energy. Just make sure that you get the right size for the space you have.

If you want to take your home-savings even further this winter, you can check out the U.S. Department of Energy’s do-it-yourself energy audit on their website. Or you can call a contractor and request a professional audit.

Offering You National Home Advice You Won’t Find Anywhere Else

We hope you found this information helpful as a current home owner.

Please be sure to check back soon as we continue to provide you with useful and relevant real estate information!