As the housing market heats up, an increasing number of home seekers are losing out on home price bids. Experts explain that the higher bid may not always be the best offer, and offer tips on how you can better your chances of winning a bidding war. Sellers don’t want to waste time, and an offer that may be lower but make the transaction easier and faster may be accepted over a higher bid. A few tips that may improve the chances of your offer being accepted over another offer are: Pay with cash as the sale will seem more immediate and grab the seller’s attention, try to be smart and flexible with contingencies, and quickly place your bid so you will have a better chance of being the first bidder. More here
A large number of Americans are set to retire in the next couple of years, and many have made plans to either downsize their living areas or move to a more attractive location upon retirement. Moving can be expensive at any age, but during retirement it can be particularly costly. A few expenses to remember when moving during retirement are: Compute commission costs to your real-estate agent when selling your home. Include taxes, insurance, closing costs, and a lawyer fee for certain paperwork when buying a home. Plan for moving-assistance costs, as many can not make the move alone and will need additional help from professionals. More here
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, mortgage applications increased 10.3% on a seasonally adjusted basis last week from the week prior. The Refinance Index also improved, increasing 11% while the adjustable Purchase Index jumped 9%, and the unadjusted Purchase Index grew 19%. This is positive news for the housing market as buying activity picks up. Many homeowners are beginning to feel comfortable listing their homes for sale as inventory grows. More here
U.S. Home prices in many large cities increased last month according to Trulia. Home prices have increased at the slowest rate seen in over a year showing signs of stabilizing according to recent data. This may suggest that the housing market is becoming healthier. Fast home price growth can be worrisome for buyers causing them to quickly buy an already expensive home, or delay buying due to uncertainty of future costs. Jed Kolko, Trulia’s chief economist said that large price jumps in homes can “fuel unreasonable expectations about where prices are going to go in the future.” More here
Remodeling any room can become an expensive job, but according to the Remodeling 2014 Cost vs. Value report, kitchen remodeling tops the list of most expensive rooms to remodel in the house. The cost of a major kitchen remodel averages around $54,909, while a minor remodel can still cost about $18,856. Experts say the materials and labor used can drive costs up significantly, and they have listed a few tips to help decrease the costs when remodeling a kitchen: Keep gas and plumbing lines in the same location, explore prices on both materials and labor, consider using used materials or remnants of granite or marble, shop online to find the best deals, remember that paint and paint labor is much cheaper than stain, and plan everything in advance. More here
Reverse mortgages have become a popular choice among seniors who may be experiencing financial difficulties. Many experts say the product it is a smart option for those with limited alternatives. An online checklist provides a list of tips that may aid in determining if a reverse mortgage is right for you or your family. To be eligible for a reverse mortgage, the applicant must be age 62 or above and have equity in their home. The borrower is still expected to pay taxes and insurance on the home and premiums and closing costs may also be applied. Heirs will also have to buy your property after your death if they choose to keep the home. More here
According to data from the Federal Reserve, the value of home equity in the United States increased by $794 billion in the first quarter of 2014. The report states that this increase will be felt in the housing market in the near future. Several contributing factors include an increase in home equity lending, more lax credit standards, and the refinancing of mortgages into newer, improved rates. The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that mortgage credit availability has risen due to the changing standards. More here
With the arrival of summer heat comes the need for increased air conditioner usage; however this does not necessarily mean an increased energy bill. According to the Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings published by members of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, there are countless ways not only to stay cool during the summer months, but also to increase the efficiency of both cost and energy.
Several tips include:
-“….employing cost-effective conservation measures. Provide effective shade for east and west windows. When possible, delay heat-generating activities such as dish-washing until evening on hot days”
-Utilize ceiling fans to keep rooms comfortable even at a higher thermostat setting.
-Have your AC unit checked for proper sizing as well as current energy efficient technology. More here
According to the latest home price index from CoreLogic, the U.S. is approaching 3 years of consistent year-over-year increases. While home price has continued to rise, the pace of appreciation has begun to yield. Data shows that the gains may likely be attributed to the sale of distressed homes, however without these figures the average price did not reflect as significant an increase. “..the data adds to the evidence that looser supply conditions are starting to deliver the slowdown in house price growth we have been anticipating,” said Ed Stansfield, chief property economist with Capital Economics. More here
Buying a home can be a daunting process, especially for first-time buyers. Independent Community Bankers of America offers several tips for simplifying the process. ICBA recommends that potential buyers first closely analyze their earning and spending habits, and then meet with a banker to discuss financial options before beginning to look at homes on the market. Buyers should prepare two years worth of paycheck stubs, W2 forms, tax returns and investment statements in order to expedite any loan or mortgage applications. ICBA also advises future homeowners to be aware of their FICO score and if necessary, take action to improve it before applying for any loans. More here