Keep Your Home Safe From Burglars This Holiday Season

During the holiday months, burglaries in the U.S. increase significantly according to the FBI. Taking a few extra measures to keep your home safe may help decrease your risk. A few things you can do to keep your home free from burglars are: Make sure all of your doors and windows are locked at all times. If you are visiting family or friends for a few days ask your neighbor(s) to watch over your house and get your mail for you while you are gone. Don’t leave hide-a-keys out, hand your spare keys out directly to trusted family members and friends. More here

How To Win In A Booming Real Estate Market

Buying a house in a booming city usually takes time and possibly a little more money than you plan to spend. A few tips that may help home-seekers get the house of their dreams in an active market are: Do your math; In most cases of this nature, you will need to bid over the asking price. Find out how much other homes around are selling for and crunch your numbers. Factor in the amount of work the home needs and the square footage. Many homes, unless you build, will not have every amenity you desire. Consider going for a less expensive home with less competition, and turn it into the home you have always wanted. Come prepared; Create a letter describing yourself and why you want to buy the home, be pre-qualified for the loan, and bring an inspector or engineer along with you to view the home for the first time. You will increase your chances of success by using a little fore-thought. More here

New Guidelines Make Getting A Mortgage Easier

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are implementing new guidelines that will ease the mortgage process, and in turn, help boost the housing market. The new guidelines will decrease down payment amounts, making 3% down payments an option again, and will allow two missed payments before initiating foreclosure. Many loan officers are reporting that their banks have been more lenient with borrowers over the last few months, putting many first-time homebuyers in a position to qualify for a loan. More here

How To Repair Tile Grout

Re-grouting old tile is a time-consuming job, but it can help your floors look brand new again if done correctly. Here are a few brief guidelines you should follow when re-grouting tile that will help make the job easier and less overwhelming. First you will need to remove the old grout with a grout saw (available at most hardware stores and inexpensive.) Once the old grout is completely removed, it is time to mix up your fresh batch of grout according to the brand’s instructions. You will want to let it sit for a few minutes before using it. While you are waiting, you can gather your other materials. Mix the grout one last time, and then scoop out your fresh grout from the bucket and place it in the seams of the tile. Use your float to smooth it out and make sure it looks good and level. Immediately wash off any excess grout from unwanted areas with a moist sponge. Let it sit for a few seconds and then move on to a new area. More here

More First-Time Homebuyers Expected In 2015

New data suggests that an increasing number of first-time homebuyers will return to the housing market next year. Realtor.com’s new Housing Forecast stated that employment growth and credit access will help more first-time homebuyers get back into the market in 2015. Jonathan Smoke, Realtor.com’s chief economist said, “if access to credit improves, we could see substantially larger numbers of young buyers in the market. However, given a high dependency on financial qualifications, this activity will be skewed to geographic areas with higher affordability such as the Midwest and South.” Other housing market predictions for 2015 are home sales will increase, home prices will grow, and mortgage rates will average around 5%. More here

Job Growth Reaches Highest Level In 2 Years

According to recent data, U.S. job growth made significant strides in November. Last month, 321,000 jobs were created, reaching the highest level since January, 2012.  Retail, health care, business services, and manufacturing lead the nation in job creation. Doug Duncan, the chief economist for Fannie Mae said, “today’s jobs report was positive in all aspects: November hiring was the strongest since January 2012 with sizable upward revisions for the prior two months, average hourly earnings posted the biggest jump since June 2013, and average hours worked was the longest since May 2008.” More here

2015 Forecast- A Year Of Growth For The Housing Market

Experts believe that 2015 will prove to be a year of growth for the housing market. According to recent data released by Moody’s Investors Services, inventory will increase as well as housing starts, home sales, and prices. They do, however, caution that the beginning of the year may start slow. Moody’s analysts said “we expect total housing starts in 2015 of 1 million – 1.2 million, up from 975,000 – 1 million for 2014, and new home sales will climb to about 500,000 – 525,000, up from about 450,000 for 2014. Prices will increase at a more modest rate than in 2014, but affordability will remain strong by historical standards, enticing buyers.” More here#img1#

Winter Home Selling Tips

Thinking of waiting until Spring to put your house on the market? You may want to reconsider. Selling your home in the winter can be challenging, but may end up being more rewarding in the end. Winter home sales usually drop off as people tend to tighten-up around the holidays. The good news is, homes that sell in the winter often sell for a higher price due to low inventory. Here are a few tactics that may help you sell your home a little quicker, and possibly for a higher price this winter: Keep snow off of all walkways, driveways and porches. Make sure your home is warm and smells inviting. Clean out your gutters, and trim any shrubs or trees you may have let get out of control during the summer. In the colder months, you also should be prepared for delays when showing your home. More here

Residential Construction Spending Grows

New data shows that construction spending increased from September to October and experienced its largest month-to-month gain since May, averaging a seasonally adjusted rate of $971 billion. According to the U.S. Census, construction spending exceeded the previous estimates of $939.9 billion. Residential construction was 1.3% above the estimated average, and private construction spending averaged 0.6% above previous estimations. Additionally, the  seasonally-adjusted annual rate of public construction spending was 2.3% above the estimated average. More here

Tips On Lowering Your Energy Bills This Winter

If a few changes in behavior could save you hundreds of dollars each year on your energy bill, wouldn’t you change them? Most people are not aware that there are many, simple actions they can implement to lower monthly energy costs. A few things you can do to save money on utility bills are: Turn off lights in rooms you aren’t using; invest in fluorescent light bulbs; turn your thermostat down and open your blinds on sunny days to take advantage of the sun’s warmth. This is undervalued: unplug electronics that are not in use. Also, wash your clothes in cool or cold water. More here