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Our Blog

Common Closing Costs You Should Know About

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If you have ever bought or sold a home, you're probably aware of the costs associated with a real estate transaction. If you're a first-time buyer, however, you might want to know what "closing costs" to expect. Keep in mind costs and fees vary from state to state, and there may be unique costs to your locality, but the following are pretty common:

  • Escrow fees
  • Property taxes
  • Interest
  • Loan origination fee
  • Loan discount points
  • Title insurance
  • Survey fee
  • Recording fee
  • Document preparation fees
  • First payment to escrow account for taxes
  • First payment to escrow account for insurance
  • Homeowners insurance
  • Homeowner association fee
  • Home inspection report
  • Property appraisal

Once you pinpoint the home of your dreams, your mortgage representative will be able to give you a good estimate of anticipated costs.

 
 

5 Easy Steps to Repairing a Small Hole

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Moving furniture, installing a HDTV, hanging shelves, a broken door stop, all these things and more can lead to a hole in the wall. Fortunately, repairing a hole in drywall is fairly simple. Most smaller holes can be repaired within a few hours. Here's what you need:

  • Joint compound
  • Fiberglass mesh tape or peal-and-stick drywall patch
  • Putty knife
  • Utility knife
  • Medium grit sandpaper
  • Primer and paint

Here's how you do it:

  1. Wipe away any dust or debris around the hole.
  2. Cut a piece of fiberglass mesh tape, leaving about a half inch excess over the hole. Trim away any extra.
  3. Apply joint compound over the mesh tape using a putty knife. Smooth out joint compound so there is no excess.
  4. Let the compound dry, then lightly sand until the surface is smooth and edges are even with the wall.
  5. Prime with flat white paint, let dry, then paint with matching wall color.
 

Existing-Home Sales Jump in January

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Existing-home sales stepped out to a fast start in 2017, surpassing a recent cyclical high and increasing in January to the fastest pace in almost a decade, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says January's sales gain signals resilience among consumers even in a rising interest rate environment. "Much of the country saw robust sales activity last month as strong hiring and improved consumer confidence at the end of last year appear to have sparked considerable interest in buying a home," he said. "Market challenges remain, but the housing market is off to a prosperous start as homebuyers staved off inventory levels that are far from adequate and deteriorating affordability conditions."

January existing-home sales in the Northeast jumped 5.3 percent to an annual rate of 800,000, and are now 6.7 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $253,800, which is 2.5 percent above January 2016.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales decreased 1.5 percent to an annual rate of 1.29 million in January, and are 0.8 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $174,900, up 6.5 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South in January rose 3.6 percent to an annual rate of 2.31 million, and are now 3.1 percent above January 2016. The median price in the South was $201,400, up 9.2 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West ascended 6.6 percent to an annual rate of 1.29 million in January, and are now 8.4 percent above a year ago. The median price in the West was $332,300, up 6.8 percent from January 2016.

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage decreased slightly in January to 4.15 percent from 4.20 percent in December. The average commitment rate for all of 2016 was 3.65 percent.

Hire a Home Inspector Before Closing

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Most real estate agents will advise their clients to hire a home inspector immediately after an offer has been accepted -- and if you're the buyer -- you should take this advice.

Even if you're a handy person, hiring a professional is the way to go. A licensed home inspector will go through the home and write a report outlining the condition of the property, from smaller things like leaking sinks, burned out light bulbs and dirty air filters -- to bigger things like the condition of major appliances, a leaking roof or a cracked foundation. And much more.

This report will provide you an unbiased, third-party opinion regarding the overall condition of the property and should help you make an informed decision. The reason to get the report right away is because it can possibly be used as a bargaining tool if the home has some issues. For example, if the roof has leaks, but you still want the home, you may be able to negotiate a lower price to compensate for the upcoming repair.

Professional home inspections vary considerably from state to state, and even what they include, so make sure you know in advance what the report covers. In most cases, the few hundred dollars spent upfront on the inspection far outweighs the possible high costs of repairs discovered later.

Smart-Home Technology Continues Trending

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The smart-home trend has been building for several years now and 2017 will be no exception. If you're considering a home improvement project that will add value -- and a coolness factor -- to your home, think smart.

While home security systems and security cameras are among the most popular, smart-tech features to consider, connected appliances are quickly gaining in popularity. In addition, home sensors are beginning to resonate with home owners because they can detect leaks and significant changes in temperature and humidity. Not only will these smart sensors inform the home owner, but in some cases, can turn off a connected shutoff valve.

Some common examples of how home owners are using smart technology include turning lights on and off, turning on the air conditioner before you get home from work, locking or unlocking doors, controlling your thermostat, warming up the oven, controlling music and lighting, and more.

 

Existing-Home Sales Best Since 2006

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Existing-home sales closed out 2016 as the best year in a decade, even as sales declined in December as the result of ongoing affordability tensions and historically low supply levels, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the housing market's best year since the Great Recession ended on a healthy but somewhat softer note. "Solid job creation throughout 2016 and exceptionally low mortgage rates translated into a good year for the housing market," he said. "However, higher mortgage rates and home prices combined with record low inventory levels stunted sales in much of the country in December."

December existing-home sales in the Northeast slid 6.2 percent to an annual rate of 760,000, but are still 2.7 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $245,900, which is 3.8 percent below December 2015.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales decreased 3.8 percent to an annual rate of 1.28 million in December, but are still 2.4 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $178,400, up 4.6 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South in December were at an annual rate of 2.25 million (unchanged from November), and are 0.4 percent above December 2015. The median price in the South was $207,600, up 6.5 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West fell 4.8 percent to an annual rate of 1.20 million in December, and are now 1.6 percent below a year ago. The median price in the West was $341,000, up 6.0 percent from December 2015.

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage surged in December to 4.20 percent from 3.77 percent in November. December's average commitment rate was the highest rate since April 2014 (4.32 percent).

 

Top 4 Projects That Add Value to Your Home

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If you're going to sell your home, you might as well try to get top dollar. Consider these tips to help you get more interest in your home and maximum value when it sells.

1. First Impressions Make All the Difference -- Potential home buyers are likely to make an instant judgment on your home. If they don't like the first thing they see then they may be unable to get over their first impression – even if there's plenty more to see that they'd like. Spruce up the exterior to give them the best first impression possible. This could mean new landscaping, a new mailbox or an exterior power-wash.

2. If You're Going to Remodel, Focus on What Home Buyers Want -- When a potential buyer comes to your home they'll already know the important things, like how many bathrooms or bedrooms the home has, where it's located and how much it costs. What they're looking for at the viewing are typically two things: the condition and size of the master bathroom and the kitchen. If you're going to remodel, these are the rooms to focus on.

3. Work With Trusted Professionals and Listen to What They Say -- Too often sellers won't trust the opinions and advice of their real estate agent. Remember that you hired them for a reason. This is their profession and they do know what they're talking about. Trust them and follow through on their suggestions when possible. We're here to counsel you through your sale - and you save commission, too!

4. Take the Personal Out of the Equation -- When people come to view your home they want to imagine what it would be like living there. Do have furniture staged throughout but remove photographs and personal touches that make it difficult for them to imagine their own belongings in your home.

 
 

Grout: How to Make Your Tile Look New Again

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While tile floors are both durable and long lasting, the grout that holds them together is not. Grout can greatly impact the appearance of a floor, as it can easily become stained, cracked and generally dingy. This leaves many homeowners believing they need new floors when in all reality they simply need to repair or replace the grout.

When you choose to either repair or replace grout, it is necessary to consider a number of factors to ensure the best outcome. Because this process is relatively simple, most people choose to take on the project themselves, although you can also hire a professional to perform the labor for you. In any case, you must match the color and type of grout to the tiles in order to achieve the best look possible, making your floor, shower or other tiled surfaces look like new.

Of course, you always want to be sure to match the right type of grout according to the material of your tiles and where they are used. Naturally, you want grout that is mildew resistant in areas like bathrooms or countertops, whereas materials such as marble require a specific grout for best results.

Grout repair or replacement is one of the least expensive repairs you can make, resulting in a large impact that is well worth the price. If your grout is dirty, crumbling, or needs replacing -- you can easily do so -- transforming the appearance of your home in the process.

 

Home Sales Expected to Expand Modestly

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Existing-home sales are forecast to muster only a small gain in 2017 because of increasing mortgage rates and shrinking consumer confidence that now is a good time to buy a home, according to new consumer survey findings and a 2017 housing forecast update from the National Association of Realtors®.

In NAR's fourth quarter Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey, respondents were asked about their confidence in the U.S. economy and their housing expectations in 2017.

The survey was performed in late 2016... with the calendar turning to a new year in a couple weeks, the survey found that a majority of households believes now is a good time to buy a home. However, confidence has retreated by a considerable amount amongst renters. Fifty-seven percent of renters said now is a good time to buy, which is down from 60 percent in September and 68 percent a year ago. Seventy-eight percent of homeowners (unchanged from September; 82 percent in December 2015) think now is a good time to make a home purchase.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says declining affordability in many parts of the country is behind the weakening morale. "Rents and home prices outpacing incomes and scant supply in the affordable price range has been a prominent headwind for many prospective buyers this year," he said. "Making matters worse, the unwelcoming reality of higher mortgage rates since the election is likely further holding back confidence. Younger households, renters and those living in the costlier West region — where prices have soared in recent months — are the least optimistic about buying."

Even with this year's slow dip in buyer enthusiasm, existing-sales are still expected to close 2016 3.3 percent higher than 2015 and reach around 5.42 million — the best year since 2006. In 2017, sales are forecast to grow roughly 2 percent to around 5.52 million. The national median existing-home price is expected to rise to around 5 percent this year and 4 percent in 2017. By the end of next year, mortgage rates are expected to reach around 4.6 percent.

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© 2017 CT Statewide MLS®. All rights reserved.

Information Deemed Reliable, but Not Guaranteed. The property information being provided is for consumers’ personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing. The data relating to real estate for sale on this web site comes in part from the participating Brokers.

Last updated on Apr 25, 2017.

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