Buying Real Estate vs. Buying Stocks: Here’s Why a Home Should Be Your Priority

Buying Real Estate vs. Buying Stocks: Here's Why a Home Should Be Your PriorityOnce you’re done with debt and you’ve started to save, it’s commonly the case that you’ll start hearing about the risks and rewards of investing in stocks or real estate. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for many people to know what type of investment is going to work better for them down the road. If you’re currently considering what you should put your money into, here are some reasons you may want to turn to real estate.

It’s Something You Can See

While investing in the stock market will give you the ability to invest as little or as much as you want, a home will take a monthly payment and a down payment in order to make the deal. Fortunately, this means that you’ll be investing money every month into something that belongs to you and that you can see. A home is not only something you can invest in all the time, it will enable you to avoid putting money into rent that you’ll never get back.

Saving Money On Tax Breaks

There may be a certain amount of volatility with any market investment, but when it comes to buying a home you also have the benefit of tax breaks that are designed specifically for homeowners. In addition to the ability to deduct interest on your main residence if you’ve lived in your property for a minimum of two of the last five years, you’ll also be able to sell it tax-free. Investing in a home certainly takes savings, but there are many available tax benefits that can save money.

A Sense Of Security

Many people want to invest in a home because it offers up a piece of something that they can really own. However, another appealing aspect of having a home is that you’ll be removed from the day-to-day rumblings of the stock market. Investing can make people more than a little weary, even if they’re knowledgeable about the markets, and this can cause people to sell off and lose money when the going gets tough.

Investing in real estate and the stock market both involve some degree of financial risk, but you might not be aware that there are several added benefits of buying a home. From the tax break incentives to the sense of security, real estate can often be the better financial route to take.

Struggling to Sell Your House in the Winter? Try These Innovative Home Staging Tips

Struggling to Sell Your House in the Winter? Try These Innovative Home Staging TipsWith all of the busyness of the winter months and most people settling in for the season, it can be hard to achieve a successful home sale at the end of the year. Fortunately, if you simply can’t wait to put your home on the market, here are some staging tips that will engage potential buyers so you won’t have to wait much longer for an offer.

Add Accents To Your Neutrals

It’s often the case that a home with neutral colors will show better because potential buyers can envision themselves in it, but there are ways to dress up neutral tones that will add spark. Instead of leaving your place too ho-hum, try punching up the color palette with a few bright pieces that will catch the eye. Whether you add a throw, some pillows, a vase or a vivid painting, this can be a simple way to create a lasting impression.

Let The Light In

The winter months can be a more difficult time to let natural light in, but few things will have a more positive impact on how your home shows than the lighting. A warm, homey space that is lit in a way that maximizes your home’s best features will be sure to make potential home buyers interested. In addition, good lighting will work to minimize any flaws that might be more visible in a less flattering light.

Don’t Forget About The Senses

It’s easy to get so involved in cleaning and de-cluttering your home that you forget about creating ambiance, but engaging the senses can have a very positive impact on potential home buyers. Instead of leaving this aspect to chance, you may want to bake something to create a pleasant scent or play music so that people viewing your home will stick around a little longer. Potential home buyers may not be aware of it, but engaging the senses can have an unconscious effect on the impression your home leaves.

The winter months are not always the best time to put your home on the market, but it may just mean that you’ll need to put in a little more effort to make the sale. By engaging the senses and adding color to a neutral palette, you may just snag an ideal offer.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 6, 2017

Last week’s economic news included several good signs for U.S. Labor Markets with higher than expected readings for private and public sector job creation. The Federal Reserve announced its decision not to raise the target federal funds range, and inflation rose. Mortgage rates held steady and pending home sales rose.

Private and Public Sector Jobs Post Unexpected Gains

ADP, which tracks private-sector job growth, showed a gain of 246,000 jobs in January against expectations of 168,000 new jobs and December’s reading of 151,000 private sector jobs created. Analysts said 208,000 of jobs added were service-related jobs. January’s Non-Farm Payrolls, which is issued by the Labor Department and includes private and public sector jobs, also posted higher than expected job gains with 227,000 new jobs in January as compared to 197,000 new jobs expected and December’s reading of 157,000 new jobs. Retail, construction, financial and restaurant industries led job growth. The jump in construction hiring could indicate that home builders will expand construction in an effort to ease short inventories of homes for sale.

The national unemployment rate rose to 4.70 percent in January and matched analysts’ expectations based on December’s reading of 4.60 percent. New jobless claims were lower than expected with a reading of 246,000 new claims against expectations of 254,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 260,000 initial jobless claims.

Mortgage Rates Little Changed; Pending Home Sales Up

Freddie Mac reported little change in mortgage rates last week. Interest rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 4.19 percent and were unchanged from the prior week. Rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages rose by one basis point to 3.41 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose three basis points to 3.23 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

In related news, the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee decided not to rate the Fed’s target rate that is currently 0.50 to 0.75 percent. Fed benchmarks for the economy include an unemployment rate of 5.00 percent or lower, but the annual growth inflation benchmark of 2.00 percent has not been met. January’s inflation rate rose by 0.10 percent above December’s reading of 0.0 percent.

Pending home sales increased in January with an increase of 1.60 percent; this exceeded December’s negative reading of -2.50 percent in December. Analysts said that the growth in pending home sales, which represents sales under contract that have not closed, reflects ongoing high demand for homes. Pending sales also suggest future volume for completed sales and mortgages.

Consumer confidence lagged in January to an index reading of 111.80 as compared to an expected reading of 112.90 and December’s reading of 113.30. December’s reading was the highest in 15 years. Analysts cited post-election uncertainty as contributing to consumer concerns.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include weekly releases on mortgage rates and new jobless claims along with readings on job openings and consumer sentiment.

Trying to Decide Whether or Not to Sell Your Home? Here Are 5 Key Questions to Ask Yourself

Trying to Decide Whether or Not to Sell Your Home? Here Are 5 Key Questions to Ask YourselfSelling a home, especially one with sentimental value, is never an easy decision to make. There are many factors that go into determining if the home is ready to be listed and if the seller is actually ready to part with it.

Answering some simple questions can go a long way to help an owner decide whether or not it’s time to try and sell.

How Much Work Does The Home Require?

Some houses and condos are ready to hit the market immediately, but others have serious problems that would need to be disclosed to interested parties. It may not be wise to try and sell until all major issues are repaired.

What Is The Market Like In The Area?

Have similar homes in the neighborhood been selling quickly for a lot of money or have they been sitting on the market for years with no buyers? Any seller should look into the current market trends in their community to determine how much they would be able to sell for so they don’t lose money on the transaction.

When Is The Best Time To Sell?

Every city is different and the time of year can have a major impact on the market. A local real estate agent will have a strong comprehension of the best time of year to list the home, which could provide some valuable time to get it ready.

Will You Be Happier In A New Home?

Sometimes deciding to sell a home can become so overwhelming that people forget to ask themselves whether or not they will be happier in a new home. If the answer is a resounding ‘yes’ then there should be no question about selling.

Should A Real Estate Agent Be Involved?

It may seem easier for sellers to eschew the services of an agent to save a little money, but the nightmare that can follow without the assistance of somebody who has the time and experience to show and promote the home may not be worth it. Talk to local real estate professionals to see if there are any that feel like a good fit.

If you have been debating selling your home but still aren’t sure whether or not it’s the right time, speak with one of our trusted Mason-McDuffie Mortgage professionals.

Thinking About Buying a ‘Fixer Upper’? Here’s What You Need to Know

Thinking About Buying a 'Fixer Upper'? Here's What You Need to KnowWith all of the home renovation and fixer-upper shows on television, the idea of completely renovating and re-doing an old home can seem like an enticing premise. Unfortunately, investing in the wrong fixer-upper can mean an awful lot of expenditure without the added financial rewards. Whether you’re considering investing down the road or are ready to dive in, here are a few things to consider first.

How Much Do You Want To Spend?

It’s easy to be swept away by possibility, but before making an offer you’ll need to sit down and determine exactly what you’re willing to invest into upgrades for your fixer-upper. By deciding what you would want to renovate, what the cost of materials and labor would be and how this figures into the market price of the home, you’ll be able to determine if the price you’re offering will be worth it.

Are Major Repairs Required?

It’s one thing to consider a nice paint job and new tiling in the kitchen, but if there are serious issues with the home, it can create huge financial issues to put money into it. Because foundational issues or water damage throughout the home can be expensive items to repair and will take time and resources, fixing these issues may cost more than the money you’ll make. If you’re uncertain about what you’re getting into, it may be a wise decision to bypass the investment all together.

Are You Willing To Work?

Most home fixer-uppers that people buy can be financially lucrative because the buyer is interested in doing a lot of the work themselves. However, if you’re thinking of hiring people to do the work for you, this can end up costing a lot more money and eating any profits the renovations might have created. It’s also important to realize that renovations can go over budget. Instead of being idealistic about a fixer-upper, ensure you’re certain it’s what you really want so that you’re not stuck with a home you don’t want to invest your efforts into.

The idea of digging in and getting your hands dirty with purchasing a fixer-upper may be endearing, but if you’re not truly prepared for the responsibilities it can be a drain on your time and your finances.

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Continues

November home prices grew by 5.60 percent year-over-year on a seasonally adjusted basis according to Case-Shiller’s reading on National Home Prices. National average home prices rose 0.80 percent from October to November. Case-Shiller’s 20-City home price index revealed that the West and Mountain regions continue to hold the top three growth rates for home prices. Seattle posted a seasonally adjusted growth rate of 10.40 percent which was closely followed by Portland, Oregon’s year-over year average home price gain of 10.10 percent. Denver rounded out the top three home price growth rates included in the 20-CityiIndex with a year-over-year gain of 8.70 percent.

Top readings for month-to-month home price gains for the 20-City home price index were 0.20 percent for Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon. Denver, Colorado posted a month-to-month gain of 0.60 percent. Analysts said that home prices may be topping out in some cities; San Francisco, California was one of two cities posting lower home prices in November than for October. San Francisco home prices enjoyed rapid and stratospheric gains in recent years, but may have reached a threshold as fewer buyers can afford to purchase such high-priced homes.

Home Prices Approach PreRecession Levels

September’s national home price gains matched the pre-recession peak achieved in mid- 2006. While this is positive news, the 20-city index currently averages 7 percent below its prior peak level. It’s important to note that the 20-city index does not include Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Houston, Texas metro areas, which have enjoyed significant growth in home prices. Home prices for cities included in the 20-city index remain about 7 percent lower than their previous peak, but are 40 percent higher than their lowest point in 2012.

David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the S&P Dow Jones Indices committee, said that November’s readings on home prices appear to indicate that home price gains have escaped the boom-or-bust cycles seen in the last dozen years or so.

Rising Mortgage Rates, Home Prices Present Obstacles for Buyers

While homeowners listing their homes for sale continue to enjoy appreciation home values, would-be home buyers are being sidelined by the effects of accelerating home price growth and higher mortgage rates, which are expected to continue increasing. As with San Francisco, more cities included in the Case-Shiller home price indices may see slowdowns in home price growth and home sales as affordable homes and home loans slip out of reach. 

5 Home Maintenance Chores That You Can’t Forget to Take Care of This Winter

5 Home Maintenance Chores That You Can't Forget to Take Care of This WinterWinter may be a time for nesting until the cold weather abates, but there are a number of important tasks that a homeowner should be sure to do during the winter months. If you’re readying for the slow season or wondering what you might have forgotten, here are some things you’ll want to check off your to-do list.

A New Coat Of Paint

Getting out the paint may seem like a sizeable task, but any peeling paint is going to be adversely affected by the cooler temperatures of fall and winter. While you may want to hold off if it’s already cold, it might be a task worth prioritizing if the materials on your home will be damaged as a result of the coming weather.

Shovel The Snow

Shoveling snow may be important for sidewalk safety, but a build-up can actually have an ill effect on your home’s foundation. Instead of taking the risk, ensure you clear the areas around any basement windows and steps so that drainage will not impact your home’s foundation and its value.

Do A Window Check

A window that isn’t properly sealed can cause issues with the heating and cooling of your home, but in the cooler season any issues will be a lot more apparent. If you find drafts throughout the house, you may want to hire a professional or do the re-caulking on your own.

Restore The Roof

If there are issues with the viability of your shingles, you may have significant problems when it comes to heavy rain or snow. Whether you decide to hire a pro or head up the ladder on your own, make sure to take the time to check for loose or damaged shingles before the season hits.

Test The Detectors

It’s easy to check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at any time, but it’s easier to remember if it’s on the year-end checklist. It may be easy to forget about the utility of a functioning detector, but it’s very important for protecting your home and your family in the event that something goes wrong.

There are a lot of things to prep for when it comes to winter, but it’s important to make sure that you’ve done your home maintenance duties so your home is prepared for the coming season.