Real Estate

Fed Hikes Rates: The Mortgage Impact

DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2016 

The Federal Reserve hiked short-term interest rates Wednesday, in a move largely predicted by economists. So, what does this mean for mortgage rates and buyers?

Read moreFed Warns About a 'New Housing Crisis'

First off, the Fed does not set mortgage rates. Short-term rates are different from long-term rates. Mortgage rates typically follow long-term bond rates, such as the 10-year U.S. Treasury note. Longer-term rates typically adjust before the Fed makes a move.

Indeed, mortgage rates have risen near to 60 basis points since the presidential election. More than twice the quarter-point increase that the Fed voted on Wednesday.

The Fed announced that it expects to raise short-term rates three times next year by a total of 75 basis points.

“That means rates like we’ve seen for most of the past five years are indeed history,” writes Jonathan Smoke, realtor.com®’s chief economist, in his latest column. Mortgage rates in the 3 percent range are gone.  

“Mortgage rates will move higher before the Fed acts again, so if the Fed carries out its three planned hikes in 2017, we could come close to 5 percent on 30-year conforming rates before the end of next year,” Smoke notes.

On Wednesday, the average 30-year conforming rate was just under 4.2 percent.

Smoke believes that rates are more likely to move in the month ahead of each key Fed policy meeting. As such, the important meetings to note are in March, June, September, and December 2017.

How big of an impact could rising rates have in the coming months? A median-priced home would be $978 per month payment at Wednesday’s rate of 4.2 percent (and assuming a 20 percent down payment), realtor.com® notes. Take that rate to 5 percent, the monthly payment jumps up to $1,074, nearly $100 more.

“If you intend to buy next year and finance the purchase with a mortgage, acting sooner rather than later will cost you less,” Smoke says is the message to home buyers.

Source: “Fed’s Rate Hike Confirms It: Time Is Running Out on Low Mortgage Rates,” realtor.com® (Dec. 15, 2016)

 

Homeowner's Net Worth Is 45x Greater Than A Renter's

Every three years, the Federal Reserve conducts a Survey of Consumer Finances in which they collect data across all economic and social groups. The latest survey, which includes data from 2010-2013, reports that a homeowner’s net worth is 36 times greater than that of a renter ($194,500 vs. $5,400).

In a Forbes article, the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun predicts that by the end of 2016, the net worth gap will widen even further to 45 times greater.

The graph below demonstrates the results of the last two Federal Reserve studies and Yun’s prediction:

 

Put Your Housing Cost to Work for You

As we’ve said before, simply put, homeownership is a form of ‘forced savings.’ Every time you pay your mortgage, you are contributing to your net worth. Every time you pay your rent, you are contributing to your landlord’s net worth.

The latest National Housing Pulse Survey from NAR reveals that 85% of consumers believe that purchasing a home is a good financial decision. Yun comments:

“Though there will always be discussion about whether to buy or rent, or whether the stock market offers a bigger return than real estate, the reality is that homeowners steadily build wealth. The simplest math shouldn’t be overlooked.”

Bottom Line

If you are interested in finding out if you could put your housing cost to work for you by purchasing a home, let’s get together and evaluate your ability to buy today!

 

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6 Sneaky Ways to Make Your Home Look Expensive

Want your place to look like those home design website images you drool over? Of course you do! Problem is, your budget may not match your design aspirations. Fear not! Making your home look high-end isn’t always about spending tons of cash.

It’s a matter of taking the time and care to arrange things in an eye-pleasing way—and making small, inexpensive updates that have a big impact. In other words, it’s about being sneaky.

Here are a few tricks to pull if you want to add the illusion of luxury.

1. Declutter

Nothing says “this home ain’t worth much” like tons of disjointed knickknacks, piles of books, and other miscellaneous items that should be tossed or stored.

No, you don’t need to go full Marie Kondo, but going through your rooms and getting rid of anything that doesn’t mesh with your personal style is a great first step toward transforming your home from average to exceptional.

Walk through each room of your home and edit items. Make some tough decisions. Sure, you love your grandma’s vintage Chinese vase, but does it really jibe with your West Elm look? It might be time to store it or let it live in another room with similar family heirlooms.

Next step: Tackle any stuff that piles up—toys (if you have kids), shoes by the door, mail on the dining table. At the very least, find places for your stuff to live in a more organized way; an upgraded closet with beautifully sorted nooks and crannies looks luxurious. (Pro tip: We love Pottery Barn’s build-your-own pieces.)

2. Eliminate grunge

You may not have time for intensive cleaning on a weekly basis, but a once- or twice-yearly deep clean is an easy way to make your home look far more luxurious. After all, you rarely see a mansion with dirty baseboards.

Go through your home and search for overlooked areas that have become dirty and downright gross. You’ll want to pay special attention to the grouting, says designer Young Huh.

“Having old tile cleaned and regrouted makes a huge difference in having your bathroom look sparkly and fresh,” she says. Best of all: The process is simple and inexpensive.

Get sparkly new floors–minus the refinishing. Try steam cleaning wood floors for an immediate lift to the finish.

3. Add—or rearrange—lighting

Designers use lighting to define spaces and separate rooms, making a small space grand.

Think of your living room—where you might have a reading nook, sofas and chairs for company, and a television. Visually differentiate among the areas by using different kinds of lighting: Add a table lamp beside your cozy reading chair and sconces behind your couch for conversation. Consider a dimmer for overhead lights. Architects and lighting designers swear by them. Installing is a relatively simple DIY.

Bonus cheapskate tip: Use warm-colored lightbulbs, Huh says. Cool tones are a “sure-fire way to make your home look down-market,” she says. Daylight bulbs work best for reading nooks.

4. Upgrade your hardware

Don’t have a kitchen renovation in the budget? You can get a similar effect for much less by swapping out old, dated hardware for new.

Tired of your brushed-steel drawer pulls? Try gold, bronze, or even crystal—or make an adventure of it and scour your local thrift store for vintage hardware that screams your style.

It’s not hard to find attractive options in any decor style for next to nothing (a drawer pull, for instance, might start at just $3 or less). For hard-to-find designs, search etsy.

Changing the countertop and faucets is another change that can make your home look much pricier, Huh says. If you have the budget, exchange your dated sink accessories for something fresh that matches your brand-new hardware.

5. Repaint

There’s no simpler way to make an old home feel new than painting.

“This is the most important part,” Huh says. “Repaint and choose beautiful colors for an instant makeover.”

You can’t go wrong with classy neutrals. Minimalists might love a bright white combined with a bold accent wall; DIY decorators might enjoy a tasteful, sandy tan tone, which pairs well with any number of woods.

Paint isn’t just for your walls: Add some color to your front door, window trims, or even the floor, if you’re brave (hardwood can look amazing when painted white).

6. Focus on the devil in the (decor) details

Does your home feel a little meh—and you’re not sure how to change it? Try vignettes—combine decor items (e.g., vases, frames, and objets) that add visual interest to an otherwise bland area—perhaps a shelf or console table.

Organize your vignette around a theme so that the decor items are unified and tell a visual story. Go around your house and cull items you love that need a new home (see tip No. 1 on decluttering).

For example, take that silver tray you’ve been wanting a use for, add a glass tumbler with a fresh flower, that postcard your parents sent from Thailand, and a white bowl filled with colorful candy. Voilà: You now have a magazine-worthy vignette!

Another way to go: Grouping together multiples of the same object (e.g., glass vases in the same color) is an instant update. Decorators often use odd numbers because they are said to be more appealing.

Before you know it, you’ll be posting pics of your gorgeous home.

Jamie Wiebe writes about home design and real estate for realtor.com. She has previously written for House Beautiful, Elle Decor, Real Simple, Veranda, and more.

 

Follow @jamiewiebe

Mortgage Interest Rates Went Up | Market Update March 2017

March 14, 2017

The spring market is off to a very strong start this year in the communities North of Boston, MA.  The uncertainty of mortgage rates are causing many buyers to feel a high level of urgency. While it is a sellers market, depending on the type of home, location and price point, the level of demand can vary greatly.  Many homes are selling within days, while others a few weeks. Some homes are receiving a few offers selling for close to asking and others  are getting 15+, selling for tens of thousands over.

If you are in the market to move in the Suburbs North of Boston, call us to today to make sense of this crazy market.   For sellers, pricing, preparation, strategy, and understanding the nuances of navigating a bidding war is critical for taking advantage of this market to get top dollar.  For buyers, this market can be extremely frustrating!   it is crucial to understand the market climate you are in. It is just as important to understand strategies on getting an offer accepted in a bidding war as well as knowing when it is unnecessary to outbid yourself, and over pay by thousands, when you arent competing with other buyers.

 

 

 

Mortgage Interest Rates Went Up Again… Should I Wait to Buy?

Mortgage interest rates, as reported by Freddie Mac, have increased over the last several weeksFreddie Mac, along with Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors, is calling for mortgage rates to continue to rise over the next four quarters.

This has caused some purchasers to lament the fact they may no longer be able to get a rate below 4%. However, we must realize that current rates are still at historic lows.

Here is a chart showing the average mortgage interest rate over the last several decades.

Bottom Line

Though you may have missed getting the lowest mortgage rate ever offered, you can still get a better interest rate than your older brother or sister did ten years ago, a lower rate than your parents did twenty years ago, and a better rate than your grandparents did forty years ago.

The Importance of Using a Professional to Sell Your Home

When a homeowner decides to sell their house, they obviously want the best possible price for it with the least amount of hassles along the way. However, for the vast majority of sellers, the most important result is actually getting their homes sold.

In order to accomplish all three goals, a seller should realize the importance of using a real estate professional. We realize that technology has changed the purchaser’s behavior during the home buying process. According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2016 Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers, the percentage of buyers who used the internet in their home search increased to 94%.

However, the report also revealed that 96% of buyers who used the internet when searching for homes purchased their homes through either a real estate agent/broker or from a builder or builder’s agent. Only 2% purchased their homes directly from a seller whom the buyer didn’t know.

Buyers search for a home online but then depend on an agent to find the home they will buy (50%), to negotiate the terms of the sale (47%) & price (36%), or to help understand the process (61%).

The plethora of information now available has resulted in an increase in the percentage of buyers that reach out to real estate professionals to “connect the dots.” This is obvious, as the percentage of overall buyers who have used agents to buy their homes has steadily increased from 69% in 2001.

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of selling your home, don’t underestimate the role a real estate professional can play in the process.

 

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the psychology of color

How to Use Color to Influence Your Mood and Productivity

WRITTEN BY BLAKE MILLER

The five senses are an incredible thing. Smell and taste are two of the most powerful tools at evoking emotion. But sight must not be forgotten. After all, what you see can have an incredible impact on how you feel. Even more so, color can inevitably influence how you feel on an everyday basis without you ever really noticing. Which is exactly why incorporating the most appropriate hues into your own home can have a profound effect on how you feel (or would like to feel) while completing a specific task. 

“Color can have a tremendously powerful influence on people’s lives,” explains Sally Augustin, PhD, an environmental/design psychologist and the principal at Design With Science. “I see a lot of people who are scared of it, who create one white space after another.” But, she says, you shouldn’t be afraid of the rainbow. In fact, you should embrace it. “Color is a fantastic tool to utilize in interior design. You can create a mood in a room instantly with the use of color, especially when utilizing it on your walls and in your accessories.” Here, Augustin details the best hues to add to the most common rooms in your home and the feelings they evoke.

KITCHEN

It’s no secret that certain colors influence you to eat a little more—and a little less. In fact, a 2012 study out of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab found study participants, who had a low contrast in color between their food and plates—for example, mashed potatoes on a white plate— served themselves 30 percent more food than those whose plates and food were high contrast in color. That same study found that the color of one’s placemat and tablecloth had the same effect. The same can be said for wall color, says Augustin. “Warm colors, generally, do seem to make us feel a little hungrier. They get our appetites flowing,” she says. “You can use this information in one of two ways: if you have children who never eat and weight isn’t an issue for you or your partner, you might want to make spaces like your kitchen or breakfast nook a warm color like an orange or brown. On the other hand, if someone tends to overeat, you would want to avoid those warm colors and opt for cooler hues such as blues and grays.” 

BEDROOM

The bedroom is meant for sleep and relaxation and, as such, says Augustin, you want to avoid colors that will excite you such as a color in the red family. “Because of our cultural associations, we view blue as a calming and relaxing color,” she says; however, if a pale blue is not what you’re looking for, Augustin recommends a “color that’s not very saturated but relatively bright. A sage green with lots of white or a dusty blue with lots of white mixed into it are perfect for the bedroom.”

 

Photography provided by ©iStockphoto.com/Userab9fe5bb_275.

color wheel

Pantone is the authority on color. In fact, the color-system company’s forecasted color of the year is so closely watched that industries beyond interior design—think fashion—look to it as one of the biggest trend-setting announcements of the year. Here’s a look at the last five years of colors that Pantone has deemed the “it” hue of the year.

2017: Greenery
Get ready to see plenty of this fern-colored hue as the current color of the year dominates trends.

2016: Rose Quartz and Serenity
Pantone says they chose this pink-and-blue duo to evoke feelings of warmth and tranquility.

2015: Marsala
The company notes that this warm wine color is ideal in a kitchen or dining room.

2014: Radiant Orchid
This shade of purple has fuchsia and pink undertones. The company suggests pairing it with deeper hunter greens, turquoise, teal, or even light yellows.

2013: Emerald
This jewel-tone green hue is ideal in accessories such as dinnerware, or in an entryway or foyer, dining room, home office or library, or a powder room.

HOME OFFICE

If you have a home office, you know that it’s oftentimes a place to brainstorm ideas. Research shows that green can actually get your creative juices flowing. Like the bedroom, Augustin recommends “a sage green that isn’t very saturated in color to achieve that ideal balance that enhances creativity without over-stimulating you.”

EXERCISE ROOM

Need a burst of energy to crank out that workout? Go red! “Seeing the color red gives you a burst of strength,” explains Augustin. “If you have a place in your home where you work out, paint the wall you’re looking at red to have that burst of strength while you exercise.”

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9 Ways to Make Your Home More Photogenic

How photogenic is your home? Perhaps the question has crossed your mind in this snap-happy, hygge-obsessed Instagram era. Whether you are selling your apartment or listing it on Airbnb, a camera-ready home is a must. An inviting photograph can draw in people scrolling through listings online; a messy or disheveled room will quickly turn them off.

To find out how to make your home look as if it belongs in a shelter magazine, we reached out to professional stagers and interiors photographers for their advice. Here are some of their suggestions for creating a picture-perfect home.

CLEAN AND DECLUTTER “Don’t be afraid to strip down 70 percent of what normally lives on any surface,” said Laure Joliet, a Los Angeles-based photographer whose work has been published in The New York Times, Dwell and Domino. “Instead of having lots of little things along a countertop or table, have one bold vessel or large plant, or a trio of objects that read as one whole. This helps anchor the photo and keeps the space feeling serene.

Clear away family photos, plants and knickknacks from the windowsills, coffee table, piano top and other surfaces. In the kitchen, remove towels, refrigerator magnets, sponges, paper towels, dish detergents, mats and most small appliances. Throw the mail piling up on the counter in the junk drawer if you need to. Stray items can be stuffed in a closet, under the bed or even hidden on the side of the room the camera won’t capture. (Of course, if you are planning on having an open house, more intensive measures are in order.) In the bathroom, open the shower curtain, remove all toiletries and wastebaskets, and close the toilet lid. Fold towels in thirds the long way, then fold in half over the towel bar.

LET IN THE LIGHT Wash your windows, open the curtains and pull up the blinds. “Natural light allows for depth in the shadows and highlights in the window, which makes a room look the way it feels,” Ms. Joliet said. “It’s more human and more relatable. Also, because shelter magazines are often shot this way, it can make your real estate photos look that much more high-end and designed.” And if your fireplace is in good working order and the season is right, light it up.

STEAM THE BED “No one wants to look at a wrinkly, unkempt bed,” said Cheryl Eisen, the president of Interior Marketing Group, which specializes in staging and designing luxury real estate. For a crisp-looking bed, Ms. Eisen uses a hand-held steamer to rid the pillows and comforter of any wrinkles. “We typically start with two stacks of two freshly steamed pillows laid flat, with long pillows on the bottom and standard size on top,” said Ms. Eisen, who prefers soft textures and muted colors rather than patterned spreads. “To create the appearance of a wider bed, match the edge of the pillows with the edge of the bed.The pillowcase openings should lie outward.” Center a throw pillow against each stack of pillows and prop it up with a soft karate chop in the middle, she added, “to create a showstopping bed.”

ADD ACCENTS A pop of color in the way of flowers or throw pillows is always welcome. “Instead of a fussy bouquet, a vase filled with one type of flower, or greens, is best,” said Ms. Joliet, who recommends eucalyptus branches. “I think everyone is tired of seeing a bowl of green apples, so try some simple flowers or greens in a vase instead.”

For a perfectly placed throw, “grab the middle of it and hold it up so that the throw cascades evenly down, and then place it diagonally at the foot of the bed, with the point up toward the long side of the bed and the fringes hanging slightly off the front,” said Donna M. Dazzo, president of Designed to Appeal, a home-staging company. “You can also place it on a bench in a bedroom. Use the same trick with holding it in the middle: Lay it across the bench diagonally, so that the pointed tip is on the bench or off the back of the bench, and the fringe is hanging off the lower left corner.” Another option: Drape the throw over the top or across an arm of a chair, she said, tucking the bottom behind a throw pillow or allowing the throw to cascade off the arm.

LOWER THE ARTWORK “We tend to place our art a little bit lower than maybe somebody would in personal use, because in a photo, if you place it too high, the ceiling looks very low,” said David C. Salvatore, creative director for Edge Mid-Century Designs, a staging and vintage furniture company in Clifton, N.J. “Everyone loves high ceilings — and certainly, if you have the ceilings, you need to put in a huge vertical piece” to show off the height.

What if your ceiling is low? Then you should not only hang your art lower, said Rich Fostek, president of Edge Mid-Century Designs, but “use pieces that are more horizontal than vertical.”

CONSIDER YOUR PETS So as not to alienate potential buyers who are allergic to hamsters or do not like dogs, most real estate professionals recommend keeping pets and their accouterments out of photos, no matter how adorable your dog is. But a furry friend can also add an element of fun to an otherwise staid photo. If you decide to include a pet, consider the color of its coat. Some dark-colored pets end up looking like dark blobs on sofas or rugs, depending on light and furnishings. But always hide chew toys, feeding bowls, litter boxes, pet beds and cages.

BOOST THE CURB APPEAL Rake leaves off your lawns, remove any trash or recycling bins from view, and prune overgrown trees, “especially if they obscure the view of the house,” said Alberto Lau, a retired architect with a second career as an architecture, interiors and real estate photographer in San Diego. “Take the cover off the barbecue grill unless it is hopelessly rusty, in which case it’s better to move it off the frame of the photo.”

 

Experts are divided about including pets in photos, but they agree on hiding the toys and food bowls. 

Also, clear any cars from the front of the house and driveway. “If necessary, place cones or signs requesting others not to park in front of the house,” Mr. Lau said. If you live in the city, try to schedule the photo shoot on a day that street cleaning is happening, to reduce the number of cars and trucks in front of your building. And if your house has a pool, be sure to uncover it and turn on any hot-tub jets.

DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE WEATHER “Weather doesn’t matter as much as widely believed,” said Jane Beiles, who specializes in interiors and architectural photography and has been a regular contributor to The New York Times since 2013. “A good photographer will figure out the best shots in any conditions. For example, when I have posted the same pool house on social media, I had just as much positive feedback to the rainy-day image as I did to the classic twilight shot or a sunny daylight shot,” she said.

But too much sun can pose a challenge. “On sunny days, every flaw — whether it be a wall, the floor, every speck of dust — gets more pronounced with harsher light, and is less flattering to the apartment,” said Michael Weinstein, the founder of MW Studio and a real estate photographer for more than 20 years who works with major New York City brokerage firms like Halstead Property and the Corcoran Group. “Oftentimes, I prefer to shoot on cloudy days,” he added, noting that “soft light tends to make the room feel more calm and soothing, and imperfections are less pronounced.”

BRING IN A FRESH EYE “Too often, the worn carpet or scuffs on the walls are invisible to home sellers, because these become part of the house and they don’t even see them anymore,” said Ms. Dazzo of Designed to Appeal, who recommends bringing “an honest friend” in for a walk-through. “I once did a staging consultation and asked the homeowner whether the blue plastic on the foyer ceiling was covering something. She said, ‘What blue plastic?’”

It turned out that the homeowner had covered up a fire alarm years earlier, because it went off every time she cooked. “She came into her home every day and stopped seeing it,” said Ms. Dazzo, who noticed it right away. “How could you not?” she added. “It’s blue!”