Thursday, March 29, 2012

Investors Drive Housing Market

In its latest report on existing-home sales, the National Association of Realtors reported that the number of first-time home buyers entering the housing market is declining, while the number of investors picking up rental properties is rising.

The NAR reported that only 29 percent of all existing-home sales went to first-timers in January. That is down from 33 percent in December and 40 percent in January 2010. However, investors made up 17 percent of buyers last year, and by last month they had claimed 20 percent of the market share, and made up 23 percent of all existing-home buyers in January.

Similarly all-cash sales grew to 32 percent in January, about three times the historical average, up from 29 percent in December and 26 percent the year before. This new level is a record high on the NAR charts. All-cash deals averaged just 20 percent of all sales in 2009 and moved up to 28 percent in 2010.
"Increases in all-cash transactions, the investor market share and distressed home sales all go hand-in-hand. With tight credit standards, it's not surprising to see so much activity where cash is king and investors are taking advantage of conditions to purchase undervalued homes," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist said.

The large number of foreclosures are keeping prices down, and attracting those with cash to buy up bargains.
The NAR also reported that distressed properties made up 37 percent of the sold home inventory in January, a 12-month high, up slightly from 36 percent in December.

The high number of foreclosures for sale is putting downward pressure on home prices, which seems to only benefit investors at the moment, as lower-income or lower-credit buyers are unable to qualify for funds in the current mortgage climate.

Investors with ready cash can compound the falling prices issue, as they have such an attractive bargaining chip with banks: full, immediate payment for these properties that are essentially thorns in the banks' sides.
Many analysts say that things will only improve for borrowers with small down payments when the unemployment falls substantially. And the rate did fall in January, but it's going to have to move much closer to the comfortable 5 percent level before real change will make its way into the mortgage world. In the meantime, foreclosures are likely to rise, with RealtyTrac predicting a 20 percent increase in households receiving foreclosure notices this year. And the field will remain fertile for investors.

If you are an investor looking for commercial or rental propertie at the lake, please ocntact the Spouses Selling Houses team. Until next time. Ebbie :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Clean up the Kitchen!!

The kitchen is a good place to start removing clutter, because it is an easy place to start.

First, get everything off the counters. Everything. Even the toaster. Put the toaster in a cabinet and take it out when you use it. Find a place where you can store everything in cabinets and drawers. Of course, you may notice that you do not have cabinet space to put everything. Clean them out. The dishes, pots and pans that rarely get used? Put them in a box and put that box in storage.

You see, homebuyers will open all your cabinets and drawers, especially in the kitchen. They want to be sure there is enough room for their "stuff." If your kitchen cabinets, pantries, and drawers look jammed full, it sends a negative message to the buyer and does not promote an image of plentiful storage space. The best way to do that is to have as much "empty space" as possible.

For that reason, if you have a "junk drawer," get rid of the junk. If you have a rarely used crock pot, put it in storage. Do this with every cabinet and drawer. Create open space.

If you have a large amount of foodstuffs crammed into the shelves or pantry, begin using them – especially canned goods. Canned goods are heavy and you don’t want to be lugging them to a new house, anyway – or paying a mover to do so. Let what you have on the shelves determine your menus and use up as much as you can.

Beneath the sink is very critical, too. Make sure the area beneath the sink is as empty as possible, removing all extra cleaning supplies. You should scrub the area down as well, and determine if there are any tell-tale signs of water leaks that may cause a homebuyer to hesitate in buying your home.

Just another helpful tip to help you sell your home. If selling or buying a home at the lake is in your plans, please contact the Spouses Selling Houses team. Until next time! Ebbie :)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Keep Your Home Cooler this Upcoming Summer Season

Puzzling out how to keep your house as cool as possible during the upcoming hot summer months? Trying to remember the conventional wisdom but not quite sure how it goes? Those window fans, for example, should they be placed to draw air in or out? Upwind or downwind of the dwelling? And what about windows, shades, and awnings? Are windows on the North side of the house better left closed or open during the day? Are awnings better than shades?

These tips are really useful.

1. Reduce the cooling load by employing cost-effective conservation measures. Provide effective shade for east and west windows. When possible, delay heat-generating activities such as dishwashing until evening on hot days.

2. Over most of the cooling season, keep the house closed tight during the day. Don’t let in unwanted heat and humidity. Ventilate at night either naturally or with fans.

3. You can help get rid of unwanted heat through ventilation if the temperature of the incoming air is 77 F or lower. (This strategy works most effectively at night and on cooler days.) Window fans for ventilation are a good option if used properly. They should be located on the downwind side of the house facing out. A window should be open in each room. Interior doors must remain open to allow air flow.

4. Use ceiling fans to increase comfort levels at higher thermostat settings. The standard human comfort range for light clothing in the summer is between 72 F and 78 F. To extend the comfort range to 82 F, you need a breeze of about 2.5 ft/sec or 1.7 mph. A sow-turning ceiling-mounted paddle fan can easily provide this air flow.

5. In hot climates, plant shade trees around the house. Don’t plant trees on the South if you want to benefit from passive solar heating in the winter.

6. If you have an older central air conditioner, consider replacing the outdoor compressor with a modern, high-efficiency unit. Make sure that it is properly matched to the indoor unit.

7. If buying a new air conditioner, be sure that it is properly sized. Get assistance from an energy auditor or air conditioning contractor.

8. Buy a high-efficiency air conditioner: for room air conditioners, the energy efficiency ratio (EER) rating should be above 10; for central air conditioners, look for a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) rating above 12.

9. In hot, humid climates, make sure that the air conditioner you buy will adequately get rid of high humidity. Models with variable or multi-speed blowers are generally best. Try to keep moisture sources out of the house.

10. Try not to use a dehumidifier at the same time your air conditioner is operating. The dehumidifier will increase the cooling load and force the air conditioner to work harder.

11. Seal all air conditioner ducts, and insulate ducts that run through unheated basements, crawl spaces, and attics.

12. Keep the thermostat set at 78 degrees F or higher if using ceiling fans. Don’t air-condition unused rooms.

13. Maintain your air conditioners properly to maximize efficiency.

Warm Weather Window Solutions

14. Install white window shades or mini-blinds. Mini-blinds can reduce solar heat gain by 40-50 percent.

15. Close south and west-facing curtains during the day for any window that gets direct sunlight. Keep these windows closed, too.

16. Install awnings on south-facing windows, where there’s insufficient roof overhang to provide shade.

17. Hang tightly woven screens or bamboo shades outside the window during the summer to stop 60 to 80 percent of the sun’s heat from getting to the windows.

18. Apply low-e films.

19. Consider exotic infills in your windows, a new technology that fills the space between panes with krypton or argon, gasses that have lower conductivity than air, and which boost R-values.

Tips for your A/C
19. Provide shade for your room A/C, or the outside half of your central A/C if at all possible. This will increase the unit’s efficiency by 5 percent to 10 percent.

20. Clean your A/C’s air filter every month during cooling season. Normal dust build-up can reduce air flow by 1 percent per week.

22. Turn off your A/C when you leave for more than an hour.

23. Several studies have found that most central air conditioning systems are oversized by 50 percent or more.

We hope you find these tips helpful and soon the summer heat will be upon us. For all of your Real Estate needs at the lake, please contact the Spouses Selling Houses team. Until next time... Ebbie :)