A healthy housing market, balanced between buyers and sellers, is considered to be one with about 6 months of inventory. Today, there is just a 4.6 month supply, but at the same time, many homes on the market aren’t moving — they’re going stale (where “stale” is considered anything that’s been on the market longer than a month). According to CNBC two things are driving this, both artifacts of the housing bubble and bust. First, everyone is more data driven, and data is more widely available. Second, the housing market is now seeing the kind of herd mentality we’re used to seeing in the stock market. Are you missing an opportunity, on either side of the buy–sell equation, because you’re caught up following the herd?
The Apple Watch has been all the news the last few weeks, and it’s unsurprising, given that smart watch sales are expected to grow from 4.6 million units last year to 28.1 million units this year. What does that have to do with real estate, you ask? Yesterday, Trulia announced they now have a version of their app for the Apple Watch, which extends the functionality of their iPhone app. If the Apple Watch is anywhere near as successful as one would predict, then this trend will only continue, with other real estate location services creating apps both for the Apple Watch and other, Android-based smart watches.
Of course, the title is kind of a joke — it would be more than a little surprising if it had. But wouldn’t it be nice if it had? “A stitch in time saves nine” is a proverb that homeowners would do well to heed, because those proverbial stitches can become quite costly when we’re talking about home maintenance. If you want to keep your home functioning its best, and keep your long-term maintenance costs to a minimum, then a comprehensive maintenance checklist could be quite handy. Thankfully, Amanda Ballin has distilled out just such a list for those items you should consider every spring. And if you want the year long list, she provides a handy link to the comprehensive HUD recommendations.
If you’re the sort of person who loves following the thoughts of a good policy wonk, and you’re interested in the mortgage industry, then this is the big week for you. The annual American Mortgage Conference is taking place this week, in Raleigh, NC. If there were a cabal controlling the mortgage industry, this would be it. Bankers, credit officers, and government policy makers get together to discuss the future of the industry. One of the big topics this year? The 15-year Wealth Builder Loan for new home buyers — a reworking of the original 15-year loan, focused on quicker pay-down of equity.
Spring cleaning is a tried-and-true tradition — but that doesn’t make it any more pleasant. We’re already one month past the Vernal Equinox, and if you haven’t yet started your spring cleaning, you’re probably not alone. Thankfully for all of us who dread this annual task, LifeHacker has put together 10 ways to ease the burden. From using your dishwasher and bathtub to clean things you may never have considered putting in them, to magic tips for removing pet hair and cleaning those hard-to-clean items (think shower heads, ovens).
One of the great benefits of home ownership is the ability to take tax deductions unavailable to those who are renting. And that’s not just limited to your interest payment — you can often get great tax benefits from home improvements. But in order to do so, you need to understand the difference between what the IRS counts as home repairs and home improvements. Generally speaking, repairs, maintenance and upkeep, and even renovations don’t help much. But home improvements might. Don’t Mess With Taxes wrote a pretty good article covering the basics. Of course, as always, you’ll want to consult with your tax advisor before making any specific plans.
Primary Mortgage Insurance (PMI) is a payment with which most new homeowners must contend. Generally, you have to pay PMI if your equity (i.e., your down-payment on a new purchase) is below a certain threshold. For many people, that can be worth it, because in exchange for a nominal increase in monthly payment (the PMI), you may be able to purchase much more home than you could if you were required to put 20% down. But just because it can be a good idea up front doesn’t mean you should keep paying it for ever. The Iowa Gazette provides a quick little case-study that contrasts paying enough more towards your mortgage to remove PMI vs. putting more into your 401k. It’s well worth the read.
One of the great things that humans can do is make predictions. The quality of those predictions is an entirely different matter. Nevertheless, it’s fun to think about where we’ll be in 10, 20, or 100 years — and for the shorter periods, it can be fun to see which predictions come true and which don’t. Popular Science has been making predictions about The Home of The Future since 1956. Take a look at that, as well as more details on a futuristic home from 1990, and see how well predictions held up — and which didn’t. Now it’s your turn. Take a few minutes and imagine what your home of the future might look like.
Based on the success of yesterday’s post, we see there’s a strong interest in getting up to speed on mortgage terminology. Main St. provides this handy guide covering 10 terms that you should learn if you’re thinking about buying a house. They cover the basics of everything from the relationship between Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae, to the various different costs. Both real-estate agents and mortgage brokers are prone to throwing this jargon around as if it’s well understood, but we understand that might not be true for you, and we want to help.
Sometimes mortgage and real-estate professionals get so caught up in things that we forget that you, our customer, may not be an expert at all of the industry lingo. This article by The Motley Fool does a great job of explaining the high-level differences between the two major types of mortgages available today. Not only does it cover the main differences between fixed and adjustable rate mortgages, but there’s a little bonus information on how you can help boost your retirement savings. Registration is required, but it’s free.