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Buying & Selling During Hurricane Season

June 1st marked the first day of hurricane season. The destruction caused by hurricane Irma in 2017 has Floridians wondering what's in store for this year.

Slightly lower than the initial forecast, Colorado State University has released a projection of what we should expect to see in 2018 through their Tropical Meteorology Project. 

2018 Hurricane Projections

  • 13 named storms

  • 6 hurricanes

  • 2 major hurricanes

Stock up on supplies this week (June 1st - June 7th) TAX FREE! Also check out the Tax Information Publication for qualifying items and other information on preparedness. 

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Last year, Irma was cause for damage to homes with pending contracts, delays and even cancellations of closings. If you're planning to buy or sell a home during hurricane season be sure that you ask your real estate agent about the force majeure portion of your contract. Also, have a discussion about what happens in the event a hurricane damages the home or interrupts the timely closing of your sale.

As a native Floridian who lives in a high risk coastal flood zone, I can help you navigate the challenges that come with living in paradise. 

 

Photo Credit of Hurricane Irma: Natural News

2018 Design Trends

I've had questions from clients who are taking on decorating and remodeling projects and want to ensure their dollars are invested wisely...especially if they want to sell soon.

 

Which looks will last for years to come, and which ones will feel dated quickly? What colors and styles are most popular among buyers in our area? Should I remodel my kitchen? How can I add the most value to my home?

 

So, I've rounded up some of the hottest trends in home design to help guide you through the process. Whether you’ve planned a simple refresh or a full-scale renovation, making smart and informed design choices will help you maximize your return on investment … and minimize the chance of “remodeler’s remorse” down the road.

 

 

WHAT’S HOT NOW

 

While 2017 was all about the farmhouse look, brass fixtures and bright white kitchens, this year we expect to see a move toward warmer, cozier elements throughout the home.

 

1. Warm Colors

A cool color scheme has dominated home design in recent years, but this year warm neutrals like brown and tan are back, along with rich jewel tones. While the pastel craze of last year is still hanging on, expect to see alternative color palettes featuring deep, saturated shades of red, yellow, green and navy. Grey will remain popular, but in warmer tones, often referred to as “greige.”

Warm Colors.png

 

 

2. Cozy Elements

Along with warmer colors, we can expect to see a shift from stark, modern design to cozier looks. Velvet upholstery, woven textures and natural elements, like wood and stone, will heat things up this year.

 

3. Mixed Metals

It used to be considered gauche to mix finishes, however the look of mixed metals will be very big in 2018. Brass will continue to trend, along with matte black and classics like polished chrome and brushed nickel.

 

 

4. Bold Patterns

Expect to see a lot of bright, bold patterns in the form of geometric shapes and graphic floral prints. These will be featured on everything from furniture to throw pillows to tile. 

Mixed Metals.png

 

 

5. Natural Elements

Look for the use of natural elements throughout the home, including wood, stone, plants, flowers and grass. Botanical patterns will also be seen in prints, wallpaper and upholstery. Concrete accents will complement these additions in an effort to bring the essence of the outdoors inside the home.

 

 

6. Feature Walls

Also called an accent wall, a feature wall is one that exhibits a different color or design than the other walls in the room. Expect to see an increased use of feature walls showcasing rich paint colors, bold patterned wallpaper, and textures brought in through millwork and shiplap.

Accent Walls.png

 

 

7. Statement Lighting

Lighting will take center stage with distinctive fixtures, including local artisan and vintage pendants and chandeliers. And smart lighting technology will enable homeowners to customize their lighting experience based on time of day, activity and mood.

 

 

8. Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors will continue to dominate the market. The trend is toward either very dark stains paired with light-colored walls or light stains with darker walls. Greyish tones will remain popular, as will matte finishes, which are easier to maintain than high gloss. Expect to see frequent use of wider and longer wood planks, as well as distressed and wire-brushed finishes, which add texture and dimension.

 

 

9. Smart Homes

Everything is getting “smarter” in homes, from locks and lights to thermostats and appliances. And with devices like Google Home and Amazon Alexa, you can control many of these with voice activation from a central hub. We will see continued integration of and advancements in smart-home technology in 2018.

 

 

Ultimately, trends come and go. If you're looking to do a major remodel, I recommend picking items you will be happy with for the years to come. If you'd like to have fun with some trendy materials start with items you can change easily: paint, wallpaper, accent furniture, pillows and other textiles. 

I don't consider myself a trendy person (I prefer a classic look) which is why I'm satisfied with my neutral colors and subway tile regardless of the trends. 

 

Which of the 2018 trends do you like? 

 

 

Sources:
Gates Interior Design –
https://gatesinteriordesign.com/hottest-interior-design-trends-for-2018/
House Beautiful –
http://www.housebeautiful.com/design-inspiration/g13938283/2018-decor-trends/
http://www.housebeautiful.com/design-inspiration/g13820501/best-and-worst-decor-trends-from-2017/
Houzz –
https://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/93399913/list/interior-design-trends-expected-to-take-hold-in-2018
Huffington Post –
http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/09/25/the-kitchen-and-dining-trends-to-look-out-for-in-2018_a_23222693/
MSN.com –
https://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/home-and-garden/12-flooring-trends-for-2018/ss-AAtp7QA
Realtor.com –
https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/interior-design-trends-to-ditch-2018/
 The Flooring Girl –
http://theflooringgirl.com/hardwood-flooring/hardwood-flooring-trends-2018/
 Vogue –
https://www.vogue.com/article/interior-design-trends-according-to-expert-designers-decorators

 

Area Rugs for the Home Under $300

Textiles can make all the difference in a home whether you are staging to sell, settling into a new space or just sprucing things up for a new look. 

 

Regardless what kind of flooring you have (carpet, tile, wood, etc.) a nice area rug gives a room texture and unifies the space. If you have a very open concept, area rugs can also define two separate spaces in a large room. 

 

Choosing the right size is also important when selecting a rug for your space. You may be tempted to save a few bucks and go with a smaller rug but that can backfire and end up making your space feel smaller or even cluttered. Follow these rules when selecting the appropriate rug size for your space.

 

See check out the Magnolia Home Rug Buying Guide or this rug resource from World Market.

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Large area rugs can easily cost a $1000 or more... but they don’t have to. Here are some large rug options with links for under $300. 

 

REAL ESTATE 2018: What to Expect

As we head into a new year, the most common question we receive is, “What’s the outlook for real estate in 2018?” 

 

It’s not just potential buyers and sellers who are curious; homeowners also want reassurance their home’s value is going up. The good news is that a strong U.S. economy, coupled with low unemployment rates, is expected to drive continued real estate growth in 2018. However, changes on the horizon could significantly impact you if you plan to buy, sell or refinance this year.

 

 

HOME VALUES WILL CONTINUE TO RISE

Get ready for another strong year! U.S. home values and sales volume will continue to rise in 2018. 

 

Experts agree that home prices will increase in 2018, but predict a slower rate of appreciation than 2017, which clocked in at nearly 7 percent nationwide. National Association of Realtors (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun predicts a growth rate this year of 5.5 percent,(1) while Freddie Mac’s September Outlook Report forecasts a rate of 4.9 percent. Either way, all indicators point towards continued growth in 2018. (2)

 

What does it mean for you? If you’re a current homeowner, congratulations! Real estate proves once again to be a solid investment over the long term. And if you’re considering selling this year, there’s never been a better time. Contact me to request a FREE Comparative Market Analysis to find out how much you can expect your home to sell for under current market conditions.

 

If you’re in the market to buy this year, there’s good news for you, too. Although prices continue to rise, the rate of appreciation has slowed. Still, don’t wait any longer. Prices will continue to go up, so you’ll pay more six months from now than you would today. Call me to setup a free, no-obligation property search and get notified about listings that meet your criteria as soon as (or before) they hit the market.

 

 

NEW CONSTRUCTION WILL MAKE REAL ESTATE MORE ACCESSIBLE

Lack of inventory in the housing market has been a primary impediment to homeownership for many Americans. “Ten years ago, the problem in the housing market was lack of buyers,” says Yun. “Today, the problem is lack of sellers. Inventory levels are near historic lows.”(3)

 

Yun also notes, “The lack of inventory has pushed up home prices by 48 percent from the low point in 2011, while wage growth over the same period has been only 15 percent. Despite improving confidence [in 2017] from renters that now is a good time to buy a home, the inability for them to do so is causing them to miss out on the significant wealth gains that homeowners have benefitted from through rising home values.”1

 

The good news? Yun expects a 9.4 percentage point increase in single-family new home construction starts.(4)

 

Economists at Freddie Mac make a similar prediction. “Existing home sales are unlikely to increase much going forward. Limited inventory will remain a consistent problem … Growth in home sales will be primarily driven by new home sales, which should continue to grind higher with single-family construction.”(2)

 

Robert Dietz, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders, agrees. "The markets that are going to grow are ones where builders can add that entry level product."(5)


What does it mean for you? If you’ve been frustrated by lack of inventory in the past, 2018 may bring new opportunities for you to find a budget-friendly home that suits your needs. Give me a call to discuss options for new construction in our area.

 

 

MILLENNIALS WILL MOVE TO THE SUBURBS

The new entry-level construction will come with a catch though … it will be located in the suburbs, where the availability of land and fewer zoning requirements make it more cost-effective to build. Economists predict that’s where millennials and first-time buyers will flock for the greater variety of homes at affordable prices.(6)

 

Rising home prices, a sluggish job market, and an increase in student loan debt made homeownership largely unattainable for many millennials in past years. However, there’s significant evidence that this trend is turning around. For the fourth year a row, the National Association of Realtors' 2017 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends survey found that millennials were the largest group of homebuyers.(7)

 

As millennials age, they are settling down and having families, which has prompted an increasing demand for larger but affordable homes. Thus, many are flocking to the suburbs, with 57 percent of millennial buyers opting for a suburban location.

 

What does it mean for you? If you’re a millennial who is looking for more space for your growing family, a number of suburbs in our area have a lot to offer. I can point you towards the neighborhood that will best meet your needs.

 

And if you’re a suburban homeowner with plans to sell, give me a call. I know how to market your home to millennials (because I AM ONE!) and can help you sell quickly for top dollar by appealing to this growing market segment!

 

 

BOOMERANG BUYERS WILL RETURN TO THE MARKET

“Boomerang buyers” comprise the nearly 10 million Americans who lost their homes to foreclosure or short sales during the housing recession of 2006 to 2014.

 

According to MyFico.com, a foreclosure remains on a credit report for seven years. It takes many boomerang buyers at least that long to raise their credit score and save up enough cash to qualify for a new mortgage.(8)

 

With this “seven-year window” in mind, RealtyTrac predicts that the largest wave of boomerang buyers – more than 1.3 million – will be eligible to re-enter the housing market in 2018.(9)

 

Markets likely to see the highest influx of boomerang buyers are those that had a high percentage of foreclosures AND have remained affordable. The majority of boomerang buyers are middle-class Gen Xers or Baby Boomers. Expect to see even more competition for entry-level homes in those markets.

 

What does it mean for you? If you’re a boomerang buyer, we understand your unique circumstances. We can help you navigate the real estate process and write competitive offers that will play to your strengths. It would be my pleasure to discuss your options.

 

 

NEW TAX LEGISLATION WILL IMPACT HOMEOWNER DEDUCTIONS

The “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” passed at the end of 2017 nearly doubles the standard deduction, so far fewer Americans are expected to itemize this year. For those who do, however, it could mean less homeowner deductions are available than in the past.

 

Previously, homeowners could deduct interest paid on the first $1 million of mortgage debt, but that threshold has been lowered to $750,000 for new mortgages. (Existing mortgages will not be impacted.) 

 

Additionally, taxpayers will no longer be able to fully deduct state and local property taxes plus income or sales taxes. The new legislation restricts this deduction to $10,000. It also eliminates the deduction for moving expenses (except for members of the Armed Forces) and interest on home equity loans unless the proceeds are used to substantially improve the residence.10

 

It’s yet to be seen how the tax bill will impact the real estate market overall. While some economists predict a price reduction in certain markets, Republican lawmakers project the bill will increase take-home pay and stimulate the economy overall. According to Realtor.com Senior Economist Joseph Kirchner, “Some house hunters—particularly wealthy buyers—will see an increase in after-tax income, making an already tough housing market even more competitive. This increased demand could drive prices up even higher than they are already.”(11)

 

What does it mean for you? If you’re an existing homeowner, be sure to consult a tax professional if you’re concerned about the impact the new tax bill could have on you.

 

 

INTEREST RATES WILL RISE

No one knows exactly what will happen with mortgage rates this year, but the Mortgage Bankers Association anticipates the Federal Reserve will raise rates three times in 2018, with Freddie Mac’s 30-year fixed rate mortgage reaching 4.8 percent by the end of Q4, up from around 4 percent at the end of 2017.(12)

 

Kiplinger.com Economist David Payne also predicts interests rates will rise this year, with short-term rates outpacing long-term rates as the Fed aims to curb inflation in a tightening job market. He predicts the bank prime rate that home equity loans are based on will increase from 4.25 percent to 5 percent by the end of 2018. (13)

 

What does it mean for you? If you’re in the market to buy, act now. Rising interest rates will decrease your purchasing power, so act quickly before interest rates go up. Give me a call today to get your home search started. 

CHEERS to 2018! 

Sources:
Inman News –
https://www.inman.com/2017/11/03/what-to-expect-from-the-2018-housing-market/
Freddie Mac September Outlook Report –
http://www.freddiemac.com/research/outlook/20170921_looking_ahead_to_2018.html
Marketplace.org –
https://www.marketplace.org/2017/07/05/economy/tight-inventory-slows-housing-market-down-0
National Association of Realtors Press Release –
https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/existing-home-sales-to-grow-37-percent-in-2018-but-inventory-shortages-and-tax-reform-effects-loom-300549447.html
Fox Business News –
http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2017/11/27/entry-level-buyers-drive-solid-new-home-sales.html
Zillow Research  –
https://www.zillow.com/research/2018-predictions-17217/
National Association of Realtors’ Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report  –
https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/home-buyer-and-seller-generational-trends
MyFico.com -
https://www.myfico.com/crediteducation/questions/foreclosure-fico-score-affect.aspx
RealtyTrac -
http://www.realtytrac.com/news/foreclosure-trends/boomerang-buyers/
National Association of Realtors -
https://www.nar.realtor/taxes/tax-reform/the-tax-cuts-and-jobs-act-what-it-means-for-homeowners-and-real-estate-professionals
Realtor.com -
https://www.realtor.com/news/real-estate-news/tax-cuts-survey/
Mortgage Bankers Association Economic Forecast  –
https://www.mba.org/news-research-and-resources/research-and-economics/forecasts-and-commentary
Kiplinger Economic Forecast  –
https://www.kiplinger.com/article/business/T019-C000-S010-interest-rate-forecast.html#iOf4mkSFvvTmi2wr.99

Get Your Credit Score In Shape Before Buying a Home

How strong is your credit? Cleaning up your credit is essential before you make any major financial moves. Having a bad score can hurt your chances of being able to open a credit card, apply for a loan, purchase a car, or rent an apartment. 

 

With a less-than-great score, you may not get preapproved for a mortgage. However, if you do get preapproval, you might get a higher mortgage rate, which can be a huge added expense. For example, if you have a 30-year fixed rate mortgage of $100,000 and you get a 3.92% interest rate, the total cost of your mortgage will be $170,213. However, if your interest rate is 5.92%, you’ll have to spend $213,990 for the same mortgage  - that’s an extra $43,777 over the life of the loan! If you had secured the lower mortgage rate, you could use that additional money to fund a four-year college degree at a public university. 

 

So now that you know how important it is to maintain a good credit score, how do you start cleaning up your credit? Here, I’ve collected the best tips for improving your score.

 

Talk to a loan professional

According to FloridaRealtors.org some lenders are lowering their FICO score requirements to allow home ownership to become a possibility for many first time home buyers. Protect your score from more damage by getting a loan professional to check your credit score for you. A professional will be able to guide you to whether your score is in the ‘good’ range for home buying. Plus, every time that you request your own credit score, the credit companies record the inquiry, which can lower your score. Having a professional ask instead ensures that you only record one inquiry. Once you know your score, you can start taking action on cleaning up your credit. 

 

Change your financial habits to boost your score

What if your score has been damaged by late payments or delinquent accounts? You can start repairing the damage quickly by taking charge of your debts. For example, your payment history makes up 35% of your score according to myFICO. If you begin to pay your bills in full before they are due, and make regular payments to owed debts, your score can improve within a few months. 

 

Amounts owed are 30% of your FICO score. What matters in this instance is the percentage of credit that you’re currently using. For example, if you have a $5000 limit on one credit card, and you’re carrying a balance of $4500, that means 90% of your available credit is used up by that balance. You can improve your score by reducing that balance to free up some of your available credit. 

 

Length of credit history counts for 15% of your FICO score. If you’re trying to reduce debt by eliminating your credit cards, shred the card but DO NOT close the account. Keep the old accounts open without using them to maintain your credit history and available credit. 

 

Find and correct mistakes on your credit report

How common are credit report mistakes? Inaccuracies are rampant. In a 2012 study by the Federal Trade Commission, one in five people identified at least one error on their credit report. In their 2015 follow-up study, almost 70% thought that at least one piece of previously disputed information was still inaccurate. 

 

Your personal information

Start with the basics: often overlooked, one small incorrect personal detail like an incorrect address can accidently lower your score. So, before you look at any other part of your report, check all of these personal details:

Make sure your name, address, social security number and birthdate are current and correct.

Are your prior addresses correct? You’ll need to make sure that they’re right if you haven’t lived at your current address for very long. 

Is your employment information up to date? Are the details of your past employers also right?

Is your marital status correct? Sometimes a former spouse will come up listed as your current spouse. 

 

Your public records

This section will list things like lawsuits, tax liens, judgments, and bankruptcies. If you have any of these in your report, make sure that they are listed correctly and actually belong to you. 

 

A bankruptcy filed by a spouse or ex-spouse should not be on your report if you didn’t file it. There shouldn’t be any lawsuits or judgments older than seven years, or that were entered after the statute of limitations, on your report.  Are there tax liens that you paid off that are still listed as unpaid, or that are more than seven years old? Those all need to go. 

 

Your credit accounts

This section will list any records about your commingled accounts, credit cards, loans, and debts. As you read through this section, make sure that any debts are actually yours. 

 

For example, if you find an outstanding balance for which your spouse is solely responsible, that should be removed from your report. Any debts due to identity theft should also be resolved. If there are accounts that you closed on your report, make sure they’re labeled as ‘closed by consumer’ so that it doesn’t look like the bank closed them. 

 

Your inquiries

Are there any unusual inquiries into your credit listed in this section? An example might be a credit inquiry when you went for a test drive or were comparison shopping at a car dealer. These need to be scrubbed off your report. 

 

Report the dispute to the credit agency

If there are major mistakes, you can take your dispute to the credit agencies. While you could send a letter, it can be much faster to get the ball rolling on resolving a mistake by submitting your report through the credit agency’s website. Experian, Transunion and Equifax all have step-by-step forms to submit reports online. 

 

If you have old information on your report that should have been purged from your records already, such as a debt that has already been paid off or information that is more than 7 years old, you may need to go directly to the lender to resolve the dispute. 

 

Follow up

You must follow up to make sure that any mistakes are scrubbed from your reports. Keep notes about who you speak to and on which dates you contacted them. Check back with all of the credit reporting companies to make sure that your information has been updated. Since all three companies share data with each other, any mistakes should be corrected on all three reports. 

 

If your disputes are still not corrected, you may have to also follow up with the institution that reported the incident in the first place, or a third-party collections agency that is handling it. Then check again with the credit reporting companies to see if your reports have been updated. 

 

If you can keep on top of your credit reports on a regular basis, you won’t have to deal with the headaches of fixing reporting mistakes. You are entitled to a free annual credit report review to make sure all is well with your score. If you make your annual credit review part of your financial fitness routine, you’ll be able to better protect your buying power and potentially save thousands of dollars each year. 

 

How to clean up your credit now

Does your credit score need a boost so you can buy a home? Get in touch with me. I can connect you with the right lending professionals to help you get the guidance you need.