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Monthly Archives: May 2015

More housing markets return to normal activity levels

The housing crisis of 2008 had farreaching, dramatic effects on the American housing market, and it's taken years to recover from it. However, many U.S. metro areas have already returned to normal market activity levels, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

According to the NAHB/First American Leading Markets Index (LMI), released on May 6, 68 of 360 designated metro areas in the U.S. either reached or surpassed their last normal levels of activity during the first quarter of 2015. This is seven more markets than last year at the same time. The nationwide LMI score increased to .91, indicating that on the whole, the country's housing market is performing at 91 percent of normal activity levels.

"The markets are continuing to make gains. A strengthening economy and low interest rates should spur the release of pentup demand and keep housing moving forward this year," said NAHB Chairman Tom Woods in the organization's press release.

Which home remodeling projects are the most popular?

May is National Home Remodeling Month, and if you're planning to renovate your home anytime soon, you might want to take a look at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Remodelers' survey data on the most popular home remodeling projects.

The survey found that bathroom remodels, which were called a "common" job by 78 percent of remodelers and were up by 6 percent since 2013, were one of the most popular types of remodeling jobs. Kitchen remodels, which were up 7 percent over 2013 levels, followed close behind. Other popular renovations included window and door replacements, whole house remodels and room additions. The top reasons people decided to renovate were the replacement of aging home features and the desire for more modern amenities.

How to prepare for an open house

How to prepare for an open house

If you're selling your home this spring, you're likely to experience all the strange, difficult emotions that come with hosting an open house. Especially if you've lived in your current home for a long time, it can be hard to watch people come into "your space" and make judgments about it. Add in the risk of damage or theft of personal items you leave out, and you have a perfect storm of stress to deal with.

To make the open house process as easy and painless as possible, here are a few steps you can take:

Happy Memorial Day and thank you to all Servicemen and Servicewomen!

Slow, steady recovery predicted for housing market

According to several recent predictions from various housing organizations, 2015 might not be a "boom" year for the housing market, but the progress that it's already made in the first quarter should continue throughout the year. In an interview with Closing Bell, Chairman and CEO of Wells Fargo John Stumpf laid out his predictions for the housing market for the remainder of this year. According to Stumpf, the market is ready to grow, but factors such as student debt and millennials' delay in forming households are holding it back from truly booming. Also inhibiting the market is the idea that mortgage credit is hard to come by.

"It really is more available now and at still great rates. [It's] very affordable for housing," Stumpf said in the interview. Meanwhile, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is also expecting a slow but steady recovery throughout the year.

What to know before buying a vacation home

For a while after the housing crisis, no one in the US was buying vacation homes, but sales shot up last year after the economy began to recover. If you're one of the many Americans whose financial situation has improved over the past few years, you may be thinking about making the jump and buying a home in your favorite vacation spot. There are many benefits to owning a vacation home as opposed to renting a home or staying in a hotel — increased privacy and the ability to invite guests and bring pets come to mind. However, there are a few things you should make sure you know before you make a purchase:

●      Will you be able to afford the upkeep? Even when you're not staying at your vacation home, you'll still have to pay for utilities, and you'll probably need to find someone to look after and maintain the home and pay them as well, whether they're a neighbor you know well or a local property manager.

4 spring tips to sell your home

Now that spring is finally here, many homeowners are taking advantage of the warmer weather to get some much-needed cleaning done. This process is especially important if you plan to sell your home this spring. A clean, organized home that's free of dirt and clutter is the only type that buyers will seriously consider moving into.

Here are a few projects to take on this spring that will help you sell your home:

Renters can break even within two years after buying a home

According to Zillow, renters in the majority of U.S. housing markets can break even on buying a home within two years. The company's analysis of the "breakeven horizon", or the point at which buying a home becomes cheaper than renting, found that this point occurs less than two years after the purchase in 66 percent of metro areas.

3 tips for finding a good buyer's agent

If you're in the market for a home this spring, you might not think you need to enlist the help of a real estate agent, but doing so can be one of the best decisions you can make in the home buying process. If you work only with agents who are representing the sellers of the homes you're looking at, you have no guarantee that someone will be looking out for your interests in the transaction, since seller's agents are required to try to get their clients the best price possible. Working with a buyer's agent is also typically free, since your agent will be paid by the seller's agent out of their sale commission later.

Here are a few ways to make sure you're working with the right agent:

4 top remodeling trends of 2015 so far

With the economy stabilizing and the housing market booming, more Americans are thinking about taking on remodeling projects. Remodeling your home takes work, but you'll end up with an improved, refreshed living space and added home value afterwards. Just make sure that even while following the latest remodeling trends, you continue to think about achieving a timeless appearance.

"You've got to pick things that are timeless and good enough quality that will stand the test of time. When I remodeled my kitchen 16 years ago, I chose natural birch, nickel hardware, granite and neutral tile. People think we just redid our kitchen," real estate author Ilyce Glink told US News.