Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Nov. 7, 2019

Buying What You Need vs What You Want

Here's a few tips to help you with buying a new to you Home!

Nov. 5, 2019

Spruce Up Your House for Holiday Hosting

HOSTING

 

The holiday season is one of the most-traveled periods of the entire year. People drive and fly across the country or around the world to visit friends and loved ones. It’s wonderful to have those you care about coming to visit, but it can also be very stressful if your home is in disarray. Even though you tell yourselves that people won’t really care about what your home looks like, there’s always that fear that they’ll judge you if your house isn’t ready for guests.

You don’t have to worry, though. There are a number of ways that you can make your home more festive in preparation for holiday visitors. Here are just a few suggestions to help get you started.

 

Rearrange the Furniture

Even something as simple as rearranging some of the furniture can have a big impact on the look of your home when company arrives. Changing the positioning of couches, chairs and other large pieces can open rooms up and make them seem more inviting to your visitors. Best of all, you can easily focus the changes around a Christmas tree or other holiday centerpieces to really tie things together and create a unified holiday look. Once your guests leave, you can either move the furniture back to its usual spots or leave it where it is to keep the new look going throughout the year.

 

Clean Up the Outdoors

Another place that you can make a big impact is cleaning up around the outdoors. Rake and mulch leaves, clean up flower beds, trim back trees and bushes… do whatever needs to be done to get everything looking great before the temperatures drop too low. If possible, you may even want to clean the bricks or siding and clean out your gutters. While you’re up there, you may as well install some hangers for holiday light strings, too!

 

Update Your Accents

One seemingly small change that can make a big impression is to change the accent colors on your home by painting the doors and shutters. This option isn’t right for everyone since it’s a permanent change, but for those wanting to update the look of their home it can make a big difference. While the color you choose is dependent on the color of your home and your personal preference, going with red or green can add a splash of holiday flair that will still look great the rest of the year through.

 

Spruce Up the Floors

If your carpets are stained, worn or otherwise need a refresh, don’t just install a similar carpet in their place: Consider going for woodgrain vinyl slats or laminate wood flooring instead. These flooring options add the beauty of a natural wood floor without the frustration, standing up to stains and other issues while requiring significantly less work to maintain. Best of all, a change to a wood look near the holidays can enhance the charm of your home when your visitors finally arrive.

 

Change Your Decorating Style

Consider ditching the tired old holiday decorations that you put up every year and go with a bit of a different look this time around. If you usually go cartoony, consider something classier like white lights and pine accents. If your decorations are usually sparse, do something a bit more over the top this year. It doesn’t matter how you refresh your decorations, just give your visitors something to see that they haven’t seen before. While this is especially effective if combined with other updates to your home, you can still wow your guests just by subverting their expectations of your holiday décor.

Oct. 29, 2019

Mischief Night

Mischief Night

If you haven’t heard of Mischief Night, it’s possible that you’ve lived in an area where it’s not really celebrated. It’s also possible that you lived in a city such as Detroit, Baltimore or New Jersey where it might have been known by a different name like Devil’s Night, Goosey Night or even Moving Night (which is supposedly a reference to stolen porch furniture). Assuming that you’ve never heard of it because it isn’t a big deal where you’re from, you might think that you don’t need to know anything about it. Watch out, though – that line of thinking could be ill-advised.

 

With more details about Mischief Night pranks being shared online, more and more young people participate in the festivities every year. This includes some areas that had never experienced Mischief Night pranks before. You also might need to know about it if you’re considering moving to a new area, since just because they don’t celebrate it where you’re from doesn’t mean they won’t celebrate it where you’re making your new home. Either way, this is what you should know about this unofficial holiday.

 

What Is Mischief Night?

Though it’s gained more popularity in recent years, Mischief Night as a holiday dates back at least to the late 1700s. The holiday consists of children and teenagers engaging in a variety of pranks and other activities, up to and including theft and vandalism in some cases. Common activities on Mischief Night include tossing toilet paper into trees, throwing eggs at houses and cars, setting off fireworks, ringing doorbells and running away, and smashing pumpkins or jack-o-lanterns. More destructive practices sometimes include spray paint vandalism, breaking car or house windows and other acts of vandalism, though these are much less common.

In New Orleans and some other communities, in recent years, Mischief Night has also involved walking parades with floats and people in costume. These parades are typically unorganized and not officially sponsored as part of any holiday’s festivities, however. Fortunately, these more violent parades and demonstrations are not common in most areas where Mischief Night is regularly observed.

 

When Is Mischief Night?

In most places, Mischief Night is celebrated on October 30th as something of a pre-Halloween celebration. There are some areas, especially in the United Kingdom, where Mischief Night is celebrated on November 4th instead as a precursor to Bonfire Night; for those who aren’t familiar with this celebration, it is also known as Guy Fawkes Day and is a day of remembrance and thanksgiving for the failure of the Gunpowder Treason Plot perpetrated by Guy Fawkes and others. The holiday is celebrated much the same as it would be on October 30th, however.

Interestingly, there are some areas (primarily in Germany) where Mischief Night is celebrated on May 1st instead of falling in either October or November. This is because of an old connection with May Day which was part of the holiday’s origin; no one is really sure why Mischief Night moved from May to October or November, but the change appears to have occurred sometime in the 19th century. The fall dates seem a much better fit for the holiday, however – and that’s when Mischief Night takes place for nearly every observing community these days.

 

What Can You Expect on Mischief Night?

In most cases, Mischief Night is a night of largely harmless pranks and practical jokes. Egging and toilet papering properties are the most common pranks, along with smashing pumpkins and ringing doorbells. Most of the perpetrators are children and young teenagers, as older teens and adults might face legal penalties for actions that younger children would only get a warning for, if caught. For the most part, the worst you’ll likely see on Mischief Night is a mess to clean up the next day.

It’s important to be aware of occasional larger problems such as vandalism and destruction of property, however. Mischief Night is a good night to park your car in the garage and bring in loose porch furniture, just in case. Even though you’re unlikely to experience any major problems, it never hurts to be prepared.

 

Recovering from Mischief Night

If you do wake up to a mess after Mischief Night, you don’t have to clean it up yourself. From causal cleanups to paint removal, you can find pros who are willing to help on HomeKeepr. Sign up for free to make sure you’re ready for whatever Mischief Night might throw your way.

Oct. 22, 2019

Pest Extermination Tips

Bees

 

It can’t be overstated just how beneficial bees are to our ecosystem. Bees pollinate an astonishing 80 percent of the world’s plants, including fruits and vegetables that feed up to 90 percent of the world’s population. Certain nuts and beans would likely go completely extinct, as well as fruits like blueberries and cherries which are almost entirely pollinated by bees. Meat scarcity could arise as cattle feed on pollinated plants, and some common medicines may become difficult if not impossible to manufacture. Life as we know it would become a lot harder to maintain without our friend the humble bee.

 

Given the importance of bees, then, how do you take care of other pests around your home without putting bees in danger? And what happens if the bees themselves are acting like pests? Here are a few ways to keep your home safe and pest-free while ensuring that you don’t put bees in harm’s way.

 

Maintain Your Yard

One great way to get rid of pests without running the risk of hurting the bees is to keep your yard maintained. Keep flower beds free of weeds, mow the grass as needed to keep it from getting overgrown and fill in any rodent or snake holes that you find. This helps eliminate cover and potential nesting places for unwanted pests including wasps and yellow jackets. It will also keep weeds under control which might otherwise provide both food and shelter for these pests.

 

Remove or Contain Attractants

Trash cans, outdoor pet food, spilled sugary drinks and other food sources can attract a lot of pests to your property. As much as possible, try to cover or remove these attractants so the pests don’t arrive in the first place. If you can’t completely remove the items (such as in cases where you have pets who live outside and need food and water), try creating an enclosure for the items or elevating them on stands so they don’t make direct contact with the ground.

 

Study Pesticide Options

There are some pesticides which aren’t toxic to bees but are still effective when used against other pests. Substances such as gibberellic acid pesticides, corn gluten and pesticides made using bacillus thuringiensis (BT) are not toxic or agents of disease for honeybees, provided they aren’t used in excessive doses. If you need to use a pesticide, research bee-friendly options and apply them late in the evening when bees are most likely to be back in their hives so that you don’t accidentally spray pollinating bees with large doses of the chemicals.

 

Avoid Catch-All Traps or Baits

It may be tempting to use items such as wasp traps or baits designed to attract certain insects, but these are indiscriminate and can kill bees as well. Traps are especially harmful as the attractants they use to draw in wasps and flies may also attract bees who think that they are detecting flowers in bloom.

 

Find a Local Beekeeper

If bees themselves are the problem, don’t try to get rid of them yourself. Find a local beekeeper or honey producer and let them know that you’ve found a beehive or have a number of bees on your property. They’ll come and locate the hive, capturing the bees and their queen safely so that they can be moved to a safe hive away from your home. This will not only keep you and your family safe from bee stings, but it will keep the bees safe, healthy and happy as well.

 

Get Some Help Saving the Bees!

Whether you need to find someone to relocate bees near your home or just want advice on how to avoid hurting the bees, you can find a number of resources on HomeKeepr. Sign up today for free to find bee-friendly pest-control experts, beekeepers and others who can help you in your quest to be pest-free without putting those lovely little bees in danger.

Oct. 17, 2019

Halloween Decor Trends

Halloween Blog

 

Decorating for Halloween is a tradition that many families take part in year after year. As with most traditions, though, the decorating trends that dominate Halloween change from time to time. Giant inflatables and laser light shows were all the rage just a few years ago, but now things are starting to shift a bit more toward subtle. The over-the-top Halloween decorating style will likely never fully go away, of course; there’s at least one house in every town that goes all out with its display and people always love it. If you’re looking for something simpler (and easier on the power bill), here are a few trendy options to keep in mind.

 

Candles

With the right candleholders, basic white candles can add a spooky ambiance that hearkens back to older Halloween traditions. Specialty candles are available that are carved to look like bones or horns as well. No need to go overboard with effects-candles, such as those that “bleed” when lit; just a few tapers burned to different lengths and then extinguished serve as the perfect subtle candle accent to your other decorations.

 

Pumpkins

What would Halloween be without pumpkins? While the traditional jack-o-lantern is still great, there’s an increasingly common trend to display uncarved pumpkins as well. White pumpkins are also seeing an upswing in popularity to really help set your decorations apart from the norm.

 

Halloween Wreaths

Also seeing an increased popularity are Halloween wreaths. Coming in a variety of styles, these wreaths have a lot more room to experiment than more traditional Christmas wreaths because of the generally spooky nature of the holiday. You can DIY a wreath yourself or buy one of multiple pre-made varieties to give your home a really unique Halloween look.

 

Lighting and Signs

Halloween lights have been growing in popularity in recent years, providing a decorative option that can be enjoyed even once the sun goes down. Signs, both lighted and non-lighted, are also firmly establishing themselves as Halloween must-haves. Combining the two can give your home a unique look that neighbors can enjoy both during the day and after the night descends.

 

Window Décor

Instead of going all-out with inflatables, animatronics and big clunky pieces made of plastic and rubber, an up-and-coming trend is to make use of silhouettes in front of plain curtains to give your decorations a more subtle flair. Some homes even take this a step beyond, using white sheets or similar coverings on the interior windows and then using creative lighting and figure placement to actually cast shadows onto the waiting windows. The shadow puppet feel gives the effect an extra layer of spookiness.

 

Black and White and Purple Trappings

While black and orange are the dominant colors of Halloween, a big trend in recent years has been to move away from the orange and embrace the holiday’s darker tones. White is used for contrast, with the predominant colors in decorations being black and dark purple. Splashes of other colors may be added as well, but the black, white and purple theme is definitely striking.

 

Zombie Flamingos

While there has been a move away from some of the cheesier parts of the holiday, the kitsch of putting zombie flamingos on your lawn is a bit too fun to ignore. There are a variety of styles of flamingoes available ranging from silly to gory, giving you plenty of room to find birds that match both your personal tastes and decorating style. Best of all, they can be mixed with a few traditional pink flamingos to give everything a splash of color while totally buying into the Halloween fun.

 

Need Some Halloween Style?

If you’re not sure what sort of decorations would look best with your home, consider consulting a decorator who has experience with Halloween trappings. Not only will they help you pick the best décor options, but they’ll aid you in choosing accents that go perfectly with both your home style and the decorations you choose. Sign up for a free HomeKeepr account and get matched with the decorator you’re searching for today!

Oct. 17, 2019

Weekly Market Update 10-16-19

📈Here's whats going on in the market this week. Make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up to date on whats happening in your neck of the woods.

 

Oct. 15, 2019

What Color Should I Paint My Walls for the Best Return?

Paint walls

 

Painting your home is a great way to express yourself and let your personality shine through in your living space. The colors you choose for your rooms can really bring them to life in ways that few other changes can. However, a fresh coat of paint can do more than just give your rooms some personality. With the right colors, the paint you choose can even increase the likelihood that your house will sell at a good price when you put it on the market. To maximize this effect, there are a few colors you should consider (and a few you should avoid.)

 

Picking the Right Color

If you’re looking for a good color to apply throughout the house, consider a light shade of gray or beige. Both of these colors help to liven up rooms by adding just a bit of color but are neutral enough to let each room’s other accents take command. If you want something a bit different, taupe or so-called “greige” colors (mixes of gray and beige) can also work well. Some off-white colors, especially those with hints of brown or other warm shades, can also brighten up your rooms. Many of these colors pair well with white or beige baseboards and trim.

 

Good Kitchen Colors

If you’re going room by room, the kitchen is a good place to add a bit of darker color. Darker grays and grays mixed with darker blue shades do well in the kitchen; in fact, some reports have shown that homes with a gray-blue shade in the kitchen sell for an average of $1800 more than similar homes with other kitchen shades. Depending on the size of your kitchen and the amount of wall that’s actually visible behind the cabinets and appliances, you may be able to get away with hotter colors such as deep red or dark orange. Just avoid going too bright with whatever color you choose.

 

Living Room and Bath Colors

The living area and bathroom both benefit from more neutral shades such as beige and gray, but that doesn’t mean you can’t change things up in some cases. Consider the flooring and other fixtures as well as the amount of natural light that comes into the room and look at colors that take advantage of what’s already there. Light green, blue or brown can sometimes work wonderfully, especially if they include hints of gray to keep them from being too bright. You can even choose a bit stronger blues in the bathroom as homebuyers tend to respond well to blue there, just so long as you don’t go for too bright of a shade.

 

Bedroom Colors

Blue is a popular bedroom color, especially in shades such as cerulean. There are several bold color choices that you can get away with in the bedroom, though. Don’t go crazy with the bedroom colors and avoid anything that’s too bright – but giving the bedroom a splash of color in blue, green or even red or brown can work well so long as it’s not too much of a departure from the rest of the house.

 

Colors to Avoid

There are, of course, a few colors that you should avoid when painting your walls. Anything too bright or garish should obviously be avoided since it could turn off potential buyers. Black is another color to avoid; not only do many people find it depressing, but it will also be difficult for future homeowners to cover up. Also on the list of colors to avoid? Bright white. You might think that this would give your home a clean look or make it ready for a new homeowner to customize, but bright whites (especially when paired with white trim) often create a clinical look that actually makes buyers less interested in the space.

 

Making the Choice

If you’re not sure which colors will work best in your home, consider bringing in an interior designer or painter to help you pick the perfect hue. Sign up for a free HomeKeepr account today and you can find the perfect helper for your budget and your sense of style.

Oct. 9, 2019

Monday Market Update 10/08/19

Weekly Market Update 10/08/19

Here's what's going on in and around your market this week!

 

Oct. 8, 2019

Monday Market Update 10/01/19

Sept. 10, 2019

How to buy a home while you are young: Saving for a Down Payment


How to Save Money to Buy a House

Looking to buy a house? You'll need to save money for a down payment.

What Is a Down Payment?

Let’s start with the basics. A down payment is the cash you bring to the closing table when buying a home. You may borrow money from the bank in the form of a home loan or mortgage, but a portion of the total cost must come directly from you.

Here’s why: The down payment acts as an insurance of sorts for your lender. When you hand over money from your own account, you’re officially invested. You’re more likely to make good on your mortgage payments month after month and year after year. Banks like working with folks like you.

By saving up for a down payment, you not only prove yourself to a lender, but you also set your own mind at ease. A sizeable down payment reduces your monthly house payment, allowing you to choose a shorter mortgage term so you can say goodbye to this debt sooner rather than later.

How Much Should I Save for a Down Payment?

It’s no secret that we don’t like debt. That’s because car loans, student loans and credit card debt can tie up our income, leaving us with less money for the things we really want to do.

So how much should you save? That’s the million-dollar question! But don’t worry. You won’t need anything close to one million dollars to set yourself on the right track for buying a home. However, you do need to work through the process below to arrive at your magic number.

We’ll use an imaginary family—the Clarks—in our example.

1. Determine how much you can afford each month. The rule of thumb is to spend no more than 25% of your monthly take-home pay on your mortgage payment. If you tie up too much of your budget in your monthly payment, you leave yourself unprepared to face emergencies or embrace opportunities. We find that 25% (or less!) is the sweet spot.

For the Clarks, 25% of their monthly take-home pay equals $1,050 each month. Keep in mind that this number should include taxes and insurance, escrow, and homeowner association fees.

Do the math: Write down how much money you (and your spouse, if applicable) bring home each month. Multiply this number by .25 to find your monthly mortgage amount.

2. Use your monthly mortgage payment to arrive at a total mortgage amount. Let’s play around with Dave Ramsey’s Mortgage Calculator to see what price range the Clarks should stick with.

When it comes to the type of mortgage you select, we recommend a 15-year fixed rate, which is guaranteed to save you tens of thousands of dollars compared with the traditional 30-year option.

We know the Clarks have $1,050 to spend on their monthly mortgage payment. Using the mortgage calculator and its set interest rate of 3.66%, we discover that they can purchase a $145,000 home with a 20% down payment, a $130,000 home with a 15% down payment, or a $125,000 home with a 10% down payment.

Do the math: Spend some time on our mortgage calculator. Input different numbers into the home value and down payment section with the goal of hitting your preferred total monthly payment. Make note of your options and talk things over with your spouse, a trusted friend or family member.

3. Aim for between 10% and 20% for your down payment. If you haven’t already, hone in on the percentage that works best for your family. Ideally, you’ll choose to put down 20%, which can lower your interest rate, open you up for a 15-year mortgage, and help you avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI).

Let’s assume the Clarks decide to put down 20% on a $145,000 home. That means they’ll need to set aside $29,000 for a down payment.

Do the math: Multiply the total mortgage amount by the percentage you plan to put toward the purchase of a home. Now you’ve got your savings goal! Circle it, post it on your fridge, and get ready to start saving!

What Other Costs Should I Consider When Saving for a Down Payment?

Remember how we acknowledged that lenders aren’t exactly our best friends?

Spoiler alert: Banks don’t just expect a down payment. They also require you to pony up for other fees that might feel hidden if you don’t know about them ahead of time. Let’s cover those now, shall we?

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

Short for Private Mortgage Insurance, PMI is a fee tacked on to your monthly mortgage payment if you put down less than 20% on your home. You can count on PMI upping your monthly payment by about $50 for every $100,000 you spend on a home.¹

Appraisal and Inspection Fees

In order for your lender to sign off on your mortgage, you’ll need to have your future home appraised and inspected. Each of these can cost just over $300 on average.²³

Closing Costs

A lot of work goes into signing on the dotted line. And unless the seller agrees to pick up the tab, you’ll be responsible for fees between 2% and 5% of the total mortgage value.

Our imaginary family, the Clarks, already plan to save $29,000 for a down payment of 15%. And now that they’re in the know about the “hidden” fees of buying a home, they’ll need to set aside a bit more to cover them. Time for more math!

  • The Clarks purchase a $145,000 home with $21,750 down.
  • Their mortgage amount equals $116,000.
  • The cost to cover the first month’s PMI at closing is $65.
  • An appraisal and inspection equal $600.
  • Fees from closing costs could be as much as $5,800.
  • In addition to the $21,750 down payment, the Clarks should set aside an additional $6,465.

And, if the Clarks get lucky and the seller agrees to cover closing costs, that leaves them with a good chunk of money to put to good use elsewhere.

When Should I Buy A Home?

When buying a home, it’s not just about how much you spend, it’s also about timing. How will you know you’re ready?

We follow the Baby Steps for true financial peace. With this method, we first set aside $1,000 as a beginner emergency fund. Then we pay off all non-mortgage debt with a vengeance, followed by beefing up our emergency fund until it reaches between three and six months of expenses.

Once you tackle these first three steps, you’re ready to buy a home. Here’s why:

  1. You won’t have to slow your debt payoff schedule to save for a down payment, allowing you to be debt-free much sooner.
  2. You’ll be prepared for the inevitable emergencies that come with home ownership.
  3. You’ll have room in your budget to move through the remaining Baby Steps:
  • Invest for retirement.
  • Save for children’s college.
  • Pay off your home early.
  • Build wealth and give generously.

Trust us, get the timing right and all you’ll need to worry about is what to do with that pink tile in your new bathroom.

How to Save for a Down Payment

Start with a smaller number.

Does that big, looming down payment goal overwhelm you? Divide it up! Decide when you’d like to buy. How many months away is your goal date? Simply divide your needed down payment by the number of months you have to save.

Our imaginary Clark family wants to save $34,465 to cover a down payment and all closing costs of purchasing a new home. They’d like to buy a home in two years, so they’ll need to save $1,478 each month to hit their goal.

Because the Clarks are following the Baby Steps, they have no debt, already saved six months of expenses, and have some flexibility in their budget to sock away a lot of cash each month.

Creative Ways to Save for a Down Payment

If you do the math and find that your monthly savings amount is just too high, that’s okay. Give yourself a little more time to save up and be on the lookout for creative ways to save. Here are some suggestions:

1. Set up a Down Payment Fund.

First things first: Once you figure out what you should save each month, create a fund in your EveryDollar budget to track your savings and reach your goal.

2. Throw extra money toward your Down Payment Fund

Look for ways to trim your budget so you can put more toward your down payment. Here are a few ideas:

  • Cut cable
  • Pack your lunch
  • Make coffee at home
  • Cancel gym memberships
  • Work overtime
  • Start a side business
  • Get a second job

3. Store your down payment savings the smart way.

There will come a time, probably about halfway to buying a home, that you (or your spouse) will be tempted to take a spontaneous trip to Europe with your savings. Trust us, it happens.

To protect yourself from yourself, don’t store your down payment money in your regular bank account. Try a separate savings account or a money market account instead.

https://www.everydollar.com/blog/how-to-save-money-to-buy-a-house