Metro Home Prices Rise 4.8% in 3rd Quarter

WASHINGTON (November 1, 2018) – Low inventory levels of moderately priced homes continue to stifle home sales and maintain the trend of increasing metro market prices according to the latest quarterly report (link is external) by the National Association of Realtors®.

The national median existing single-family home price in the third quarter was $266,900, up 4.8 percent from the third quarter of 2017 ($254,700). The median sales price in the second quarter increased 4.9 percent from the second quarter of 2017.

Single-family home prices increased in 93 percent of measured markets last quarter, with 166 out of 178 metropolitan statistical areas1 (MSAs) showing sales price gains in the third quarter compared to a year ago. Eighteen metro areas (10 percent) experienced double-digit increases, down from 24 in the second quarter.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says low inventory persisted in suppressing the market during the third quarter. “Though inventory is more than adequate on the upper-end market, the insufficient supply of low to mid-priced homes in metro markets with strong job growth continues to drive up prices and push prospective buyers out of the market,” he said.

Total existing-home sales2, including single family homes and condos, decreased 2.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.273 million in the third quarter, down from 5.413 million in the second quarter. That number is 2.4 percent lower than the 5.403 million pace during the third quarter of 2017.

“A strong economy and consistent job growth should be driving up home sales; however, would-be homebuyers are struggling to find a home they can afford,” said Yun. “As mortgage rates continue to rise, reaching the decade’s highest rates this quarter, an increase in the supply of affordable homes has become even more important to help temper price growth across the country.”

At the end of the third quarter, there were 1.88 million existing homes available for sale3, 1.1 percent above the 1.86 million homes for sale at the end of the third quarter in 2017. The average supply during the third quarter was 4.3 months – up from 4.2 months in the third quarter of last year.

National family median income rose to $76,6084 in the third quarter, but overall affordability decreased from a year ago because of higher mortgage rates and home prices. To purchase a single-family home at the national median price, a buyer making a 5 percent down payment would need an income of $64,480, while a 10 percent down payment would require an income of $61,086, and $54,299 would be necessary for a 20 percent down payment.

“Aspiring middle-class home buyers continue to face affordably issues, as buyers are increasingly being priced out in the West while the rest of the country struggles, too,” said Yun. “The market desperately needs homebuilders to begin constructing more moderately priced single-family home and condominiums to help satisfy demand and mitigate rapid price growth.”

The five most expensive housing markets in the third quarter were the San Jose, California metro area, where the median existing single-family price was $1,300,000; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California, $989,000; Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, California, $830,000; urban Honolulu, $818,600; and San Diego-Carlsbad, $650,000.

The five lowest-cost metro areas in the second quarter were Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio, $97,600; Decatur, Illinois, $102,800; Cumberland, Maryland, $110,300; Wichita Falls, Texas, $115,600; and Elmira, New York, $121,600.

Metro area condominium and cooperative prices – covering changes in 61 metro areas – showed the national median existing-condo price was $244,100 in the third quarter, up 2.3 percent from the third quarter of 2017 ($238,600). Eighty-two percent of metro areas showed gains in median condo prices from a year ago.

Regional Breakdown

Total existing-home sales in the Northeast sat at an annual rate of 680,000 (down 0.5% from last quarter) and are down 3.8 percent from a year ago. The median existing single-family home price in the Northeast was $301,500 in the third quarter, up 6.1 percent from a year ago.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales fell 0.3 percent in the third quarter and are 1.0 percent below a year ago. The median existing single-family home price in the Midwest grew 2.1 percent to $206,800 in the third quarter from the same quarter a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South declined 4.4 percent in the third quarter but are 0.3 percent higher than the third quarter of 2017. The median existing single-family home price in the South was $234,300 in the third quarter, 3.4 percent above a year ago.

In the West, existing-home sales in the third quarter decreased by 2.9 percent and are 7.9 percent below a year ago. The median existing single-family home price in the West increased 4.8 percent to $395,500 in the third quarter from the third quarter of 2017.

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

 

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First Time Home Buyers Continue To Struggle

Single Females Remain a Force in Market, While First-time Buyers Continue to Struggle, According to Realtor® 2018 Buyer and Seller Survey

WASHINGTON (October 29, 2018) – Single female buyers continue to be a powerful force in the market, while low inventory, rising interest rates and increasing home prices remain, holding back first-time buyers despite notable interest in buying a home.

This is according to the National Association of Realtors®’ 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers1, which also identifies numerous current consumer and housing trends, including mounting student debt balances; the impact of pets on home buying decisions; increases in down payments for all buyers; the rising age of repeat buyers; and the fact that a vast number of respondents use a real estate agent to buy or sell a home, which kept for-sale-by-owner transactions at an all-time low.

“With the lower end of the housing market – smaller, moderately priced homes – seeing the worst of the inventory shortage, first-time home buyers who want to enter the market are having difficulty finding a home they can afford,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Homes were selling in a median of three weeks and multiple offers were a common occurrence, further pushing up home prices. These factors contributed to the low number of first-time buyers and the struggles of would-be buyers dreaming of joining the ranks of homeownership.”

Here are some additional key trends of buyers and sellers detailed in this year’s 150-page report.

Single Female Buyers continue to be a strong force in the market

For the second year in a row, single female buyers accounted for 18 percent of all buyers. The group was the second most common household buyer type behind married couples (63 percent). Single male buyers came in third and accounted for half the number of buyers as their female counterparts (9 percent). However, single males tended to purchase more expensive homes, with a median price of $215,000, compared to single females with a median price of $189,000 (the lowest of all household buyer types).

Share of first-time buyers continues to fall

The share of first-time home buyers continued a three-year decline, falling 33 percent (34 percent last year). This number has not been 40 percent or higher since the first-time home buyers credit ended in 2010.

“Low inventory, rising interest rates and student loan debt are all factors contributing to the suppression of first-time home buyers,” said Yun. “However, existing home sales data shows inventory has been rising slowly on a year-over-year basis in recent months, which may encourage more would-be buyers who were previously convinced they could not find a home to enter the market.”

Buyers continue to rely on agents and the internet to find the right home

For the third year in a row, 95 percent of buyers used the internet at some point during their home search process, and 50 percent said that they found the home they eventually purchased online. Eighty-six percent of buyers used a real estate agent in their home search, and repeat buyers were more likely to use an agent than first-timers (87 percent to 86). Overall, 87 percent of buyers ended up purchasing their home through a real estate agent (the same as 2017), as finding the right home and negotiating terms of sale were the top factors buyers desired from their agent. Ninety percent of respondents said they would definitely or probably use their agent again or recommend them to someone else.

“With inventory so low, buyers are relying on their agent’s knowledge of markets and neighborhoods to find listings, rather than relying only on online searches,” said NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall, a sixth-generation Realtor® from Columbia, Missouri and CEO of RE/MAX Boone Realty. “A Realtor® has years of experience, generating insight and expertise that can help buyers navigate a tight market where buyers are forced to move fast and make competitive bids in order to get their dream home.”

Student loan debt continues to be an issue

Once again, student loan debt stands out as a challenge keeping would-be buyers out of the market. Among the 13 percent of buyers who said saving for a down payment was the most difficult part of the buying process, 50 percent reported that student loan debt had inhibited their ability to save for a home purchase or down payment. Twenty-four percent of all buyers indicated that they have student loan debt, at a median of $28,000, and 40 percent of first-time buyers indicated that they have student loan debt at a median of $30,000.

“Even with a thriving economy and an abundance of job opportunities in many markets, monthly student loan payments coupled with sky-high rents and rising home prices make it exceedingly difficult for potential buyers to put aside savings for a down payment,” said Yun.

Down payments higher for all buyers

Overall, buyers paid a median 13 percent down payment, up from 10 percent last year and the highest since 2005. First-time buyers paid a median 7 percent down payment, up from 5 percent last year and the highest since 1997 (9 percent), while repeat buyers paid a median 16 percent, up from last year’s 14 percent and the highest since 2010.

A majority of buyers ranked their personal savings as the primary source of their down payment (58 percent). Repeat buyers were most likely to use the proceeds from the sale of the previous primary residence (56 percent), while first-time buyers were the most likely to use a gift from a friend or relative (24 percent).

Nearly all buyers choose a single-family home

A majority of buyers continue to choose a detached, single-family home (82 percent) as opposed to a townhouse or row house (8 percent) or a condo/duplex/apartment unit (4 percent).

Median age of repeat home buyers skyrockets; stays flat for first-time buyers

For the third straight year, the median age of first-time home buyers was 32 years old. A majority of first-time buyers were married couples (54 percent), followed by single females (18 percent). Their median income was the same as last year’s at $75,000, and they spent a median of $203,700 on a home. These buyers were more likely to purchase smaller homes than repeat buyers, with a median size of 1600 square feet.

The age of repeat buyers increased to an all-time high of 55 years old (up from 54 last year). A majority of repeat buyers were also married couples (57 percent), followed by single females (18 percent). Their median income increased from $97,500 last year to $100,000 and they spent a median of $280,000 on a home. The median home size remained the same as last year, at 2000 square feet.

Pets Influencing Home Buying Decisions

Fifteen percent of all buyers said that convenience to vets and/or outdoor space for their pet was a critical factor in determining where they wanted to purchase their home. That number rises to 20 percent, or one-fifth of buyers, for unmarried couples.

NAR conducted a survey on the important role pets play in our home buying decisions and the unique considerations that pet owners face,” said Mendenhall. “Realtors® understand that when someone buys a home, they are buying it with the needs of their whole family in mind. And any pet owner will tell you that their animals are an important and beloved part of their family.”

Downsizing not a trend

Only 9 percent of buyers listed downsizing as a factor in their decision to move. In fact, 73 percent of buyers purchased a home that was either larger or similar in size to what they previously owned. “Homeowners that may be looking to downsize tend to be competing for the same homes as first-time buyers, and we are experiencing a scarcity of inventory in those smaller sized, moderately priced homes,” said Yun. “These buyers, not finding the smaller home they are looking for, may decide to purchase an equivalently sized home or simply stay put in their current home.”

FSBO’s at record low

For-Sale-By-Owner sales accounted for 7 percent of all sales – the lowest number recorded in this survey’s history. This number has been steadily declining since a high of 15 percent in 1981, with more and more owners relying on the expertise of an agent to help navigate the complicated process and intricacies of a home sale.

NAR mailed a 129-question survey in July 2018 using a random sample weighted to be representative of sales on a geographic basis to 155,250 recent home buyers. Respondents had the option to fill out the survey via hard copy or online; the online survey was available in English and Spanish. A total of 7,191 responses were received from primary residence buyers. After accounting for undeliverable questionnaires, the survey had an adjusted response rate of 4.6 percent. The sample at the 95 percent confidence level has a confidence interval of plus-or-minus 1.15 percent.

Recent home buyers had to have purchased a home between July 2017 and June 2018. All information is characteristic of the 12-month period ending in June 2018 with the exception of income data, which are for 2017.

The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

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What Buyers Should Ask After a Home Inspection

After an inspector has finished a home report, buyers may feel overwhelmed by any flaws that might have been found. That’s why it’s important they take the opportunity to learn more so that they can move forward confidently in the transaction.

A recent article at realtor.com® recommends home buyers ask their inspector clarifying questions like: “I don’t understand this; what does it mean?” or “Is this a major or minor problem?” and “Do I need to call in another expert for a follow-up?”

Home inspectors are bound to uncover something in a home; no home is perfect. But the majority of the problems they uncover will likely be minor. Have the home inspector clarify which problems fall within the “minor” or “major” categories.

Keep in mind: “The inspector can’t tell you, ‘Make sure the seller pays for this,’ so be sure you understand what needs to be done,” Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors, told realtor.com®.

If the inspector identifies a potentially major problem, consumers will want to follow up whether they should call an additional expert in to investigate further. For example, consumers may need to bring in an electrician to take a closer look at potential electrical issues that were flagged or a roofer if a roofing problem is suspected. Those specialists can then give an idea of the cost to fix it, which the real estate agent can take to the seller to request a concession, if the seller doesn’t want to fix it prior to the sale.

Also, Lesh says that the list of items a home inspector identifies are issues the new buyer may need to address as soon as they move in. He says it’s like a “to-do list” for those items that did not get repaired by the seller prior to the sale.

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

 

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12 Outdoor Halloween Decorations to Spook Out Your House

Halloween lights and decoration ideas you can DIY.

Graveyard, CFL Floodlights | Outdoor Halloween Decorations
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Stunning Ceilings: The Latest Eye Candy for the 5th Wall

Ceilings are too often the plain Jane element of a listing, but this element of your listing’s structure can assume a starring role and transform a space with minimal effort and expense. Learn about your clients’ options, from millwork to lighting, different shapes, paint, and even wallpaper.

Ceilings have long reflected architectural, economic, and other influences of the day. In early American homes, low ceilings were favored to keep spaces warm, even if they made them feel a bit claustrophobic. During the Victorian era, high ceilings—at least nine feet high and often higher—were embellished, integrating handcrafted cast-plaster ornaments, stenciling, and other decorative treatments.

When factory buildings and warehouses in New York’s downtown manufacturing district were converted to loft-style apartments starting in the 1950s, a grittier industrial chic took hold, leaving ceiling ductwork and beams exposed. Lofty heights remained in vogue throughout the 1980s and ’90s, but fancier vaults, peaks, and arches emerged as McMansions became the rage. However, as concern about the high cost of energy consumption gained traction, the idea of heating and cooling all that extra space turned some off high ceilings. They were lowered, though rarely to less than 8 feet, and left unadorned, a nod toward a modern aesthetic that often shunned crown molding and other details.

These days interest in personalizing space has meant ceilings have begun to play a role in helping rooms take on different personas, create memorable impressions on buyers, and solve problems such as adding visual depth to a low room.

Lisa Pickell, president of Orren Pickell Building Group, custom home builders in Chicago, is a fan of maximizing ceilings. “They offer a great opportunity to extend and enhance an aesthetic,” she says. But she also recommends doing so when planning a room’s décor rather than as an afterthought, which can make the project more expensive.

Erin Powell, design director and principal at RoOomy, an online staging firm out of San Jose, Calif., concurs that a well-planned ceiling treatment can help a listing stand out. “It usually won’t make or break a purchase, but it opens up the chance to make a buyer more interested,” she says.

Here are five ways to showcase a ceiling. Use them sparingly—certainly not in every room—to avoid visual confusion. “Otherwise, the concept may lose its specialness,” Pickell says.

dark blue ceiling

Paint

This is the least expensive way to make a ceiling stand out and alter its look without major architectural change. New homes often feature the same white color on walls and ceilings, but broker Matt van Winkle with RE/MAX Northwest in Seattle recommends painting the ceiling slightly lighter than what’s used on the walls to add depth. Generally, he advises steering clear of bold colors, except in children’s rooms.

Others, however, like adding more color for different visual effects. Designer Rebecca Pogonitz of Go Go Design in Chicago likes to use darker colors to create a cozy, almost a cocoonish, feeling, which she sometimes pairs with white trim to keep the overall feeling from seeming too heavy. Kristie Barnett, founder of The Decorologist in Nashville, also likes dark choices when staging a home for a memorable impression.

Sometimes, a wildly unexpected hue can be the easiest way to update a room, which was the approach architect Anik Pearson took with a vintage New York apartment that had its footprint and bones intact. “We restored it to its glory but with a modern twist by painting the dining room’s walls and beams a bold teal, filling in the space between beams in white, and running some chinoiserie-inspired wallpaper all around,” she says. Bob Zuber, partner, principal, and head of architectural design at Morgante Wilson Architects in Chicago, finds that tinted Venetian plaster warms up ceilings.

For the best coverage and less splatter, Rick Wilson, director of product information at Sherwin-Williams, stresses the importance of using quality ceiling paint. His colleague Sue Wadden, director of color marketing, suggests going with flat or matte finishes to hide imperfections and produce a polished, clean look for any color choice. Otherwise, painting the ceiling is no different from painting walls.

Wallpapered ceiling

Wallpaper

While many see this option as something of a throwback, wallpaper has found favor among more design professionals of late and for multiple reasons. “A graphic paper can define an activity area in an open-plan space; colorfully patterned papers can pull together a palette in a room, and gold, silver, or pewter leaf paper, which we use often, add stature, drama, and radiance when coupled with the right kind of lighting,” says Chicago-based designer Jessica LaGrange. “Wallpaper can hide cosmetic blemishes or introduce pattern in rooms where all the walls are taken such as a kitchen or family area with copious cabinetry.”

Pogonitz, who likes using bold and detailed patterns on ceilings, says it’s important to do the same prep work as you would for any wall surface—”patch and smooth out the ceiling as needed.”

But many design pros offer caveats with this approach. Powell cautions that wallpapering both a ceiling and walls can look excessive, so she recommends covering one or the other. LaGrange warns against using paper with a definite directional cue, such as those with a clear top and bottom, since it won’t be read “correctly” from a visual standpoint.

Barnett, who trains stagers, suggests avoiding wallpaper on the ceiling when selling. “It’s so taste-specific and many are still scared of paper,” she says. One way to hedge bets is to suggest one of the newer easy-to-remove papers from sources like Chasing Paper.

vaulted ceiling

Shape

Ceilings don’t have to be a flat plane, though it’s certainly easier and less costly to make this decision before construction or during a major remodeling and in a one-story space. Van Winkle has found coffered ceiling treatments are attracting a lot of attention these days among consumers. That could mean a pitched, vaulted, or arched shape that rises upward and provides a greater sense of airiness, drama, and light.

Homebuyers who purchase townhomes in communities developed by Chicago-based Lexington Homes are increasingly requesting to upgrade to ceilings with volume, particularly tray designs in master and secondary bedrooms, says sales director Todd Lesher. “Ceiling upgrades are one of the most common selections we encourage buyers to make, as they do not add a lot of cost, but make a big impact,” he says. “Buyers like that the volume helps open up the space and make the rooms seem larger and more expansive.”

Key to adding any volume to a ceiling is carefully considering the relationship of the elements to the size of the room to maintain proper visual scale, says Zuber. “You never put a tall ceiling in a small space or a short ceiling in a large room,” he says.

ceiling with millwork

Millwork

Woodwork is used for all sorts of interior spaces—doors, floors, walls, and the trim detailing that’s used in crown molding at the top by the ceiling. Such architectural trim, especially when wider and thicker, makes a house look more luxurious, says Barnett. It can also be used in more elaborate ways, atop a ceiling in recessed grids for a coffered effect or in one large central portion that’s recessed and higher, in what’s called a tray design. Merritt, in Mentor, Ohio, often designs these complex arrangements of wood in clients’ homes. The company recently fashioned an elaborate grid pattern from American white oak for a large Hamptons, N.Y., home. Haver and Skolnik Architects, in Roxbury, Conn., known for building and renovating traditional homes, frequently uses beams and other millwork to add coziness and an aged character. And Pearson recently used millwork to define an area in an open-plan New York apartment and baffle sound. In an adjacent kitchen, she added trim to bring extra drama to a skylight.

But simpler uses of crown molding or ceiling trim can achieve effects such as unifying adjoining rooms for less than $1,000, says Julie Whitley, director of architecture design at homebuilder Red Seal Development Corp. in Northbrook, Ill. One DIY technique that’s attracted wide attention and adds an updated farmhouse feel is to use shiplap, basically manufactured boards with grooves that fit together snugly. The look picked up steam after celebrity TV couple Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” show began using them in countless projects, including on ceilings. For a more modern vibe, Zuber of Morgante Wilson Architects recommends trim with an angled or slanted profile rather than straight rectangular boards. He advises keeping millwork in the right proportion to the ceiling’s height. “Four-inch crown is good for an 8- or 9-foot ceiling,” he says.

Whether the millwork is left natural or painted should depend on how much homeowners want it to stand out or complement a certain period or style. Winkle recommends keeping millwork white, which makes it easy to live with over time and appeal more universally, especially to buyers. For traditional homes, however, Powell favors dark hues that more readily reveal texture. But she cautions that going dark can visually bring a ceiling down.

ceiling lights

Lighting

Ceiling lights have changed a great deal in recent years; even housings for recessed cans reflect trends with different trim colors, materials, and diameters. Zuber likes placing them strategically around a ceiling rather than peppering a line of cans in the more common shotgun approach. Some also suggest eschewing the expected fixture at the center of a room, particularly in dining and master bedrooms, which gives greater flexibility when arranging furniture, says Amber Shay, national director of design studios for Meritage Homes, a Scottsdale, Ariz., builder of single-family homes.

In general, oversized fixtures are more on trend, along with ceiling fans with lights built in, and almost all bulbs are LEDs for better performance, greater efficiency, and new smart-home applications, says Joe Rey-Barreau, an architect, lighting designer, and education consultant for the American Lighting Association. Among some of the new LED uses are in linear strips that can be installed easily inside or on top of cabinets, in bookshelves, along toe kicks in kitchens and baths, and in ceiling coves and cornices. For sellers who want to update fixtures before listing to improve how rooms show, Rey-Barreau says the number of attractive, affordable options has increased. That’s especially helpful if they must leave such upgrades behind, which of course depends on the sales contract.

wood kitchen ceiling in loft

Barbara Ballinger is a freelance writer and the author of several books on real estate, architecture, and remodeling, including The Kitchen Bible: Designing the Perfect Culinary Space (Images Publishing, 2014). Barbara’s most recent book is The Garden Bible: Designing Your Perfect Outdoor Space, co-authored with Michael Glassman (Images, 2015).

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

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7 Trick-or-Treat Safety Tips that Every Homeowner Should Know

Some Halloween tricks can really cost you.

Hot lights and large crowds present some real risks to homeowners. Follow these seven tips for trick-or-treat safety:

#1 Make Your Outdoor Lights as Bright as Possible

Three trick-or-treaters waiting on a doorstep on HalloweenImage: Carolina Hanna/Offset

John Pettibone, curator of Hammond Castle Museum in Gloucester, Mass., suggests checking the label on your outdoor light fixtures and using the highest wattage bulbs they can safely handle. You can always switch them back after the holiday for a softer glow.

#2 Prop Open the Storm Door for Trick-or-Treaters

Pettibone suggests propping open the screen or storm door so it doesn’t get in the way when there’s a big group of kids congregated on your stoop. Yellow caution tape can do the trick while keeping with your Halloween theme. A 1,000-ft. roll of 3-inch-wide tape is about $8.

#3 Use LEDs Instead of Real Candles

Brick path lined with jack-o-lanterns lit with LED candlesImage: Jamie Garbutt/Getty

Pettibone warns against lighting real candles in carved pumpkins or paper lanterns; they’re a fire waiting to happen. LED-bulb faux candles are much safer, and the light looks a lot like the real thing. Before you purchase Halloween decorative lights, be sure to look for safety certifications such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories).

#4 Use Motion Lights After the Trick-or-Treaters Have Left

When the trick-or-treaters go home, the vandals often come out. Motion sensor lights that illuminate the whole house can help scare away mischief makers out to egg your house or do more serious damage.

#5 Tighten Railings

Fixing wobbly or broken porch railings is a trick-or-treat safety must, as they can cause severe injuries if anyone leans on them a little too hard. Hire a contractor or handyman to fix the problem before your guests arrive.

#6 Use Friction Tape on Steps

Jack-o-lanterns placed out of the path of trick-or-treatersImage: Grabill Creative/Getty

Steps can get slippery in damp weather. Prepare by applying friction tape ($16 for a 60-foot roll of 1-inch-wide tape) to steps.

If your neighborhood is at risk for an early freeze, stock up on ice melt, too ($20 for a 50-lb. bag).

A related Halloween trick-or-treat safety tip: Clear your walk, steps, and stoop of any obstructions like potted plants – and even jack-o’-lanterns. Move them where no one can accidentally stumble on them.

#7 Clear the Curb — It’s the Most Important Trick-or-Treat Safety Tip

Here’s a scary statistic: Four times as many child pedestrians are killed on Halloween night than a normal night. Of all the trick-or-treat safety guidelines, this one could be the most important.

Reduce risks to little pedestrians by clearing parked cars from the curb for better visibility and placing a reflective “Watch for Children” sign at the edge of the road. On busy streets, consider having adults take turns maintaining safety in the street with a hand-held traffic control light.

“Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this.  Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

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Homeowners Ready to Sell in Third Quarter of 2018

WASHINGTON (September 26, 2018) – New findings from the National Association of Realtors® show that a record high 77 percent of Americans believe that now is a good time to sell a house, while those that think now is a good time to buy continues to decline.

NAR’s third quarter Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey1 also found that a majority of consumers believe prices have and will continue to rise, while the quality of schools is a critical factor in deciding whether or not to buy a home.

Half of all Americans strongly believe now is a good time to sell (compared to 46 percent last quarter), while 27 percent moderately believe this is the right time (29 percent last quarter). Respondents in the West are the most likely to think now is a good time (85 percent) as are those who currently own a home (82 percent). Only 22 percent believe that now is not a good time to sell, down from 29 percent in the second quarter.

Optimism that now is a good time to buy has declined slightly from last quarter. Sixty-three percent of respondents either strongly or moderately believe that now is a good time buy compared to 68 percent last quarter. Among renters, positive feelings about purchasing continue to fall, dropping from 49 percent in the second quarter to 45 percent this quarter. Optimism is highest among older U.S. households (65 or over) and those with a household income of more than $100,000 a year (70 and 68 percent respectively).

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun says several consecutive years of strong home price growth are enticing homeowners to consider selling. “Though the vast majority of consumers believe home prices will continue to increase or hold steady, they understand the days of easy, fast gains could be coming to an end. Therefore, more are indicating that it is a good time to sell, which is a healthy shift in the market.”

Respondents were also asked about their view of home prices in their neighborhoods. Seventy percent believe that home prices have gone up in their area in the last 12 months, up from 68 percent in the second quarter. Fifty-three percent also believe that home prices will continue to increase in their communities in the next six months; this is down from the last quarter (55 percent).

Consumers feeling positive about the economy and concerned about qualifying for a mortgage

A near-record high of 60 percent of households believe that the economy is improving – up slightly from 58 percent last quarter and up significantly from 53 percent in the third quarter of 2017. People in a household income of over $100,000 are more likely to view the economy as improving (67 percent) compared with those with an income $50,000 to $100,000 (64 percent) and under $50,000 (49 percent).

The HOME survey’s monthly Personal Financial Outlook Index2, showing respondents’ confidence that their personal financial situation will be better in six months, rose slightly from 62.1 in June to 62.6 in September. A year ago, the index was 62.0.

Among those who do not currently own a home, 28 percent of those surveyed believe that it would be very difficult to qualify for a mortgage and 31 percent believe that it would be somewhat difficult given their current financial situation (compared to 26 and 28 percent last month respectively). “This is most likely a manifestation of the constantly rising prices,” said Yun. “As prices rise so do down payments, making the mortgage qualifying process more challenging.”

Importance of Highly Rated Schools, Other Factors in Homebuying Decision

In this quarter’s survey, homeowners and non-homeowners were asked how important high rated schools are in their home buying decision. Over two-thirds of those surveyed said that highly rated schools were either very or somewhat important in their decision (47 percent and 23 percent, respectively).

When asked about what considerations were taken into account when choosing a new neighborhood, 25 percent of respondents ranked proximity to friends and family as most important, followed by proximity to their job and a short commute (24 percent). Proximity to friends and family is most important to those in rural areas (31 percent) compared to suburban and urban (25 and 21 percent respectively).

“When you buy a home, you do not just buy the house; you buy a community – neighbors, parks, stores and schools,” said NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall, a sixth-generation Realtor® from Columbia, Missouri and CEO of RE/MAX Boone Realty. “Realtors® understand the unique qualities of the neighborhoods in their area and can help individual families find and purchase the right home in the right neighborhood.”

Respondents were also asked about the number of homes available for sale in their communities. Fifty-six percent of respondents reported that the number of homes available for sale in the neighborhood has remained the same over the past six months, while 23 percent said they have observed more homes for sale than usual.

About NAR’s HOME survey

From July through September, a sample of U.S. households was surveyed via random-digit dial, including a mix of cell phones and land lines. The survey was conducted by an established survey research firm, TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence. Each month approximately 900 qualified households responded to the survey. The data was compiled for this report representing a total of 2,731 household responses.

The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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1NAR’s Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey tracks topical real estate trends, including current renters and homeowners’ views and aspirations regarding homeownership, whether or not it’s a good time to buy or sell a home, and expectations and experiences in the mortgage market. New questions are added to the survey each quarter to reflect timely topics impacting real estate. HOME survey data is collected on a monthly basis and will be reported each quarter. New questions will be added to the survey each quarter to reflect timely topics impacting the real estate marketplace.

2Index ranges between 0 and 100: 0 = all respondents believe their personal financial situation will be worse in 6 months; 50 = all respondents believe their personal financial situation will be about the same in 6 months; 100 = all respondents believe their personal situation will be better in 6 months.

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

 

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13 Tips for Home Wildfire Protection

A well-maintained roof helps protect a home from wildfiresImage: NFPA Firewise Communities Program

All it takes is for one ember to fall on your roof. Don’t let it happen.

With that in mind, fortify your home like the castle it is with these 13 wildfire-repelling steps. But keep in mind that no product or technique is a failsafe against a raging fire.

#1 Check Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

If you don’t already have working smoke detectors or haven’t tested them recently, make that your No. 1 job. Now.

#2 Check Fire Extinguishers

And if you don’t have them, get them.

#3 Get a Bucket, Shovel, and Hose Ready

Have an easily accessible bucket, shovel (to dig a trench to protect against encroaching ground fire), and connected garden hose to help you defend the area around your home.

#4 Invest in Rain Barrels

An extra source of water can’t hurt. And rain barrels save on your water bills, too.

#5 Clear Yard of Debris

Keep gutters, porches, and the lawn free of debris, leaves, and fallen branches. If a fire threat is imminent, remove furniture and decorations from decks and porches, including welcome mats.

#6 Plant Fire-Resistant Shrubs and Annuals

Like irises, rhododendrons, hostas, and lilacs, which have high-moisture content. Your local Cooperative Extension Office can advise you on appropriate species for your area.

#7 Remove Tree Branches Lower Than 6 Feet

Fires tend to start low and rise. For that reason, don’t plant shrubs directly under trees; they can combust and cause the fire to rise up the tree. By the way, spacing out all plants and shrubs is a good practice, too.

#8 Remove Tree Limbs Near Chimneys

Keep them at least 10 feet away. Embers from burning limbs could fall in.

#9 Set Up a Protective Perimeter

Create a 100-foot perimeter around your home, free of dry leaves, grass, and shrubs that fuel wildfires. Keep petroleum tanks, cars, and wood piles outside of this safe zone.

#10 Use Rocks Instead of Mulch Next to the House

Lay a six-inch swath of decorative rocks closest to the home and then use mulch from there. This also helps repel insects, like termites, (bugs like wood) and facilitate rain water drainage.

#11 Use Non-Flammable Fencing

If you have wood fencing around your home, replace any three-foot sections that attach to the home with metal or other non-flammable fencing material. A metal gate or decorative fencing piece is stylish as well as fire-unfriendly.

#12 Cover Chimneys and Vents With Flame-Retardant Mesh

And it’s cheap to do. They cost just few dollars from hardware or home improvement stores.

#13 Check Your Siding

Fire-resistant or non-combustible siding like stucco or brick provides the best protection against fire. Make sure your siding, whatever type, is in good repair, because if the plywood or insulation are exposed, the home is more vulnerable to flames.

Some experts recommend spraying homes with fire retardants, which can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the product, region, and size of the project. But some of the chemicals used to make flame-retardants have toxic properties. Although you might have less exposure to chemicals used on your home’s exterior than those inside, toxicity issues could still be a factor.

Most important, if a wildfire is on its way, evacuate. And have an evacuation plan worked out with your family before the worst happens.

“Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this.  Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

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Market Shifting to Buyers’ Favor

A housing market defined by rapidly rising home prices, bidding wars, a lack of inventory, and sellers with the upper hand in negotiations may be changing. “The signs are pointing to a market that’s shifting toward buyers,” says Danielle Hale, realtor.com®’s chief economist. “But in most places, we’re still a long way from a full reversal.”

After all, home sales aren’t exactly tanking. Prices for existing homes were up 4.6 percent from a year ago in the National Association of REALTORS®’ latest housing report. The median home list price in August was up 7 percent from last year.

While these numbers are still higher than last year, economists point to a slowing growth in the percentage jumps. Last year, median home list prices increased by 10 percent from the previous year and by 9 percent the year before that.

A recent report from real estate brokerage Redfin showed that more than one in four home sellers dropped their asking price last month. The areas seeing some of the biggest decreases this year are Las Vegas; San Jose, Calif.; Seattle; and Atlanta.

“We’ve hit that tipping point in a lot of these cities where what sellers think they can get is just not possible for many buyers,” Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions, told realtor.com®. “Now the pendulum is swinging away from sellers and back toward buyers.”

Economists point to housing affordability as a culprit for the slowdown. Mortgage rates are up 0.82 percent since a year ago; the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.65 percent as of Sept. 20. Each percentage point increase in rates can translate to about $143 more on a monthly mortgage payment, or nearly $51,500 over the life of a loan on a $300,000 priced home, according to realtor.com®.

“Home prices have just gone up too fast,” Blomquist says. “It doesn’t mean that all of a sudden it’s a market that’s going to crash. But it does mean there are limits to what people can afford.”

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

 

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