Mortgage Rates Move Even Lower This Week

 

Fixed-rate mortgages dropped slightly this week compared to the previous week, and continue to hover near all-time lows.

“The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 2 basis points to 3.43 percent this week, erasing last week’s uptick,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “For eight consecutive weeks mortgage rates have ranged between 3.41 and 3.48 percent. Inflation is not adding any upward pressure on interest rates as the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the Consumer Price Index was unchanged in July.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending Aug. 18:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.43 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.45 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.93 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 2.74 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 2.76 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.15 percent.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 2.76 percent, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s 2.74 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 2.94 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

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Protecting your home from Wildfire

If your home is situated in an area vulnerable to wildfire,  designing and creating a fire-resistant landscape should be considered. Here are some easy steps to provide some protection to your home:

Mulches: Bark mulches in the landscape add organic matter to the soil as they decompose, conserve soil moisture, control weeds and keep the soil cooler than rock mulches. However, when working to create a fire-resistant landscape, bark or wood chips shouldn’t be considered.  Instead gravel or rock mulches are best, especially when mulching areas that are close to buildings, fences, wood decks or other wooden structures.

Raised beds: Raised beds are predominantly constructed out of wood. In fire-vulnerable areas, it is better to build raised beds with bricks, concrete blocks, rocks, corrugated metal or other nonflammable materials.

Landscape maintenance:  Yard cleanup and the removal of plant litter is one way to reduce fuel for wildfires.  Rake the layers of dead pine needles and arborvitae foliage beneath evergreens, dry leaves that have piled up in nooks and crannies around the yard, or bunches of dry plant litter anywhere else. If pines or other needled evergreens are situated close to your house, regularly remove their litter that accumulates on the roof and in gutters.

Keeping potential sources of fuel in mind, be sure to store any firewood 30 to 100 feet away from structures and also keep vegetation away from area. Eliminate any piles of plant litter, such as grass clippings.  Also, remove dead shrubs and tree branches in your landscape. Cut down weeds and brush in areas of your property that are not landscaped.

Lawns: Green lawns do resist fire well, and efforts should be taken to maintain this green space around your home. You should water deeply and less frequently to save water and promote a healthy green lawn.

Trees:  Consider pruning the lower limbs to remove fuel that allows the fire to climb to the top of trees.. Pruning off limbs from 6 to 15 feet up is recommended. For the health of the trees, this is best done with proper pruning cuts when the trees are young.

Landscape design: Creating “Fire Smart” landscape is important, especially if located a vulnerable area. You can help defend your home with sound Fire Smart landscaping.

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‘Red Flag’ fire warnings for Columbia Basin

The National Weather Service has issued a “red flag” warning, effective through 9 p.m. Friday, August 19th  for the Columbia Basin.

High heat, gusty winds and low humidity have created critical fire danger conditions, the weather service said.

All burning is prohibited, and all current fires must be immediately extinguished — including emergency agricultural burning.

Winds will remain at 15 to 25 mph into Friday afternoon before decreasing Friday night and Saturday. Sunday will bring westerly winds of 10 to 20 mph.

The temperature soared as high as 99 degrees Thursday at the Tri-Cities Airport in Pasco. Expected highs are 92 degrees Friday, 95 on Saturday and 97 on Sunday.

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2016 BENTON COUNTY FAIR & RODEO

BENTON COUNTY FAIR & RODEO,

AUGUST 3-6, 2016

Fair hours:

  • Wednesday, August 3, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
  • Thursday, August 4, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
  • Friday, August 5, 11 a.m.-midnight
  • Saturday, August. 6, 11 a.m.-midnight
(Exhibit and Commercial Buildings close at 10 PM nightly)

Admission

At the Fair Gate Ticket prices are as follows:

  • Adults (17-59) $8 per day or $20 Season Pass
  • Seniors (60 +) $5 per day
  • Senior Season Pass $12
  • Youth (6-16) $3 per day
  • Youth Season Pass $9
  • Kids 5 and under FREE all day, every day
  • Buy in Advance to SAVE $
At the Fair Carnival Ticket Booths all Day-Ride Bands are $30. You can save $5 buying in advance.

Special promotions and discounts –

Kids Day – Opening Day – Wednesday, August 3. Kids 6-16 FREE until 5 PM

Seniors Day – Thursday, August 4. Seniors 60 years old and better get in FREE until 5 PM.

American Heroes Day – Friday, August 5. All military (and retired) personnel, first-responders – police and fire personnel get in FREE all day/night/

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Good Schools Give 77% Boost to Home Values

Home values can get a big increase from having a highly rated school nearby. According to the new ATTOM Data Solutions 2016 Schools and Housing Report, homes in ZIP codes with at least one good elementary school have values about 77 percent higher than in ZIP codes without highly ranked schools close by.

Researchers looked at home values and price appreciation against 2015 average test scores in nearly 19,000 elementary schools across 4,435 ZIP codes. They considered a “good school” to be one that had an overall test score that was at least one-third above the state average.

The research team found that out of 1,661 ZIP codes with at least one good school, the average estimated home value was $427,402 – 77 percent more than the home value of $241,096 in 2,774 ZIP codes without any “good schools.”

“While good schools are one of the top items on most homebuyer checklists because of the quality-of-life benefit they provide, this report shows that high-performing schools also come with a financial benefit for home owners in most markets – at least over the long term,” says Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions. “Meanwhile, home prices in ZIP codes without any good schools tend to be more volatile, which might work to a home owner’s financial benefit in the short term but not over the long term of at least 10 years.”

Home owners living near at least one good school have gained, on average, $74,716 in value since purchase — an average return on investment of 32 percent, the study found. On the other hand, home owners in ZIP codes without any good schools have gained, on average, $23,311 in value since their purchase, an average return on investment of 27.5 percent.

The following metro areas had home values in ZIP codes with at least one good school that were at least 95 percent higher than home values in ZIP codes without any good schools: Birmingham, Ala. (169% higher); Flint, Mich. (129% higher); St. Louis (99% higher); Detroit (97% higher); and Baltimore (95% higher).

Source: Schools & Housing 2016 Report Card

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Renovation Tips to Attract Millennial Buyers

 

Generation Y makes up the largest pool of potential buyers, and builders and current home owners alike are keeping their needs in mind when building and renovating homes.

The millennial generation is overwhelmed with options and information online, which is also reflected in their home search process. They are not looking to settle for a home that is good enough, they want to find one that is ready to move in and enjoy right away.

“They’re picky,” says Peggy Yee, a supervising broker at Frankly Realtors in Vienna, Va. told Consumer Reports recently. “Millennials have specific needs, and if your home doesn’t meet them, they’re going to move on to the next house.”

When your clients are looking to tackle a renovation project, Consumer Reports suggests they should focus on improving these four areas of the home that will make it an easier sell and appeal to younger buyers:

Create a Laundry Room

Young buyers want to separate their laundry from their main living space. Having a separate laundry room is so important to millennials, in a recent survey 55 percent of them said they wouldn’t even consider a new home without one.

Get Smart

Having energy efficient, up-to-date appliances and including smart home technology in a home is a big value-add for young buyers. As NAHB reports, over two-thirds of millennials say smart home technology is a good investment, and they are willing to pay 3 percent more for these upgrades. But as Consumer Reports cautions, “keep in mind that high-tech features can quickly become poor investments because technologies evolve quickly.”

Make Working from Home Easier

Many millennials have jobs with flexible schedules and work from home policies, so owners should think of ways they can re-imagine a space to make telecommuting a reality. As Consumer Reports points out, “It’s also relatively inexpensive to convert a room into an office; a basic desk, office chair, and door should do the trick.”

Focus on Outdoor Spaces

Many young buyers are looking for a home that’s move-in ready and comes already equipped with thoughtful landscaping and a outdoor space for entertaining. This type of space doesn’t have to be fancy either. Just adding a patio or deck that has room for seating and a grill should do the trick to attract these buyers.

Source: “Make Your Home More Appealing to Young Buyers,” Consumer Reports (Aug. 7, 2016)

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One vs. Two-Story Homes: Which Dominates?

Most people prefer a single-story home, one study reports. But home shoppers may have a more difficult time finding a one-story home in some regions of the country.

The greatest shares of single-family homes with two or more stories are in the Northeast, Pacific, and Western regions of the U.S., according to a new analysis of Census Bureau data by the National Association of Home Builders.

Overall, a greater number of two or more story homes are completed than one-story homes – 58 percent compared to 42 percent.

The Northeast has the largest number of completed two or more two story homes in the nation, which may be due to pricier lot values there, NAHB notes.

“Median lot values in the New England and Middle Atlantic divisions far surpass lot values elsewhere in the country,” the NAHB notes on its Eye on Housing blog. “At the same time, higher density and land constraints may also have contributed to a higher proportion of two or more story homes across coastal divisions.”

The Midwest was the only region of the country where the majority of single-family homes completed were one-story homes, the NAHB notes.

Most home owners prefer a single-story home, A recent NAHB report found that 64 percent of all buyers surveyed said they preferred a single-story home. But researchers note the study’s survey pool was skewed mostly older. Older adults tend to prefer single-story homes, a separate study found. NAHB’s Housing Preferences of Boomer Generation study found that 75 percent of baby boomers and 88 percent of seniors say they want a single story, one-floor living home. However, fewer than half of millennials – 35 percent – and Generation X — 49 percent — say they prefer a one-story home.

Source: “The Number of Stories in Single-Family Homes Varies Across the Country,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing Blog (Aug. 5, 2016)

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Renovation Ideas Owners May Want to Rethink

Home renovation television shows give home owners big ideas about how they can spruce up their property. But some of these projects can open up problems for owners whose big remodeling dreams may not have been well-thought out. Realtor.com® recently spotlighted a few renovation plans that often turn out badly:

Tearing down walls: While some walls may not look like they’d be any big deal to tear down – even, say, a half wall — they actually may be providing more support to a home than home owners realize. The walls may be holding up floors or framework. Also, those walls may contain electric and plumbing. Always ask a professional the implication of tearing down any wall and check what is required by your municipalities building code.

Modernizing a historic home: Removing some of the historic appeal or character of a home – such as removing original woodwork, built-ins, or claw-foot bathtubs – can be one of the worst mistakes remodelers make, says Matt Forcum, a real estate pro with Century 21 Realty Concepts in Effingham, Ill. The interior may no longer match the character of the exterior, and thereby bring down the value of the property.

Replacing worn-out wood floors: “Unless you’ve had significant water damage, it doesn’t take much to replace hardwood flooring,” says Luis Leonzo with TableLegsOnline.com. Tearing out old floors could potentially lower your home’s value too, Leonzo adds. “The older the home, the higher the quality of hardwood, which might have cost $20 a square foot when it was built. Replacing the flooring with laminate or carpet at $1 a square foot is like reupholstering your leather couch with canvas!”

Using the highest priced materials: Some of the priciest renovations rarely pay off at resale. For example, Morgan Franklin with United Real Estate Lexington in Kentucky suggests finding a nice granite for $35 to $50 instead of the marble for $100-plus a square foot. “In the eyes of the appraiser and the next buyer, there isn’t much difference,” Franklin says.

Source: “The Worst Renovation Advice You Might Actually Try,” realtor.com® (Aug. 4, 2016)

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4 Common Home Buyer Oversights

Daily Real Estate News | Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Buyers on the hunt for the perfect home often overlook common issues that could cost them thousands of dollars and give them buyer’s remorse later on.

As their real estate professional, your guidance can help clients focus on these four often-forgettable things during their house hunt:

Not taking into account all of the expenses of home ownership.

“People focus so much on mortgage payments and closing costs,” says Brendon DeSimone, author of “Next Generation Real Estate. “What they don’t realize, until after the fact, is that there are expenses like oil or propane and landscaping that are built into home ownership.” Home buyers should ask sellers for a property expense list to get a better gauge of what they’ll be paying each month. Also, financing experts often suggest setting aside 1 percent of the home’s total value annually for repairs and maintenance.

Failing to consider a home’s resale value.

Few buyers actually stay in their home for decades. Buyers should talk to their real estate agent about trends in the neighborhood and the likelihood that the home would sell for the same amount two years, five years, or 10 years down the road, Avery Boyce, a real estate professional with Compass Real Estate in Washington, D.C., told realtor.com®. “Buying a home should make financial sense now, but if circumstances make this home no longer the right one within a few years, you don’t want to be in a tricky financial situation while trying to sell,” Boyce says.

Not investigating the neighborhood more closely.

Make sure your home buyers also closely inspect the neighborhood too. DeSimone suggests that home buyers walk around the neighborhood at different times of the day. Talk with the neighbors too.

Failing to look into the homeowners association.

“Never close on a home without doing serious due diligence on the homeowners association,” says DeSimone. Many HOAs can be supportive, but there have been reports of a few cases where home owners have clashed. Also, it’s important to note if there are a lot of delinquent home owners in the neighborhood because “if there is an upcoming assessment, or there are delinquent home owners, the HOA and you will have to cough up the money to cover it,” DeSimone says.

Source: “6 Things Home Buyers Forget to Do: Did You Forget Them Too?” realtor.com® (July 26, 2016)

“Copyright NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission”

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