Thursday, March 28, 2013

US Existing-Home Sales Highest In More Than Three Years

Sales of previously owned properties grew last month to the highest level in more than three years and more people put their properties up for sale, signs the improving housing market will lift the economy this year. Existing-home sales increased 0.8% in February from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.98 million, the National Association of Realtors said. Sales were 10.2% above the same month a year earlier, the 20th straight month of year-over year gains. After contracting since last July, the number of homes on the market has started to increase as home sales grow and prices recover. The inventory of previously owned homes listed for sale at the end of February increased 9.6% from January to 1.94 million. Homes, meanwhile, are selling faster. It took a median 74 days for homes to be sold in February, compared with 97 days last year, the Realtors group said. Lawrence Yun, the Realtors’ chief economist, predicted that the housing market’s recovery would cause consumers to feel better about their household wealth and feel more comfortable making purchases. Full Article 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ease the pain of a kitchen remodel

Most families embarking on a kitchen remodel do not have the luxury of moving out of their homes. Everything in the kitchen must be moved out. So what do you do? The best way to prepare for such a major disruption is to create a temporary kitchen.

Pack the dishes and move any food items to a good storage location, keeping in mind that you will have to get into them at times during the remodel. Decide which items you will likely need to unpack and keep those items near the top of your boxes. It’s a good idea to label your boxes to make it easier to find these frequently used items. Packing kitchen items in clearly labeled boxes will also making restocking cabinets easier when your remodel is complete.

Set up a temporary mini-kitchen with a small table for eating. The dining room or a large laundry room often works well. You will want an area to set up your small appliances and try to be close to a sink or water source if possible. If the weather is nice enough, you can plan on using your patio grill for much of your cooking. Full Article


Spring DIY Project: Installing Window Treatments

No. 1: Have your tools and hardware ready

You will most likely need most or all of the following: a drill, screwdriver, anchors, level, measuring tape, and a ladder or step stool. (Optional is a friend for extra hands and moral support.) Have everything at your side, so you won’t get distracted in the middle of the installation process. It’s not rocket science, but it’s best to keep your concentration.

No. 2: Read the instructions

Open your box of window treatments carefully (do not use a razor blade or utility knife to avoid damaging them) and lay everything out to make sure you have all the pieces you need. It’s so exciting, you’ll want to dive right in, but resist the temptation. And, first things first, read through all of the installation instructions. They are generally not very long, and sometimes the order in which you do things makes a big difference.

No. 3: Measure twice, drill once

Source: Levolor

Employ your measuring tape and level here. And, definitely use a ladder or step stool for assistance. There is no need to strain — you want to see everything clearly. Make sure your shade or treatment is centered with the window or window frame. Most brackets and hardware from online vendors come with pre-drilled holes. Use those when measuring, and before drilling, mark the holes with a pencil.

No. 4: Use proper anchors

If you are not drilling into a stud, then get the appropriate type of anchor for your wall type, rated for the weight of your window treatments. You may be tugging and pulling on these treatments several times a day, so you want to make sure the fasteners can handle the stress.

No. 5: Don’t be afraid to ask for help

The customer service staff at the vendor can help you if you have questions. They have talked people through all of this before. Do not hesitate to reach out for their expertise.

If you have the time and fortitude to spare on a weekend to install window treatments yourself, you can save a boatload of money. And you’ll have the grand satisfaction and rewarding confidence that comes from knowing you are a totally capable DIYer. Once you’ve mastered hanging window treatments, you can move on to hanging cabinets! The sky’s the limit. Full Article 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Housing Market Set To ‘Bloom’ As Spring Buying Season Begins

While a few stumbling blocks remain, Freddie Mac insists the economy is finally headed “from gloom to bloom” this spring. The GSE released its U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook for March, showing that low mortgage rates, rising prices, and gradually improving consumer confidence will bolster home sales as the homebuying season starts. Compared to 2012, experts at Freddie Mac expect home sales to increase 8 to 10 percent this year, coming to about 5.4 million units sold by year’s end. With inventory remaining tight and home sales picking up in many markets, the demand for new single- and multifamily housing should result in more construction, higher new home sales, and greater construction employment. Housing starts are forecast to increase to 950,000 units for 2013, up from 780,000 last year. On the topic of prices, Freddie Mac expects an average 4.0 percent appreciation in 2013. Full Article  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Industry Experts Predict Price Growth into 2017

If projections hold out, home values will rise 22 percent cumulatively by the end of 2017, according to Zillow’s first-quarter Home Price Expectations Survey. For its report, Zillow and Pulsenomics surveyed a nationwide panel of 118 economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists to get their thoughts on future home values and housing market policies. On average, the panel forecasts price growth of 4.6 percent in 2013 and 4.2 percent in 2014. More moderate growth is expected after that, with annual appreciation rates between 3.6 percent and 3.8 percent for 2015, 2016, and 2017, leading to an average 4.1 percent growth annually for the next five years. According to Zillow, this is the first time the predicted average annual growth rate for the next five years has surpassed pre-bubble levels since the survey was created. Full Article

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Prices to Skyrocket if Rates Stay Low for Two Years

John Burns, CEO at John Burns Real Estate Consulting and Owner, John Burns Real Estate Consulting says mortgage rates stay at 3.5% for several years, home prices will skyrocket. Potential home buyers can purchase a 34% more expensive home today than they could at the end of 2008. With supply now dwindling, it is a seller’s market, and price appreciation is only limited by what people can afford to pay every month. Here is a link to the interview as well as 2 charts illustrating the point.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Eight ways to improve your home appraisal

Here are eight ways you can bolster your appraisal:


Is the appraiser from within a 10-mile radius of your property? "This is one of the first questions you should ask the appraiser," says Ben Salem, a real estate agent with Rodeo Realty in Beverly Hills, California.

He recalled a recent case where an appraiser visited an unfamiliar property in nearby Orange County and produced an appraisal that Salem said was $150,000 off. "If the appraiser doesn't know the area intimately, chances are the appraisal will not come back close to what a property is really worth."

You can request that your lender send a local appraiser; if that still doesn't happen, supply as much information as you can about the quality of your neighborhood.


Provide your appraiser with at least three solid and well-priced comparable properties. You will save her some work, and insure that she is getting price information from homes that really are similar to yours.

Websites including, Zillow and Trulia offer recent sales prices and details such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in a home.


If you're going to do minor renovations, start with your kitchen and bathrooms, says G. Stacy Sirmans, a professor of real estate at Florida State University. He reviewed 150 variables that affect home values for a study sponsored by the National Association of Realtors. Wood floors, landscaping and an enclosed garage can also drive up appraisals.


If you've put money into the house, prove it, says Salem.

"Before-and-after photos, along with a well-defined spreadsheet of what was spent on each renovation, should persuade an appraiser to turn in a number that far exceeds what he or she first called out."

Don't forget to highlight all-important structural improvements to electrical systems, heating and cooling systems - which are harder to see, but can dramatically boost an appraisal. Show receipts.


If your town has recently seen exciting developments, such as upscale restaurants, museums, parks or other amenities, make sure your appraiser knows about them, says Craig Silverman, principal and chief appraiser at Silverman & Co. in Newtown, Pennsylvania.


Many homeowners covet that refinished basement, but that doesn't mean appraisers look at it the same way. "Improvements and additions made below grade, such as a finished basement, do not add to the overall square footage of your house," says John Walsh, president of Total Mortgage Services in New York. "So they don't add anywhere near as much value as improvements made above grade."

According to Remodeling magazine, a basement renovation that cost $63,000 in 2011-12 will recoup roughly 66 percent of that in added home value. That's not as good as an attic bedroom, which will recoup 73 percent of its cost. Even similar bedrooms typically count for more if they are upstairs instead of downstairs.


Even jaded appraisers can be swayed by a good looking yard. "Tree trimming, cleaning up, a few flowers in the flower beds and paint touch up can all help the appraisal," says Agnes Huff, a real estate investor based in Los Angeles.

That advice holds true indoors, too. "Get rid of all the clutter in your home," says Jonathan Miller, a longtime appraiser in New York. "It makes the home appear larger."


Don't follow the appraiser around like a puppy. "I can't tell you how many homeowners or listing agents follow me around in my personal space during the inspection," he says. "It's a major red flag there is a problem with the home."

And while you're at it, make the appraiser's job as pleasant as possible by giving your home a pleasant smell. At a minimum, clean out the litter box. Baking some fresh cookies and offering him one or two probably won't sway your appraisal, nor should it. But it couldn't hurt.

Full Article

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Home Prices Post Biggest Gain in Six Years

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Home prices rose 8.3% in December from a year earlier, the biggest gain since May 2006, according to CoreLogic. All but four states -- Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Illinois and Delaware -- posted increases. Full Article

Prices rose 0.4% in December from November, the 10th consecutive monthly advance.

Excluding foreclosures and short sales, which sell at deep discounts to the market price, home prices were up 7.5% on a year-on-year basis and 0.9% month-on-month.

The states with the highest home-price appreciation in December were Arizona (20%), Nevada (15.3%), Idaho (14.6%), California (12.6%) and Hawaii (12.5%).

"We are heading into 2013 with home prices on the rebound," said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. "All signals point to a continued improvement in the fundamentals underpinning the U.S. housing market recovery."

Housing appears to have some momentum, with prices expected to rise 7.9% in January from a year earlier, according to Core Logic's Pending Home Sales Index. Month over month, prices are likely to decline by 1%, reflecting the seasonal winter slowdown.

Excluding foreclosures and short sales, which sell at deep discounts to market prices, home prices are likely to rise 8.6% on a year-on-year basis and 0.7% on a month-on-month basis in January.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Weekly Round Up

Happy March 1st- hope everyone had a wonderful week! Where did January and February go?! As busy as we all are I am sure we are happy Spring is around the corner so we can stop and smell the tulips. We have had tons of activity on our listings with so many selling with multiple offers! 

 Below are the latest MySecretAgent listingsClick on the address for more info. We have had tons of activity on our listings this week! Let us know how we can help sell your home and save thousands

If you have any questions on how to list or how much you can save listing with MySecretAgent give us a call, 800-915-9174.

MLS# 425630, Potential Savings over $9000

MLS# 425625, Potential Savings over $2600

MLS# 13372706, Potential savings over $12,400

MLS# 453859, Potential Savings over $6900

Have a wonderful weekend, 
MySecretAgent Team