Homebuyers Have More Choices in Many Markets

Courtesy of HouseLogic.

Low interest rates, an improving job market, and an increase in the number of new and existing homes for sale fueled a 3.3% increase in the number of homes under contract to sell in July, data from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® show.
“Steady job additions to the economy are helping family finances and giving consumers added confidence to enter the market,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “The increase in the number of new and existing homes for sale is creating less competition and is giving prospective buyers more time to review their options before submitting an offer.”

All major regions experienced healthy gains except for the Midwest, which saw a slight decline.

Pending Home Sales by Region

July 2014 Compared with July 2013
National Up 3.3% Down 2.1%
Northeast Up 6.2% Up 8.3%
Midwest Down 0.4% Down 6.4%
South Up 4.2% Down 1.0%
West Up 4.0% Down 6.0%

In 2014, Yun predicts 4.98 million existing-homes will sell, down 2.1% compared with the 5.09 million homes sold in 2013.

He expects the national median existing-home price to grow between 5% and 6% this year and grow 4% to 5% in 2015.

In July, the national median existing-home price was $222,900 for all home types (up 4.9% from July 2013) and $215,000 for condos (up 3.3% from this time last year).

Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/blog/home-thoughts/homebuyers-have-more-choices-many-markets

Recycle Wooden Pallets

Here are 10 really creative ideas on using wooden pallets. I am definitely going to try the coffee table. Which idea will you try?

1. Front Porch Swing.

This is a very low cost and creative solution. All you need is strong ropes and 2 sturdy wooden pallets.

swing

2. Coat Rack.

Paint this pallet however you want then just add some hooks for an adorable coat rack!

coat rack

3. Coffee Table.  

Cute and functional coffee table on wheels made from recycled wooden pallets.

coffee table

4. Indoor Flower Display.

Bring the outdoors in! A great way to have bursts of color and a pretty garden on the wall.

flowers

5. Chairs.

Outdoor seating area made with recycled wooden pallets. Great for entertaining!

chairs

6. Hanging Pot Rack.

Keep your pots, pans, and other kitchen utensils organized in this wooden pallet hanging pot rack.

pot rack

7. Pet Bed.

Whether you have a dog or cat, this is a great DIY idea for your furry friend, made from reused wooden pallets.

dogcat

8. Shoe Rack.

Innovation way to store and organize your shoes at home.

shoes

9. Kitchen Shelf.

Use recycled wooden pallets serve as a shelf that stores items in the kitchen. Looks cool, too!

shelf

10. Bed Frame.

Very inexpensive and fashionable way to use wooden pallets as a durable bed frame.

 bed

Ask These 7 Questions to Get the Best HELOC

Great read if you are interested in getting a HELOC. Courtesy of Realtor.com.

With most home equity loans, a lender gives you a sum of money and you pay it back with interest. With a home equity line of credit—or HELOC—you use your home as collateral to establish a line of credit you can borrow from.

Since HELOCS are different from other kinds of loans, it’s important to understand some lesser-known aspects before you go loan shopping.

HELOC Terms to Know

  • Draw period: a fixed length of time when you can pull money out of your line of credit. It can vary in length, so watch for short draw periods and plan accordingly. Plans can differ: some plans may require you to draw a minimum amount of money whenever you use the line of credit. Others may allow interest-only payments until the draw period is over, before requiring the outstanding balance to be repaid. At the end of the draw period, you may be able to renew the line of credit.
  • Repayment period: the period when you must make payments on your loan. This follows the draw period.
  • Intro rates: the introductory rate is a teaser rate, which can fool you if you aren’t familiar with it. Teaser rates are low, temporary rates used to entice buyers and can increase dramatically after the introductory period.
  • Margin: the profit the bank makes, which is the percentage above the prime rate. It will be expressed as “prime + 2″ or “prime + 5″. The higher the margin, the higher your rate.

Knowing these concepts, you won’t be duped by offers too good to be true.

And watch for the loan officer who tells you something like, “After the intro rate, your interest will be based on prime.” This is misleading and might make you think you’ll pay “prime + 0″.

That isn’t true. They are simply saying the index used is prime, but there is always a margin. Ask what the margin is and add that to prime to find out your interest rate.

7 Questions to Ask a Loan Officer About a HELOC

There are various costs involved with a HELOC you need to know in order to properly compare different HELOCs. When loan shopping, ask your loan officer these questions:

  1. What is the introductory rate and period? If there is a very low introductory rate, it won’t last long. You will probably pay for it in a higher margin or higher interest rates.
  2. What is the margin? This is a key thing you need to know when comparing HELOCs. Your interest rate will be prime plus the margin. 
  3. What is the minimum draw requirement? This will be the minimum you must take out at closing.
  4. What is the average balance I am required to keep? Many HELOCs require you to keep some sort of balance and therefore pay some sort of interest, but this amount is usually small.
  5. What are all the closing costs? Closing costs for HELOCs are relatively small. Watch for extra fees and compare Good Faith Estimates (GFE), the document that estimates all fees associated with your loan, from different lenders.
  6. What is my annual fee? HELOCs often have a small annual fee. They vary from lender to lender.
  7. Is there a cancellation fee? With a standard mortgage loan, you often have a prepayment penalty. With a HELOC, you usually have a cancellation fee.

It is important that you understand these features of a HELOC. Armed with the correct questions to ask your loan officer, you can choose the best loan for you.

Columbus made the list!!!!

 The 20 Best US Cities For Culture

#20 Chicago, IL

One cultural attraction for every 7,438 people

365 properties in the Windy City are dedicated to cultural and recreational activities.

The most famous are the legendary Chicago Theater, which dates back to 1920, historical Wrigley Field, built in 1914, and Millennium Park in the Loo, home to the city’s iconic reflective Bean.

#19 San Jose, CA

One cultural attraction for every 6,873 people

San Jose has 143 cultural destinations for its 980,000 residents.

Its most famous attractions are the Tech Museum of Innovation, filled with robots and virtual technology, as well as the walkable Japanese Friendship Garden in Kelley Park.

#18 Memphis, TN

One cultural attraction for every 5,697 people

Memphis has a total of 115 properties for cultural purposes. A lot of them are related to Elvis Presley, including Sun Studio, where he recorded his first song, and Graceland, his famous mansion.

Memphis also is home to the National Civil Rights Museum, located where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot.

#17 Los Angeles Area, CA

One cultural attraction for every 5,210 people

Los Angeles has 774 properties dedicated to culture and recreation, but because it is the second most populous city in the U.S., the City of Angels is still only 17 on this list.

Its iconic cultural attractions include the Griffith Observatory, whose telescopes are open to the public, and the Getty Center, with its impressive collection of art.

#16 San Francisco, CA

One cultural attraction one location for every 5,130 people

San Francisco has 161 culture-centric venues. One of its most famous is Golden Gate Park, with over 1,000 acres of public ground.

For those who love animals, the local San Francisco Zoo has spectacular gardens, a playground, and over 250 species.

#15 Dallas, TX

One cultural attraction one location for every 5,005 people

Dallas has a population of 1.2 million, with 248 locations for cultural and recreational activities.

One of its most impressive is the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, with 64.6 acres of outdoor public gardens and grassy knolls.

#14 Phoenix, AZ

One cultural attraction one location for every 4,727 people

Phoenix is the sixth most populous city in the U.S., and it has 315 cultural and recreational attractions for residents.

Two of its best are the world’s largest Musical Instruments Museum with exhibits spanning cultures and time periods, as well as the renowned 140-acre Desert Botanical Garden.

#13 New York, NY

One cultural attraction one location for every 3,096 people

New York has the most properties dedicated to cultural and recreational activities out of all the cities on this list, with a total of 2,693.

It’s home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the largest art museum in the U.S., as well as Central and Prospect Parks.

#12 Las Vegas, NV

One cultural attraction one location for every 3,043 people

Las Vegas isn’t all about gambling and partying — Sin City also has 196 locations dedicated to cultural and recreational activities, including golf courses, green parks, and art galleries.

One of its most popular attractions in Wynn Golf Course ,which is attached to a resort and has its own waterfall.

#11 Jacksonville, FL

One cultural attraction for every 2,483 people

Jacksonville is the largest city in Florida, and has a large number of cultural spaces.

One is the famous Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, which has over 6,000 works of art ranging from 2,100 B.C. to contemporary art.

#10 Washington, DC

One cultural attraction for every 2,422 people

640,000 residents live in the U.S. capital and have access to the city’s 267 cultural and recreational locations.

Many of them are world-renowned, including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Lincoln Memorial, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, among many others.

#9 Charlotte, NC

One cultural attraction for every 2,408 people

Charlotte has 322 properties that are dedicated to culture and recreation. The city has a lot to do, especially outdoors.

Two of the best are 98-acre Freedom Park with plenty of wild Canadian Geese, and the U.S. National Whitewater Center with kayaking, rafting, and more.

#8 Philadelphia, PA

One cultural attraction for every 1,718 people

Philadelphia has 901 properties dedicated to cultural and recreational attractions, and has the largest number of outdoor sculptures and murals in America.

The city is steeped in history. It’s home to Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were signed.

#7 San Antonio, TX

One cultural attraction for every 1,657 people

San Antonio is the fastest-growing of the top 10 largest cities in the U.S., and has 835 recreational and cultural activities for its residents.

One of the most interesting in the San Antonio Museum of Art, which not only has an amazing collection but is inside a repurposed brewery dating back to 1904.

#6 Columbus, OH

One cultural attraction for every 1,366 people

Columbus has a total of 593 properties dedicated to cultural and recreational properties.

Among them are the Franklin Park Conservatory, which spans almost 98 acres with a botanical garden and green space, and the historic Ohio Theater.

#5 Boston, MA

One cultural attraction for every 1,188 people

Though Boston is the second smallest city on this list (by area) it has 536 properties dedicated to cultural activities.

The attractions are wide-ranging, from the Boston Symphony Orchestra, to the Museum of Fine Arts, and of course, Fenway Park — the oldest Major League baseball park in the United States.

#4 Houston, TX

One cultural attraction for every 1,144 people

Houston is the largest city in all of Texas, and the fourth-largest in America. It’s home to 2.1 million people as well as 1,890 cultural and recreational properties.

A favorite attraction among residents and tourists is the Children’s Museum of Houston, which is ranked one of the best in the country, as well as the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

#3 Miami Area, FL

One cultural attraction for every 958 people

Miami has a lot of culture, entertainment, and art to offer — a whopping 629 attractions.

One of the leading local attractions is Zoo Miami, which is one of the first free-range zoos in the country, as well as many museums such as the Perez Art Museum and Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.

#2 Indianapolis, IN

One cultural attraction for every 705 people

Indianapolis may not seem like a cultural capital of America, but it has six different cultural districts and a rich heritage.

The city has also tried to become a destination for arts and culture with 1,184 properties, including the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Hall of Fame Museum.

#1 Seattle, WA

One cultural attraction one location for every 354 people

Seattle tops this list as the most cultural city in the U.S. with 1,890 cultural and recreational venues for its population of 650,000 people.

Its quirky blend of attractions also make it unique, from the Chihuly Garden and Glass with breathtaking, colorful glass sculptures to the Museum of Flight, with a glider designed by the Wright brothers.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/best-cities-for-culture-2014-8?op=1#ixzz3BWodiINW

33 Clever Ideas for Your Home

Thank you Buzzfeed for these brilliant ideas! 27 is definitely my favorite idea. What’s yours?

1. Build a small mailbox library.

Build a small mailbox library.

Get directions here.

2. Swap out your showerhead for this amazing one.

Swap out your showerhead for this amazing one.

$159 from Zoe Industries.

3. Remove your fake drawers and make them functional.

Remove your fake drawers and make them functional.

How clever is this??

[Photo: Hastings Tile and Bath]

4. Install in-counter storage for your fruits, bread, and vegetables.

Install in-counter storage for your fruits, bread, and vegetables.

5. Save space with drying racks in your laundry room that disappear into the wall after use.

Left: Available here.
Right: Available here.

6. Split a regular door into dutch half doors.

Split a regular door into dutch half doors.

Great if you have kids and/or pets. You can keep them in/out while still being able to monitor what’s going on in the room. Get a DIY for this project here.

7. Add personal tabs so everyone gets their own toilet seat.

Add personal tabs so everyone gets their own toilet seat.

8. Heat sensing tiles will turn every shower into an Aurora Borealis of color.

Heat sensing tiles will turn every shower into an Aurora Borealis of color.

Get them here.

9. Add a half table over a toilet paper holder to save space in a small bathroom.

Add a half table over a toilet paper holder to save space in a small bathroom.

10. Recessed outlets mean that your furniture can actually sit up against the wall.

Recessed outlets mean that your furniture can actually sit up against the wall.

More information about this product here.

11. Outlets in drawers mean that you can get all that gadget clutter off the counter.

12. You could also install your outlets underneath your kitchen cabinets so they don’t interfere with the backsplash.

You could also install your outlets underneath your kitchen cabinets so they don't interfere with the backsplash.

13. Give your appliances an expensive-looking makeover with stainless steel contact paper.

Check out the DIY here.

14. Slide out drawers in the kitchen provide easy access for spices and condiments.

Slide out drawers in the kitchen provide easy access for spices and condiments.

15. If your garage is adjacent to your kitchen or pantry, insert a small door for a super easy way to load groceries.

If your garage is adjacent to your kitchen or pantry, insert a small door for a super easy way to load groceries.

16. Build a porthole/tunnel into the wall to connect two rooms.

Build a porthole/tunnel into the wall to connect two rooms.

A super fun idea for connecting a playroom to the living room, or to provide an easy way to access two kids’ rooms.

17. Add a long shelf to a hallway.

Add a long shelf to a hallway.

18. Instead of bunk beds, opt for space-saving murphy beds in a kids’ room or guest room.

Instead of bunk beds, opt for space-saving murphy beds in a kids' room or guest room.

19. This simple outdoor shower is perfect for a beach house.

This simple outdoor shower is perfect for a beach house.

Buy it here.

20. Add a cabinet to any dead space in your kitchen or laundry room for cleaning supplies.

Add a cabinet to any dead space in your kitchen or laundry room for cleaning supplies.

This barely takes up any space!

21. Replace your house numbers with a modern font.

The ones on the right are available from Design Within Reach.

22. Make signs for the bathroom so your guests know where to go.

Make signs for the bathroom so your guests know where to go.

This crafter found the wooden replicas at Michael’s and painted them black.

23. Add a window seat to the landing of your staircase.

Add a window seat to the landing of your staircase.

24. Light up your front or back porch with a chandelier.

Light up your front or back porch with a chandelier.

25. Hide a slide-out coffee bar or kitchen appliances behind folding doors.

26. Use your kitchen drawers for a cutting board/scraps disposal station.

Use your kitchen drawers for a cutting board/scraps disposal station.

27. Add a doggie wash to a mudroom, laundry room, or entryway.

Add a doggie wash to a mudroom, laundry room, or entryway.

28. Missing a skylight? Get a Sun Tunnel.

Missing a skylight? Get a Sun Tunnel.

These are REAL, although you do need a certified roofer to install.

29. Install a slide-away “step” in your bathroom baseboard to solve your short person problems.

You can just slide it away when not in use instead of constantly tripping over the stool. There’s a DIY available here.

30. Stools on hinges inside of a kitchen island or bar are a total space-saver.

Stools on hinges inside of a kitchen island or bar are a total space-saver.

31. Build drawers in wasted space between studs in the wall.

Build drawers in wasted space between studs in the wall.

32. Mirrored tiles are a great substitute for a windowless room.

Left: mirrored subway tiles for a small dressing room or bathroom.
Right: a paned mirror that gives the illusion of light in a windowless basement.

33. Apply stone or tile to the siding of the foundation of your home.

Apply stone or tile to the siding of the foundation of your home.

Because the outside of your home should be just as pretty as the inside.

Columbus Ranked as a Top Affordable Housing Market for Millennials

Courtesy of Columbus Underground:

The Columbus Metro Area is a rapidly growing region with over 20,000 new residents added every year. To accommodate that growth, local private developers are building thousands of new apartment units in dozens of apartment projects targeted primarily at Millennials and Empty Nesters / Baby Boomers who are looking for the flexibility that rentals provide.

But what happens when Millennials decide that it’s time to buy a home rather than rent?

Locally, you’re in luck.

Franklin County was recently rated by RealtyTrac as the 7th most affordable region in the United States for Millennials who want to purchase a home, with an average percentage of median income spent on housing pegged at a mere 15.26%. Columbus was bested on the list only by Augusta GA, Fayetteville NC, Atlanta, Jacksonville FL, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Little Rock.

But if the idea of homeownership doesn’t appeal to you, and you’d rather continue to rent, well, you’re still in luck.

In the same research by RealtyTrac, Columbus was also named the 10th most affordable region in the US for Millennials who want to rent, with the average percentage of income spent on rent at 24.69%. Columbus was topped in this category only by Shreveport, Washington DC, Lincoln NE, Fargo, Charlotte, Baton Rouge, Wilmington NC, Little Rock and Madison.

RealtyTrac’s staff evaluation reports that these affordable rates are already proving to attract more new young residents compared to larger US cities:

“Although many of these counties may not be known as hot spots for hipsters, the most culturally definable segment of millennials, many of them are emerging as attractive to the demographic looking for a less expensive alternative to the high-priced hipster havens on the coasts. The millennial population was up more than 20 percent in markets like Franklin County, Ohio (Columbus) — a bigger increase during the same time period than Kings County, N.Y. (Brooklyn) and Los Angeles, County, Calif.”

Top Home Buying Myths

Whether you’re a real estate professional or first-time home buyer, the home buying process and real estate transactions can be stressful.  There tends to be some common misconceptions in this process, so it’s very important that you’re well informed of what is fact and what is fiction.  We’re here to set the record straight.

Myth #1:  You don’t need a realtor.

Before you bravely take on one of the biggest purchases or sales of your life, remember this: it’s not as easy as it looks.  REALTORS® know all the ins and outs of the local area as well as the market in which you’re looking to buy or sell.  Picking up the phone and calling a REALTOR® may be one of the best decisions you’ll make.

Myth #2:  The bigger the downpayment, the better off you’ll be.

Buyers’ immediate reflex is to put as much cash down as they can when buying a new home because they’ll borrow less, lower the monthly mortgage payments, and won’t need to buy mortgage insurance.  However, putting 20% down is not a requirement and it’s not for everyone.

Thanks to Federal Housing Administration Loans (FHA Loans), you can put as little as 3.5% down.  With this method, you’ll potentially have a lower interest rate, giving you more flexibility.  Your money is not all tied up in your house like in a traditional down payment that can leave you with little or no extra cash to spend on home care, improvements, or any other unforeseen circumstances.

Myth #3:  Appraisers set the value of a home.

The role of the appraiser is to produce a credible opinion of value that reflects the current market.  Appraisers are not responsible for setting the value of the home and they also do not confirm a home’s sale price.  According to David S. Bunton, President of The Appraisal Foundation, “Appraisers provide an analysis of the collateral, so that lenders understand the value of a property when making the loan decision.”

Myth #4:  You need perfect credit.

Most people assume that you must have absolutely golden credit in order to get a loan, but that just simply isn’t the case.  If buyers have less than perfect credit, lenders are often willing to work with them to get the best possible loan.

Credit is not the only thing that lenders look at when deciding to approve a loan, but your score will have an effect on the interest rate on your mortgage.  Make sure you review your credit report and if any errors are found, they should be reported to the credit reporting bureaus before applying for a mortgage.

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