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Blog Archives: January 2013 — December 2013

New Home Sales Show Healthy Year-Over-Year Increase

December 31, 2013
The holiday season and winter weather slowed home sales in November. Last week, the NAR reported that sales of existing homes had slumped to their lowest level in nearly a year, but this was not unexpected. Short supplies of available homes and rising mortgage rates have increased pent-up demand for homes and have kept some buyers on the sidelines. Improvement In The Labor Market 4.90 million existing homes were sold in November; this was lower than the 5.13 million existing homes sold in October, as well as lower than expectations of 5.00 ...

How To Build An Outdoor Fire Pit

December 27, 2013
With most of the country dealing with full-on winter weather, outdoor projects have to be done when we have the opportunity. What better way to enjoy a cozy winter than by drinking hot chocolate and roasting marshmallows at your very own outdoor fire pit? By following the steps below, in one weekend you can build an outdoor fire pit and get fired up about the cold! Determine The Size And Location The first order of business is to choose where to build your outdoor fire pit. You’ll want to ensure that it’s not too close to the house or ...

Keep That Heat Inside: Insulate Your Windows For The Winter

December 26, 2013
    Did you know that, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, 10% of a home’s air leaks out of the windows? Also, an estimate by Energy Star states that homeowners could save an annual 7 – 15% on their energy bills by replacing their windows with more efficient models. If you live in an old home, it might not be possible to replace all of the windows. However, there are still many simple and inexpensive things that you can do that will help to insulate your windows. Apply Rubber Weather Sealing At your local hardware store you will ...

4 Safety Tips For Your Christmas Tree

December 20, 2013
It’s Christmas time, which means it’s time to get a tree for your home. Whether you get a real tree or an artificial one, it’s also time to think about Christmas tree safety. Prevent A Fire Hazard There’s a potential fire hazard that comes with real trees — a danger that’s lessened with artificial trees — but artificial trees do have safety issues of their own. For instance, those that spin on their bases shouldn’t be left to rotate on their own. Make sure the motor is turned off whenever you’re not in the room. If the fragrance of a real ...

Fed Minutes Predict Tapering Of Quantitative Easing Program

December 19, 2013
Housing starts exceeded expectations and also beat October’s reading of 889,000. November housing starts were posted at 1.09 million against a consensus of 963,000. This reading is more in line with the NAHB/Wells Fargo Home Builder Market Index, which reached a four-month high with December’s reading. With that threat resolved and a new federal budget passed, builders can now proceed without worrying about setbacks caused by government shutdowns and legislative gridlock. Building permits issued in November were slightly lower at 1.01 ...

Housing Market Index Shows Builder Confidence Up 23 Percent Year-Over-Year

December 18, 2013
According to the National Association of Homebuilders/Wells Fargo Homebuilders Market Index for December, builder confidence has recovered with a reading of 58. This surpassed both expectations of 56 and last month’s reading of 54. Analysts noted that builder confidence has steadied after the government shutdown. December’s reading was the highest in four months. Dave Crowe, NAHB chief economist, said that his organization was expecting a “gradual improvement in the housing recovery” in 2014. Any reading above 50 indicates that more ...

Picking The Perfect Holiday Tree

December 17, 2013
It’s Christmastime, and that means it’s time for lights and tinsel! It also means that it’s time to choose your Christmas tree. If you’ve never had a real tree or you never seem to get it quite right, these tips and tricks will help you pick the perfect tree: Buying Your Tree Measure where you’re going to place the tree in your home, from ceiling to floor.  You’ll want your tree to be at least a foot shorter than the ceiling, so take a measuring tape with you when you shop for your tree. When measuring for height, adjust for the star, ...

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 16, 2013

December 16, 2013
  Mortgage Debt Rises For First Time Since Recession Last week was relatively quiet concerning scheduled housing-related news, but the Federal Reserve’s financial accounts report, released on Monday, indicated that mortgage debt in the U.S. had increased for the first time since the first quarter (Q1) of 2008. Mortgage debt increased by a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of $87.4 billion, or 0.90 percent. Mortgage debt remains approximately 12.00 percent below pre-recession levels. Increasing debt is not often considered good news, but ...

Another Encouraging Month for San Francisco Real Estate

December 13, 2013
November was largely another encouraging month for residential real estate. Our attention has shifted from multi-year high prices and sales volumes to seller activity, inventory levels and building permits. And let’s not forget the calendar effect. As families gather together, fewer house hunters are scheduling showings and writing offers. Watch for month-to-month activity to moderate while year-over-year comparisons remain strong. New Listings were down 13.3 percent for single family homes and 13.7 percent for Condo/TIC/Coop properties....

Santa’s Landing Pad: Tips For Winter Roof Maintenance

December 13, 2013
It’s that time of year again when the weather outside gets frightful but the holiday cheer is delightful. You’ve probably got a lot on your mind during these busy winter months, but make sure that you don’t neglect the roof of your home. Taking care of your roof is an important part of home maintenance, and you don’t want to suffer a leak or any other problem during the cold months. So how can you make sure that Santa and his sleigh have a solid and well-maintained landing pad when they touch down at your house this year? Here are some tips ...

Real vs. Artificial Christmas Tree Helpful Tips

December 12, 2013
Few questions are more important this time of year than which Christmas tree you should choose for your home.  There are some things to keep in mind when looking for the perfect Christmas tree. Here are just a few: Real Or Artificial Tree? Real Christmas trees require some care; if you’re planning to travel this holiday season, you may not want a live tree.  You must water the tree to make sure that it doesn’t lose its needles before Christmas day. Live trees are not fire resistant; the dry needles can overheat from the lights and catch on ...

Sell Your Home Without Losing Precious Holiday Family Time

December 11, 2013
The decision to put your home on the market during the holiday season might seem like an invitation to stress and frustration. However, December is a great time to sell because there are few homes on the market, buyers are serious and your home is festively decorated. With the tips below, you can get your home ready to sell while maintaining important family time. Hire A Real Estate Agent Employing a professional will allow you to unload the worries that come along with selling a home. Your real estate agent will ease the pressure — and ...

Be Prepared For The Next Winter Storm With These Quick Tips

December 10, 2013
It’s getting cold, and that means that blizzards and ice storms are making their way across the country. Depending on where you live, these winter storms can knock out the power for weeks. With these easy tips, you can be prepared for and even enjoy these storms. Stay Warm Losing power means losing heat. The first step is to dress warm. Lots of light layers keep you warmer than one big coat, so layer up. Wear a hat or a hood as well, as your body loses most of its heat through your head. It’s also important to insulate your house. Put extra ...

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 9, 2013

December 09, 2013
Last Week Brought Several Indicators Of A Strengthening Economy New home sales, private and federal employment and mortgage rates were all on the rise. The Department of Commerce released construction spending numbers for October with mixed results. Although public projects fueled an 0.80 percent increase in month-to-month construction spending, residential construction fell by 0.60 percent. Analysts had expected an increase of 0.50 percent, and also noted that the negative effect of the government shutdown was a “blip.” October’s reading ...

4 Safety Tips To Prepare Your Home For the Cold Weather

December 06, 2013
As the temperature drops and we don more layers, it can be startling to realize how cold it’s actually gotten. Before the snow starts piling up at your door, you’ll want to prepare for winter and the harsh conditions it can bring. Below are a few cold weather safety tips to keep you and your home protected from Frosty’s frigid touch. Keep The Cold Out If you haven’t already winterized your home, now is a good time to do it. Add extra insulation in your attic and walls, if possible. Caulk around windows and door frames to keep the warm air ...

Creative Holiday Storage Solutions

December 05, 2013
When it’s the holiday season and time to decorate, there’s also usually a lot of organizing that needs to be done: untangling lights, sorting out the broken ornaments and getting all of the trimmings in order. Next year, skip the hassle of sifting through a mess during this festive time of  year.  The annual holiday storage strategies below will help make next December’s decorating easy. Hide Paper Up High Utilize a space that is almost always vacant — the ceiling of your closet. Attach two strings of wire from the front wall above your ...

5 Tips On Selling Real Estate Even In The Brisk Cold

December 04, 2013
Any real estate agent will tell you that it’s harder to sell your home in the winter. The days are colder and shorter, leaving less time to show your home to potential buyers. The good news is that most of the buyers who are looking at houses in the winter aren’t just killing time. They’re serious enough about finding their new home to go house hunting at a time when most people would rather stay inside. Here Are A Few Things You Can Do To Make A Good Impression On Home Buyers This Winter: Make sure all walkways are safe. Spread out ice ...

Case-Shiller Price Index Shows A Spike In Home Prices In The West

December 03, 2013
According to the S&P Case-Shiller 10- and 20-City Housing Market Indices (HMI) for September, home prices grew at an average of 13.30 percent year-over-year and achieved the highest growth rate for home prices since February 2006. On a month-to-month basis, home prices are slowing in most areas, with 19 cities included in the S&P 20-City HMI showing lower rates of growth in home prices. September’s average month-to-month growth rate was 1.0 percent for the 20-City HMI as compared to 0.90 percent in August, and 1.90 percent posted earlier in ...

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 2, 2013

December 02, 2013
The short holiday week brought a flurry of economic reports last week. Highlights included pending home sales, the S&P Case-Shiller Housing Market Indices and the FHFA home price index. No reports were released on Thursday and Friday in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. The NAR released its Pending Home Sales report for October. Although pending home sales dropped by -0.60 percent, the decline was less than September’s reading of -4.60 percent. NAR cited higher home prices and mortgage rates along with concerns over the then-pending ...

Ensure Your Fireplace Is Up To Snuff

November 29, 2013
When it’s cold outside, there’s nothing quite as cozy as curling up on the sofa with a good book in front of a roaring fire. A fireplace provides a warm and inviting atmosphere. However, if it isn’t properly maintained, your living room could be filled with a cloud of soot, or worse, fire. A fireplace not only creates a snug setting, but most are actually functional and can help heat your home. Harness the heat and generate the ambiance of a softly-lit living space by following the tips below to ensure that yours is properly maintained and ...

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