Posts Tagged ‘Whidbey Island’
Perhaps you have some home projects you just can’t find the time (or inclination) to start. With the holidays coming up, it may make sense to hire a handyman for smaller tasks. Do you have someone you already use or are you stumped wondering where to turn? No matter the answer, these tips can help you find someone in no time! If you would like contact information for some licensed handy men please contact us and we would be happy to give you some recommendations.
Decide on Your Project
Smaller repair projects are perfect for a handyman. However if you want a remodel, plumbing, or electrical work done, it may be best to turn to a contractor licensed in that field of work. Many of our local Whidbey Island builders also do outstanding remodel work.
Your neighbors, friends and real estate agents are great sources for referrals on home repairs. As a real estate company, we also work with many contractors and handymen and can give you some ideas on who to contact, depending on the scope of your project. Local recommendations are usually the best source of input for finding qualified contractors.
Determine the Cost
Find out how much the work will cost before it’s started. Get it in writing so there will be no surprises. Sometimes services are billed hourly with you supplying materials, sometimes hourly plus parts, and oftentimes you can agree on a lump sum to make it easiest.
One Project at a Time
Your handyman may have many talents, but you’ll want to test his skills before laying out too many projects in the beginning. On the other hand, creating a a small package deal may work to your financial advantage. If he has good or great recommendations and provides financial incentive for a multi-layer job, it may be worth considering.
Hopefully these ideas will help you as you find ways to spruce up your home and glide easily into the holiday season. If you need suggestions on who to call for referrals or other home related needs, please keep us in mind. Feel free to call us or email us at any time. You can always consider us your source for advice relating to your home and the local real estate market. We are here to serve all of your real estate related needs for Whidbey Island.
If you want to make improvements to your home, you may want to take a second look at Houzz.com. Cited as a source for inspiration and collaboration and research for home owners everywhere, Houzz is also a source for hiring local contracting professionals, too.
With more than sixty categories of home related projects to choose from, including interior remodeling contractors and outdoor living space professionals, Houzz is more than just a place to get great ideas for your home. Houzz is also a great source for you to find the interior designers, architects, and landscapers for your home who created and constructed those designs in the first place!
Increased home values often result in homeowners deciding to make changes in their homes, whether due to a potential sale or just a quality of life improvement, and technology makes this process so much easier.
“Homeowners and professionals alike are telling us that they are moving forward with more building, renovation and design projects this year,” said Liza Hausman, VP Community at Houzz. “Houzz provides homeowners with the absolute best resource to find the right professional for their project.”
As a homeowner, ideas for improving your home may come in many forms, but Houzz.com is definitely a resource to be considered. Another resource to consider when determining whether a home improvement will add to your home value is your local real estate expert.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) released this week confirmed other recent reports of growth in the real estate market. Spurred on by historically low interest rates in the final quarter of 2012, home buyers saw more housing affordability and relatively stable home pricing throughout the United States, making it possibly the right time for you to buy your home.
According to the HOI, gains in home affordability rose from 74.1 % to 74.9% in the final quarter of 2012, making homes affordable to median income earners in the United States. The current median income is $65,000.
North Carolina Home Builder and NAHB Chairman Rick Judson explained why this was good news for potential home buyers. “The most recent housing affordability data should be encouraging to many prospective home buyers,” Judson said. “Because it shows that homeownership remains within reach of median-income consumers even as most local markets appear to be on a recovery path.” Judson also shared results of the recent NAHB/First American Improving Markets Index which noted that 259 out of 361 metro real estate areas qualify as improving.
NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe also remarked on this news, saying, “It is noteworthy that affordability remains historically high thanks to favorable mortgage rates even as national home price indexes show some rise in values.” Crowe shared that the median price of new and existing homes in that same quarter was still up, at $188,000.
The top housing markets for affordability included Ogden-Clearfield, Utah; Dayton, Ohio; Indianapolis-Carmel, Indiana; Lakeland-Winter Haven, Florida.; Syracuse, New York; Fairbanks, Alaska; Cumberland, Maryland; Springfield, Ohio; Monroe, Michigan; and Mansfield, Ohio. As you consider your home buying options, these areas may be of interest to you.
Find out more and see housing market updates online at the National Association of Home Builders.
If you are considering investing in real estate in the new year or in selling your home that was recently purchased, you’ll be excited to know that the Federal Housing Administration has agreed to a temporary extension on the waiver on home flipping.
At one point in time, home owners were required to hold title for more than 90 days before selling their property. Now, however, you can buy your home, fix it up, and resell it without time restrictions, per the original policy put into place in 2010 by the Obama administration. Since 2010 the extension has been granted on a yearly basis, but this announcement extends it for two years.
The renewal of this policy, announced at the end of November, will remain in force until December 31, 2014 to allow security to buyers and lenders who wish to engage in these practices. The waiver is subject to certain restrictions, and may result in an increase in available home inventory.
According to Carol J. Galante, Acting FHA Commissioner, the extension was granted to increase resales of foreclosed properties in struggling neighborhoods. He said, “FHA remains a critical source of mortgage financing and stability and we must make every effort to promote recovery in every responsible way we can.”
Learn About How the Extension Affects Your Home and Neighborhood
To read the actual waiver and restrictions placed on anti-flipping regulations, such as the need to show renovations and an inspection to support a sales price increase of greater than 20%, click here. If you are interested in learning more about investing and how this change can impact your home, give me a call.
This article is written by one of our experienced agents, Gil Daigle.
I got a flu shot last week. Because it was a workday, I was wearing my nametag, which advertises me as a Realtor®. The nurse who was giving me the shot started to talk about real estate. The conversation started out like all of these conversations do with the nurse asking me “How’s the market?” I gave my stock answer that it could be better and then went on to say what a great time it is to buy real estate. I talked about the depressed prices and the low interest rates. When I was finished, he told me a story.
A Remarkable Story
Last November he and his wife started to invest in real estate. Between November 2011 and April 2012 they purchased four condominiums in Kirkland for $300,000 cash. He went on to tell me that all four are rented and they generate $4,000 a month. After condominium fees and other expenses, the monthly net is $2,500. A very quick and basic calculation indicates this is a 10% return on his investment per year. You might be asking yourself “so what?” The simple answer is where else can you get 10% interest on an investment that will increase in value.
What Other Investments Are Available?
I searched the Internet and discovered the best interest rate you can get for a certificate of deposit is 1.1%. The big catch is you must deposit $25,000. The stock market might be the answer. Unfortunately, the average gain of the Dow Jones Industrial average since 2000 is only 2.57% with the big catch being its wild fluctuations. In 2003, the Dow gained 25.32%; however, in 2008 it lost 33.84%.
Do we all have $300,000 cash on hand to invest? I’m guessing the answer to that is no. However, interest rates are very low even on investment properties. Check with your banker for rate information. Talk to me about the availabilities of property. Whatever your circumstances it make good sense to think about investing in real estate.
If you are a renter, take the plunge and buy. If you have a good credit rating, there are multitudes of financing opportunities available. Talk to your banker and see what works for you. Then talk to me, I’m sure I can find you something you will like.
We Are In A Unique Period of History.
We are in a unique period of history. Since World War I interest rates have been this low only once, between 1933 and 1950. Remembering your U.S. History that was the Great Depression and World War II. Currently the US economy is down and the government is doing everything it can to bring about a recovery. These real estate conditions will not last. Get your piece of the American Dream while is it at its most affordable!
You may have noticed more “for sale” signs around Whidbey Island of late and that is a sign of change – of positive change – according to Fannie Mae! The housing market is showing definite signs of improvement which is good news, regardless of whether you are a buyer or seller.
The Fannie Mae Economic & Strategic Research Group reports a “modest growth” trend through the rest of 2012. Despite an uncertain job market and lowered consumer spending in the first quarter, the group is still forecasting a 2% increase in the gross domestic product growth projection, which is excellent for real estate and for you, if you are interested in buying or selling a home!
Fannie Mae’s Chief Economist Doug Duncan reported that, “Despite signs of deteriorating momentum for economic activity, housing continues to be a bright spot as news from the housing market has been relatively upbeat, presenting a rare upside boost to the economy.” The report went on to state that home sales have increased 9% in the last year and that single family homes are selling for 20% more than they did in 2011.
Combining those statistics with the National Housing Survey released last month, which showed greater confidence in homeowners about the real estate market, means that a turn-around is in progress. In fact, those polled showed a 6 percentage point increase in their desire to buy, an all-time high as compared to normal poll statistics gathered over the last two years. Visit Fannie Mae online to access the survey results and see other recent reports on the housing market.
Each day technology becomes even more impressive as new tools, products and apps are rolled out that truly have a place in your daily life. It can be exciting and exhausting to try to find the ones that will benefit you. As a homebuyer, it can be overwhelming to narrow down all the choices. With that in mind, I’ve made my real estate website tech and mobile friendly in the hope that you will find the results you need in your search, however, when it comes to buying a home, these apps may of benefit to you as well.
Many of these apps are even offered free of charge, although they may request your location information in order to produce the results you desire. If you want more specific information or ideas on specialized apps for your tech devices, please give me a call so we can brainstorm on how I can help meet your real estate needs. In the meantime, though, check these out!
Not sure where you want to live?
- Nabewise Get to know neighborhoods in-depth, complete with pictures, reviews and ratings ond rankings on the things you care most about.
- GreatSchools Get to know local school options and read reviews by staff and parents of children attending the schools. Schools are also scored based on scores and ratings.
- Yelp Find the best restaurants, shopping, and entertainment in the area you are researching directly from the people who live there. A true “insider’s view.”
Trying to keep track of everything?
- Evernote Keep track of your buying process, including the information on homes you have seen, complete with your personal notes!
Want to compare?
- House Hunter This tool allows you to set priorities on your wants and needs and match them to homes you are considering with the feature list and also has a mortgage calculator built in.
- Trulia – Easy to use and even includes a help button! Depending on your mobile device, you can check and compare listings and even search by feature using your voice.
Looking for actual numbers?
- Zillow Zestimates and make me move allow you to get an idea of what homes cost on any street and even permit you to make offers to home owners who do not have their property for sale.
- Realtor.com Get stats on new homes, sold homes, and homes for sale easily and quickly, including price changes in any neighborhood.
Every week, we field a number of questions from our VA buyers regarding VA loan questions. VA is an outstanding loan program and we would like to make this information available to all of our readers. Here are some of the top questions we respond to.
Q: How do I deal with bad credit?
A: Bad credit is a common challenge. In order to qualify for VA financing, military home buyers must have at least a 620 credit score. This minimum can be a stretch for those with a past bankruptcy or foreclosure. We work closely with credit-challenged military buyers. Rather than dismissing applicants with low credit scores we partner with the potential borrowers to help point them in the right direction to repair their credit rating and position themselves to qualify for the loan.
Q: What if my spouse has bad credit?
A: All VA loan borrowers and co-borrowers will be under close scrutiny by a lender. Credit scores for both applicants have to measure up to the 620 minimum. It may be advisable for a potential buyer to obtain a loan without a co-borrower, provided the solo borrower can afford the mortgage payments and meet all criteria.
Q: What can I buy with a VA loan?
A: VA loans can only be used to finance primary residences (up to a 4-plex if the veteran lives in one unit). Vacant land and commercial properties are ineligible. It is possible to finance new construction with a VA loan, but only through certain lenders.
Q: What are current VA loan rates?
A: It’s not uncommon for VA loan interest rates to be lower than conventional loan rates. But as with any loan, the interest rate on a VA loan will shift with the market. Borrowers can get a sense of VA rates during the pre approval process.
There are many local lenders and qualified real estate professionals here on Whidbey Island that can help with the VA process. If you or someone you know has questions that aren’t answered here, there are many available resources available locally. We are proud to serve our military and our veterans.
January 2012 is over and we are headed into an exciting year of opportunity. In researching the statistics for North Whidbey Island real estate sales for January, we have found that the market seems to be starting a rebound. The number of active listings (homes for sale) is decreasing and the number of pending sales is increasing which is a very good indicator for a stabilizing market. Also the number of days that homes are on the market for sale is decreasing. Another great statistic is our sales prices. After a number of years of decline, we seem to be bouncing along the bottom. Prices have stabilized with a little increase in some markets. New construction and condominiums are still at a slow pace but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
For purchasers this is still a good time to be considering buying a home. With the interest rates at an all time low and the market still soft, now seems to be the best time to be a buyer. As we approach the summer selling season, I believe that with the decreased amount of homes for sale, the prices will start to inch up. Hopefully interest rates will stay down for some time.
Like you, we are always trying to discover ways to save money. This interview with Rick Bunzel of Pacific Crest Inspections gives us five great tips on ways to reduce our heating bills.
- Lower your hot water heater to 120 degrees
- Use a programmable thermostat to drop night time temps to 55 degrees
- Change your furnace filter regularly and make sure the furnace is tuned.
- Have your duct work checked and vents balanced
- Add insulation to the attic
By following these tips and watching your energy consumption, you should be able to save some money and help the planet. We hope that you have enjoyed these energy saving tips. Please feel free to contact Rick Bunzel at Pacific Crest Inspections, 1-866-618-7764, or contact any of us at Coldwell Banker Koetje Real Estate in beautiful Oak Harbor, Wa. for any other real estate related questions or comments. We are here to serve you.