Four Ways to Help Your Appliances Last Longer

Appliances like your washing machine, dishwasher and refrigerator tend to be major investments. You can protect these investments and prolong their lifespans through regular maintenance.

Here are four ways to help those appliances – and your investment – last longer:

1. Make sure the seals seal.

One of the biggest reasons refrigerators break down is because the doors aren’t closing properly, causing the motor to work too hard. The magnetic strips in the gaskets around the doors wear out after a few years, but replacing and re-magnetizing them can be a simple DIY fix.

2. Keep the drum clean.

Always empty your pockets before loading your washing machine to prevent the drum from rusting or getting nicked. Also, clean or swap out the thimble-shaped filter in the machine that traps water sediment.

3. Inspect the vents.

Cleaning out the lint trap on your dryer should be a routine task after every load, but go one step further by inspecting the exterior vent to see that it pops open and scraping off debris with a toothbrush.

4. Clean the dishwasher.

Once a week, run an empty dishwasher cycle with nothing but a cup of white vinegar to keep smells at bay. Also, wipe down seals and clear the food trap often.

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Existing home sales slowed for the fourth consecutive month in July!

Interesting data provided by the National Association of Realtors
August 22, 2018
July 2018 Existing Home Sales Snapshot

© National Association of REALTORS®

Existing-home sales slowed for the fourth consecutive month in July, reaching their most sluggish pace in more than two years, the National Association of REALTORS® reports. The West was the only major U.S. region to see an increase in sales last month.

Total existing-home sales, which include completed transactions for single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops, fell 0.7 percent month over month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.34 million in July. Sales are now 1.5 percent lower than a year ago.

Rising home prices may be prompting would-be home buyers to pull away, says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Led by a notable decrease in closings in the Northeast, existing-home sales trailed off again last month, sliding to their slowest pace since February 2016 at 5.21 million [units],” Yun says. “Too many would-be buyers are either being priced out or are deciding to postpone their search until more homes in their price range come onto the market.”

Yun notes that a steady climb in home prices over the past year—along with an uptick in mortgage rates this spring—is cooling sales. “This weakening in affordability has put the most pressure on would-be first-time buyers in recent months, who continue to represent only around a third of sales despite a very healthy economy and labor market,” he says. First-time buyers comprised 32 percent of sales in July, down from 33 percent a year ago.

Here’s a closer look at some key indicators from NAR’s July housing report:

  • Home prices: The median existing-home price for all housing types was $296,600, a 4.5 percent increase from a year ago.
  • Inventories: Total housing inventory fell 0.5 percent to 1.92 million existing homes available for sale, unchanged from a year ago. At the current sales pace, unsold inventory is at a 4.3-month supply.
  • Days on the market: Fifty-five percent of homes sold were on the market for less than a month. Properties typically stayed on the market for 27 days, down from 30 days a year ago. “Listings continue to go under contract in under a month, which highlights the feedback from REALTORS® that buyers are swiftly snatching up moderately-priced properties,” Yun says. “Existing supply is still not at a healthy level, and new-home construction is not keeping up to meet demand.”
  • All-cash sales: All-cash transactions compromised 20 percent of sales, up from 19 percent a year ago. Individual investors tend to account for the biggest bulk of cash sales. They purchased 13 percent of homes, unchanged from a year ago.
  • Distressed sales: Foreclosures and short sales accounted for 3 percent of sales, down from 5 percent a year ago. Broken out, 2 percent of sales were foreclosures, and 1 percent were short sales.

July 2018 Existing Home Sales

5 Cities With Amenities That Draw Buyers

After an unusually slow spring and summer, which saw home sales dip when they typically spike, you may be wondering how to get more buyers interested in your market. Stubbornly low inventory doesn’t help and has kept many would-be buyers on the sidelines. But when you don’t have enough homes on the market to show clients, it’s time to start selling other attributes of your city to keep potential buyers interested.

Think about all the amenities—parks, restaurants, and cultural institutions, for example—that make your neighborhood a desirable place to live. Use these items as talking points to seduce buyers not just with an individual property but with the lifestyle your area affords. We looked at five major housing markets where real estate professionals are going beyond local market data to entice their clients.

Detroit

There are many things that make downtown Detroit a wonderful place to call home. Several parks, an internationally acclaimed riverwalk, major sports venues, and a wide variety of restaurants have helped draw people into Motor City—and keep them there.

“Billions of dollars are being pumped into downtown, attracting diverse clients, and it’s raining opportunity,” says Moe Bzeih, a sales associate with Century 21 Curran & Christie in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn.

Condominiums are in high demand right now in the downtown area, according to Bzeih. In fact, “Condos are selling in 10 days or less at $300,000-plus,” he says. “Downtown, downtown, downtown—stay there, invest there, live there.”

San Antonio

The city had the largest population gain nationwide between 2016 and 2017, putting it at the top of the list of fastest-growing cities in the U.S. San Antonio adds 60 people a day, on average, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. As a result, its housing market is booming.

There are many reasons why a potential buyer would want to buy a home there, says Daniela Andreevska, content marketing director at real estate data analytics company Mashvisor. “San Antonio offers a very diverse, friendly, and young population,” she says. “One of the top reasons to buy a home or an investment property to rent out in San Antonio is the steady job growth, as well as the stable economy.”

As far as the future of real estate in Alamo City goes, Andreevska says it will remain affordable. “Median home prices are likely to continue being relatively low in San Antonio for the rest of the year and even beyond, much below the level in many other hot real estate markets across the U.S. Moreover, single-family homes will continue dominating the housing market.”

Philadelphia

The Philadelphia market is hot right now, and it doesn’t appear to be cooling down anytime soon. According to Trulia, the median sales price in The City of Brotherly Love as of July 25 was $193,000.

“Condominiums and townhomes are in high demand citywide,” says Michael Kelczewski of Brandywine Fine Properties Sotheby’s International Realty in nearby Wilmington, Del. “Single-family properties sell well throughout suburban locations,” he adds.

When it comes to area hot spots, Kelczewski points out that the “suburbs to the east, heading toward the Main Line—Haverford, Narberth, and Drexel Hill—all remain popular. Strong employment levels and growing earnings should continue to support a strong housing market.”

Jacksonville, Fla.

With more than 500 neighborhoods, Jacksonville is the most populous city in Florida. “Real estate prices are relatively low, with a median home price of $300,600, which is below the level of other hot housing markets,” Andreevska says.

Having lived in Jacksonville and South Florida, homeowner Kate Genematas agrees. “You definitely get a lot for your money in Jacksonville,” she says. “Waterfront is always a little pricier, of course, but I feel like you get a lot more for your money compared to other cities in South Florida.”

With less than 1 percent of homes on the water, Jacksonville has the highest premium of waterfront living in the U.S., at 72 percent, according to a recent Zillow study. It doesn’t appear to be fazing the city, though. “The Jacksonville real estate market is expected to continue growing and to become even hotter in the coming years,” Andreevska says.

                Nocatee, 

                Minutes South of Jacksonville is much like Celebration design that awed buyers,                      investors and foreign nationals. However, no one would have imagined Nocatee                    is this this design on steroids! No way to actually describe this area other                            than visit and take a day or two to enjoy the amenities and it’s location by calling                   Dan Swing at 904-671-9225. He can arrange for a stay and show you all the                             different communities and only minutes from the Intercoastal waters. Nocatee will                 have a Golf Cart friendly kayak launch and picnic area for its residents. Dan can                     also find your beachfront or Golf Course fairway frontage in one of the worlds                         most favored Golf Communities!

San Diego

“Out of the major cities in California to choose from, San Diego is where you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck, real estate-wise,” says California-based real estate investing expert Nick Vertucci.

Other real estate professionals agree. “San Diego is a great place to buy a home because the city is amazing,” says the husband-and-wife team of John and Melissa Steele, who run Steele San Diego Homes. “We like to say that it has all the benefits of a big city without many downsides.”

The median home price in San Diego County has risen 8.6 percent since April 2017, according to CoreLogic. “Four-bedroom homes are the hottest commodity,” says Vertucci. “The average sale price for single-family homes in San Diego is $595,000, which could land you a nice three-bedroom, three-bathroom house out in Linda Vista.” If you’re unfamiliar, Linda Vista is a residential community in San Diego located east of Mission Bay.

“The San Diego market is still very hot, and homes of all types are flying off the market,” Steele says. “If a property is well-priced, it’s not uncommon for it to be off the market within a matter of a week or two, regardless of the type of home.”

He points out that the market will continue to be active through the rest of the year but predicts a slowdown at some point. “It is typical to see a little bit of a slowdown around the holidays, specifically between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, as many buyers and sellers choose to avoid the process of moving during this time,” says Steele.

Mortgage Rates Inch Up

September 7, 2018
Rates

Freddie Mac

Mortgage rates rose slightly for the second consecutive week, and economists warn that more rises are likely to come.

“Borrowing costs may be slowly on the rise again in coming weeks, as investors remain optimistic about the underlying strength of the economy,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Mortgage rates are now up three-quarters of a percentage point from last year. Home prices have been rising too—although at a slower pace recently—but are still “outrunning rising inflation and incomes,” Khater notes. “The weakening in affordability is hindering many interested buyers this fall, even as the robust economy brings them into the market.”

Freddie Mac reports the following averages with mortgage rates for the week ending Sept. 6:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.54 percent, with an average 0.5 point for the week, increasing from last week’s 4.52 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.78 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.99 percent, with an average 0.4 point, increasing from last week’s 3.97 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.08 percent.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.93 percent, with an average 0.3 point, increasing from last week’s 3.85 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.15 percent.

Yards for New Homes Are Smaller Than Ever

National Association of Realtors findings

September 4, 2018
Young woman with garden in small room

© Image Source/Getty Images

Home buyers will have a harder time finding a big yard, as lot sizes remain near record lows, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Among sold properties in 2017, the median lot size for a new, detached single-family home was one-fifth of an acre, or 8,560 square feet. Median lot sizes fell below 8,600 square feet in 2015 for the first time since the bureau started recording such data.

Lot sizes vary regionally, and the nation’s largest tend to be in New England. More than half of single-family spec homes in the area are built on lots exceeding 0.4 acres. New England is known for having stricter zoning regulations than other parts of the nation, which requires builders to keep lower densities for construction.

On the other hand, the Pacific region, including California, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, and Alaska, has some of the tiniest lots in the nation—half of which are smaller than 0.15 acres.

Lot sizes by region

Smart-Home Gadgets buyers will pay extra to have.

August 27, 2018

 

More builders are outfitting newly constructed homes with smart-home technology, and many buyers say they’ll pay extra for it, according to research from John Burns Real Estate Consulting. Sixty percent of home shoppers say they’d spend more on a home with a smart thermostat, the consulting firm’s survey of more than 23,000 shows. Slightly more—67 percent—say they’d pay extra for an oversized kitchen.

Person using smart-home app

© Westend61/Getty Images

More than 60 percent of new-home buyers also say they’d pay more for an exterior security camera and smart locks.

In a separate John Burns survey of more than 300 home builders, 53 percent say they incorporate smart-home technology into new construction. Even so, 42 percent of buyers say they would purchase additional technology.

John Burns Real Estate Consulting found some differences among certain segments of buyers regarding which smart-home tech they find most attractive, including:

  • Young singles and couples: most likely to choose smart thermostats.
  • Families: most likely to choose a smart garage that is responsive to app controls and voice commands.
  • Older buyers: most likely to pay extra to have smart locks.

Many Seniors are purchasing these inexpensive gadgets to observe for themselves any breach of entry by neighbors or strangers!