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Smart Home Technology Worth Considering

by Dawn & Peter Balzano

Flying cars still seem to be a few years away, but don’t let that stop you from having a futuristic home! Take a look at these pieces of Smart Home technology that come highly rated by the experts.

The Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat 

From the ecobee website: “When you place sensors in your favorite rooms, ecobee4 can read the temperature and detect occupancy. That’s how it ensures comfort in the rooms that matter.”

In addition to being smart about which rooms need attention, the ecobee4 has Amazon’s Alexa built into it, so you can tell it to order groceries, read the news, and more. If you’re tired of wasting energy on your entire home, all it takes is $249 to bring your thermostat into the future!

The Neato Botvac™ Connected Robot Vacuum 

This vacuum certainly isn’t cheap ($699 retail,) but it certainly looks and functions like the future of cleaning. Unlike most robot vacuums, the Botvac™ doesn’t go around aimlessly, it cleans in efficient patterns and returns to its docking station once its finished. Want to learn more about this amazing little guy? Visit the website here!

Amazon Cloud Cam Security Camera

This security camera from Amazon provides a 1080p live feed along with motion notifications and it only costs $120! It also includes a mobile app (of course) and isn’t a hassle to setup. Check out more on Amazon’s site!


What part of your home are you looking forward to bringing into the future?

10 Housing and Mortgage Trends to Watch for in 2018

by Dawn & Peter Balzano
housing_2018

10 Housing and Mortgage Trends to Watch for in 2018

The housing picture is likely to improve in 2018:

  • Home prices are expected to climb, but not as fast
  • More houses could be for sale toward the end of the year, giving home buyers a greater selection to choose from
  • Homeowners will have more equity to borrow from

Yet in other ways, 2018 might continue to be challenging, especially for home buyers. Mortgage rates are likely to rise, reducing affordability.

Here are 10 housing and mortgage trends to expect in 2018.

1. Home prices decelerate

Good news for first-time home buyers: Home-price appreciation is expected to cool down in 2018 after a torrid couple of years.

Home prices rose 6.3% in 2016, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. They’re on track to exceed 6% in 2017, too. But for next year, the median forecast among six industry and lender groups is for a 4.1% increase in existing home prices nationwide.

Why the slowdown? One factor is home construction. Economists expect the construction of single-family houses to rise sharply in 2018, based on building permit applications. The median estimate has single-family housing starts rising about 8% in 2018, to roughly 912,500 new houses.

2. More homes for sale

Home buyers are struggling to find houses for sale. The shortages are especially acute for the kinds of homes that first-time buyers tend to get. Among the reasons for the tight supply:

  • Many baby boomers are content to age in their homes instead of downsizing
  • Investors bought millions of homes after the housing bubble burst, and they’re making too much money as landlords to sell
  • Home builders make more profit from expensive houses than entry-level houses, so that’s what they’re constructing

But there’s some hope for 2018: Realtor.com predicts that the housing supply pinch will begin to ease late in the year.

“It looks like we could get to a point where we’re seeing growth in inventory sometime in the fall of 2018,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist for Realtor.com.

3. Home sales could rise

Resales of existing homes are expected to rise modestly in 2018. The median estimate is that existing home sales will rise 2.5%, to 5.6 million units.

Meanwhile, sales of new homes are expected to rise a median of 7%, to 653,500 newly built single-family houses.

According to Realtor.com, cities in the South will show the most sales growth in 2018. Hale says she expects 6% existing home sales growth, particularly in markets such as Dallas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Charlotte, North Carolina. She says those places are not as “regulation constrained,” they have strong regional economies and developers have plenty of vacant land to build on.

4. Mortgage rates head up

Mortgage rates are expected to rise in 2018. CoreLogic, a data provider for the real estate industry, averaged six forecasts of mortgage rates, arriving at a consensus view that the 30-year fixed will average 4.7% in December 2018. In November 2017, the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.07%.

“Not only are mortgage rates higher, but mortgage rates will be at the highest level since 2011,” Nothaft said at the Urban Institute symposium. “So we’re looking at an environment, going forward, where this era of cheap mortgage rates will largely be behind us.”

Interest rates are notoriously resistant to prediction, though. At the beginning of 2017, most people expected mortgage rates to rise steadily throughout the year. And they did rise — for a few weeks. The average 30-year fixed peaked in mid-March 2017 at 4.58%, according to NerdWallet’s daily survey. Then it declined, dipping slightly below 4% a few times in the summer, before moving upward slightly in the fall.

5. Affordability declines

If, as expected, home prices and mortgage rates go up in 2018, homes will be less affordable.

For example, if mortgage rates rise to 4.7% toward the end of 2018, and the median price of existing homes rises by 4.1%, then monthly mortgage payments for a typical house would rise substantially.

Copy_Rising_prices_and_rates_affect_affordability

But according to an Urban Institute analysis, middle-class families in much of the country still have some financial wiggle room if rates and prices rise in 2018. Most home buyers don’t appear to stretch to the limits of affordability, the Urban Institute wrote.

6. More equity, more HELOCs

As home values rise, homeowners gain equity. And banks expect millions of homeowners to borrow against that equity.

About 1.6 million homeowners are predicted to get new home equity lines of credit in 2018, a 16% increase over 2017, according to a recent TransUnion study. The credit bureau says 67% of homeowners have enough equity to get HELOCs, and 80% of those borrowers have high credit scores.

TransUnion forecasts that 10 million homeowners will get HELOCs from 2018 through 2022, double the number of new lines of credit in the five years before that.

7. Security headaches continue

Thieves are stealing down payments from home buyers by combining email hacking with wire fraud. And there’s no sign of it slowing.

Complaints of this type of wire fraud skyrocketed by 480% in 2016, according to the 2016 annual report (the latest available) from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. Lenders and title companies say the problem worsened in 2017, and that they fend off this form of fraud constantly.

The best way to avoid becoming a victim: When you receive emailed instructions for wiring money, call your agent to verify. The email may be a fake, designed to trick you into wiring money into a thief’s account.

8. More options for people with credit issues

A few specialty lenders are focusing on nontraditional mortgages. For example, Angel Oak Mortgage Solutions in Atlanta targets the borrower “who has had a life event, so they lost their house or had to file bankruptcy or things got really bad, but they’ve now got their feet back on the ground and they’re ready to buy their next house,” says Tom Hutchens, the lender’s senior vice president of sales and marketing.

Several lenders offer interest-only mortgages, and even loans with limited income documentation. These mortgages are dubbed “non-QM” because they don’t meet Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s plain-vanilla “qualified mortgage” rules. One prominent non-QM lender, Impac Mortgage Holdings, plans to begin securitizing these loans early in 2018.

9. Lenders embracing automation

Mortgage lenders continue to pour money into automating the loan-application process. The best-known example is Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans. But Quicken isn’t the only lender that embraces automation. Some lenders, such as loanDepot, cook up their own automation in-house, while software providers such as Blend and Roostify help large and small banks to automate applications. Now a few lenders want to use automation to guide borrowers to loan products that best suit them.

10. Tax reform could affect buyers and owners

Lawmakers were still working on tax reform as this article was being written. Preliminary House and Senate versions limited the number of home sellers who would benefit from the home capital gains exclusion, and they treated the mortgage interest tax deduction differently. It’s too early to know how a final tax reform bill would affect home buyers and homeowners, but we will keep you posted.


 
 

The article 10 Housing and Mortgage Trends to Watch for in 2018 originally appeared on NerdWallet.

5 Simple Ways to Add Value to Your Home

by Dawn & Peter Balzano

Many people think that in order to add value to your home, you must undergo a big remodel or add a major feature like a pool. However, it doesn’t have to be that hard! Here’s five easy ways to add value to your home.

Paint

Repainting parts of your home every once in awhile is a simple value adder, that is also fairly inexpensive. You don’t need to repaint everything; focus on the parts that a potential buyer would look at, such as the kitchen, bathroom, or bedrooms.

 

 

Outdoor Seating

Adding a quality seating area in the backyard adds value by giving your outdoor space a better look. Prospective buyers will like the fact that you have another area where they could host guests or spend time with their family.

 

Bathroom Upgrades

The bathroom is most likely going to be your least expensive room to upgrade, but could produce the most results. A more modern bathroom could go along way in convincing potential buyers that your home is the one for them.

 

Landscaping

You certainly don’t need to go overboard in terms of landscaping, if you do, it’ll get expensive fast! However, adding to or improving upon the plant life surrounding your home will give prospective buyers get a better first impression of your home and make the exterior of your home brighter and more appealing.

 

Store Effectively

No one wants to walk into a home that looks like it belongs to a hoarder. Decluttering your home will not only increase it’s value, but also make you feel more proud of your space while you’ll still living there. By the way, you know what makes storage and organization easier? Getting rid of some stuff you don’t need!

 

If you’re preparing your home because you’re thinking about selling, let’s talk!

Wonder About Your Credit Score?

by Dawn & Peter Balzano

Your credit score is a composite snapshot of your credit history. You want to make sure you pay your bills on time, keep outstanding debt levels to a reasonable amount for each account, and avoid closing accounts you've successfully paid-off and managed.

If you have less than perfect credit, there are still good loan programs out there for responsible borrowers. We have a list of preferred local lenders who can help you find the best financing programs for your specific needs.

Here are some great resources to learn more about credit scores, and to get a free credit score and report:

Contact us we can put you in touch with a variety of lenders to help you prepare for homeownership. 

Presidents Day Well Wish

by Dawn & Peter Balzano

 

In honor of Presidents Day, remember that Palm Beach County services and most city services will not be available or open today. Trash pick up, schools, city halls, courts will be be closed in observance of this public holiday. Most financial institutions will also remain closed as will the post office. 

Most retailers are offering huge sales that will continue all week long. Its a great time to take advantage of the sales. If you know you are looking for a specific item, remember to Google the item before you to to the store to see where you can get the best price in the area. 

If you are looking for a home, today is a great day to set up a home search with us. Follow the attached link or simply email or call us let us know what you are looking for and we can customize a search for you that will automatically send you home listings that match your criteria. When you see something that you like, we hope that you will contact us so that we can show you the property in person. Please go to ListingAlerts to set up your search today!

Regardless of how you spend your day, we hope it is a productive one. 

 

 

 

Mortgage Trends and Forecast for South Florida Real Estate Market

by Dawn & Peter Balzano

I was speaking with one of my local mortgage lending connections in Palm Beach County about the mortgage rates and found some valuable information that I thought I would pass along. 

According to Ira Goldberg of  First Trust Mortgage, "Mortgage Trends have remained very steady which has been interesting considering the volatile political climate. With the Fed keeping rates low, and the overall economy relatively stable, we have found that the 30 & 15 Yr. Fixed Rate mortgages have remained at virtually record low levels for the last several months. Even with some shifts both up and down in the Treasury Bills, the mortgage rates have been minimally impacted, and that has been great news for our market. We have seen a steady stream of buyers taking advantage of the low rates and payments, many finding it a great time to buy in light of continuing escalation in rental costs. There has also been a significant increase in refinance activity, as many clients are choosing to lower their rate, eliminate PMI due to improved equity, and/or taking cash out for home improvement or debt consolidation. General consensus has been that rates could start to increase after the election cycle, but it appears none of the major financial prognosticators are predicting any significant changes."

Palm Beach County median sales price increased again. The overall Real Estate Market continues to be solid with homes selling at a brisk pace. Homes priced under $350,000 remains strong, with multiple offers and bidding wars becoming the norm for attractive properties.

Unlike Dade County who has seen a market slow down in condo sales, Palm Beach County remain strong, mostly due to a lower inventory of available units.

If you are interested in working with an experienced Realtor in South Florida, contact me! I can help you find and/or sell your current home for top dollar. 

To look at active listings in a particular area in Palm Beach County, visit my site and set up a search. If you need customization, let me know! I have access to all active listings in South Florida (Palm Beach County, Broward and Dade County)

Are you wondering like I was what was opened and what was closed this weekend or even on Monday, December 26th? So far this is what I have gathered about this weekend. I hope you find this useful! 

In Boca Raton and its surrounding cities in Palm Beach County the following will observe the Christmas holiday:

  • Banks, stock markets and post offices will be closed on Monday. There will be no regular mail delivery on Monday.
     
  • Publix stores will be open until 7PM on Christmas Eve but will be closed on Sunday
     
  • Pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens will need to be reviewed depending on location they may or may not be opened. 
     
  • Boynton Beach Mall, The Mall at Wellington Green,  and Town Center at Boca Raton, will all be closed on Sunday.
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  • Tri-Rail will operate a weekend schedule. To find train schedules, call Tri-Rail customer service at 800-874-7245 or visit tri-rail.com.
     
  • Palm Tran will not run Sunday. Palm Tran will run weekend schedule on Monday. For a complete schedule visit PalmTran
     
  • The county library system will be closed Saturday through Monday.

If you are looking at property and would like to receive listings in a particular area or neighborhood let us know! We can set up a custom search for you at no obligation that will send you active listings via email. Interested? Call or drop me a line!

Florida Voter Registration Deadline is Tuesday, October 11th

by Dawn & Peter Balzano

 

Regardless of how you feel about the candidates for President, it is important that you exercise your right to vote.

For those of you new to Florida, please remember that the deadline to Register to Vote is Tuesday, October 11th. Depending on your county, early voting begins October 24th and October 29th through November 6th. 

 

The state of Florida makes registering to vote very                                         easy. 

1. Get the Form

2. Your completed application form must be postmarked by Oct 11                      and mailed to:

The Florida Division of Elections which is located at:
Room 316, R.A. Gray Building
500 South Bronough Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0250

You can also submit the form to any County Supervisor of Elections, any Florida driver’s license office or tax collector’s office that issues driver’s licenses and/or Florida ID cards, any “voter registration agency” where you get services, any office that primarily serves persons with disabilities, any military recruitment office, or any public library.

For more information please visit :  Florida Division of Elections

Interested in buying or selling a home? Contact us! We can help! Let our expertise in Palm Beach County help you get the best price.

Volunteer Opportunities within Palm Beach County for October

by Dawn & Peter Balzano

Even though its doesn't quite feel like Fall weather in South Florida, we are entering the time of the year. We are beginning to remember one of the best perks of living here, no snow! That is something to be truly grateful for. 

Most of us have so much to be grateful for... before the holiday season hits, why not considering giving back to our community by participating in a community project? United Way is one of several organizations throughout Palm Beach County that offers several volunteering opportunities throughout South Florida. I recently received an email detailing the upcoming dates and thought I would pass them along. 

Volunteer Opportunities with United Way in October

Day of Caring – packing week-end backpacks for children and families in need; following the Breakfast of Champions on Wed. Oct. 19 –9:45-11:15 at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach

Make a Difference Day – painting the exterior building of one of Community Partners substance abuse treatment facilities – Sat. October 22 – 8:30-11:30 in West Palm Beach

Family Volunteer Day – initial planting at Give Back Garden – Sat. Nov. 19 – 8:30-11:30 – Riviera Beach

If you are interested in receiving emails from United Way register at  Volunteer@unitedwaypbc.org  

Happy Volunteering and remember that if you are thinking of buying or selling a home, give me a call. I have been a member of the Palm Beach County community for over two decades. 

 

 

Monthly Closed sales for Single Family Homes for Junee 2016

by Dawn & Peter Balzano

                   

The Florida Association of Realtors (FAR) released the numbers for June. "The county’s median house price rose to $320,000 in June, up sharply from May’s median of $311,000" said Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches on Thursday. Prices increased 5.6 percent from June 2015 to June 2016.

The average sales price for Palm Beach County in June was $503,839. Average sales price is calculated by taking the total number of sales in dollars divided by the number sales. While the total number of sales decreased by 2.9% since last year, the average sales price of homes increased by 0.5%

Interested in buying or selling a home? Contact us! We can help! Let our expertise in Palm Beach County help you get the best price.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 21