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Showing posts from October, 2018

Glimmers of Hope for Housing as Pending Sales Tick Up

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David Deem 714-997-3486
After an August stalling, pending home sales in September ticked up 0.5 percent, according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI). Activity on an annual basis dipped 1 percent.

According to the Index, activity broke through in the Midwest and West, where, from August to September, the Index tracked up 1.2 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively. Compared to September 2017, however, the Index was lower, down 1.1 percent in the Midwest and 7.4 percent in the West.

Meanwhile, in the Northeast, the Index trickled down 0.4 percent from the month prior, and 2.7 percent below its level in September 2017. In the South, the Index tumbled 1.4 percent from the month prior, but was 3.3 percent above last year’s reading.

“This shows that buyers are out there on the sidelines, waiting to jump in once more inventory becomes available and the price is right,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. “When compared to the year 2000, when t…

6 Things Professional Burglars Don’t Want You to Know

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David Deem 714-997-3486
Even though a burglary occurs every 20 seconds in the U.S., you can still protect yourself without installing top-dollar security features.

Home burglary generally has a pattern; criminals are looking for an easy target they can rob fast. Learn from the pros. Here are six tips from career burglars you can use to defend your home and prevent break-ins.

1. Nighttime Burglaries Aren’t the Best Time
Burglars like to break in to homes during daytime hours—the last thing criminals want is to encounter someone at home. Weekdays are ideal for thieves, since weekend schedules are too unpredictable. Between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. are the most popular times because there’s a high chance people will be away at work or school.

2. They Know When You’re Not Home—Thanks to Social Media
While it’s tempting to post about your vacation to your social media feed, wait to share those trip photos and exotic location check-ins until you’re back home. Criminals scout public social medi…

Foreclosures Hit 12-Year Low—but Disasters Could Reverse the Trend

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David Deem 714-997-3486
Delinquent mortgages are unwinding, and foreclosures hit a 12-year low this summer, according to a new report.

In July, just 4.1 percent of mortgages nationwide were past due, CoreLogic’s latest Loan Performance Insights Report shows, and 0.5 percent were in foreclosure—the latter the lowest share since 2006.

According to the report:
•9 percent of mortgages were 30-59 days delinquent, down from 2.1 percent the prior year;
•6 percent were 60-89 days delinquent, down from 0.7 percent the prior year; and
•6 percent were 90 days or more delinquent, down from 1.9 percent the prior year.

The boost in employment is influencing the lower rates, according to Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic.

“With the national unemployment rate remaining below 4 percent since July, further declines in U.S. delinquency rates are likely in coming months,” says Nothaft.

CoreLogic anticipates, however, that delinquencies will mount in areas where disaster has struck. According to …

Student Loan Debt a Homeownership Barrier for Women and Millennials

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David Deem 714-997-3486
By Liz Dominguez


Rising interest rates, a seller's market and increasing home values…these are just a few of today's market challenges for buyers. While 92 percent of adults say homeownership is an important part of the American Dream, student loan debt is the predominant obstacle, according to the sixth annual NeighborWorks America at Home survey. This is especially true for millennials and women—underrepresented segments within the homeownership space.

Student loans have amassed previously inconceivable amounts of debt, currently towering at $1.5 trillion and comprising 42 percent of all consumer debt. This school-related debt has ballooned by 130 percent since 2008, according to the report, and women are carrying nearly two-thirds of the total amount, or nearly $900 billion.

The key findings? Women (29 percent) stand out as being heavily burdened compared to their male counterparts—only 23 percent of males hold student loan debt. Of these women, 50 pe…

FHA to Mandate Appraisal Checks on Certain HECMs

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David Deem 714-997-3486
Effective now through Sept. 30, 2019, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is directing lenders to complete a second appraisal on certain home equity conversion mortgages (HECMs), or reverse mortgages, in cases in which there could be an inflated property valuation. The mandate applies to cases established on or after Oct. 1, 2018.

According to FHA, the goal of the mandate is to "reduce risks" to the Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund (MMIF) and "protect the health" of the HECM program. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) discovered that the losses the program sustained were likely in part due to inflated values, and FHA found that its HECM portfolio had a 19.84 percent negative capital ratio, and a negative net worth of $14.5 billion.

In accordance with the mandate, FHA will assess appraisals on HECM originations to determine if a second appraisal is required. Under the policy, lenders are not permitted to app…

Transition Your Home to Fall with These DIY Tips

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David Deem 714-997-3486
Your wardrobe isn't the only thing that should change between seasons. Your home also needs some TLC. Joseph Giannone of Joseph Giannone Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning recommends the following steps for making the seasonal transition at home a worry-free one:

Check all insulation and weather stripping. To avoid drafts and loss of heat, take some time to inspect the entrances to the home. Weather stripping around doors is easy to replace, so look for dry, cracked pieces that may lead to loss of heat. Make sure thresholds are the proper height and just touching the bottom of the door – they can be adjusted using the screws on the top plate. Look for and fill in any gaps in insulation, and insulate any exposed piping now to prevent issues when freezing temperatures arrive.

Clean out the gutters. As the leaves begin to fall, it is vital to keep the gutters clean and clear. During heavy autumn rains, clogged gutters and downspouts will not divert water sa…

Choose the Right Cabinet Color

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David Deem 714-997-3486
Once you've made the decision to update your cabinets, there's an obvious next question: which color? With so many options to choose from, you may need to answer some basic questions to narrow down the field.

Bold vs. Subtle. If you're looking for a dramatic change, a bold approach may be the perfect solution. Just remember that a bold space can border on overly bold. It needs to be a color and shade that you will continue to enjoy over time. On the other hand, if you're set on adding color but not sure something so vibrant will do, a softer shade of that color may offer a more subtle solution.

All Over vs. Accent. Consider whether your vision calls for paint on all of your kitchen cabinetry, or if you're simply looking to create a standout feature. A color that looks terrific as a focal point may overwhelm if it's applied throughout the room, so evaluate which of the options you're weighing is best suited to the use you have in mind.

Fi…

Be Prepared to Weather the Storm

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David Deem 714-997-3486
For many people, inclement weather can be frightening. When the wind is blowing, the rain is pouring and the trees are rustling, it can be hard to remain calm. However, it's important to remember certain safety tips and how to use tools properly in case of emergency.

Having a plan in place before a storm, hurricane or tornado hits can help make sure everyone is on the same page and ensure safety in the event of a sudden power outage. Portable generators can serve many purposes after severe weather strikes, including providing power needed for safe food storage, hot water, lights, radios and televisions. However, portable generators emit potentially deadly carbon monoxide - which is a tasteless, colorless, odorless gas - making it vital to keep safety in mind when using one as a backup power source around your house or near family members.

The Portable Generator Manufacturers' Association recommends these tips for being informed of potential hazards and s…

Clean Your Wood Floors With Cleaners You Make at Home

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David Deem 714-997-3486
Whether it’s to help safeguard the environment from chemicals or to protect family members from allergens, homemade cleaning solutions offer an array of benefits for both your home and your loved ones.

For example, the experts at American Home Shield suggest trying one of the following seven DIY natural cleaners for your hardwood floor when more than a little damp mopping is in order. But first, make sure you know what kind of floor you have and how it’s finished. For instance, water is not advised for waxed floors and should be used sparingly on all types of finishes. 

1. Water and Vinegar. A popular cleansing agent in many areas of your home, vinegar can also help cut through the grime on your wood floor. Mix it with warm water and your good to go. Mix approximately ½ cup of white vinegar per one gallon of water. Use a sponge mop, and dry with a cloth or towel as you go.

2. Water, Vinegar, and Essential Oils. Add a few drops of your favorite scent to give your h…

Conventional Loans to Millennials Rise

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David Deem 714-997-3486
Conventional loans to millennials are on the rise, accounting for 69 percent of all millennial mortgages, according to the August Ellie Mae Millennial Tracker™, a measure of millennial mortgages. The figure is an increase from 64 percent the prior year, and the highest share since February 2015. Eighty-nine percent of conventional loans to millennials were on purchases.

“Our Millennial Tracker data shows that overall 69 percent of loans taken out by millennials were conventional loans, the highest percentage since 2015 and up 5 percent from the same period one year ago,” says Joe Tyrrell, executive vice president of Corporate Strategy for Ellie Mae. “As the industry continues to understand millennials and the new paradigms that a gig economy brings, we are seeing conventional loan products that are able to meet the needs of this important home-buying generation.”
Of all millennial mortgages, 27 percent were FHA and 2 percent were VA. (Three percent were not disc…

Chinese Homebuyers Look to U.S., Despite Restrictions, Trade War

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David Deem 714-997-3486
Despite new regulation and a trade war, China is continuing its hold as a key player on the property scene in the U.S., according to recently released research.

In 2017, Chinese investors poured $39.7 billion into real estate in the U.S., Juwai.com reports. The majority—$30.4 billion—was on the residential side, and in California, Florida and New York.

“The United States remains the top country for Chinese property investment,” says Carrie Law, CEO and director of Juwai.com. “Mainland Chinese acquired U.S. real estate worth more than in all the countries we tracked in Asia or in Europe.”

According to Law, the attraction is driven by economy and lifestyle.

“What Chinese homebuyers like about the United States is the educational opportunities, clean food and air, our diversified culture, and our economic and employment opportunities,” Law says. “For a Chinese buyer, purchasing properties in the United States is seldom really about the home itself; it’s about the l…

What Happens With A Sole Mortgage and the Spouse Dies?

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David Deem 714-997-3486
If the mortgage was only in your name, and you were to pass on, your partner would become the sole owner of the home. He would not owe the bank any money, but since the home was pledged as collateral for your loan, it could foreclose and sell his home and use the proceeds to repay the debt.

If your partner wanted to continue living in the home and making payments, your lender would have to allow him to do so. He would still be bound to the same terms and have to maintain insurance, pay taxes and make the payments like before. Additionally, your lender could ask him to sign paperwork to “assume” the loan, making him legally responsible for repaying the debt, basically requiring him to “stand in your shoes” and become the borrower in place of you.

Like everything else in life, there are certain condition and restrictions. It is important that he contact the lender and discuss his options. Not all lenders are created equal, so if yours tries to deny him his rights …

Top Tips to Prep Your Pool Deck for Fall and Winter

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David Deem 714-997-3486
Closing out the pool for the season? Your deck, too, can use a little TLC. Inground pool liners manufacturer LOOP-LOC shares tips for preparing your pool deck for fall and winter.

Clear. When it comes time to prepare your pool deck for the cooler months, the first order of business is to clear it of any leaves and brush. Make any repairs, then power wash it with deck cleaner. After it dries, reseal it before the weather turns too cold.

Pepper in plants. Place some weather-safe plants around the deck that will withstand the fall and winter months. Summer pots, window boxes, and hanging baskets can be repurposed to hold evergreen winter accents such as rhododendron and holly. Weave in some twigs to provide a touch of color and texture. Make sure to water them during dry periods.

Consider the birds. A bird feeder is a wonderful addition to a fall/winter deck. Enjoy watching the feathered antics from the warmth of your house. Keep the feeder full, add some suet cakes a…

How to Keep Things Flowing Smoothly in the Kitchen

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David Deem 714-997-3486
Nothing throws a monkey wrench (no pun intended) into your daily life faster than a plumbing problem in the kitchen. From a leaky faucet to a clogged garbage disposal, unexpected issues in the most-used room of the house can wreak havoc on your schedule and your wallet.

To troubleshoot problems before they turn into large and costly repairs, Roto-Rooter offers the following maintenance tips:

Prevent Leaky Faucets
Keep your faucet in optimal functioning condition by removing lime build-up and sediment from its aerator. To do so:
- Unscrew the aerator from the faucet by turning it counterclockwise.
- Take the aerator or spray head apart.
- Remove sediment using a small brush dipped in vinegar.
- Reassemble and screw the aerator back on to the faucet.

Avoid Clogged Drains
The following best practices will help prevent a clogged kitchen sink:
- Be selective about what goes in your garbage disposal. Never put hard-to-grind, stringy or fibrous waste down the garbage dis…

Quick Ways to Freshen Up Your Home for Fall

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David Deem 714-997-3486
(Family Features)--As fall weather sets in, many homeowners take advantage of cooler days to spruce up their living spaces since they're confined indoors; however, fitting all that work into a busy season filled with school, sports and other family demands isn't always easy.

Fortunately, a fall refresh doesn't have to mean mountains of daunting work. These tips can provide the inspiration you need to spruce up your home without the hassle.

Control the clutter. Even the cleanest homes still look messy when they're disorganized, but it's an uphill battle for many to keep clutter from accumulating. Tackle the house room-by-room. Divide clutter into three piles: keep, donate and discard.

Give floors a facelift. After months spent outside, it's inevitable that you've tracked some of the great outdoors back inside with you. Get your floors back in their best condition with a simple carpet washing innovation. Some models offer an auto-mix feat…

Mortgage Rates at Record Not Seen Since Spring 2011

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David Deem 714-997-3486
The average 30-year, fixed mortgage rate rocketed to 4.72 percent this week, at a record not seen since spring 2011, according to Freddie Mac's latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®). The average 15-year, fixed mortgage rate rose to 4.16 percent, while the average five-year, Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable mortgage rate shot to 3.97 percent. Last week, the rates were 4.65 percent, 4.16 percent and 3.92 percent, respectively.

The cause of the jump? According to the Case-Shiller Indices, also released this week, home prices are slowing, with growth in July at 6 percent—earlier this spring, the pace was 6.5 percent. Additionally, the Federal Reserve opted to raise rates this week, with borrowing costs increasing, as a result.

"The robust economy, rising Treasury yields and the anticipation of more short-term rate hikes caused mortgage rates to move up," says Sam Khater, chief economist at Freddie Mac. "Even with these higher borrowing …

How to Stay Safe Without Power

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David Deem 714-997-3486
When the power surges and the lights go out for a few minutes - or even an hour or two - we usually suffer little more than a temporary inconvenience.

But what if you’re the victim of an extended power outage? Safety issues become more serious the longer you go without power. Follow these steps from Consumer Reports (CR) to get you through the outage.

Put it on paper. While your cell phone is your normal life line to important phone numbers, passwords, banking information, etc., in an extended outage, you won’t have access to it for long, so transfer critical data to paper before your battery runs out. In the meantime, switch to power-saving mode to extend your battery life as long as possible.

Use gas to cook food before it spoils. Provided your home hasn’t suffered any damage, it’s probably still safe to cook on your gas range, however, you’ll need to light the burner with a match or lighter. Your gas grill is another option. But first things first: make sure …

7 Projects That Improve Resale Value

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David Deem 714-997-3486
(Family Features)--Even if you have no immediate plans for leaving your home, it's a good idea to approach renovations with resale value in mind. Upgrades that are likely to appeal to future buyers protect your investment while also improving your enjoyment of the home.

One key to a successful renovation is figuring out how to personalize the space without making it so customized that it's not attractive to other potential owners. For example, eliminating a bedroom to create a giant walk-in closet may help achieve your dreams, but losing that bedroom can be a major hit to your home's value.

A good rule of thumb is to focus on aesthetics when it comes to integrating more of your personal tastes, because these can be easily changed with a coat of paint or minor work. However, that doesn't mean you can't make other, more significant changes to enhance your home.

These renovation ideas - which include both cosmetic touch-ups and more labor-intens…

It’s a Sellers’ Market—but Not for Millennials: Report

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David Deem 714-997-3486
Even as homeowners, millennials are drawing the short straw.

According to the 2018 Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends, newly released, millennial sellers—even with the proverbial “upper hand”—are having to change their closing date or cut their list price.

Many, even, have had deals fall apart, against outside stressors and tight timelines—and, the majority of millennial sellers would do over “at least one thing differently” in the process, the report reveals.

Does the struggle mean the tide is turning?

“These seller challenges don’t indicate we’re suddenly in a buyers’ market—we don’t expect market conditions to shift decidedly in favor of buyers until 2020 or later,” says Dr. Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow. “Buyers certainly are starting to balk at the rapid rise in prices, and home values are starting to grow at a less frenetic pace.”

Affordability is a dug-in issue, as well as the inventory shortage, the report shows. Across Gen Z (age …

In ‘Healthy Shift,’ More Homeowners on Board With Selling

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David Deem 714-997-3486
Are homeowners warming up?

With prices rapidly rising, homeowners have been reluctant to sell, fearful of being unable to afford another home—a catch-22, because inventory is limited as it is, and compounded further when homes are kept off the market.

Now, their confidence is growing, according to the latest National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) quarterly survey. Seventy-percent of Americans are optimistic about selling, with 50 percent “strongly” believing now is ideal to list, according to the survey. Less than one-quarter (22 percent) believe now is not ideal to list—a decrease from 29 percent the prior quarter.

At the same time, 70 percent of Americans believe home prices have risen this year, and 53 percent believe they will climb in the next six months—the latter a slight slip from 55 percent the prior quarter. Fifty-six percent say the amount of listings in their neighborhood has not risen, while 23 per…

High-Resale Value Projects You Can Tackle In a Weekend

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David Deem 714-997-3486
“There’s no place like home,” as the old saying goes. That’s especially true when it comes to an investment.

You live in and love your home, but there might come a time when you have to leave it. And when that time comes, you’ll want to get as much money as you can for your property so you can move onward — and upward.

In order to increase your abode’s value, you might think you have to put in a ton of time, effort and money, but that’s not entirely true. Instead, you can take on weekend projects over time to spruce the place up so when it’s time to sell, you have a completely updated property that’ll end up selling itself.

Ready to get to work? Roll up your sleeves and start on one of the following five weekend projects.

1. Repaint Your Kitchen Cabinets

When it comes to smart investment in your home, the kitchen is one of the best places to start. Buyers expect kitchens to be updated. Stone countertops, stainless appliances and sleek flooring all make a space fe…

Against Grain, Luxury Market Moves Up

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David Deem 714-997-3486
By Suzanne De Vita

Luxury prices are strengthening, with double-digit growth in 20 of the largest markets in the nation—a contrast from the housing market overall, according to the August Luxury Home Index by realtor.com®. The age of inventory in the luxury segment sped up to 121 days, the Index shows.

"The conditions in the luxury segment are quite different from the market overall—it's really a tale of two markets," says Danielle Hale, chief economist for realtor.com. "Although U.S. median listing prices show signs of slowing growth, luxury prices are moving in the opposite direction in many places. For the second consecutive month, we've seen more markets with double-digit, entry-level luxury price growth than in the past four years."

According to the Index, which analyzes 91 counties in the luxury segment—examining prices in the top 5 percent of all sales, specifically—the fastest-growing luxury markets are:

1. Sarasota County, Fl…

Move Where the Fun Is Happening

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David Deem 714-997-3486
Many of us move for work, family or school—but how about moving for fun? According to WalletHub, the average American spends nearly $3,000 on entertainment each year. With that in mind, WalletHub recently released a report on 2018's Most Fun Cities in America.

While the No. 1 city may not surprise you (helloooo, Vegas!), some of the other list-toppers may. For instance, New York doesn't come in until the third slot, and Orlando beat out Miami, likely due to its several theme parks.

New Orleans, on the other hand, is mid-list in the ninth slot, whereas Los Angeles doesn't enter until spot 13!

To snag their findings, WalletHub compared more than 180 U.S. cities across 65 key metrics, looking at movie theaters, breweries, fitness clubs and more.

In doing so, the study found that New York has the most restaurants (per square root of population), and the most playgrounds (per square root of population). New York also has the most bars (per square root of …

Chinese Homebuyers Look to U.S., Despite Restrictions, Trade War

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David Deem 714-997-3486
Despite new regulation and a trade war, China is continuing its hold as a key player on the property scene in the U.S., according to recently released research.

In 2017, Chinese investors poured $39.7 billion into real estate in the U.S., Juwai.com reports. The majority—$30.4 billion—was on the residential side, and in California, Florida and New York.

"The United States remains the top country for Chinese property investment," says Carrie Law, CEO and director of Juwai.com. "Mainland Chinese acquired U.S. real estate worth more than in all the countries we tracked in Asia or in Europe."

According to Law, the attraction is driven by economy and lifestyle.

"What Chinese homebuyers like about the United States is the educational opportunities, clean food and air, our diversified culture, and our economic and employment opportunities," Law says. "For a Chinese buyer, purchasing properties in the United States is seldom really abou…

The Dos and Don'ts of Drain Maintenance

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David Deem 714-997-3486
Does one of your drains always seem to clog? Can't figure out the best way to keep your pipes clear? Four Seasons Plumbing offers the following guidelines for proper drain maintenance.

"A lot of our clients are worried about what they can and cannot put down their drains," says Max Rose, owner of Four Seasons Plumbing. "The truth is—excluding grease, oils and chemicals—a properly designed and installed system will take just about anything you can fit down the drain. If you are experiencing issues with normal use, I recommend having a plumbing professional do an inspection, but in the meantime here are some dos and don'ts you can follow." 

Do use a drain guard. Whether it's in the kitchen sink or the bathtub, a drain guard can catch the bigger pieces of debris that tend to cause clogs.

Do flush with hot water. Periodically fill the tub and/or kitchen sink about halfway with hot water and pull the plug. This will move the hot water do…