Mortgage Applications Rise for New Home Purchases

Mortgage Applications Rise for New Home Purchases
Mortgage applications for new home purchases increased by 5 percent relative to the previous month, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) Builder Applications Survey (BAS) data for August 2016.

“Applications for new home purchase mortgages were up in August on an unadjusted basis following a sluggish July,” says Lynn Fisher, MBA’s vice president of Research and Economics. “New home purchase applications increased 5 percent over the month and increased more than 14 percent compared to August a year ago. Based on the applications data, our estimate of seasonally adjusted new home sales for August reached 601,000 sales, the highest level observed in our survey since it began in 2012. While our new home sales estimates have trailed the recent Census data, the increase in our series in August, which derives from a different source of data compared to the Census, provides some corroboration that single family building activity has remained strong even as the summer winds down. Our sense is that builders have been attempting to catch up with demand in the face of labor shortfalls and other limiting factors in various parts of the country.”

By product type, conventional loans composed 67.7 percent of loan applications, FHA loans composed 18.4 percent, RHS/USDA loans composed 0.7 percent and VA loans composed 13.2 percent. The average loan size of new homes decreased from $325,843 in July to $325,224 in August.

The MBA estimates new single-family home sales were running at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 601,000 units in August 2016, based on data from the BAS. The new home sales estimate is derived using mortgage application information from the BAS, as well as assumptions regarding market coverage and other factors.

The seasonally adjusted estimate for August is an increase of 11.3 percent from the July pace of 540,000 units. On an unadjusted basis, the MBA estimates that there were 48,000 new home sales in August 2016, an increase of 6.7 percent from 45,000 new home sales in July.

MBA’s Builder Applications Survey tracks application volume from mortgage subsidiaries of home builders across the country. Utilizing this data, as well as data from other sources, MBA is able to provide an early estimate of new home sales volumes at the national, state, and metro level. This data also provides information regarding the types of loans used by new home buyers. Official new home sales estimates are conducted by the Census Bureau on a monthly basis. In that data, new home sales are recorded at contract signing, which is typically coincident with the mortgage application.

For more information, visit www.mba.org

10 Home Renovations That Offer the Best (and Worst) Return on Investment

Hammer on Stack of Money

By
Judy Dutton

Remodeling may be a labor of love, but it’s also an investment that can seriously boost the value of your home.  Only by how much? Well, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2016 Cost vs. Value Report, you’ll recoup an average of 64% of what you paid for a renovation if you sell your home this year.

To arrive at these figures, Remodeling asked consultants in various markets to estimate the average cost for 30 home improvement projects, from adding a bathroom to replacing a roof. Then, they asked real estate agents nationwide to estimate the expected resale value of these renovations so that readers could compare their out-of-pocket costs to how much money they’d get back when it came time to sell their home.

The next best-paying renovation on the list: manufactured stone veneer, offering a respectable 92.9% return.

Meanwhile—sorry, luxury tub fans—the home improvement project that reaps the worst ROI is the addition of a bathroom, at 56.2% (although the “added value” of an extra bathroom for anyone who’s ever had to wait their turn for one is, of course, priceless).

Take-home lesson? If you’re looking for a general rule of thumb, it’s that less is more: Lower-cost projects  generally reap bigger returns, with four of the five projects that cost less than $5,000 ranking among the top five for money back when you sell.

Check out the best (and worst) returns for home renovations in the two charts below, including how much you’ll pay and get back if you sell your home this year.

 

blog919_2

Creating a Rustic and Reclaimed Living Room

Incorporating these design elements into your living room will make it feel warm & cozy – just in time for fall!

The following is a guest post from Kerrie Kelly, ASID


A rustic, reclaimed living room is all about that perfect combination between old and new. Thanks to its unwavering ability to bring warmth into a space, rustic influences have become all the rage by bringing in cozy textures and natural elements from the olden days into modern spaces. They also celebrate the art of reusing, combining flea market finds with salvaged materials from the past. Let’s take a look at a few easy ways you can create an organic oasis complete with farmhouse-inspired furnishings, woodsy wallpaper and chic accessories.

Weathered Materials and Organic Shapes

16_1

What better way to bring rustic charm into your living room than with weathered and organic materials? Texture and patina are essential for adding a sense of age to a living room. Reclaimed wood has become the holy grail of the rustic look—when used on an accent wall or as ceiling beams, the wood can instantly create a space that seems like it has been around for generations.

Contrary to popular belief, your living room doesn’t need to be completely covered in reclaimed wood to pull off that rustic charm. Antique brass and hammered metals also add to the verdigris of a cozy living room, layering well with rougher textures and distressed patinas. Accenting a space with a few organic shapes limits the feeling of everything being mass-produced—wicker baskets are easy additions for newspaper or blanket storage, while hand-turned wooden bowls make great coffee table decor or knick-knack holders. Want to bring in the look of weathered materials without the commitment of nails and glue? We love an accent wall made of removable wallpaper with a shiplap print for a quick and easy rustic touch.

Warm, Earthy Colors

16_2

The rustic living room is all about incorporating warm, earthy tones from the natural world. While many color inspirations can be pulled from the natural materials, others can come from a variety of travel spots to combine into a cozy palette for your living room. We love the look of rusty tones from the deserts of the American Southwest to earthy hues from the Smoky Mountains. Don’t think your living room needs to be a catalogue of all shades of beige—there is room for a sprinkling of vivid color accents like a deep cherry red, prairie golden yellow, chambray blue and faded desert turquoise.

Hearty Fabrics

16-3

Like the rustic look, hearty fabrics highlight both natural beauty and ruggedness. Stray away from light fabrics like silk—their delicateness won’t blend in well with the heartiness of reclaimed pieces. Instead, stick to sturdier fabrics like wool, burlap, cotton and linen, which have a long history in homey rooms. The right pattern can also play a part in tying together your living room—try trendy-colored gingham, flannel or striped pillows for contrast, or a modern quilt for a classic piece of Americana.

Recycled and Reclaimed Accents

16_4

Materials aren’t the only addition to your living room that can be re-purposed. Create a collected look with miscellaneous furniture, lighting, art and accessories for a quintessential rustic and reclaimed living room. Feel free to combine multiple styles into a curated look that screams “you”—industrial lighting, vintage signs, farmhouse accents, you name it. Look for an old-timey rocking chair or consider re-purposing a wing back for a fun take on an old design staple.

Accessories

16_5

Accessories are the perfect way to add a dose of femininity to a space overwhelmed by rustic wood and deeper tones. Soften a space with a sheepskin rug or a well-loved Persian rug. A dazzling old chandelier will add sparkle, as will a few industrial style reading lamps with antique shine. An old-school bar cart is a great flea market find, and accented with the right metallic barware it can add a fabulous little touch of speakeasy glamour to a rustic room.

Have you ever created a rustic and reclaimed living room in your space? What were your go-to accessories and furnishings?


Developing stylish homes is a hallmark of Kerrie Kelly’s work at Kerrie Kelly Design Lab in Sacramento, Ca. Kerrie’s advice on rustic spans wall, floor and furniture inspiration. Kerrie writes on interior design for Home Depot, where you can review a selection of wallpaper patterns that could help bring out the rustic look you’re looking for.

Images via Shutterstock

8 Unwritten Etiquette Rules Every Home Seller Should Know.

selling-etiquette

David Sacks/Getty Images

If you’re trying to sell your home, you’ve probably scrutinized it, staged it, and scrubbed it down from floorboards to rooftop as if the folks from Architectural Digest were stopping by for a cover shoot. OK, so it’s in immaculate shape—but your home isn’t the only thing under scrutiny here. You are, too! That’s right: No matter how nice your home is, your behavior can also affect how buyers feel about making an offer.

Last week we told you the secret etiquette rules that every home buyer needs to know in order to nail the deal. Today we’re focusing on the selling side of the equation. Here are the (previously) unwritten etiquette rules sellers should follow to show their home—and themselves—in the best possible light.

Leave

Sure, you’re dying to know if prospective buyers will love what you’ve done with the kitchen, but Realtors® agree sellers should not be there lurking in the shadows during an open house or showing.

“Buyers don’t feel as comfortable when the owner is at the home watching their every move,” explains Nicholas Kensington of Scottsdale Real Estate. “Get out of their way so that they can start to picture themselves living there instead of being spied on.” So take a powder. Or at least hide.

Take your pets with you

You think Humbert is the cutest labradoodle ever, but not everyone is bound to share that opinion. In addition to having allergies, some home shoppers may not be in the market for a run-in with an animal they don’t know.

“Imagine, as a buyer, having the background music set to ‘barking dog’ while you are trying to take in the home’s nuances that you, as the seller, have worked so hard to hone,” says Brenda Hayward, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker. “To say nothing of the stress it puts on your beloved pet. Take your mutt for a car ride, to the dog park, or for a long walk. It will do you both good.”

Betty Clark, who claims an “irrational fear of birds,” says she was shocked by how many open houses she ran from due to unexpected tweeting and chirping from caged and uncaged feathered friends. Don’t alienate would-be purchasers by forcing your pets on them.

Move your car

“Make it easy for visitors to park and view the home,” Kensington notes. “No one likes parking issues. Having them is a sure way to get a viewing off to a bad start.” In fact, if potential buyers have to park a block away and walk, they may just skip taking the tour of your home. Or if they’re willing to make the hike, they may be in a lousy mood by the time they enter your home. Why risk it?

Lay out important documents

If questions arise while buyers are on the premises, it may help them decide to put in an offer that much faster if they can find answers quickly and in writing.

“Leaving necessary documents in an easy-to-find spot isn’t just good for selling, it’s also good selling etiquette,” says Kensington. “Put out the home inspection report, appraisal, home warranty, monthly bill information—gas, oil, electric—and proof of any major repairs are all good things to let people look through when they are considering buying your home.”

Offer some refreshments

House hunters can get parched and peckish. You can help!

“Putting out a few small bottled waters in a small bowl of ice is always appreciated, along with some light, easy grab-and-go sort of refreshments like mints or cookies,” says Cara Ameer, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker.

Be patient waiting for feedback

Of course, you’re dying to know what buyers thought of your home, but that information may not flow back to you instantaneously. Buyers often want to process what they’ve seen and think it over before making an offer. If one comes through, don’t worry, you’ll hear about it!

“It is reasonable to ask for feedback from your Realtor after the showing, but understand it may take a day or two for the buyer’s agent to respond,” Hayward says.

Don’t be greedy

Who doesn’t want top dollar for their home? But an unwillingness to negotiate can kill a possible deal and keep your home on the market long after you were hoping to be unpacking at your new place.

“Focusing on your bottom line is always important, but greed can lead to disaster. Remember a little of something is better than a lot of nothing. Generosity will lead you to your promise land,” says Josh Myler, a Realtor with The Agency.

Listen to the professionals

If your Realtor has some suggestions for improvements that may help sell the home faster, take them to heart but don’t take them personally.

“Don’t shoot the messenger,” says Caroline Gosselin, a Realtor with Sotheby’s Prominent Properties. “Keep emotions out and listen to what a licensed, trained, professional has to say about the house, be it a Realtor or an inspector. It’s immature and unmannerly not to be able to take criticism and be able to move on.”

By
Liz Alterman

How to Write an Offer Letter That Will Win the House

blog722

By
Cathie Ericson

You love the house sooo much. The problem is, lots of other people probably do, too. How can you stand out in a competitive environment? Try writing an offer letter that knocks the seller’s socks off.

“Making the highest offer is typically the best way to win a bid, but when a seller is faced with two very similar offers, a letter can oftentimes tip the scales toward yours,” says Realtor® Mindy Jensen of Longmont, CO.

So how do you use writing to woo a seller to your side? Check out these snippets from winning offer letters, then learn how you can follow in the footsteps of these real-life buyers.

A winning game plan

The words that wooed: After seeing a number of properties that have not “spoken” to us in a significant way, we were delighted to discover your home, with its mixture of charm and warmth. We envision family gatherings within its open living area and drinking coffee while watching our children play in the pool. As basketball is in the family blood (Steve is a former employee of the National Basketball Association), I’m sure there will be plenty of pick-up games for everyone.

Why it worked: “My clients were up against a better offer from a builder, but the seller couldn’t bear the idea of their house being torn down,” explains Anne West, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Winnetka, IL. “They wanted to sell their home to someone who would raise their family there and who would love it as much as they had, and my clients were able to articulate that they were just that family.”

How to do it yourself: Find out some backstory about the owners or other bidders if you can. The tidbit about the builder, for example, was crucial knowledge. But for any property, most sellers who have taken good care of their homes want to make sure they will be loved by the next owner, too, so let your enthusiasm shine to gain the edge over pricier offers.

———

Must love dogs

The words that wooed: My husband and I have been searching for our first home, and we believe your house will be the perfect place to raise our growing family. Our son is due in September, and I know he will be so happy playing in the fabulous backyard with our two dogs.

Why it worked: “The seller appreciated her praising specific things that were obviously installed by the homeowners,” says Mindy Jensen, a Realtor in Longmont, CO. “But the tipping point was when she included a picture of her dog with the letter. The seller specifically allowed her to match the highest offer, based solely on her dog.”

How to do it yourself: Make yourself relatable. Take a cue from the lovingly tended roses or, in this case, a dog, and try to glean what the seller values. It could be kids, a dog, or even a love of gardening. If you share those same interests, offer them up. You never know what phrases may spur the seller to choose your offer over another.

———

This way to Easy Street

The words that wooed: We are not looking for a bargain, just a fair price for something nice. This would be a cash sale, and we could close quickly or at a convenient time for you. 

Why it worked: “This was a no-brainer for the seller, because you can tell these folks are clued in, and money talks,” says Bruce Ailion, a real estate agent with Re/Max Atlanta. “This letter makes it clear that this is going to be an easy transaction: cash sale, market price, close quickly or on your timetable.”

How to do it yourself: Get your ducks in a row before you make an offer. Even if you’re not doing an all-cash offer, have a pre-approval in hand. Especially in a seller’s market, make it clear that you are going to be easy to work with and that the seller can call the shots.

———

Sentiment sells

The words that wooed: We grew up in the city and our parents live very close by; one of them is living very close to your home. It’s important to find a home close to our family, so that when we start our family, our children will be close to their grandparents.”

Why it worked: “If the seller has raised their own family there, they have an emotional connection to the house,” says David Feldberg, broker/owner of Coastal Real Estate Group in Newport Beach, CA. “Talking about several generations plucks those heart strings.”

How to do it yourself: Include details about your family and connection to the area. And always include a photo. When the seller is considering multiple offers, the photo makes your offer stand out from the pack.

———

Flattery can get you everywhere

The words that wooed: From the moment I walked in, I knew this place felt like home. (Well if I am being honest, I fell in love with the wallpaper in the bathroom first!! ha-ha.) I also really appreciate the attention to detail in the upgrades you made: the stain on the floors, the wall colors and the charming lights, and I absolutely love your furniture selection.

Why it worked: “My client clearly admired the seller’s decor decisions,” says John Michael Grafft with Berkshire Hathaway Koenig Rubloff in Chicago. “It turned out she was an interior designer. Everyone appreciates a sincere compliment.”

How to do it yourself: Find details that you love about the home and mention them so it’s clear you’re not sending a generic letter to every potential property seller. The seller chose those design elements, so find something you love that you can mention sincerely. Even if you are planning to change everything about a place you consider a fixer-upper, compliment the fact that the seller took great care of the home.

———

Short and sweet

The words that wooed: Semper fi.

Why it worked: “The rest of the letter was great, but in all honesty, that phrase at the end of his letter sealed the deal. He and the seller were both Marines,” says Mindy Jensen, a Realtor in Longmont, CO.

How to do it yourself: Common interests can make all the difference, but don’t lie. That goes for military service, of course, but also other details. Don’t tell the seller that you want to raise your children there, if you don’t have any. Instead, if you hope to eventually have a family, you can say, “I hope to someday be able to raise my children in this beautiful home.”