William Neilson
Phone:  267-872-1326Office:  215-679-9797
Email:  wneilson@remax440.comCell:  267-872-1326Fax:  267-354-6937
William Neilson
William Neilson

Bill's Blog

Mortgage Rates This Year Dive to Lowest Point Yet

May 16, 2016 12:36 pm

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) has plummeted to its lowest point yet this year, according to Freddie Mac’s most recent report, reaching a three-year low overall at an average of 3.57 percent, with an average 0.5 point.

“Disappointing April employment data once again kept a lid on Treasury yields, which have struggled to stay above 1.8 percent since late March,” Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Becketti explains. “As a result, the 30-year mortgage rate fell four basis points to 3.57 percent, a new low for 2016 and the lowest mark in three years. Prospective homebuyers will continue to take advantage of a falling rate environment that has seen mortgage rates drop in 14 of the previous 19 weeks.”

The 15-year FRM has also moved down, to an average 2.81 percent with an average 0.5 point. The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) has lowered, as well, to an average 2.78 percent with an average 0.5 point.

Source: Freddie Mac

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Foreclosures Provide Buyers Ample Opportunity in Today’s Competitive Market

May 14, 2016 11:33 am

If you’re looking for a great deal and don’t mind the possibility of getting your own hands dirty in the process, you may want to consider purchasing a foreclosure.
 
A foreclosure occurs when a borrower defaults on their mortgage for an extended period of time. The lender then has the right and option to either foreclose the home or assume the rights of occupancy for the property, resulting in lenders being more open to letting the properties go cheaply. However, it’s important to keep in mind that many of these homes need a lot of work, so the money you save on the sale price will most likely go into updating or repairing the space.
 
If this is something that interests you, let your agent know you’re interested in seeing recently foreclosed homes.
 
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re considering a foreclosure as your future home. 
 
Before It Happens. Many lenders publish a list of homes approaching foreclosure so prospective buyers and their agents can approach the owner before it actually happens. By going this route, you could save anywhere from 25 - 30 percent of market value. Since a foreclosure will ruin someone’s credit report, many sellers are open to a quick sale.
 
REO Sales. A real estate-owned sale occurs when the lender decides to sell a foreclosed property directly. While the savings aren’t as great, buyers are able to finance the purchase, a process that generally occurs in the same way a traditional home purchase would.
 
Expect the Worst. Lenders don’t want to add to their collection of homes, and they aren’t going to make significant investments in sprucing up the space, so be prepared to make a lot of upgrades and fixes once the home is yours. You may find that many things, including electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems, need to be brought up to code to make the home livable.  
 
If you’re thinking of purchasing a foreclosure, be sure to keep an open mind. And do your homework to avoid jumping into a situation that may not be best for you.
 
To learn more about the opportunities foreclosures provide, contact our office today.

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Simple Ways to Make Your Older Home More Energy Efficient

May 14, 2016 11:33 am

While older homes are full of charm, characteristics and nuances that won’t be found in a newly constructed home, the odds are good that unless there have been some major upgrades over the years, its energy efficiency rating will be nowhere near that of a new home.
 
Still, older homes appeal to many buyers, and it’s easier to incorporate eco-friendly elements into an older home than it is to add charm to a newly built home.
 
If you’re attempting to sell an older home, and want to attract the eco-minded buyer, there are numerous things you can do to make the house more energy efficient.
 
To start, hire someone to come in and conduct an energy audit, or check with your utility company to see if they’re offered for free. During the audit, a professional will analyze the home and recommend a set of measures to improve energy performance, alerting you to areas of the home that are most vulnerable to energy inefficiency.
 
One of the easiest things you can do to increase an older home’s energy efficiency is better insulate the space. Purchasing insulation won’t break the bank, and a novice handyman can most likely handle the job. If you’re interested in going this route, there are plenty of DIY videos on YouTube to help guide you through the process. Be sure to pay attention to attics, crawl spaces, basements, heating and cooling ducts and the area around water pipes, as these spaces are typically lacking when it comes to insulation.
 
It’s also a good idea to cover your water heater with an insulated water heater blanket so the heater retains more heat and consumes less energy to heat the water.
 
Windows are another important area that can’t be overlooked when it comes to making an older home more energy efficient. If installing energy-efficient windows is out of your budget, another alternative is to use interior window Low-E (low-emissivity) films. Energy films block 97 percent of UV rays and 70 percent of thermal infrared light. Not only will this keep heat from getting in during the summer months, it will do wonders when it comes to retaining warmth during the colder months.
 
Ceiling fans are another great alternative for older homes. During the summer months, fans should circulate in a counter-clockwise direction to push cool air down. During the colder winter months, fans should rotate in a clockwise direction to produce a gentle updraft, forcing warm air near the ceiling down into the occupied space.
 
As far as upgrading appliances, adding energy-efficient refrigerators, dishwashers or washers and dryers will ultimately make the home more attractive to prospective buyers, however, it’s up to you and your agent to decide if the money spent updating appliances will lead to a faster sale.
 
And last but not least, if your foundation has cracks or your windows have holes, these should be fixed by a contractor, as repairing these items will help save money on heating and air conditioning bills. If you want to handle the job yourself, seal any areas where you feel air infiltrating your home.
 
To learn more about incorporating energy-efficient features into your home, contact our office today.

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Hardwood Floors Top Wish Lists When Searching for Dream Home

May 14, 2016 11:33 am

From open floor plans to updated appliances in the kitchen and everything in between, prospective buyers are all over the board when it comes to what they’re looking for in a home. But hardwood floors are one feature that many prospective buyers have at the top of their wish list when searching for their dream home, something that sellers should take note of as they prepare their home for sale.
 
In fact, according to a survey by the National Wood Flooring Association, 82 percent of real estate professionals said that homes with hardwood floors sold faster—and often for more money.
 
Not only are hardwood floors ecologically friendly, many leading health associations agree that they’re the perfect choice for those looking for a healthy home because they don’t collect dust and other allergens. In addition, a recent EPA study found that pesticides used in gardens and homes accumulate on floors and other surfaces in the home, but wood floors greatly reduce the accumulation of such toxins. Hardwood floors don’t trap or harbor dust mites or molds either.
 
Homes with open floor plans stand to benefit from hardwood flooring because it creates the feeling of continuity homeowners are looking for, which will go a long way toward attracting house hunters.
 
Despite the existence of modern architectural trends in flooring, hardwood has come a long way over the years. With more colors, styles and species available than ever before, hardwood flooring can still compete with floor tiles and other artificial materials. 
 
Available in a variety of colors and grains; light, medium or dark shades; and a variety of sizes, styles, finishes and species, the options are endless. While maple, mahogany and oak are the most popular choices today, some homeowners are going the extra mile by investing in exotic species such as Brazilian Cherry and Purpleheart. It’s also important to remember that more traditional hardwood flooring is less expensive, and solid wood flooring can be refinished several times to increase its lifespan.
 
To maintain your hardwood floors, regularly sweep them with a soft-bristle broom or dust mop to remove surface dirt and debris. If your floor contains beveled edges, use a vacuum with a soft bristle brush attachment to remove dirt and debris from between the floorboards.
 
In the end, remember that when someone enters your home, they usually look down before they look up, so that first step is vital for making a great first impression.
 
To learn more about hardwood floors, contact our office today.

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Unkempt Gutters Can Be a Costly Mistake When Selling Your Home This Spring

May 14, 2016 11:33 am

Now that spring has sprung, it’s time to get your home in tip-top shape before putting it on the market. In addition to cleaning your home’s interior and sprucing up the landscaping, you’ll want to pay attention to the gutters as well.
 
Depending on where you live, if you’ve experienced a brutal fall and winter—or your property has an abundance of trees—the gutters could use some extra attention.
 
While maintaining your gutters can be messy and time-consuming, the last thing you want is for a potential buyer to cross your house off the list because of unsightly gutters. In fact, leftover leaves may be enough to get prospective buyers thinking about whether or not the property has been properly maintained.
 
Besides, gutters are an important part of the home as they transfer rainwater and runoff from the roof away from the house. If they get clogged, numerous problems can occur. From leaks inside the home to foundations becoming more vulnerable due to an excess amount of water, clogged gutters can also cause driveways and pathways around the home to sag and crack.
 
As the temperatures continue to warm up, it’s also important to remember that unkempt gutters can serve as a nesting home for insects and birds. 
 
If you don’t have the time or inclination to clean the gutters yourself, it’s worth spending a little money to hire a gutter cleaning service. If you decide to tackle the job yourself, make sure your ladder is sturdy and you have someone to help. Once everything is removed, take a hose and rinse the gutters out to make sure everything is running smoothly.
 
While it might not seem like a big deal to you, cleaning your gutters in the spring is a project that should be on every sellers to-do list, so be sure to take action before it’s too late.
 
For more information about cleaning your gutters, contact our office today.

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Mortgage Terminology 101

May 14, 2016 11:33 am

Navigating the home-buying process can be a challenge, for first-timers and seasoned buyers alike. In addition to looking for the perfect home, prospective buyers need to be knowledgeable about the ins and outs associated with choosing a mortgage, beginning with having a general understanding of the terminology involved in mortgage papers.
 
While many borrowers simply seek rates and terms that appear reasonable, it’s important that they understand the type of lender they’re dealing with. 
 
Following are some of the most common terms you’ll come across when going through the process of choosing a lender. 
 
Mortgage Lenders. Lenders are the ones who make the loan and provide the money you’ll use to buy your home. When meeting with lenders, you’ll have to provide a lot of financial background information. The lender will then set the mortgage interest rates and other loan terms accordingly.
 
Mortgage Brokers. Brokers work with multiple lenders to find the loan that’ll offer you the best rate and terms, so when you take out the loan, you’re really borrowing from a lender, not a broker. This is often one of the most confusing parts of the mortgage process for prospective buyers.
 
Mortgage Bankers. Most mortgage lenders are mortgage bankers, which means they don’t lend their own money, but borrow funds at short-term rates from warehouse lenders. Larger mortgage bankers will originate their own loans, which they’ll then sell directly to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or investors.
 
Portfolio Mortgage Lenders. These lenders originate and fund their own loans, offering more flexibility in loan products because they don’t need to adhere to the guidelines of secondary market buyers. Once these loans are serviced and paid for on time for at least a year, they’re considered “seasoned” and can be sold on the secondary market more easily. 
 
Hard Money Lenders. If you’re having trouble getting a mortgage and working with a portfolio mortgage lender, a hard money lender may be your last resort. These lenders are private individuals with money to lend, though interest rates are often much higher.
 
Wholesale Lenders. Wholesale lenders cater to mortgage brokers for loan origination but offer loans to brokers at a lower cost than their retail branches offer them to the general public. The result for the borrower? The loan costs about the same as if it were obtained directly from a retail branch of the wholesale lender.
 
Correspondent Mortgage Lenders. These lenders have agreements in place with one or more wholesale lenders to act as their retail representative so they lend directly to buyers and use wholesaler guidelines to approve and close loans with their own money. They also agree to buy back any loans they close that deviate from wholesaler guidelines. 
 
Direct Mortgage Lenders. A direct mortgage lender is simply a bank or lender that works directly with a homeowner, with no need for a middleman or broker.
 
To learn more about mortgage terms you need to be familiar with, contact our office today.

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In this Edition: Foreclosures

May 14, 2016 11:33 am

Our lead story in this month’s Home Matters examines the importance of understanding common terms you’ll most likely come across as you make your way through the process of choosing a lender. Other topics covered this month include simple tips for increasing your home’s energy efficiency and how unkempt gutters can cause prospective buyers to walk away. We hope you enjoy this month’s edition of Home Matters and as always, we welcome your feedback. Email us anytime!

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5 Bucket List Destinations That Won't Break the Bank

May 13, 2016 12:33 pm

Bucket list destinations around the world have become much more affordable, thanks to low airfares and a strong dollar. Jet off to one of these exotic, now-inexpensive locales, recently named to Cheapflights.com’s “International Destinations That Won’t Break the Bank."

1. Goa, India
Known for its signature fish curry, Goa boasts plenty for explorer types, with scores of beaches, churches, forts and temples in architecturally diverse styles.

2. Kandy, Sri Lanka
The country’s ancient capital, Kandy’s accommodations are relatively inexpensive, and in proximity to sightseer hot spots, including museums, monasteries, temples and Kandy Lake.

3. Lima, Peru
Bargains abound in Peru, and Lima is no exception. From hiking Machu Picchu and sunning at the beach to dining at world-renowned restaurants, there’s something for everyone in Peru’s capital.

4. Taipei, Taiwan
Taipei is ideal for travelers seeking experiences similar to Beijing or Hong Kong—without the premium price tag. While there, take time to ascend Taipei 101, one of the world’s tallest structures—it’s worth it!

5. Wellington, New Zealand
Get the most bang for your buck in Wellington, thanks to current exchange rates. The city features a variety of lodging options, including budget hotels, campgrounds, hostels and motels, and a number of free attractions.

Ready to go? For more destinations from this list, visit Cheapflights.com.

Source: Cheapflights.com

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"Moving? I'd Rather Do Taxes!"

May 13, 2016 12:33 pm

That’s the sentiment from approximately one in five respondents to a recent poll, who’d take filing their taxes by hand over moving. Some would even prefer to give up their favorite food for a month!

Still, the trouble of moving isn’t deterring us from doing it—in fact, according to the poll, over one-third of respondents have moved more than once in the last decade. What makes moving less challenging, the poll found, are professional services:

• Approximately two in five respondents have driven a moving truck in the past, and based on that experience, more than half of them would hire someone else to do the driving in the future.

• Thirty-two percent of respondents have hired a mover to pack and/or load their possessions, and 11 percent of (lucky!) respondents report their employer hired a moving company.

What’s more, many respondents would be willing to compromise if it meant a less taxing move: 53 percent would hire a driver, but pack their items themselves, regardless of cost.

Overall, the results of the poll demonstrate moving doesn’t have to be a hassle—especially if you seek help from a professional.

Source: Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc.

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Redoing the Bathroom? 4 In-the-Now Trends

May 13, 2016 12:33 pm

(Family Features)—Bathrooms may take up the least square footage in the home, but they have the most potential when remodeling—and for these rooms, function and design matter.

To achieve both in your next remodel, consider incorporating these in-the-now trends:

Floating Vanity – Tap into the minimalist movement with a floating vanity, which not only plays up the modern vibe, but also makes cramped bathrooms feel spacious.

Painted Cabinetry – Bold is the new black. For statement-making cabinets, go all out with colorful wood, or temper the trend with a glazed, rich stain—either will give your bathroom a “now” feel.

Simplified Storage – From pull-outs, tilt-ups and roll-outs to hidden outlets, simplified storage is in. Install base pullouts or toe-kick drawers, or a U-shaped sliding shelf that wraps around the sink’s plumbing, to stow your bathroom essentials out of sight.

Sleek Doors – Traditional cabinet doors add bulk. New, streamlined doors, with hidden hinges (called “full overlay”), half-hidden frames (“traditional overlay”) or inset, complement today’s popular contemporary-transitional design.

Whichever trend resonates, consult with a professional bathroom remodeler before undertaking the project—bathrooms are high selling points come resale, and you don’t want to take any chances.

Source: Wellborn Cabinet, Inc.

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