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Bathroom Vs. Kitchen: Which Should You Remodel?

It has long been told that the best remodeling you could do was the kitchen.  However, according to cost vs. value studies, we found it’s actually the bathroom remodel that adds the most value to a house.

bathroom remodel

According to recent studies, it makes the most logical sense to redo the bathroom because with a bathroom remodeled you are adding functionality to your home whereas kitchen upgrades are often more about fashion.
Recent remodeling studies show that a mid-range $3,000 bathroom remodel results in a $1.71 increase in home value for every $1.00 spend on renovation.

Plus when guest come to stay with you, they are going to be a lot happier that you have a nicer bathroom than kitchen. Did you know that kitchen renovations offer among the lowest returns on investment? Both mid range and upscale work on the kitchen recover only about half of their investment.

bathroom remodel

Invest wisely and don’t invest too much money in the bathroom. An upscale remodeled $12,000 bathroom result only in an $0.87 increase in home value for every $1.00 spent.

This is a guest post by Joe Santoro, EveryHome listing agent and co-founder of Personal Property Managers 


 

Top 3 Real Estate New Years Resolutions

Happy New Year! Kick off 2016 with these three real estate New Years resolutions:

  1. If you’ve been thinking about buying your first home, or entering the world of real estate investing with purchasing a rental property, this just may be the year! We anticipate a greater number of first time buyers entering the market in 2016, due to greater affordability with the improving job market and continued low mortgage rates.  Plus, the national shortage of rental homes and apartments (rental prices are at a record high!) has enticed more and more investors to expand their portfolio and purchase another property.

Real Estate New Years Resolutions

2.   Have you been considering a career change or an opportunity for additional income? EveryHome is always looking for friendly, local, and helpful individuals to join our team!  Interested in learning more about this opportunity? Read more about what it’s like to be an EveryHome agent, or give Katie a call at (215) 699-5555.  (Pssst.. if you’re not yet a licensed agent, be sure to read about what to expect in real estate school here.)

Real Estate New Years Resolutions

3.   If you already own a home, consider refinancing sooner rather than later. Refinancing your home allows homeowners to change the terms of their loan (often resulting in a lower interest rate, and subsequently a lower monthly payment!). Not everybody is eligible to refinance their loan, so be sure to check with your lender.


 

The Best Time of Year To Begin Your Home Search

When’s the best time of year to purchase a home? While the answer depends quite a bit on what you’re looking for and your personal situation, the most popular time of year to buy a home occurs in the early spring months. In fact, we see a significant increase in homes for sale in February and March, just in time for all of the spring buyers to shop for a new home!

the best time of year

One reason that the springtime tends to be popular for most buyers is the large inventory of homes for sale, as buyers have the greatest selection of homes from which to choose.  Plus, many of these homes that go under contract in the spring conveniently settle in the summertime — perfect for families!

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that real estate experts recommend planning for your home purchase months prior to actually seeing homes in person. The most important part of this planning involves meeting with a lender to determine your financial ability to purchase a home.  We recommend that all buyers secure a pre-approval prior to seriously beginning their home search. This process is quick and easy and you can read more about it here.

Exterior Front -

If you’re planning to begin your home search in the early spring months, now is the time to reach out to a lender and be introduced to local real estate agents.  Be sure to check out a few of our preferred lenders, and give us a call at (215) 699-5555 to get started!


 

Mortgage Rates Drop Despite Fed Rate Hike

The Federal Reserve raised the short-term interest rate slightly last week, but that didn’t affect the nation’s mortgage rates!

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 12.27.51 PM

Experts predicted that the Fed’s recent rate hike may cause mortgage rates to increase, but rates actually decreased slightly to 3.96% for the average 30-year fixed.The average 15-year fixed rate mortgage currently stands at 3.22%, according to Freddie Mac.

Still, industry insiders are warning consumers that mortgage rates will inevitably increase in 2016, after years of historic lows.  Rates are expected to crawl up to 5% in the coming months. 

Freddie-Mac-Logo

Wondering if you are ready to qualify for a mortgage and purchase your first home? Give us a call at (215) 699-5555! We’d love to introduce you to friendly, local mortgage lenders and real estate agents who will guide you throughout every step in the process.


 

Merry Christmas From Our Family To Yours!

 

Merry Christmas! Wishing you and your loved ones a joyful, healthy, and spirited holiday season!

christmas

christmas4

tree

To read creative, interactive Christmas stories online with your little ones, be sure to visit our favorite website here!


 

4 Great Apps for Saving Money in the New Year

If your New Year’s Resolution is about saving money (perhaps for a down payment on a new home?), then you’ll love these apps! Suitable for iPhone and Android users alike, these programs are convenient, easy to use, and free:

saving money

1. Acorns is one of the most convenient ways to automatically start saving money! This handy app can connect to your debit and/or credit cards and “round up” all of your transactions to the nearest dollar and deposit the change into an investment account.  For example, if you make a purchase from Dunkin Donuts for $2.83, Acorns will automatically round up the purchase to $3.00 and deposit $0.17 into your Acorns account.

2. If you’re looking to establish a budget and stay on track in an easy and fun way, consider the Level Money app.  This free program allows you to set a “spendable” (your safe-to-spend number) and provides you with reminders to keep you on track.

3. For a social saving money app, look no further than Unsplurge.  This fun app allows you to connect with friends and community members to track progress and set saving goals to keep you motivated.

saving money

4. Keep track of every penny of your financial activity with Mint.  This handy little app takes note of your spending habits, provides you with patterns of your spending (maybe you’re a weekend spender, or spending quite a bit at restaurants) and creates a budget.  Plus, Mint alerts you when you’re spending more than usual.


 

A Very Homemade Christmas with Stephanie Newcomb

Is there anything more meaningful or special than a homemade christmas gift? We don’t think so! We love these thoughtful gift ideas, shared with us by EveryHome agent and creative guru Stephanie Newcomb.

homemade christmas

Stephanie crafted the cozy scarf wreath pictured above, as well as the handy wine corkboard below!  She also loves to make lotion bars, mason jars full of cookies and treats, scarf wreaths, tent making kits, and jewelry for loved ones at Christmas.

homemade christmas

A few of our other favorite last-minute DIY gifts include sweet sugar scrubs (just 4 ingredients!), mason jars filled with cookies and other homemade treats, lotion bars, and spice rubs! For even more ideas, be sure to check out BuzzFeed’s list of 39 DIY Homemade Christmas Gifts You’d Actually Want to Receive, with detailed directions for each.

homemade christmas
Photo and recipe via mommymusings.com

Read more about Stephanie’s homemade christmas here!

homemade christmas


 

Can You Use Gift Money For a Down Payment?

It’s not uncommon for first time homebuyers to have a little help from a family member for their down payment.  While down payment requirements are generally pretty low (as low as 3.5%), the costs of buying a home can add up fast when coupled with settlement fees and taxes.  As a result, it’s not uncommon for mom and dad to pitch in, or newlyweds to use gifts from their wedding.

Down Payment

If you’re using gift money for all or part of your down payment, the donor will be asked to write a letter to the mortgage company explaining the gift.  Most importantly, the donor must clearly state that the gift is not a loan, and therefore not expected to be repaid.  In general, any large deposit will need to be verified while you’re in the process of securing a mortgage.  You won’t need a donor letter from a $50 gift from your Uncle Harry, but you’ll need to explain the $8,000 check from your father.

Down Payment

One of the most important things to consider is the type of loan that you’ll be using.  FHA loans and Conventional loans have different policies and regulations regarding gifts.  Typically, FHA loans allow all of the down payment to be a gift (as long as you meet certain credit requirements).  If you’re securing a Conventional loan, your entire down payment can be a gift as long as you put 20% down.  If you are using a Conventional loan but putting down less than 20%, you will be expected to contribute some of your own funds, too.  Be sure to speak with your lender about these specific policies, as each situation is a bit different.


 

The Top 4 Winter Home Projects

The chilly winter months are a great time to finally complete those interior home projects you’ve been considering! Residential contractors are a bit slower this time of year, so you can likely get a better deal, and your home will look great in time for spring.

Home Projects

The National Association of Realtors recently released a report evaluating the resale value of these home projects.  It’s important to note that unfortunately, you’re not likely to recoup the entire cost of most renovations when you sell your home.  That said, many projects will help your home sell more quickly, as the majority of buyers are interested exclusively in move-in ready homes.

A few of the best interior projects in terms of resale value include hardwood flooring refinishes, which typically recovers about 100% of the project value in resale, insulation upgrades with about 95% recovered, and brand new wood flooring, with about 91% recovered. Another good idea this time of year? Paint! Consider sprucing up the most popular rooms in your home with a fresh, neutral color.

Home Projects
Image via Houzz.com

We particularly love anything to do with hardwood flooring, which is especially popular with buyers here in the Northeast.  Some experienced DIYers may be able to refinish floors themselves with a trip to Home Depot and renting some equipment, although we typically recommend calling the pros for this one.  (Psst..Be sure to look online for deals and coupons!) On average, refinishing your hardwood floors costs about $2,500 according to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, although that varies considerably based on the size of your home and level of distress to your existing floors.

Home Projects
Image via Houselogic.com

Some of the most overall appealing projects to prospective buyers include kitchen renovations and upgrades, and bathroom renovations and upgrades.  However, we’re quick to point out that you’re not likely to recoup more than 75% of the amount spent on this.  Instead, consider offering an allowance to a prospective buyer to do some of this work themselves.


 

Get in the Holiday Spirit at Longwood Gardens

Kennett Square’s favorite attraction is ready for the holiday season! Longwood Gardens is hosting their spectacular winter tradition, “A Longwood Christmas” from now through January 10th.  The tradition features sparkling fountains and unique, seasonal plants, exceptional light shows, and plenty of kid-friendly exhibits.

Longwood Gardens
Image via visitphilly.com

This year will also be featuring a cozy fire pit, for those wishing to snuggle up after a long day strolling through the beautiful gardens. Longwood Gardens is also home to an award-winning fine restaurant, a delicious cafe, and a picnic area.

Longwood Gardens
Image via Longwoodgardens.com

Longwood Gardens is offering limited, timed tickets during the holidays. Tickets are just $20 for adults and $10 for kids. Be sure to visit their website for more information and to purchase tickets (pssst.. we recommend arriving before 2pm to avoid the long lines and crowds!).

Longwood Gardens
Image via uwishunu.com

Looking for more exciting holiday events? Be sure to visit EveryHome’s helpful holiday event map!


 

Homeowners: Now is the Time to Refinance!

If you currently own your home and are planning to refinance, now may be the time.  While the total number of mortgage applications decreased this past week, the number of homeowners refinancing increased significantly.  This is likely due to an expected rate increase, following a possible announcement from the Fed that they will be raising the Federal Funds Rate.

bankrate

Rates are expected to climb in 2016, with industry experts predicting that the 30-year fixed rate loan will exceed 5% within a year.  This rate increase could cost the average homeowner over $100 more on each monthly payment.

Image via Bankrate.com
Image via Bankrate.com

The current average 30-year fixed rate mortgage is currently hovering around 4%. The 15-year fixed rate loan, which is the most popular choice for people refinancing, remains around 3.15-3.25%.


 

EveryHome’s Christmas Wish List

Dear Santa,

We’ve been good this year! After working hard all year long for our wonderful clients, we have just a couple of modest requests:

dear santa

 

We wish to continue to grow and expand our presence in Greater Philadelphia! 2015 was a year of fantastic growth for EveryHome, and we look forward to adding even more to the family in 2016. (Psst… click here if you’re considering a career with us!)

 

While we understand that interest rates are likely to rise a bit in 2016, we wish that buying a home remains affordable for our clients.  A strong job market and slow home price increases will keep the market affordable this year!

eh christmas

We wish for more and more listings throughout Greater Philadelphia, to give our buyers more options in 2016.  We’ve experienced a couple years of “low inventory” where demand for homes has outpaced supply. We wish for all buyers to have a great selection of homes from which to choose!

 

And, of course, we wish for all of our clients to enjoy a cozy holiday season with their loved ones in their new homes.  We couldn’t be luckier to have met and worked with so many wonderful buyers and sellers this year, and we hope that they feel the same!

wish list

XO,

EveryHome


 

5 Tips for Downsizing and De-Cluttering

Too much stuff? Moving into a smaller home? Or simply trying to declutter before you list your home for sale? Consider these five tips by the downsizing and estate sale experts:

1. Write a list of all the items you love and can’t part with; it will help you to discard the things that didn’t make your list.

2. Start going through your belongings at least three months before the move. Take some time each day, or a morning each week, to go through that jammed coat closet and overflowing filing cabinet. Make sure to take out all important documents. Put them in a safe place.

downsizing
A clean, decluttered space showscases your home beautifully

3. Get a feel for the size of your new home and the size of the room and compare them to your home. You may think you can squeeze in items from your old home into your new home, but we always recommend measuring each room to compare and contrast.

4. Go through times in your home that don’t have as much sentimental value. Consider your kitchen: most people don’t need 10 mixing bowls and won’t get teary-eyed over losing a second spatula!  If you’re downsizing from a house to a condo, target the garage. Snow shovels, the lawn mower, ladders – you won’t need any of them. Please remember that when discarding unwanted items that not all trash companies or local municipalities will take items such as TV’s, air conditioners, refrigerators, tires, paints and old computers. Check with your local providers and townships for more details.

downsizing

5. Consider recycling or donating unwanted items. Recycle, reuse, sell and donate instead. Don’t be afraid to ask your neighbors if they can use any of the small items in your house (cleaning products for example) instead of just throwing them away.


 

The 2016 Real Estate Market Forecast

2016 is right around the corner, and industry leaders are predicting the real estate trends that we can expect to see in the New Year.

One of the most unanimous predictions is that home prices will continue to rise, albeit a bit more slowly.  It’s not likely that we’ll see double digit gains like we did in 2014 and 2015.  Instead, home prices are expected to rise at a more stable, healthy pace.

First-Time-Home-Buyers

Additionally, we can probably expect to see rising interest rates.  We’re experienced record-low rates for the past couple of years now, and it’s likely that the Fed will soon decide to increase the Federal funds rate, which will affect the housing market a bit.  The chief economist of  Freddie Mac expects to see rates of 4.2% in the beginning of 2016, and 5.1% by the end of 2016.

freddie mac

While rising interest rates may make home buying a bit less affordable for some buyers, experts are predicting that the improving job market will actually offset this, and keep home buying activity strong.

The outlook for overall home affordability in 2016 is looking good, as more and more buyers are expected to be in a position to purchase a home in 2016.  This is largely due to major job gains being reported across the nation.

Not only will this increased demand raise home values a bit, but it’s also great news for home builders. New construction is hotter than ever as demand outpaces supply, but builders are reporting some difficulties due to limited land opportunities and labor.


 

Peddlers Village Holiday Shopping

Peddlers Village is our favorite Bucks County shopping destination for unique and thoughtful gifts! The spirited, historic village is home to dozens of charming boutiques filled with special items that you just won’t find on Amazon. Some of our favorites include a pottery shop, a cuckoo clock store, vintage boutiques, art and craft galleries, whimsical toys, and specialty food distributors.

Peddlers Village
Image via Buckscountyandbeyond.com

Peddlers Village is located in Lahaska, and offers extended shopping hours through the holidays.  Stores are open Monday through Saturday, 10am until 9pm, and Sunday from 11am until 7pm.  And after a long day of shopping, you’ll enjoy a great dinner (and drink!) at one of the award-winning restaurants right in town. We especially love Earl’s and The Buttonwood Grill.

Peddlers Village
Image via Peddlersvillage.com

Plus, the village is hosting their annual Gingerbread House competition and display from now until January 2nd.   Bring the kids along to pick their favorites, and stop by The Lucky Cupcake Company’s Village Bakery afterwards for a sweet treat. For the full list of exciting events at Peddlers Village in 2016, click here!

Be sure to watch Janice’s video highlighting her favorite parts of Peddlers Village!


 

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EveryHome Realty is licensed by the Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission (license RB066839) and the New Jersey Real Estate Commission (license 0901599)