Most Homeowners Planning a Renovation This Year

Seventy-three percent of homeowners say they plan to renovate this year, up 26 percent from a year ago, according to a survey conducted by LightStream, an online lending division of SunTrust Bank. Homeowners plan to spend more on projects, too—an average of about $9,000. That marks the highest amount since the survey began in 2014, and it’s 32 percent more than last year.

The most popular remodeling projects include outdoor space (41 percent), the bathroom (37 percent), and the kitchen (31 percent). Survey respondents say that if money wasn’t a factor, they would remodel their kitchen (42 percent), followed by replacing carpet with other flooring (41 percent), and then remodeling the bathroom (39 percent), according to the survey.

Man shopping for hardwood floor

© Sergey Ryzhov – Fotolia.com

Homeowners appear to be more focused on creating a space they love than increasing the value of their home. Twenty-seven percent of respondents say that personalization was their number one motivator for investing in a home renovation, followed by increasing the value of their home (14 percent), improving a home for resale (7 percent), and preparing for a major life event (4 percent), such as a new baby or retirement. “Regardless of their age, we found that most consumers are focusing their home improvement projects to reflect their personal lifestyle, comfort, and interests,” says Todd Nelson, senior vice president of strategic partnerships at LightStream.

Financial stress, however, can hinder the renovation process, Nelson adds. Some of that stress is due to improper budget planning for materials and labor prior to starting a project. The majority of homeowners say they are paying for their home improvement projects by tapping into their savings (60 percent), credit cards (32 percent), or a home improvement loan (10 percent).

SunTrust remodel infographic. Visit source link at the end of the article for more information.

© SunTrust Bank

Source:
February 19, 2019

Home inspections have been uncovering much-needed property repairs. More than 1 million repairs needed more than $11,000 in costs, according to a February review of 50,000 home inspection reports by Repair Pricer, a home repair estimating resource.

Nearly 55 percent of homes analyzed across the country had doors that needed adjusting, which could be an indicator of foundation issues, the report showed. More than half—or 54 percent—of the homes lacked exterior caulking and sealant, which could leave the home susceptible to extensive water damage. Furthermore, about 48 percent of homes lacked GFCI protection—this could pose a dangerous electrocution risk to homeowners around water-prone areas like the kitchen or bathroom.

“Home buyers and [real estate professionals] across the country should leverage these insights to better position themselves in the stressful negotiation process,” says Christian Adams, CEO of Repair Pricer. “In places like Texas, for example, buyers may only be given three to five days to complete the inspection period, meaning they may only have 24 hours or less to make a decision. During this period, having clarity and insight into the cost of repairs listed in a home inspection report is critical to avoid leaving money on the table.”

The most expensive home defects—uncovered in 9 to 20 percent of the homes studied—ranged in repair prices from slightly more than $1,000 to less than $10,000.

The following is a chart from Repair Pricer of the 10 most common home defects found in inspection reports:

10 most common repairs. Visit source link at the end of the article for more information.

Dual Agency –

January 16, 2019

Consumers are confused when it comes to dual agency arrangements in real estate, according to a new report from the Consumer Federation of America that reflects results from a consumer survey and a mystery shopper survey of real estate agents.

Two-thirds of consumers surveyed believe that real estate agents are always or almost always required to represent the interests of the home buyer or seller they’re working with. However, they’re confused when agents can also work with the other party.

“Today, many home buyers and sellers do not know whether their agent is representing their interests, those of the other party, or those of neither,” says Stephen Brobeck, a CFA senior fellow and author of the report. “Given the huge expenditure of a home purchase and the conflict of financial interests between seller and buyer, it is important that consumers know who their real estate agent is actually representing.”

A road sign with arrows pointing in opposite directions.

Charliedoug – Morguefile

States have laws requiring real estate interests and relationships to be disclosed to clients. But the CFA report suggests the laws may not be sufficient. The report says that the laws typically define agent roles as “agent,” “subagent,” “transactional agent,” “designated agent,” and “dual agent”—words consumers say they do not understand.

Also, the CFA notes that these disclosures could be diminished by the fact that they are only required to be given orally and may not be required early on during the home purchase. The CFA also notes that some agents are failing to make these disclosures or mention dual agency issues.

The failure of these disclosures can harm consumers, the report says. For example, home buyers who think subagents are working for them often have disclosed information about their finances and house price ceilings that the subagents are then legally required to share with sellers.

The CFA report calls for reforms including the prohibition of dual agency. Eight states currently ban the practice. Also, the report calls for clearer written and verbal communications from the real estate professional to the consumer about whether the agent will function as a fiduciary agent, subagent, or transaction agent or facilitator and what exactly that will mean to them.

“These reforms would benefit both consumers and real estate agents,” Brobeck says. “More informed home buyers and sellers will make better decisions. … And agents will not face the risks and ethical dilemmas of dual agency and undisclosed subagency.”

Read the CFA’s full report.

You are here Home News and Commentary Daily News 3 Home Repairs That Can Save a Sale

Sellers whose homes aren’t in tip-top shape may need to spend extra money or put in a little elbow grease to get their properties in market-ready condition. But what are the most important repair or maintenance tasks that support a higher asking price? “Smaller and less expensive updates in combination with good staging will have a great return,” Susanna Haynie, GRI, a sales associate with Colorado Real Estate Group in Colorado Springs, told HouseLogic. The National Association of REALTORS®’ consumer-facing news service highlighted some of the most important items to address before putting a home up for sale.

1. Fix flooring flaws. “Scratched-up wood flooring, ratty, outdated carpeting, and tired linoleum make your home feel sad,” the HouseLogic article notes. “Buyers might take one step inside and scratch the property from their list.” Most buyers don’t want the hassle of replacing carpet and may not accept a credit to cover the cost after the sale, Haynie says. When refinishing hardwood floors, for example, homeowners can expect to spend an average of $3,000 but recoup 100 percent of that cost at resale, according to NAR’s 2017 Remodeling Impact Report.

2. Repair water stains. The home’s plumbing issues may have long been resolved, but leftover water stains will mislead buyers into thinking the problems still exist. First, double-check that the problem truly is fixed, and then make any needed repairs to the walls or floors. Water-stained ceilings can cost about $670, on average, to fix. Drywall costs about $1.50 per square foot to repair.

3. Touch up the grout. Yellow or cracked grout can be a turnoff to buyers. New grout can make old floors look revived. “The best return-on-investment projects before selling a home involve making a home look like new,” Shelton Wilder, a sales associate at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Los Angeles, told HouseLogic. Bathroom re-grouting costs an average of $1 to $2 per square foot, increasing to $10 for more complex jobs.

How do you pay down your credit card dept?

(TNS)—Like the holiday pounds, credit card debt doesn’t just melt away—especially after the latest binge.
The cold reality is credit card debt hit a record $1.02 trillion in November, according to figures released by the Federal Reserve. And Americans racked up on average $1,054 in debt to treat others—and, frankly, themselves—during the holiday season, according to MagnifyMoney.
About half of consumers surveyed admit it will take more than three months to pay off holiday spending, according to MagnifyMoney. Some may need five months or longer.
Now what? What can you do to juggle all those credit card bills and avoid drowning in a debt trap? Sure, many people aren’t scared yet, as the jobs market is strong. Bankers say most consumers are continuing to pay their bills.
But what happens when the furnace dies? Or you lose your smartphone? What should you do if, maybe, your 2018 goal is to pay off all those credit card bills?
First, imagine what you could do if you had no credit card bills.
Lauren Zangardi Haynes, a fee-only financial adviser who has a blog called WordsonWealth.com, says some of her younger clients are motivated to cut down expenses to pay down debt once they think about their dreams.
“It’s like, ‘Oh, wait a second, I need to get some things in order,’” says Zangardi Haynes, who is a member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors.
Two strategies exist: The avalanche, or the snowball approach.
Typically, if you want to save the most in interest charges, you’d take a strategy to pay the monthly minimum required on each credit card to avoid fees—and then apply as much money as possible toward the credit card that charges the highest interest rate. Once that card is paid off, you add more money to the next highest-rate card, and then the next, until you pay off all your cards.
Haynes, who lives outside Richmond, Va., calls that approach the avalanche, as the payoff can be huge and fairly swift.
But the snowball approach can be a little more fun, she says. Again, you’d make your minimum monthly payment on each card, but then aim to put most of your money toward the credit card with the smallest balance.
Why? You’d pay off the first credit card more quickly and then move to the next card with a small balance to pay that one off, too.
It’s kind of like a good hit in a snowball fight.
“You get a psychological win that can sometimes be motivating for people,” she says.

Pay attention to the interest rates on your credit cards.
Don’t just toss any notices or mail from your credit card issuer. You might discover that you’re looking at a rate increase on your card. Read your monthly statements. Under the law, your card issuer in many cases must provide you with a written 45-day notice of an increase in a rate or other significant changes. A “significant change” would include an increase in the minimum payment and other changes, including the late payment fee.
What happens if you receive a 45-day notice of a rate increase? You might consider whether you can afford to pay off that balance and close the account before the rate hike becomes effective, according to Sandra Barker, a senior policy analyst for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
Or if paying off that balance in full isn’t an option, you could look into transferring the balance to a lower-rate credit card.
Watch out: You do not always get an advance notice of a rate hike. You’re not getting a 45-day heads-up if rates edge higher after a Fed rate hike.
Most credit cards do not have fixed rates, so interest rates would go up quickly on your variable-rate cards after a Fed rate hike. Rate increases because of Fed rate hikes apply to outstanding balances, too, not just future balances.
The Fed has raised rates five times since late 2015—and some expect two or three more Fed rate hikes in 2018. The next bump up in interest rates is expected to take place as soon as the Federal Reserve policy meeting March 21.
And here’s another good tip: You’re not going to get a 45-day notice when an limited introductory rate expires, either. So you need to figure out when that 0 percent rate for 12 months goes up to 15 percent or 20 percent when the deal ends, according to Matt Schutz, senior industry analyst for CreditCards.com.
And you won’t get a 45-day notice when your active duty in the military ends, Schulz said. Federal law caps credit card interest rates for active-duty service members at 6 percent.
Pay your bills on time.
If you don’t pay credit card bills on time, you’d risk getting slapped with far higher penalty rates for some time, too. Penalty rates can be charged on existing balances if you’re 60 days late or more with a payment.
Remember, credit card issuers are required to re-evaluate your payment history and take steps to restore the original lower rate after six months of on-time payments—if your card issuer raised rates because of a 60-day late payment.

Shop around for a better rate.
“In a perfect world, the best way to avoid paying interest on a credit card is to pay the entire balance off every month,” says Barker at the FDIC. “However, we don’t live in a perfect world, so for those who do carry a balance, balance transfers can save money, assuming the person is diligent about keeping track of when the zero- or low-interest rate period ends.”
But she warns that consumers should be cautious about opening up a number of new credit cards just for the low or no interest rate. Each time a lender looks at the potential cardholder’s credit in order to open a new account, the person’s credit score can be affected. Other lenders may be wary when they see lots of credit applications on a report, as well.

Schulz says several card issuers are still offering limited 0 percent deals, including Citi Diamond Preferred, Bank Americard MasterCard, and Slate from Chase.
No-interest offers can run from 15 months to 21 months, depending on the card. Remember, though, once the intro expires, you’d look at variable rates that could climb to the 14 percent to 24 percent range. Also pay attention to any balance transfer fees that might be charged.
Get a real number.
Add up how much you’re carrying in credit card debt. Total up all the required minimum payments for each month. Just like with a diet, you want to get on the scale and know where you stand.

©2018 Detroit Free Press
Visit Detroit Free Press at www.freep.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.