REMAX 440/Central Blog

Survey: More Than 70% of Homeowners Say Home Inspection Helped Them Avoid Potential Problems

March 3, 2011 10:31 am

RISMEDIA, March 3, 2011Nearly three in four (72%) U.S. homeowners agree the home inspection they had when they purchased their current primary residence helped them avoid potential problems with their home, according to a survey released by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). Also, almost two in three (64%) noted, in the long run, they saved a lot of money as a result of their home inspection. As the housing market begins to recover, ASHI encourages homeowners and buyers to hire a certified home inspector and to get a home inspection to help further protect their investment. The survey was recently conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of ASHI to gauge current consumer perceptions about the purpose and value of a home inspection. Results revealed 88% of all homeowners believe home inspections are a necessity, not a luxury. ASHI's goals have always been to build customer awareness of the importance of a home inspection and to enhance the professionalism of home inspectors, said Kurt Salomon, ASHI president. It is encouraging to know consumers are listening and understand the significance of protecting their largest single investment, their home. While it is clear homeowners who had an inspection understand the value it serves, many still incorrectly believe certain components are included in a standard home inspection. For example, septic systems, electrical wiring and plumbing behind drywall and swimming pools are commonly mistaken as items that are included when, in fact, they typically are not. ASHI remains committed to educating consumers on what a standard home inspection is likely to include, said Salomon. As such, ASHI members have committed to following a Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics that outlines what consumers should expect to be covered in a home inspection report. During a home inspection, a qualified inspector takes a detailed look at the physical structure and systems of a house, from the roof to the foundation. A home inspector will examine the condition of the homes roof, attic and visible insulation, foundation, basement and structural components, as well as interior plumbing and electrical systems. Additionally, nearly three in four homeowners surveyed (70 percent) assume all home inspectors must be certified and licensed, when in fact, not all are. It is important for consumers to do their homework before hiring an inspector, said Salomon. For a complete list of whats included in a home inspection, visit

Foreclosure Homes Account for 26% of All 2010 Residential Sales According to RealtyTrac Sales Report

March 2, 2011 10:31 am

RISMEDIA, March 2, 2011--RealtyTrac, a leading online marketplace for foreclosure properties, released its Year-End and Q4 2010 U.S. Foreclosure Sales Report, which shows that foreclosure homes accounted for nearly 26% of all U.S. residential sales during the year, down from 29% of all sales in 2009 but up from 23% of all sales in 2008. The report also shows that the average sales price of these foreclosure properties was more than 28% below the average sales price of properties not in the foreclosure process--up from a 27% average discount in 2009 and a 22% average discount in 2008. A total of 831,574 U.S. residential properties, either owned by banks or in some stage of foreclosure, sold to third parties in 2010, a decrease of 31% from 2009 and a decrease of nearly 14% from 2008. Meanwhile sales volume of non-foreclosure properties in 2010 decreased nearly 19% from 2009 and nearly 27% from 2008. A total of 149,303 foreclosure sales were recorded in the fourth quarter, down 22% from the previous quarter and down 45% from the fourth quarter of 2009--despite a 21% monthly uptick in foreclosure sales volume in December. Mirroring the year-end statistics, foreclosure sales in the fourth quarter accounted for 26% of total sales, and foreclosure properties sold for an average sales price that was 28% below the average sales price of properties not in foreclosure. "Foreclosure sales in the fourth quarter faced the twin headwinds of the expired homebuyer tax credit--which began to stifle sales volume during the third quarter--and the foreclosure documentation controversy, which hit in the fourth quarter and temporarily froze sales of foreclosures from several major lenders," said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. "Given those factors, it's not surprising that in the fourth quarter foreclosure sales volume hit its lowest level since the first quarter of 2008. "Still, foreclosures continue to represent a substantial percentage of all U.S. residential sales and continue to sell at an average sales price that is significantly below the average sales price of properties not in foreclosure--the result of a bloated supply of foreclosures and weak demand from homebuyers," Saccacio continued. "The catch-22 for 2011 is that while accelerating foreclosure sales will help clear the oversupply of distressed properties and return balance to the market in the long run, in the short term a high percentage of foreclosure sales will continue to weigh down home prices." Foreclosure sales by type A total of 512,886 bank-owned (REO) properties sold to third parties in 2010--down nearly 32% from 2009--at an average discount of 36%, up from an average discount of 33% in 2009. REO sales accounted for 16% of all sales in 2010, down from nearly 18% of all sales in 2009 but still higher than the 13% of all sales they accounted for in 2008. In the fourth quarter, a total of 95,683 REO properties sold to third parties, down 17% from the third quarter and down 43% from the fourth quarter of 2009. Fourth quarter REO sales accounted for nearly 17% of all sales during the quarter at an average discount of nearly 37%. A total of 318,688 pre-foreclosure properties--in default or scheduled for auction--sold to third parties in 2010, down nearly 30% from 2009. Pre-foreclosure properties in 2010 sold at an average discount of 15%, down from an average discount of nearly 17% in 2009. Pre-foreclosure sales accounted for nearly 10% of all sales in 2010, down from nearly 11% of all sales in 2009 and virtually the same percentage of sales as in 2008. In the fourth quarter, a total of 53,620 pre-foreclosure properties sold to third parties, down 29% from the previous quarter and down 49% from the fourth quarter of 2009. Fourth quarter pre-foreclosure sales accounted for nearly 10% of all sales during the quarter at an average discount of nearly 13%. For more information, visit

Economy Embarking on Period of Expansion, According to Fannie Mae's Economic & Mortgage Market Analysis Group

March 2, 2011 10:31 am

RISMEDIA, March 2, 2011--Continued improvements in economic activity driven by strong growth in consumer spending are moving the economy beyond the recovery phase and into a period of expansion, according to the February 2011 Economic Outlook released by Fannie Mae's Economics & Mortgage Market Analysis Group. For 2011, economic growth is projected to accelerate to 3.7%, up from 2.8% economic growth in 2010. Housing has yet to see robust movement, but the excess supply of housing appears to have peaked. In addition, the rental vacancy rate fell, indicating the excess supply of housing is being worked off slowlya trend necessary for housing to return to stability. "We have confidence that the economy is on stronger legs with a sustainable growth path. Our projected annual growth rate for 2011 is nearly a full percent higher than the annual growth rate for 2010, which is a significant event," said Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan. "Economic cross currents such as the lack of sustained strong job growth, state and local fiscal issues and geo-political uncertainty in the Middle East present downside risks. Nevertheless, the positives outweigh the negatives." For more information, visit

NAR Bus Tour Opens National Home Ownership Dialogue

March 2, 2011 10:31 am

RISMEDIA, March 2, 2011--Throughout this month, consumers across the country can engage REALTORS, local officials and their neighbors on an issue that literally hits close to home--home ownership--as the National Association of REALTORS kicks off a month-long Home Ownership Matters Bus Tour in cities across the nation. "Americans today are debating what home ownership means to their families, communities and the nation as a whole," said NAR President Ron Phipps. "We want to engage in that dialogue directly with people in their own communities. This bus tour gives us a chance to interact and communicate directly with consumers about what housing issues matter most to them." The first stop on the tour is in Chicago on March 5, where the bus will visit the Chicago Flower & Garden show at the Navy Pier outside Festival Hall B from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. CST. NAR President-elect Moe Veissi will join invited local officials to speak with Chicagoans, who can also learn about how issues like tax reform and mortgage availability could affect their ability to buy, sell and own a home. Attendees can also register to win prizes worth up to $2,500. Other major stops on the tour include Denver on March 19 and Portland, Ore., on March 26, with additional stops in cities along the way. Ongoing news and information for the tour will be posted on HouseLogic at "Issues like the mortgage interest deduction, foreclosures and short sales, affordable financing and available credit don't just affect people who own a home--homeownership shapes communities and strengthens the nation's economy, as well," said Phipps. "Behind every home purchase, sale and foreclosure is a human face, and we hope this bus tour will give a voice to those personal experiences." For more information, visit

Energy-Saving: Separating Facts from Fiction

March 1, 2011 10:31 am

RISMEDIA, March 1, 2011--With cold temperatures blasting the nation, it's always smart to dispel some energy-saving rumors so you can conserve your heat to the best of your ability. The following are five energy-saving myths with various alternative suggestions so you can save some money when it counts the most. Myth: Electric room heaters will save you money on your energy bill. A room or space heater may save you money...if you have central electric heat. However, central gas heating is far cheaper than electric heat and you can easily end up paying more by using space heaters. If space heating is the route you're taking, make sure to turn down the heat in the rest of the house--lowering even by one degree Fahrenheit cuts costs by three percent. Myth: Foam gaskets in electrical outlets will reduce air leakage. Foam gaskets are often cited as a quick fix to stop air leakage, but the reality is that less than one percent of a home's air leakage is resulted from outlets. If your home has an abundance of outlets, sealing them may help, but spend your time on larger efforts--insulating attic floors and doors, as well as basement ceilings. This will have a far better effect in keeping the warm air in and cold air out. Myth: Dimming lights will cut your lighting bill. The relationship between dimming and energy use isn't linear, and savings will be less than expected. When the voltage drops, the filament cools, the wavelength spectrum of the light shifts further into infrared, and efficiency suffers. For real savings, try CFL or LED light bulbs. Myth: Buying an efficient air conditioner or furnace will automatically reduce my energy bill. Savings are not automatic. Make sure the unit is properly sized and installed. Improperly installed systems can waste one-third or more of the energy that is actually used by the unit. By completing the job right the first time, you can hopefully see future savings as a result. Myth: Insulating the ceiling will cause more heat to leak out the window. Adding insulation to one section of your home will not increase the pressure to other parts. However, properly insulate the poorly insulated areas, because those will be areas of concern regardless. Use a flame or incense to find air leaks around doors and windows. Seal them up with caulking or expandable foam. By avoiding these myths and following this advice, you can continue sealing up any leaks in your home before you start shelling out your money. Heat your home the proper way. Source: Consumer Reports Blog

Tips for Making Roof Color Choices with Confidence

March 1, 2011 10:31 am

RISMEDIA, March 1, 2011--Standard slate gray or bold terracotta? Solid brown or a blend of three warm brown tones? For some homeowners, the question of what color to cap off their homes is more challenging than the decision of what roofing product to use. According to color expert Kate Smith, CMG, people are often paralyzed at the idea of making a roofing color decision. "Selecting exterior building product colors can be daunting for some people specifically because of the long lifespan of those products," says Smith. With some roofs having as much as a 50-year warranty, it's a long-term color commitment to make. "While it's fairly easy and inexpensive to repaint the interior of a room, you want to maximize your roofing investment by selecting a color you can live with for many years. Many people need some support and guidance when making those larger color decisions." Smith, a national color expert, offers these tips for homeowners trying to determine what roofing colors to select.
  • Tip #1 Take time and do your homework. Don't rush a decision. Try to envision a home exterior that you will like next year, five years from now, and then 20 years from now.
  • Tip #2 Consider your options. While a solid color roof may work for some home styles, a blend of several colors may offer a "softer" look with more accent options. Pre-bundled roofing color blends can be made with two, three, four or five different color blends that complement each other.
  • Tip #3 - Investigate the different roofing color options available to you. Use a Color Design tool to create your own custom color blends.
  • Tip #4 - Request life-sized samples of your favorite color roofing tiles to hold up against your current roof to see the change that a new color will make for your home.
  • Tip #5 Look at the other homes in your neighborhood. Your home should blend in or stand out from other homes, but never clash with the rest of the homes in your community. A roofing color can help achieve a harmonious look.
  • Tip #6 Get assistance from a professional. Just as selecting the roofing product is a big decision requiring assistance of a professional, so is the choice of the roof color. Consult a color expert and use the color tools offered by experts and product manufacturers to gain a strong comfort level for your color choice. For more information or to test out a Color Design tool, visit:

Fannie Mae's Latest National Housing Survey Shows Key Changes in Americans' Attitudes Toward Housing and the Economy Over the Last Year

March 1, 2011 10:31 am

RISMEDIA, March 1, 2011--Fannie Mae's latest national housing survey finds that Americans are more confident about the stability of home prices than they were at the beginning of 2010, even though they lack confidence in the strength of the economy. Seventy-eight percent of respondents believe housing prices will hold steady or increase over the next twelve months, up from 73% in January 2010. But almost two-thirds still believe the economy is on the wrong track, virtually unchanged (61%) from the beginning of last year. The Fannie Mae Fourth Quarter National Housing Survey, conducted between October 2010 and December 2010, polled homeowners and renters to assess their confidence in homeownership as an investment, the current state of their household finances, views on the U.S. housing finance system, and overall confidence in the economy. "Over the course of the last year, we gained deeper insights into Americans' confidence in the strength of the housing market and the economic recovery," said Doug Duncan, Vice President and Chief Economist of Fannie Mae."More Americans believe that housing prices will remain stable over the next year.We also are seeing encouraging signs in the positive attitudes toward homeownership among younger Americans, despite the severe impact of the housing crisis on Generation Y. But most respondents to our survey continue to lack confidence in the strength of the economic recovery, and they are less optimistic about their ability to buy a home in the years ahead. This sense of uncertainty is weighing on the housing recovery today and reshaping expectations for housing for the future." Younger Americans, Hispanics and African-Americans are generally more positive about owning a home than the general population. Fifty-nine percent of Generation Y (ages 18-34) believes buying a home has a lot of potential as an investment, even though this age group suffered the steepest decline in homeownership during the housing crisis from nearly 44% when home prices peaked to under 40% in 2009. More than one-third of Hispanics (34%) and African Americans (35%) say they will buy a home in the next three years, compared to only one in four (23%) of all other Americans. The percentage of Americans who believe that buying a home is a safe investment declined to 64% over the course of the year, from 70% in January 2010. This is down sharply from a similar survey conducted in December 2003, when 83% of the general population thought buying a home was a safe investment. During 2010, survey respondents increasingly expressed a strong belief that it will be harder for future generations to obtain a mortgage. Three-quarters of those surveyed (74%) believe it will be harder to get a mortgage in the future, up from just over two-thirds at the beginning of 2010. One out of three delinquent borrowers continues to say they have considered defaulting on their mortgage. However, that number fell from 39% at the beginning of the year to 31% in the fourth quarter. The number of delinquent borrowers who say they have seriously considered defaulting also has declined, from 25% in January 2010 to 19%. For more detailed findings from the survey, visit:

Tips for Finding the Best Rentals

February 28, 2011 10:31 am

RISMEDIA, February 28, 2011--Depending on your location, finding the best rental may be a tricky task. Between amenities, prices ranges and lease terms, some renters may have a harder time than anticipated when searching for the perfect apartment. Instead of settling for anything, follow these tips to help find the best fit for you. Know what you want. Start by making a list of everything you want the apartment to have. When viewing possible options, use your list as a checklist to compare different places. What items on your list are must-haves and what can you do without? Knowing what you're looking for is half the battle. Inquire if your rent will increase. Fewer and fewer markets offer rent controlled apartments nowadays. There is nothing worse than getting completely settled in only to find out you have to move at the end of the year. Ask the landlord or other tenants in the building. If you have a maximum rental price you don't want to exceed, this question could narrow down your hunting. Take over for a friend. One of the easiest ways to snag a perfect find is by moving into a friend's apartment when he or she moves out. Word of mouth, especially from a trusted friend, is the best resource you can have in your search. You'll receive all of the information necessary and can ask any questions regarding the lease, landlord, fees, and more. Take your time. Finding a place you will be happy in doesn't happen overnight. If time isn't a serious factor, don't rush into a decision--it is one you will most likely have to live with for a full year or more. Be friendly to the neighbors. If possible, try to meet the neighbors. Like it or not, they will soon become people you will have daily dealings with. You may even be able to tap into them for information regarding the available rental. The insight they may be able to provide may turn out to be invaluable. Keeping these tips in mind can facilitate your search for a new home. If problems arise or if you'd simply like to streamline the process, speaking with a professional REALTOR in your area could also make all the difference. Source: AOL Real Estate

Mortgage Applications Increase

February 28, 2011 10:31 am

RISMEDIA, February 28, 2011--Mortgage applications increased 13.2% from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Associations Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending February 18, 2011. The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 13.2% on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 14.8% compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index increased 17.8% from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 5.1% from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 9.6% compared with the previous week and was 6.9% lower than the same week one year ago. Ongoing turmoil in the Middle East brought interest rates lower last week. Borrowers took advantage of these lower rates, bringing application activity back near levels from two weeks ago, following sharp declines last week, said Michael Fratantoni, MBAs Vice President of Research and Economics. The four week moving average for the seasonally adjusted Market Index is up 1.9%. The four week moving average is up 1.6% for the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index, while this average is up 1.8% for the Refinance Index. The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 65.7% of total applications from 64.0% the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 5.6% from 6.0% of total applications from the previous week. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 5.00% from 5.12%, with points increasing to 0.97 from 0.85 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value (LTV) ratio loans. The effective rate also decreased from last week. The average contract interest rate for 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 4.28% from 4.34%, with points decreasing to 0.80 from 0.85 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate also decreased from last week. For more information, visit

Home Sellers Fare Better in Getting Their Homes Sold Using a REALTOR, According to HomeGain Survey

February 28, 2011 10:31 am

RISMEDIA, February 28,, an online real estate resource that connects home buyers and sellers with real estate professionals, announced the results of its For Sale By Owner (FSBO) vs. REALTOR survey. HomeGain surveyed over 1,000 homeowners asking whether they used a REALTOR to sell their home or whether they attempted to sell it themselves. Eighty-three percent said they used a REALTOR to sell their home and 17% said they tried to sell their home on their own. Fifty-nine percent of homeowners that used a REALTOR to sell their home were successful vs. 39% of FSBOs, reflecting a 50% higher closing rate for those home sellers using a REALTOR. Eighty-one percent of homeowners that used a REALTOR to try and sell their homes said they would use a REALTOR again for their real estate needs. Eighty-eight percent of homeowners who sold their homes using a REALTOR said they would use a REALTOR again. Seventy-one percent of FSBOs who managed to sell their homes on their own said they would try and sell their home on their own again. It is especially striking that homeowners fare significantly better in selling their homes using a REALTOR than selling on their own, said Louis Cammarosano, General Manager of HomeGain. Due to that relative success, the level of satisfaction in the home selling process is also higher for home sellers utilizing the services of a REALTOR than those who try to sell their homes on their own. The survey also pointed out that 24% of FSBOs eventually enlisted the aid of a REALTOR to help sell their homes. For more information, visit

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