Wednesday, November 30, 2011

U.S. Pending Home Sales Show Significant Rebound In October

Pending home sales rose strongly in October and remain above year-ago levels, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, surged 10.4 percent to 93.3 in October from 84.5 in September and is 9.2 percent above October 2010 when it stood at 85.5. The data reflects contracts but not closings.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said improved contract activity is a hopeful sign. “Home sales have been plodding along at a sub-par level while interest rates are hovering at record lows and there is a pent-up demand from buyers who normally would have entered the market in recent years. We hope this is indicates more buyers are taking advantage of the excellent affordability conditions,” he said.
“Many consumers are recognizing that home buyers in the past two years have had one of the lowest default rates in history. Moreover, continued inventory declines are another healthy sign for the housing market,” Yun added.

The PHSI in the Northeast surged 17.7 percent to 71.3 in October and is 3.4 percent above October 2010. In the Midwest the index jumped 24.1 percent to 88.7 in October and remains 13.2 percent above a year ago. Pending home sales in the South rose 8.6 percent in October to an index of 99.5 and are 9.7 percent higher than October 2010. In the West the index slipped 0.3 percent to 105.5 in October but is 8.1 percent above a year ago.

“Although contract signings are up, not all contracts lead to closings. Many potential home buyers inadvertently hurt their credit scores and chances of getting a mortgage through easily averted actions, such as cancelling an old credit line while taking on a new one,” Yun said. “Such actions could unwittingly prevent buyers from obtaining a mortgage if their credit score is close the margins of qualifying, or they might get a loan but with less favorable terms.”

Friday, November 25, 2011

Plan now for home improvement throughout the year

(ARA) - If you've finished making your holiday gift list, don't put the pen and paper away just yet. While the holidays take up a lot of attention right now, it's also a great time to look a bit further into the future. With the new year just around the corner, planning for home improvement projects now can help you prioritize and budget.
Spending more time indoors at home might be bringing some potential projects to your attention. Maybe you've noticed fraying carpet under your toes, chipped paint on a window frame or a paint color that feels outdated - whatever needs to be addressed should get marked down on your fix-it list.
Give yourself a deadline for completing the list and then call a household meeting to start prioritizing. One of the most important things you can bring to that meeting is an idea of how much you can afford to spend. Given that the economy is still lagging - and many people are feeling that pull on their pocketbooks - it's wisest to avoid going into debt to accomplish everything you want to do.

Setting a home improvement budget gives you parameters to work within as you weigh the importance of each project on your list. However, you should also come to the table with a reasonable idea of how much it will cost to complete each of the tasks you want to finish.

Armed with your list and your budgetary figures, go through each item, weighing the pros and cons of both doing it now and letting it wait. You'll inevitably have a lot of options, including putting things off and saving more money throughout the year, or investing some money in repairs now and letting your savings grow for midyear projects. Naturally, you'll also need to consider the constraints of weather on your projects - if you want to put on a new deck, you'll have to wait until at least spring. Consider the fact that an outdoor project might feel a lot more necessary when warmer weather arrives than it does now.

Your long-term plans for your home should also come into play. If you're planning on selling anytime soon, consider carefully whether the projects you plan on doing will pay off at sale time. Additionally, if you plan on catching a buyer's eye, take an objective look at what might help you make the sale. If you're working with a Realtor, you might even want to discuss with them the best fix-ups and repairs within your budget.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

New Massachusetts Scrap Metal Law Passes House

A law that will require scrap metal dealers to obtain a photo ID from anyone that sell metal to them has finally passed  the House of Representatives today. This bill (and various forms of it) has been back and promoted by Massachusetts Realtors for the last few years because of the rash of copper thefts from vacant, and sometimes occupied, homes across the commonwealth. Many homes have been broken into by lowlifes who cut out all the copper pipes, tearing apart walls and leaving extensive destruction in their wake, including the flooding of the property in some cases. They then sell the copper to scrap metal dealers who give them cash for it. The rise in the price of copper (and scrap metal in general) has lead to a huge increase in this activity. It has gotten so bad that thieves are stealing manhole covers, iron fences, statues, and just about any metal that they can get their grubby hands on.

This law will require the scrap dealers to get a valid photo ID from anyone selling metal, and record their information along with a description of the metal they are selling. They must also hold onto any scrap metal for at least 24 hours before reselling it. It will make it illegal for any private citizen to sell metals that are obviously not household items such as manhole covers, metal bleachers, fire hydrants, etc. Currently someone can sell those items with no questions asked.

See more information on the law and scrap metal problem below: