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You’re Going on a Vacation- How to keep your home safe.

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You’re all packed up and heading out on a week long and well needed vacation. The last thing you need is to be on a beach or snowy mountain somewhere and worry if your home is safe. Take a look at some useful tips to help keep you focused on your needed rest and relaxation.

 

One simple method which has become much more accessible in recent years is a home security system. Better yet, home automation systems are quickly taking over this market and providing 24 hour access to your home when you are away. There are several different companies that specialize in the home automation industry, as well as some major brands that are starting to garner more visibility in the market. The pricing on these installations can get pricey, even into the thousands of dollars depending on the size and layout of your home. We have also seen several companies marketing towards the DIY installation. These are relatively inexpensive and can be installed by the average Joe, no offense if you are a “Joe”. A few differences from the DIY to the professional installations are obvious but not all. For starters the cleanliness of the install, meaning the exposed vs simple wire covers. Others can include actually mounted vs simply placing on a mantle or counter. So, if you decide to take this route to secure your home research and decide what is best for your situation. If you want my opinion, Call Me.

Another simple way to help keep your home safe while you are away is to install dusk till dawn adapters on a few exterior lights. This idea works the same way as keeping cockroaches away. Bugs or varmints generally do not like a well lit area. Neither do burglars, for the most part. You can find the adapters in any big box store or at a local hardware store near you. They are relatively inexpensive and take very little installation. Another lighting method is to install a few timers inside your home to give the appearance someone is home. Set the timers for approximate times when you are maybe eating dinner and maybe watching tv. Be sure to have the timers to go off around the time you generally go to bed. A teenagers bedroom could probably stay on all night. Teens-text-at-night

 

Here is a final thought on how to keep your home safe when you are traveling. There is a  huge movement online nowadays to post about the fabulous vacations you are getting geared up for or that you have booked. For starters I love seeing the crystal blue waters and snow capped mountains on your timeline. What I would rather not see is that you just went on a spending spree and opted for the 60″+ tv or that you just got the latest Xbox or after winning the Tennessee Lottery you finally got that exotic, “only 100  made”, Range Rover. Most of us are happy for you, but a hand few may be more happy for themselves and are waiting on the perfect opportunity to win their lottery, without playing if you get what i mean. So, it’s ok to post how IMG_1017 your living, just understand someone may be waiting for that invitation (Selfie of we  are leaving on vacation) post to stop by and see what you have.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 Easy Steps to Buying Your First or Fifth House

After months of searching online and getting nowhere, here you are. Now you know the 4 Easy steps to buying a home.

First, as 90% of buyers today, start with a home search online. As long as you’re here why not search here? We have all active listings shown on North Alabama’s MLS index. In addition to our MLS I also offer several “For Sale By Owner listings”. That is an extra step in giving you every option to find the perfect house.

Second, You found it! Congratulations! I knew if you started here you could more than likely finish here. Wasn’t that easier than driving around town for countless hours hoping to see “the house” around the next corner.

Third, this is the fun part. All you have to do is sit back and let years of negotiating and getting the best deals for our clients, work for you.

Fourth, Sure there were several points in the process that were high pressure or potential deal breakers, but you didn’t need to stress over any of them. We always keep a positive outlook and keep the process moving forward. Now we celebrate the big moving day.

Yes, it is that easy. Give it a try.

 

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7 Local Backyard Oases You Want to See

I’ve seen many housees in the past years that I would not schedule a return without protection in some form or fasion. Iv’e also seen houses that made me want to stay for a few hours and just relax. The latter being the exception. I thought it might be neat to put together a short and sweet ppost showing some of the great local backyard oases in and around my area. The following are several pools and outdoor kitchens you may want to look into a bit closer. Feel free to comment and or share.

 

custom-concrete pool

Pool with a fountain
Pool with a fountain
Custom Stone raised pool
Custom Stone raised pool

 

Custom Outdoor Kitchen with tongue groove ceiling
Custom Outdoor Kitchen with tongue groove ceiling

 

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Custom concrete with fountain

 

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Outdoor Kitchen overlooking pool

 

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Custom Heated Pool with Mountain views

 

If any of these homes interest you and you would like to take a closer look, feel free to contact me for a showing appointment.

 

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Fannie Mae Shows Signs of a Recovering Market

2013 was an extraordinary year for a lot of Real Estate Pros. Many conversations about the housing market are ending in a much different matter than they had in years past. Lately the story is, “Wow”, We are really seeing an increase in home prices and a decrease in inventory”. Years ago this comment would have been accompanied with a graphic of a donkey with mouth wide open laughing hysterically.

The Real Estate market is definitely showing signs of growth and movement. Today home prices are beginning to slightly increase and whispers of a “Sellers Market” are rolling off agents tongues. This truly makes people a little more comfortable with the country still trying to pull out of the recent crash. All of this still would simply be mostly “lip Service” if not for the the giants of the mortgage market producing such impressive numbers. Let’s take a look at Fannie Mae and data released in a recent article by Timothy J. Mayopoulos President and Chief Executive Officer, Fannie Mae 

In the statement Fannie Mae reveals their financial performance, over the past few years, has improved significantly, and in 2013 reported “84.0 billion in net income and $38.6 billion in pre-tax income, the highest annual income and annual pre-tax income in our company’s history”. In addition to this improvement Fannie Mae also has strengthened the underwriting and eligibility standards as so to promote a more sustainable housing market as related to homeownership.

In addition to developing stronger requirements for home buying eligibility, Fannie Mae has also worked to help owners avoid foreclosure by “completing more than 1.5 million workout solutions since 2009. In 2013, we completed 234,000 foreclosure prevention solutions. Less than 1 percent of the single-family loans in our book went into foreclosure in 2013, and we strive to help every at-risk family find an alternative to foreclosure.”

Below is a graphic giving a few numbers to grow on. Take a look and decide for yourself if you still should be standing on the sidelines or if it is time to Move forward?

fannie mae numbers at a glance

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Reports Indicate Another Housing Slowdown | Via Inman News

New reports point to housing slowdown | Inman News.

 

Economic reports released today show that activity in two sectors of the housing market dropped to its lowest levels in more than a year, providing some of the latest evidence that elevated mortgage rates and home prices may have slowed the pace of the real estate recovery.

Housing slowdown before real growth

“Housing is not about to collapse into another bust, but it is due for a pause after a strong rebound since the first half of 2012,” wrote David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, explaining the thrust of the reports.

For the week ending Feb. 14, a seasonally adjusted purchase index from the Mortgage Bankers Association hit its lowest level since September 2011, the trade group said today. On an unadjusted basis, demand for purchase loans for the week dropped 17 percent from the same week a year before.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reported today that housing starts in January hit a 17-month low, falling 7 percent year over year to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 573,000, a figure that dovetails with the National Association of Home Builders’ finding yesterday that builder confidence plunged in February.

Other indicators also point to a slowdown. Pending home sales and existing-home sales have trended down in recent months, though one of the few brights spots in recent housing data are new-home sales, which grew at a fast clip in January.

Some trade groups and analysts have said that the unusually cold weather has contributed to weakening activity in the housing market.

“While we don’t want to dismiss out of hand the downbeat message of these measures of residential construction activity, we think that they largely reflect a correction from the sharp gain in starts in November and the recent unseasonably severe weather,” Capital Economics, an economic research firm, said in response to the report on housing starts.

The biggest impetus for the recent slump, however, may be substantial increases in both home prices and mortgage rates. The combination of both has pushed up the cost of financed homeownership by roughly a quarter from last year in more than 300 counties nationwide, according to a report data aggregator RealtyTrac is set to release tomorrow.

“Last year was a nice bounce-back year for the housing market, particularly home prices, but we cannot expect to see the patterns of 2013 repeat in 2014,” said RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist. “This year will be more of a reality check type of year as home prices and sales slow down to allow incomes and confidence to catch up.”

More from Teke Wiggin

– See more at: http://www.inman.com/2014/02/19/new-reports-point-to-housing-slowdown/#sthash.hGvhs6HV.dpuf

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What buyers want?

Times of needing to have a formal dinning area may have come and gone, but having a space to dine and entertain hasn’t.

Years ago folks wanted to have a formal dinning room so they could have a nice gathering over a meal and entertain guests. Well, that hasn’t changed except where it is located. Today buyers are wanting a warm comfortable open kitchen design where they can entertain guests and still be where the action is- “The Kitchen”. Even with the influx of restaurants in local places folks still want to have guests over for entertaining.
Today’s buyers want an updated kitchen area, generally overlooking a dinning area or den area.
So there is something to think about when you are updating your house for a market analysis. Should you take down that wall or simply update the kitchen. My recommendation is, if you’re going to update the kitchen then probably go ahead and take out that wall and open things up. Otherwise, leave the kitchen to attract a different buyer wanting a fixer upper.
Call me if you would like a Pre-market analysis and or “on the market ready” analysis.

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Huntsville Alabama “New Clinton Ave Project” to Bring Downtown Shopping Alive!

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HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — When Alabama Media Group moved its Huntsville hub downtown in October, one of the first things some of us noticed while walking around the corner for lunch was a nice downtown building on Clinton Avenue that was filled with mini-storage units.

What a waste of a prime downtown space, we thought.

Chad Emerson, the CEO of Downtown Huntsville Inc., must have had the same thought when he started his new job as downtown development guru in August. On Wednesday, Emerson announced The Clinton Avenue Project, something that’s apparently been in the works since just after Emerson arrived.

Chad Emerson-river.jpgChad Emerson, CEO of Downtown Huntsville, Inc.

Downtown Huntsville Inc. will lease six of the ground floor storage units and sub-lease them to small business start-ups that need a place to get off the ground.

“It gives local, small business entrepreneurs an opportunity to test whether their retail concept can be successful in an urban, walkable setting like downtown,” Emerson told AL.com business writer Lucy Berry.

Here’s a sample of the small businesses that will incubate in the storage units: Anne Condit will open up Live Easy, a handcrafted art and goods store; Huntsville artist Christian Wegman will sell original paintings and prints; another unit will feature a rotating gallery for artists to sell their work for up to two weeks at a time; and John Whitman, a visiting University of Alabama in Huntsville professor and founder ofHuntsville Open Tech Coffee (HOTCoffee), will launch a new public service venture called Business Button in one of the units.

The city and organizations like DHI predecessor Big Spring Partners have been working for years, with some success, to revitalize a downtown that once was dominated by bail bond companies and lawyers offices.

Emerson and his one employee, Director of Communications and Branding Macy Chapman, along with a dedicated board of local business and “thought leaders” such as Chairman Evans Quinlivan and Vice Chair Scott Averbuch, are taking it quickly to the next level.

The accomplishments in just six months are almost too many to list, but here are some highlights.

The early success is evidence of the pent-up demand for unique, interesting, and walkable experiences

• The fun and creative “Pop-up Parks” competition brought people downtown in November to play Twister, visit outdoor coffee bars and Zen gardens built overnight in parking spaces around the courthouse square.

Chad Emerson Pop Up Parks.JPGDowntown Huntsville Inc. CEO Chad Emerson checks out the Pop Up Park entries on the Courthouse Square earlier this month. (Eric Schultz | eschultz@al.com)

• Tapping into the nationwide food truck craze, Downtown Huntsville Inc., sponsored astreet food gatheringdowntown that was wildly successful. The City Council has helped take advantage of the phenomenon by amending an ordinance to let food trucks serve downtown seven days a week.

• In January, Emerson and DHIpresented awards for Downtown Development of the Year (Belk-Hudson Lofts); Downtown Advocate of the Year (city planner Marie Bostick); and Downtown Event of the Year (Greene Street Market).

• On Feb. 9, DHI brings the “Retro Winter Games” downtown, complete with dodgeball, capture the flag and foursquare.

• There are plans in the works for a downtown putt-putt golf challenge sometime in the spring.

There are also bigger, more permanent projects in the works that the city and DHI are working together on, including a redevelopment of the old Holiday Inn property and a new convention hotel across from the Von Braun Center.

Emerson also has announced a “Blue Sky Idea” project to generate even more new and eclectic events and projects, even if they are dreams – like a downtown tram system — of what could be if we had millions to invest.

In such a short time here, Emerson, who came from a similar position in Montgomery, has become a trusted adviser to the mayor and local business leaders, and brought much-needed energy to the job of promoting and building a vibrant downtown.

In Emerson’s words: “The early success is evidence of the pent-up demand for unique, interesting, and walkable experiences. This downtown has so many assets that there’s no reason it shouldn’t become one of the best among peer cities.”

Written by Director of Community News Shelly Haskins for the Alabama Media Group editorial board in Huntsville

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Small Lenders Hesitate Over New Rules

Small Lenders Hesitate Over New Rules

DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | MONDAY, JANUARY 13, 2014

New mortgage rules that took effect last week could further hamper small lenders’ ability to issue loans, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Under the new rules, lenders must ensure that borrowers can pay back their loans. Loans that meet“qualified mortgage” standards will provide a safe harbor to lenders from future lawsuits, while loans issued outside of QM standards will carry more legal risk.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau defines “qualified mortgages” as loans that meet the ability-to-repay rule and in which borrowers spend no more than 43 percent of their income on debt. Furthermore, fees and other charges may make up no more than 3 percent of the loan.

Small lenders reportedly will tread cautiously in the new lending environment because they are worried about the legal risk of making loans that don’t meet new standards, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“We’re going to be very conservative just to make sure that we’re in compliance and don’t get into trouble,” says Mark Walker, chief executive of Michigan Mutual Inc., a lender with 300 employees based in Port Huron, Mich. “There are going to be loans that we did in 2013 that we are not going to be able to do in 2014.”

Any lender who falls outside of the new rules may be unable to sell the loan to investors such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Large lenders—such as Wells Fargo and Bank of America—already have said they plan to continue issuing loans outside of CFPB’s Qualified Mortgage standards and will hold those loans on their own books.

But smaller lenders will likely think twice. Non-bank lenders will be particularly cautious since they often don’t use their own investment portfolios to hold the loans on their books, The Wall Street Journal reports.

For example, Linda Sweet, president and CEO of Big Valley Federal Credit Union in Sacramento, Calif., says her credit union will mostly stop making mortgage loans in 2014. Her credit union made about 30 mortgage loans in 2013.

“The burden of trying to comply with the regulation is just overwhelmingly costly for a small financial institution,” Sweet says.

CFPB announced it is monitoring the new rule’s impact closely on loan availability to see if any tweaks need to be made.

“I think we got the rule right,” says Peter Carroll, CFPB’s assistant director for mortgage markets. But he adds that “we don’t want to see credit get unduly cut for people, where there are responsible loans being made.”

Source: “Small Lenders Wary as Mortgage-Lending Rules Take Effect,” The Wall Street Journal (Jan. 10, 2014)

 

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It’s too cold to look

You hear it all the time in the late months, “It’s just too cold today to look for a house”. I agree it does get soo cold. Today for instance it will only get to 20°! Makes me shiver a bit talking about it. It is hard to get yourself moving when your bones and frozenmuscles are screaming to get back in the heat.

 

 

 

I say get a warm shower or bath to wake up your body and bundle up. Get up the car and go find a house. It’s kinda like guys not wanting to go to the mall on black Friday. There is no way in hell they are going to fight the crowds when they can procrastinate and get just as good a deal. So think about it. When does everyone want to look for new houses or go to open houses?, when it’s warm out. Everyone wants to look at the same time, so you have to jockey for the right house and possibly have to get in a bidding war. Don’t get into a bid war. Get up, get out and find the perfect house that you don’t have to fight anyone for. It’s your house, claim it.muscles are frozen and not wanting to acknowledge what you need to do.

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We all get caught up in what everyone else is doing, you know like everyone wants to go to the beach on Memorial day. It’s so much easier going on a different weekend, not to mention more affordable. Wait a couple of weekends and see the difference.

If you dig that sort of thing then by all means do it. If you want to get the best deal possible then try getting those bones in motion when it’s colder than Pluto outside and see what you can do.biglots-black-friday

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