North Attleboro New & Events

Archive for April, 2011

Increase Your Curb Appeal!

Has your home been on the market for a while now?  Are you starting to feel some despair?  Well have no fear!  Here are a few great tips to increase your home’s curb appeal, provided by MSN Real Estate :

  • Start the power washer
    Winter is finally over and your home has probably taken quite the beating from it.  Rent or borrow a power washer and give the exterior of your home a good cleaning. 
  • Clean out flower beds
    Although you may not have flowers coming up in your beds yet, still make sure that they are presentable.  Trim dormant ornamental grasses and hostas to the ground, and clean out any leaves and sticks that piled up in the winter.
  • Trim branches
    If you haven’t already done so, go out on the street and make sure that no shrubs or low hanging tree branches block the view of your house.  You want potential buyers to get a clear look at the house as they drive by or approach it.
  • Prune flowering shrubs
    Flowering shrubs should be pruned after they’ve flowered.  It’s important to shape these shrubs for the best visual effect, but hold off until their flowers have faded; this will keep the plant healthy and give you – or hopefully the next homeowner – more buds next year.
  • Plant in containers
    It may still be too cold in your part of the county to put annuals in the bed, but you can add life and color to your yard with container gardening.  Buy some colorful pots and fill them with vibrant flowers.  Place them on the front porch, going down your front steps or even in your flower beds.
  • Look at your gutters
    Take a look upstairs.  If you have leaves and sticks hanging out of your gutters from winter storms, drag out the ladder and clean them out.  Dirty gutters are an eyesore to potential buyers.
  • Add mulch
    Mulch always looks a bit sad after winter; it gets spread around and blown about.  Adding a thick new layer of mulch can work wonders for your home’s curb appeal.

Cheryl

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Looking for some Spring Gardening Tips? Look no further!

It may not feel like it most days but spring is in the air! It’s an exciting time for us east coast residents who are sick and tired of bundling up in layers and trudging through massive amounts of snow. The time is here where you can finally shop for your plants and begin the process of gardening once again. Plants of all sorts are such a great way to give your home character and really make it stand out from the rest of the homes on your street.

I found some great tips from the experts at Northscaping that will help ensure a successful start to the gardening season. Follow these simple tips for a long and enjoyable gardening experience this year.

1. Use compost to amend the planting soil

This is the key to starting healthy plants. You want your young plants to be provided with much needed nutrients which will establish good, strong roots.

2. Water just the right amount – not too much, not too little

Water young plants frequently, but don’t drown them! Too much water can actually hurt them. It’s better to give them a light soaking every day than to flood them once a week.

3. Gradually wean perennials off fertilizer

Fertilize perennials at planting. Many young plants have been grown in a greenhouse where nutrients are acquired through fertilization. It’s important to wean them off fertilizer until their roots are developed.

4. Continue feeding your annuals regularly

Annual plants in containers need regular feeding. Annuals are generally heavier feeders than perennials, especially in containers. Fertilize weekly with a half-strength soluble fertilizer mixture with a higher middle number to promote active root growth and flower production.

5. Don’t plant too early for your region

New plants are sensitive to frost and lower temperatures. Hardy perennials if hardened off can be planted as early as Mother’s Day in most parts of the North. For annuals, it best to wait until the first week of June, although hardier annuals and some vegetables can be planted as early as Memorial Day weekend. However, they should be covered if night temperatures are forecasted to fall below 36 – 40°F. This is a very important tip for us on the east coast, especially with the spring we are experiencing. It’s best to plan ahead and have everything ready but don’t get too excited to start digging in the dirt because it could be very detrimental to your garden’s success.

6. Give your plants just the amount of light they prefer

Plants require sunlight for photosynthesis, but not all plants are sun tolerant. Check the labels on all the plants you purchase to see if they are light specific. Planting in the wrong location can lead to poor performance and/or death of the plant.

7. Allow adequate growing space between perennials

Give shrubs and herbaceous perennials ample room to grow. Many require good air circulation to discourage the development of molds and fungi. As the plant grows, the space is reduced and the bed will look fuller. Allow room for growth and your plants will last a long time.

8. Plant annuals closer together for full effect

Plant annuals at half spacing for an earlier season of enjoyment. Reducing the spacing between plants will result in fuller plantings earlier in short growing seasons like we have in the North. It will also assist in the reduction of weeding and watering as moisture is less subject to evaporation and weed seeds cannot make contact with the ground.

9. Use colors to your advantage

Simple combinations of just one or two colors can make a powerful statement. Using only one color to establish a monochromatic scheme for your garden can help to adjust a mood. Cooler colors like blue or purple can make a sunny site more relaxed, whereas warmer colors such as yellow and orange can make a dark space more inviting.

10. Use larger quantities of fewer varieties

Plant masses of one or two plants to reduce maintenance times. In larger yards or wherever there is not enough time maintain a garden, grouping plants of one type and allowing them to grow together reduces the amount of water and the need for regular pruning.

I hope these tips from Northscaping have helped you in planning your spring gardening properly. Happy planting, growing and blooming!

Cheryl

What do homeowners say about owning a home?

There is no shortage of experts that want to let us know how Americans feel about owning a home after the collapse of the residential market in the last five years. They MUST be devastated. They MUST feel trapped like prisoners in their own homes. They MUST be sorry they ever bought the house. These assumptions seem logical at times and can occasionally be supported by anecdotal evidence.

However, we want to go to the only people who truly understand how homeowners feel – the homeowners themselves. There have been three major surveys done this year that can shed light on the issue:

The National Housing Survey

This survey conducted by Fannie Mae showed:

  • 96% of all homeowners said homeownership has been a positive experience.
  • 64% consider buying a home as a safe investment. Buying a home was considered safer than buying stocks by over three times the number of people (64% vs 17%).

The top four reasons to buy:

  1. It means having a good place to raise children and provide a good education
  2. You have a physical structure where you and your family feel safe
  3. It allows you to have more space for your family
  4. It gives you control over what you do with your living space (renovations & updates)

American Attitudes About Home Ownership

According to this survey conducted by Harris Interactive for the National Association of Realtors, home owners believe that home ownership benefits individuals and families and strengthens our communities.

The vast majority of home owners say that owning a home is a smart decision over the long term. Even in today’s challenging economy, 95% of owners believe that over a period of several years, it makes more sense to own a home.

Home owners are much more likely to be satisfied with the quality of their family and community life than renters. While more than half of owners (56%) are “very” or “extremely” satisfied with the overall quality of their family life, only about one-third (36%) of renters report the same levels of satisfaction. Also, 43% of home owners are “very” or “extremely” satisfied with their community life, compared with 30% of renters.

An overwhelming majority of home owners are happy with their decision to own a home. A full 93% of owners surveyed would buy again.

Pew Research Center Survey

This recent survey titled “Home Sweet Home. Still” delves into homeowners’ current belief in homeownership as a long term investment:

Homeowners whose home value has fallen only a little are equally enthusiastic about housing as a long-term investment: 85% say buying a home is the best long-term investment a person can make. Among those who say their home has maintained it value or increased in value, 88% agree…

Even those who have seen their home values plummet are still committed to the idea that buying a home is a solid, long-term investment. Among those who say their home has lost a lot of its value, 80% agree that buying a home is the best long-term investment (36% strongly agree, 44% agree somewhat).

Bottom Line 

There have been families that have been devastated by the current economy. However, through it all, homeowners have not wavered  in their belief in homeownership as the best long-term investment.

 –Cheryl

What do you need to know about manufactured homes?

A current “hot” trend in housing alternatives is the purchasing of manufactured homes. One in seven new homes sold in the past year were made in factories and transported to their permanent site. Close to 10% of theU.S.population now live in manufactured homes.

Since 90% of manufactured homes are purchased with borrowed money, there are some critical factors to consider when financing. Most buyers must finance their manufactured homes as “private property”- like purchasing a small plane or boat. The down side to this situation is that interest rates will be higher if your home is titled and taxed as personal property rather than real estate. Many dealers will finance manufactured homes, but you can go competitive loan shopping. It is to your advantage if you plan to place your home on your own land or a lot with a long-term lease.  On a positive note, Freddie Mac, a government-sponsored organization, began buying loans on manufactured homes classified as titled real estate. Many states are changing policies and defining manufactured housing as real estate rather than personal property. If you own your land, you can now get a good loan rate with an affordable down payment.

Manufactured homes were once commonly called “mobile homes” but they are usually residential dwellings that are moved to a permanent location. They are built on solid foundations – using concrete blocks, poured concrete pads and brick masonry. You can even get manufactured homes with outside entrance basements as an option! With shingled roofs, bay windows and expansive front porches, it is hard to tell manufactured homes from the regular “stick built” versions. 

To learn more about manufactured homes, feel free to contact me directly.

Cheryl

Four Reasons to Buy a Home Now!

Thinking about buying a home but not too sure? The KCM Group  gives us four great reasons as to why NOW is the time to buy! Take a look…

1. Interest Rates Are Increasing
Interest rates have increased almost 3/4 of a point in the last six months. Most experts expect rates to continue to increase through the year. Interest rates along with price determine the overall cost of a home. Even with prices softening, if interest rates rise, it may be less expensive to buy now rather than wait.

2. The 30-Year Mortgage May Disappear
There has been much debate regarding government’s role in providing support for homeownership. There are several experts who believe If Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s roles are eliminated, or even limited, it may be the end to the 30-year mortgage.

3. QRM Requirements Could Be Much More Stringent
Here are proposed changes to the requirements for a ‘qualified residential mortgage’:
• Certain mortgage types would be eliminated
• You would need to put a minimum of 20% down
• You would need a minimum 690 FICO score
• The ratios of income to both the mortgage payment and overall debt would become much more conservative (28% and 36%)

There would be loans available to purchasers who don’t qualify under the new rules. However, they will probably be more expensive to the buyer (both in rate and costs).

4. Rents Are Expected to Increase
The supply of available rentals is decreasing and the demand is increasing. That will lead to an increase in rental costs throughout the year. The Wall Street Journal this week quoted a report by Reis, Inc: “Expect vacancies to continue declining, and rents rising through the rest of 2011 at an even faster pace.” You may be waiting on the sidelines to see if prices will continue to depreciate before you purchase a home. The mortgage expense is a major piece in the overall financial picture of homeownership. Make sure you consider it when timing your decision.

Cheryl

STOP Listening to Real Estate Agents!

I thought you all would enjoy this article from the KCM Blog 🙂

Each day we attempt to give truthful insight on the current housing market. If we report what is perceived as negative news, some in the real estate community come down on us hard. However, when we explain that we think now is a great time to buy, we get an avalanche of feedback from the general public attacking us for being nothing more than puppets for real estate agents across the country. Today, we don’t want you to listen to what we think about the opportunities that exist for buyers in this market. Instead, we want to report on what some members of the investment community are saying.

The Wall Street Journal

Jim Woods wrote an article earlier this year for Market Watch, part of the Wall Street Journal’s digital network. Its title: Why your best investment is a house. Mr. Woods compared the investment potential of real estate against other asset classes such as stocks and precious metals. Here was his conclusion.

One reason your best investment right now could be a home has to do with the relative upside of getting in on an asset class while it’s at the bottom versus buying into other asset classes that could be near a top. Consider for a moment the tremendous upside we’ve seen in stocks, precious metals and agricultural commodities over the past 12 months…

If you’re a long-term investor looking to put money to work, now is not really the best time to get into any of these three asset classes. However, with home sales starting to improve, and with prices now possibly forming a bottom, real estate could well be the asset class that represents the best low-risk buying opportunity out there today…

Mr. Woods went on to talk about the financing portion of the purchase:

Yes, mortgage rates still are near historical lows, but if we see these rates rise, then the cost of a new home could climb significantly. So, now could really be the best time to pull the trigger on that home purchase — and it could also be your best investment right now.

Fortune Magazine

Shawn Tully, senior editor at large for Fortune penned an article last week which was titled: Real estate: It’s time to buy again. In the article, Mr. Tully explained:

Forget stocks. Don’t bet on gold. After four years of plunging home prices, the most attractive asset class in America is housing.

Let’s state it simply and forcibly: Housing is back. Two basic factors are laying the foundation for dramatic recovery in residential real estate. The first is the historic drop in new construction … The second is a steep decline in prices, on the order of 30% nationwide since 2006, and as much as 55% in the hardest-hit markets. The story of this downturn has been an astonishing flight from the traditional American approach of buying new houses to an embrace of renting. But the new affordability will gradually lure Americans back to buying homes. And the return of the homeowner will start raising prices in many markets this year.

Bottom Line

Neither of the two media sources mentioned above has ever been accused of cuddling up to the National Association of Realtors. However, both have come to the same conclusion. It’s time to buy real estate. Perhaps we should listen to them.

Cheryl