Real Estate

Home Values Hit Bottom according to Zillow

Anyone selling their home today should be encouraged by a recent Zillow report saying the market has hit bottom. “After four months with rising home values and increasingly positive forecast data, it seems that the country has hit bottom in home values,” said Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries.

Hot markets like Phoenix, Fort Myers and Green Bay already know the tide has turned. For others where there’s a supply of houses in foreclosure and over built communities the picture is not so rosey.

The Zillow Home Value Index is built from automated valuation estimates generated by Zillow for single-family residences, condominiums and cooperatives, regardless of whether they sold within a given time period. At the national level, the Zillow Home Value Index reflects the medium “Zestimate” of all homes in the U.S. expressed in dollars.

For more information about Zillow go to where you’ll find information and tools to make smart decisions about homes, real estate and mortgages.

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Hire a contractor home improvement trends remodeling Uncategorized

Remodeling on the Upswing

The latest LIRA (Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity) report is optimistic about the growth of remodeling in the U.S. That’s good news for home buyers and seller, and the remodeling industry in general.  The LIRA report is the study of national homeowner spending on improvements by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

The director of the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center, Eric S. Belsky says “Warm weather in the first quarter temporarily bumped up remodeling activity in many areas.”  The LIRA suggests that annual homeowner improvement spending may reach double-digit growth by the end of the first quarter of 2013. Sales are picking up and contractors are seeing more positive business conditions in the future.  The past three year tell a different story but with the combination of low financing costs and stronger consumer confidence, the future is brighter than it’s been for a while.

This optimism is encouraging homeowners to start working on their bucket list of upgrades and repairs they’ve been putting off, which may help to grow the interest in remodeling at a slow, but steady pace. We can only hope.

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Buying a House

Buyer Beware Signs Buying a House

When you’re looking at a house to buy it’s easy to be enamored by its location on a leafy street or the new kitchen cabinets and stylish decorating. But before you make an offer and pay an inspector to do a thorough inspection, do a little investigating yourself. Take a walk through looking for telltale indications of a not-so-perfect house. You may end up buying the house but you’ll have a more realistic idea of its good and bad points and can negotiate the price accordingly.

Keep a notebook or PDA handy to record what you find, a cell phone or camera for taking pictures and a flashlight to see into tight spaces.

Walk around the exterior of the house looking at the roof for missing or curled shingles. A pair of binoculars helps. Look for rust around the flashing and roof vent.

Look at the siding to see if it’s damaged or loose. Look for signs of mildew which are usually found on the north side of the house.

Check out the system of gutters and downspouts. If it’s a one story house you can usually stand at an angle to see if the gutters are clean or filled with an accumulation of leaves or debris. If it happens to be raining you’re in luck because you can see if there are any leaks and if the rainwater flows through the downspouts. At the base of downspouts there should be a diverter or splash block for runoff that carries the water away from the foundation of the house.

Next, go to the basement looking for signs water stains on the walls and floor. Also look on the wall and foundation for cracks and termite tunnels. A trail of them indicates they’re there or have been there and should be eradicated.

Look at the furnace for its last service date and hopefully it’s recent indicating it’s been maintained. Rust at the bottom of the furnace is a telltale of possible water damage.

Go up to the attic and crawl around if you have to looking on the underside of the roof sheathing for stains.

This isn’t a complete list of what a certified inspector will look for but it should give you some initial background into how the systems of the house have been maintained, an important thing to know if you’re considering being its owner.

We hope you’ll visit us at and when you’re looking for the cost of home improvement projects.


Next Avenue: PBS’s Web Site for Boomers

When NOT to do a do-it-yourself project has been a topic we cover a lot on our web site so we were happy to be included in Laura Vanderkam’s article on the new PBS web site for Boomers which focuses on “when grown-ups keep growing.”  Laura’s article does a good job of posing questions you should ask yourself before making the decision to DIY or hire a pro. When you answer those questions it makes you think about your skill level and experience, your chance of getting hurt or damaging your house and what’s your time worth.  There’s a lot of issues to consider and her article: Home Repair: When NOT to Do It Yourself  will help you sort out the issues. Here’s a link to the article