7 Gardening Ideas for 2019

7 Gardening Ideas for 2019

This is the perfect time to start planning your garden for 2019. It’s too early in a year to actually do any yard work, but if you make a plan and prepare for it right now, there will be much fewer stressful and time pressing tasks in the spring.

When it comes to gardening trends, it’s perfectly fine to make your garden fashionable and to try to be innovative this year. However, have in mind that trends are often short-term and therefore fleeting. A neat and nicely managed garden looks good no matter what.

Asymmetry

Asymmetrical patterns have been popular for a while now and they will really take the over suburban gardens in 2019. This is partly due to the fact that ordinary and well-kept symmetrical gardens have been around for decades. Suburban homes are now using this change to appear more interesting.

It’s best to use this fact to make your garden stand out. When patterns and plants aren’t designed symmetrically, you can also experiment with different materials, colors, and the overall aesthetic of the garden.

Low maintenance gardens

Usually gardens are seen as more of a hobby than just an aesthetic choice for your home design. It’s something to do when you have time to spare and something to plan for and organize around. However, this too is changing. There’s a growing trend of making low maintenance gardens that you can enjoy throughout the year.

The key to having a low maintenance garden is to choose the plants that don’t need that much work. For the most part, it’s about selecting plants that don’t need watering on regular bases. Equally important is choosing a suitable soil for such plants.

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Patios

One of the biggest projects you could undertake with your garden is to try to merge the outside and the inside with a patio that’s an extension or even a part of your garden. Adding cantilever umbrellas and some lighting to create the atmosphere and make the patio useful is the biggest part of the job. What remains after that is just to design it as a part of the garden.

Patios can be a great place to entertain guests and they can really increase the value of your property. However, if they are set up with proper materials, they can also be easily pulled apart and you can use most of your yard.

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Green fences

Good fences make good neighbors! And the way you decide to distinguish your garden from your next-door neighbor could mean quite a lot. Installing green fences will make the transition from one yard to the other feel more natural. However, keep in mind that these type of fences mean a lot more work, especially when it comes to trimming and maintenance.

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Edibles

Planting edible plants in the back yard isn’t something that many suburban homeowners consider doing. However, there are a few reasons to try to get into it this year and to decide whether the operations could expand in the years to come.

It’s a way to make sure you have much less-expensive green and healthy food. In the end, many eco-aware homeowners should consider how their real estate could be used in a more productive way.

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Garden decorations

It’s fashionable to make your own garden decorations and you should dedicate a portion of your time to such creative projects in 2019. This is also less expensive and gives your garden a homey look.  They don’t require that much artistic talent and can be made from all sorts of stuff, usually lying around the yard.

Old barrels just need to be painted over and used as a canvas, as long as they are wide enough and you know how to draw. Decorative bird feeders are also a good idea. They look nice and can be quite useful, especially during the winter.

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Adding structure

In the end, 2019 should be the year to finally install and organize the supporting structures that will keep your garden maintained and clean. For the most part, you’ll need just one or two solar-powered small buildings. Taking the time to make these structures both well-organized and nice looking will make your future garden work much easier.

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It might be possible to leave this part of the work to a professional contractor, but there’s no real need for it. A DYI project can be lots of fun!

The New Year is going to be great for gardening because there are a lot of new eclectic trends to try. Some of them are here to stay, like focusing on more eco-friendly gardening, while others are aesthetic choices and have an expiration date.

One more time… you do not need 20% down to buy a home!

One more time… you do not need 20% down to buy a home!

The largest obstacle renters face when planning to buy a home is saving for a down payment. This challenge is amplified by rising rents, which has eaten into the amount of money renters have leftover for savings each month after paying expenses.

In combination with higher rents, survey after survey has shown that non-homeowners (renters and those living rent-free with family or friends) believe they need to save upwards of 20% for their down payment!

According to the “Barriers to Accessing Homeownership”  study commissioned in partnership between the Urban Institute, Down Payment Resource, and Freddie Mac, 39% of non-homeowners and 30% of those who already own a home believe they need more than a 20% down payment.

The percentage of those who are aware of low down payment programs (those under 5%) is surprisingly low at 12% for non-homeowners and 13% for homeowners.

In a recent Convergys Analytics report, they found that 49% of renters believe they need at least a 20% down payment.

The median down payment on loans approved in 2018 was only 5%! Those waiting until they have over 20% may already have enough saved to buy now!

There are over 45 million millennials (33%) who are mortgage ready right now, meaning their income, debt, and credit scores would all allow them to qualify for a mortgage today!

Bottom Line

If your five-year plan includes buying a home, let’s get together to determine what it will take to make that plan a reality. You may be closer to your dream than you realize!

How to Get a Better Perspective on Affordability

How to Get a Better Perspective on Affordability

Headlines spotlight the fact that buying a home is less affordable today than it was at any other time in more than a decade. Those headlines are accurate.

Understandably, buying a home is more expensive now than immediately following one of the worst housing crashes in American history. Over the past decade, the market was flooded with distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) selling at 10-50% discounts. There were so many that this lowered the prices of non-distressed homes in the same neighborhoods. As a result, mortgage rates were kept low to help the economy.

Prices have since recovered. Mortgage rates have increased as the economy has gained strength. This has impacted housing affordability. However, it’s necessary to give historical context to the subject of affordability.

Two weeks ago, CoreLogic reported on what they call the “typical mortgage payment”. As they explain:

“One way to measure the impact of inflation, mortgage rates and home prices on affordability over time is to use what we call the ‘typical mortgage payment.’ It’s a mortgage-rate-adjusted monthly payment based on each month’s U.S. median home sale price. It is calculated using Freddie Mac’s average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a 20 percent down payment…

The typical mortgage payment is a good proxy for affordability because it shows the monthly amount that a borrower would have to qualify for to get a mortgage to buy the median-priced U.S. home…

When adjusted for inflation, the typical mortgage payment puts homebuyers’ current costs in the proper historical context.”

Here is a graph showing the results of CoreLogic’s research:

As the graph indicates, the most recent calculation remained 28% below the all-time peak of $1,275 in June 2006. That’s because the average mortgage rate at that time was 6.68%. As seen in the graph, both today’s typical payment and CoreLogic’s projection for the end of the year are less than it was in January 2000.

Bottom Line

Even though home prices are appreciating at a slower rate, home affordability will likely continue to slide. However, this does not mean that buying a house is an unattainable goal in most markets. It is still less expensive today than it was prior to the housing bubble and crash.

Do You Know How Much Your Home Has Increased in Value?

Do You Know How Much Your Home Has Increased in Value?

Last year we saw headlines about a possible housing market bubble, and many wondered if Americans still felt confident about the value of their homes. Recently, the 2018 Houzz & Home Study revealed:

Homeowners with mortgages have seen their home equity more than double since 2011, increasing to a record-setting $8.3 trillion in 2017.”

The average homeowner gained $16,200 in home equity between Q2 2017 and Q2 2018 according to the latest release of CoreLogic’s Home Equity Report.

Since 2011 home values have increased significantly throughout the country, with prices rising by 5.1% in 2018 alone. When surveyed, homeowners revealed the top four reasons why they felt their homes had increased in value.

  1. Desirable Location
  2. Improved National Economy
  3. Improved Local Economy
  4. Low Home Inventory in My Area

As we can see, not only does the data show that the homes have appreciated, but homeowners also believe they know why. Many have taken advantage of the opportunity to use their newly found equity to sell their current house and move up to their dream home!

2019 will be a good year for the homeowners that still want to take advantage of their home equity! CoreLogicforecasts that home prices will increase by 4.8% by the end of the year.

Bottom Line

If you are a homeowner who would like to find out your current home value, let’s get together to discuss the hidden opportunities in your home!

A Quick Step-By-Step Guide to Mortgage Pre-Approval

A Quick Step-By-Step Guide to Mortgage Pre-Approval

If you find yourself sitting in a strange hallway, waiting for a stranger in a suit to size you up and decide if you’re worthy as your palms sweat and your breath gets just a little bit harder to push out, you might be waiting for your appointment for your mortgage pre-approval. You’re one step closer to owning your own home, but this one is a doozy.

Let’s talk mortgage pre-approval step-by-step.

Step One: Mortgage Pre-Qualification Versus Pre-Approval

You probably already have a pre-qualification letter saying that you can probably buy a house in a particular price range, so why isn’t this enough? A lot of homebuyers find this part of the process confusing, and frankly, it can be. Your pre-qualification was probably done over the phone or on your first meeting with your lender. They asked you a bunch of questions about your income, your job and maybe even pulled a “soft” credit report to get some idea about your debts.

Based on this information, they gave you the details on the kinds of programs you’re eligible for and how much you can expect in buying power. You probably got a letter that you could show your Realtor to help guide the buying process. The difference between the pre-qualification and the pre-approval is simple: a pre-qualification is based largely on your word. If you give the lender incorrect information, they’ll give you a pre-qualification letter that’s not right.

A pre-approval, on the other hand, takes a harder look at your background, work history and requires a full credit report and FICO score to ensure that you can, in fact, pay back a note.

Step Two: Documentation

Your next meetup with the nice banker is going to be to deliver documents, provide consent to pull a full credit report and, if you’ve already found one, give them the information on the home you’ve put under contract (in some areas your Realtor can do this last bit for you).

Documentation you’ll be asked to bring will include pay stubs, bank statements and tax returns, along with other information that may be needed to verify your income source or sources. Self-employed people, for example, are sometimes required to prepare profit and loss statements (or just pony up more tax returns). If you have assets like a 401(k) or even a CD, you’ll want to bring the details on these, too.

Step Three: The Loan Estimate Form

You’re going to get a copy of something called the Loan Estimate Form, probably at the same meeting where your lender pulls that full credit report and takes all your papers away. This form explains exactly how much they expect you’ll need to bring to closing, along with itemized estimated fees to plan for at closing. If you’re shopping your loan, collect these and compare them side by side before you make your final choice.

But don’t spend too much time crunching the numbers. Just like your contract (and the National Association of Realtors) says, “Time is of the Essence.”

Step Four: Acceptance

Once you’ve had a few minutes to review the paperwork and you’ve made your final pass through the numbers, all that’s left is to call the lender you’ve chosen and let them know you need that pre-approval letter sent over to your Realtor.

Understand that a pre-approval is not a guarantee that you’re going to get the money you need to close. Several things can go wrong along the way through underwriting, including, but not limited to:

– Unverifiable income (this is often due to issues with overtime)
– A change to your credit score.
– An increase in your debt to income ratio
– An undocumented change in employment
– Assets that are unverifiable

The best plan is be totally honest with your lender when you get your pre-approval so that you don’t get a last minute call telling you that your loan has been denied (this actually happens, so pay everything on time and don’t take out new credit lines or add to old ones until you’ve got the keys in your hand).

When is the Best Time to Make an Offer?

Ideally, you should have a pre-approval letter in hand before you so much as set foot into the first house you’re considering for purchase. After all, the seller isn’t going to think you’re all that serious without one, nor will they be keen to want to negotiate under these circumstances.

Help your banker help you get the best deal on the house of your dreams, save everybody a lot of headaches and get that pre-approval first. Knowing how much your closing costs are going to be will also help your Realtor write your contract accordingly if they should need to be wrapped into your mortgage.

Basically, that document is the key to everything. So, no pressure.

When You Need a Loan for Your Home…

Finding the right loan officer doesn’t have to be difficult. I can put you in touch with one of my trusted banking pros that will get the job done and make sure you don’t get a big surprise a few days before closing. Call me so we can discuss personally – Norma – 469-450-2559.