foreclosed homes: The Real Estate Geeks - Don't Use Your Ladder's Top 2 Steps, And Other DIY Safety Tips - 09/25/11 10:44 AM
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Home improvement projects are on the rise, according to the BuildFax Remodeling Index. For the 19th straight month, May's index rose, suggesting that homeowners are remodeling more frequently than in the past.
Do-it-yourself projects are on the rise, too.
If you're among the many homeowners forgoing paid contractors, be sure to follow basic safety precautions because, as this 5-minute video from NBC's The Today Show points out, a home remodeling "accident" could cost you more than the money saved on … (1 comments)

foreclosed homes: The Real Estate Geeks - As Buyer Traffic Grows, Homebuilder Confidence Slips - 06/01/11 10:19 AM

Homebuilder confidence is falling -- a good sign for buyers of newly-built homes.
According to the National Association of Homebuilders, the Housing Market Index slipped one point to 16 in April. It's the 5th time in 6 months that the index read 16 -- a figure exactly in line with the 1-year average, but still considered "poor". The Housing Market Index reports on a scale of 1-100.
Values of 50 or better representing "favorable conditions". Values below 50 are considered "unfavorable".
It's been 5 years since the Housing Market Index read north of 50.
As an index, the HMI is actually … (0 comments)

foreclosed homes: The Real Estate Geeks - Which Is Better : Fresh Produce Or Frozen Produce? - 05/28/11 12:21 PM
There's a long-standing myth that freezer-section produce is "worse for you" than fresh produce from a farm. The truth, however, is often the opposite.
Because of upgrades in packaging and delivery methods, frozen produce is often more fresh than "fresh produce", and contains higher nutrient levels, too.
The key is to know how to shop for it.
The main advantage that frozen produce carries over fresh produce is that frozen produce is picked in its most ripe -- and most nutrient-rich --  state. Then, when the produce is flash-frozen, its nutrients become locked-in and sealed.
Fresh produce, by contrast, tends to … (0 comments)

foreclosed homes: The Real Estate Geeks - Retail Sales Report Should Spell Higher Mortgage Rates For Wednesday - 05/22/11 09:20 AM

Consumer spending is alive and well, it seems -- unwelcome news for today's home buyers. 
Wednesday, the Census Bureau will release its March Retail Sales figures and the report is expected to show higher sales receipts for the 9th straight month. A strong reading like that should spell higher mortgage rates nationwide.
The connection between Retail Sales and mortgage rates is fairly tight. Retail Sales are "consumer spending" and consumer spending accounts for the majority of the U.S. economy. The U.S. economy, of course, is a dominant force in setting the direction in which mortgage rates are headed.
For example, in … (0 comments)

foreclosed homes: The Real Estate Geeks - How Healthy Is Your Bedroom? - 05/22/11 09:16 AM

Most people spend about one-third of their life in the bedroom. So, how healthy is yours?
In this 5-minute piece from NBC's The Today Show, you'll learn about dust mites, mold and the other hidden health risks in your bedroom. Some may be compriming your sleep, and others your well-being.
The interview is comprehensive and covers a lot of ground, including:
The importance of an excellent vacuum with HEPA filters The advantage of latex pillows over other pillow-types Why blackout curtains can help reduce blood pressure The piece also talks on several goods reasons to leave your bedroom electronics-free.
For … (0 comments)

foreclosed homes: The Real Estate Geeks - How Does Your Work Commute Compare To Other Cities? - 05/05/11 09:38 AM

As part of the Census Bureau's data collection activities from 2005-2009, a number of interesting charts have been published at http://census.gov.
The data should not be confused with Census 2010 -- a separate survey conducted every 10 years. This is the first-ever, 5-year American Community Survey. Based on data from 3 million households, it details social, economic, housing, and demographic data "for every community in the nation".
Among the surveys:
Median Household Income, Inflation-Adjusted To 2009 Dollars (Chart) Median Housing Value Of Owner-Occupied Housing Units (Chart) Percent Of Households That Are Married, With Children Under 18 (Chart) The ACS survey … (0 comments)

foreclosed homes: The Real Estate Geeks - Pending Home Sales Rebound; Suggest Brighter Spring For Housing - 04/26/11 10:11 AM
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On a seasonally-adjusted basis, the Pending Home Sales Index rose 2 percent last month, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. A "pending home sale" is defined as a home under contract to sell, but not yet closed.
February's Pending Home Sales Index rebound breaks a 2-month losing streak, and reverses the recent downward momentum in housing. Both Existing Home Sales and New Home Sales volume showed a sizable loss last month. 
For buyers and sellers of real estate , the Pending … (0 comments)

foreclosed homes: The Real Estate Geeks Water Conservation Tips For Your Home And Garden - 04/17/11 10:24 AM
 

According to the EPA, the average U.S. household spends close to $500 each year on water and sewage bills. But by making just a few small changes, that figure could drop by as much as $170 annually. It's all in how you use your water.
In this 4-minute video from Lowe's, you'll learn basic water conservation techniques that you can immediately put to work.. 
Some examples:
Don't rinse food from dishes before putting them in a dishwasher. Scrape the dishes instead. When brushing your teeth or shaving, turn off the water at the sink. Use a rain barrel to capture rain, … (1 comments)

foreclosed homes: The Real Estate Geeks on Good News For Sellers -- Housing Starts Plummet In February - 04/03/11 08:44 AM
Single-family housing starts plunged unexpectedly last month. Nationwide, starts fell 12 percent from the month prior; and 29 percent from February of last year.
February's figures represents the worst 1-month drop in housing starts since May 2010 -- the month that followed the expiration of last year's federal home buyer tax credit -- and puts single-family housing starts at a 24-month low.
In addition, single-family Building Permits plunged last month, too, shedding 9 percent from January. A building permit is a local government's certification and approval to begin home construction.
Housing permits are an excellent forward-indicator for the housing market. This … (1 comments)

foreclosed homes: The Real Estate Geeks: Homebuilders Expect More Sales Volume This Year - 03/30/11 07:57 AM
Homebuilders are optimistic about the housing market this spring, relative to recent months.
According to the monthly Housing Market Index as published by the National Association of Homebuilders, after 4 straight months of reading 16, March homebuilder confidence ticked 1 point higher to 17.
It's the highest confidence reading in 10 months.
A value of 50 or better indicates "favorable conditions" for home builders; with more builders viewing sales conditions as "good" than "poor".
HMI hasn't read higher than 50 since April 2006.
Regionally, the Housing Market Index showed mixed results. Confidence fell 1 point in the Northeast, held firm in … (2 comments)

foreclosed homes: The Real Estate Geeks A Simple Explanation Of The Federal Reserve Statement (March 15, 2011 Edition) - 03/23/11 07:42 AM
Today, for the second straight meeting, the Federal Open Market Committee voted unanimously to leave the Fed Funds Rate unchanged within its target range of 0.000-0.250 percent.
The vote was 10-0.
In its press release, the FOMC noted that since its January 2011 meeting, the economic recovery "is on firmer footing", and that the labor markets are "improving gradually". In addition, household spending "continues to expand". Nonetheless, the Fed said, the economy remains constrained by rising commodity prices and the "depressed" housing sector.
The FOMC statement also re-affirms the group's plan to keep the Fed Funds Rate near zero percent "for … (1 comments)

foreclosed homes: The Real Estate Geeks - Get Your Spring Cleaning Checklist - 03/21/11 09:32 AM
The calendar has turned March and warmer weather is around the corner. Get ready for Spring Cleaning Season.
For households in which Spring Cleaning is an annual ritual, this helpful checklist from MarthaStewart.com makes sure no job gets left behind.
From the smallest of chores to the biggest of projects, many common tasks are covered, including:
Vacuuming and shampooing rugs Waxing wooden furniture and non-wood floors Dusting books and shelves Resealing grout lines in kitchens and bathrooms Clean and/or launder window treatments Then, you'll want to remember to flip your mattresses, change your air filters, and test your home's smoke alarm … (0 comments)

foreclosed homes: The Real Estate Geeks on FHA Streamline Refi Changes : No Income, No Job Required - 03/18/11 10:56 AM
FHA Streamline Refinance guidelines are changing. For the better.
In an effort to improve its loan portfolio, the FHA is loosening approval standards on its popular refinance program, rendering large groups of homeowners suddenly FHA Streamline-eligible.
Now, that may seem counter-intuitive -- lowering qualification standards in order to reduce loan defaults -- but in the FHA's case, it makes complete sense. It's because the FHA doesn't make loans. It insures them. What's good for FHA-insured homeowners is good for the FHA, therefore.
All things equal, lower housing payments for its insured homeowners should correlate to fewer FHA loan defaults in California and … (0 comments)

foreclosed homes: The Real Estate Geeks - Loan Fees Set To Rise For Conforming Mortgage Applicants - 03/15/11 01:00 PM
Beginning April 1, 2011, Fannie Mae is increasing its loan-level pricing adjustments. Conforming mortgage applicants in California should plan for higher loan costs in the months ahead.
If you've never heard of loan-level pricing adjustments, you're not alone; they're an obscure mortgage pricing metric and, thus, are rarely covered by the media. That doesn't make them any less relevant, however.
LLPAs are mandatory closing costs assessed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, designed to offset a given loan's risk of default. LLPAs were first introduced in April 2009.
This April's amendment is the 6th increase in 2 years. LLPAs can be costly.
In … (0 comments)

foreclosed homes: The Real Estate Geeks - Federal Income Tax Deadline Extended To April 18, 2011 - 03/13/11 08:24 AM

April 15 is the traditional due date for federal income taxes. It's a deadline so ingrained in the American psyche that the April 15 calendar date is often called, simply, "Tax Day".
In 2011, however, federal taxes aren't due April 15. They're due April 18. It's because of a combination of holiday, calendars, and tax law.
The change centers on Emancipation Day.
Emancipation Day is a public celebration in the District of Columbia. Named a holiday in 2005, Emancipation Day honors President Abraham Lincoln's April 16, 1862 signing of the Compensation Emancipation Act.  
Emancipation Day is a non-working day in … (0 comments)

foreclosed homes: The Real Estate Geeks - Home Affordability Peaked Last Quarter; Purchasing Power Sinks 10% - 03/12/11 06:44 PM

Home affordability reached an all-time high in 2010's last quarter. Unfortunately for home buyers in California , it's been a different story since, however.
As mortgage rates cratered, and with home values soft, the Home Opportunity Index reached its highest level in 20 years. The index is published by the National Association of Home Builders. 
Close to 74 percent of the new and existing homes sold between October-December 2010 were affordable to families earning the national median income of $64,400. It's the 8th straight quarter in which the Home Affordability Index surpassed 70 percent.
Prior to 2009, the HOI rarely … (0 comments)

foreclosed homes: The Real Estate Geeks - Military Personnel Can Still Claim The $8,000 Homebuyer Tax Credit - 03/12/11 10:31 AM
For certain members of the military, and for certain federal employees, there's just 2 months remaining to get use the federal home buyer tax credit.
Eligible persons include members of the uniformed services, members of the Foreign Service, and intelligence community employees who served at least 90 days of qualified, extended duty service outside of the United States between January 1, 2009 and April 30, 2010.
Spouses of persons meeting the above criteria are eligible as well.
The federal home buyer tax credit ranges up to $8,000 for first-time home buyers, and up to $6,500 for existing homeowners. Existing homeowners must … (0 comments)

foreclosed homes: The Real Estate Geeks - FHA : Monthly Mortgage Insurance Premiums To Rise April 18, 2011 - 03/11/11 10:55 AM
For the third time in 12 months, the FHA is changing its mortgage insurance costs. 
Effective for all FHA case numbers assigned on, or after, April 18, 2011, annual mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) will increase 25 basis points.
The change will add $250 to an FHA-insured homeowner's annual loan costs per $100,000 borrowed, and applies to all borrower's equally. Current FHA borrowers are unaffected.
To understand the FHA is to understand why premiums are rising.
As an institution, the Federal Housing Administration plays a much larger role in the U.S. housing market today than it did just 5 years ago. According … (0 comments)

foreclosed homes: The Real Estate Geeks - Ignore The Case-Shiller Index; Focus On The Future Instead - 03/09/11 07:24 PM

Last week, Standard & Poor's released its Case-Shiller Index for December 2010. The index is a home valuation tracker, meant to meausure the change in home prices from one period to the next.
December's Case-Shiller Index showed major devaluations nationwide. As compared to December 2009, on a year-over-year basis, home values fell in 18 of the Case Shiller Index's 20 tracked markets, and the U.S. National Index dropped 4 percent overall. 
The retreat puts December's home values at similar levels as compared to early-2003.
That said, buyers and sellers would be wise to take the findings lightly. The Case-Shiller Index is … (1 comments)

foreclosed homes: The Real Estate Geeks - Pending Home Sales Drop For Second Straight Month - 03/09/11 10:09 AM
After a strong run to close out 2010, the market for home resales softened a bit in January.
On a seasonally-adjusted basis, the Pending Home Sales Index dropped 3 percent last month, and December's figures were revised downward for a loss, too, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.
A "pending home sale" is defined as a home under contract to sell, but not yet closed. 
The forward-looking index is now at a 3-month low on a national level, but still well ahead of its rolling 6-month average.
Unfortunately, national data isn't overly helpful for buyers and sellers of real estate. … (0 comments)

 
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Melissa Bayles

Long Beach, CA

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The Real Estate Geeks A Team of Prudential California Realty

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