Is Your Home a Smart Home?

October 8, 2016

The term “smart house” was coined in the 1980s to refer to a home with integrated telephones, lighting, audio and security.

Today, a smart home is defined as equipped with network-connected products…connected via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or similar protocols for controlling, automating and optimizing functions of the home.

This definition stipulates that the home has internet access, a smart security or temperature system and at least two other smart features, such as appliances, entertainment devices, cooling or heating equipment, lighting, landscaping elements, air quality monitors or thermostats.

Anything mentioned above that you can add to your home will increase your home’s value.

Four deep-cleaning targets to help a home shine

September 16, 2016

BALTIMORE – Sept. 15, 2016 – Buyers are just more attracted to clean houses. And while a standard job may give a home a momentary shine, a deep clean of hidden spots may help provide the wow factor the house needs.

The Cleaning Authority offers the following tips on deep cleaning a home:

1. Use a top-to-bottom approach.

Begin at the top: Clear the cobwebs from the corners of the ceiling, dust off light fixtures and ceiling fans and clean off cabinet tops (including the top of the refrigerator). All of these areas tend to be prime dust collectors. Next, move on to the middle of the home: Wipe down walls, and touch up paint where needed. Remove build-up on light switch panels. Finally, clean the baseboards and floors.

2. Change air conditioner filters.

If the home seems to be perpetually dusty, the A/C filter and ducts may be the culprits. “If the filter needs to be changed or the duct needs repairing, you’re just recirculating the same dust throughout the home,” according to The Cleaning Authority.

3. Zoom in on the bathroom.

Beyond cleaning the typical spots, go further: Clean behind the toilet too. Check for rust where the toilet meets the floor, scrub the hinges on the toilet cap, and polish the shower, tub and faucet. Also, scrub the bathtub tile. Don’t neglect the rails on a glass shower door.

4. Clean behind the refrigerator.

You may be surprised at what you find behind your fridge, everything from decaying food to even a breeding ground for insects. Pull out the fridge and give it a good scrub underneath.

Source: The Cleaning Authority

© Copyright 2016 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD

Five fixes that can raise a home’s value

September 9, 2016

STAMFORD, Conn. – Sept. 8, 2016 – For homeowners looking to spruce up their home before listing it, there’s plenty they can do to attract more buyers and potentially boost the value of their home too.

Veteran real estate professionals recently weighed in at This Old House on some of the best home improvement projects they believe can help a home show better. Here are a few of their ideas:

1. Open up the space.

Create more space, whether that’s even removing a kitchen island or knocking out a non-structural wall. “Right now buyers want a wide open floor plan, the living room right off the kitchen.

2. Light it up.

Keep the home bright: Have windows open to let the natural light flow in, consider lights that use motion detectors to turn themselves off, or install sun tubes, a reflective material that funnels natural light from a hole cut in a rooftop down through a ceiling fixture in a room.

3. Enhance the front door.

“Don’t underestimate the power of a front door,” Willens says. “People make up their minds in the first seven seconds of entering a house.”

Remember to follow the guidelines of your HOA!

4. Pay attention to the floors.

Spend some money on the floors, suggests the real estate professionals surveyed by This Old House. Get a carpenter or handyman to eliminate distracting squeaks from floors, repair any broken tiles, patch damaged floorboards, and remove wall-to-wall carpeting, they suggest.

5. Tackle easy bathroom upgrades.

Bathroom upgrades can quickly get pricey but a few upgrades can still make a big difference. For example, swap frosted glass for clear glass, remove any rust stains, apply fresh caulk, update doorknobs and cabinet pulls, replace faucets, buy a new toilet seat, or install a low-flush toilet.

Source: “Brokers Tell All: 10 Ways to Boost Home Value,” This Old House (September 2016)

© Copyright 2016 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD

Real Estate better than stocks

September 7, 2016

NORWALK, Conn. – Sept. 6, 2016 – Despite recent gains in the stock market, Americans have more confidence investing in real estate. About a quarter of Americans surveyed said real estate was their top choice for long-term investing, according to a new national survey released by Bankrate.

Consumers selected real estate as the top pick to invest money they wouldn’t need for more than 10 years, followed by cash investments (e.g. certificates of deposit and savings accounts). Then, coming in a distant third was the stock market.


Americans are feeling more bullish about their sense of financial well-being, according to the Bankrate Financial Security Index, which is based on survey questions of how consumers feel about their debt, savings, net worth and job security.

Source: “Real Estate Top Investing Choice, Survey Finds,” RISMedia (July 24, 2016)

© Copyright 2016 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD

Existing-Home Sales Stumble in July

August 25, 2016
Call today to get more information on the market in Celebration. 321-939-1300. Kathy can do a free market analysis of your home if you are thinking of selling.
Slowed by frustratingly low inventory levels in many parts of the country, existing-home sales lost momentum in July and decreased year-over-year for the first time since November 2015, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Only the West region saw a monthly increase in closings in July.
Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, fell 3.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.39 million in July from 5.57 million in June. For only the second time in the last 21 months, sales are now below (1.6 percent) a year ago (5.48 million).
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says existing sales fell off track in July after steadily climbing the last four months. “Severely restrained inventory and the tightening grip it’s putting on affordability is the primary culprit for the considerable sales slump throughout much of the country last month,” he says. “Realtors® are reporting diminished buyer traffic because of the scarce number of affordable homes on the market, and the lack of supply is stifling the efforts of many prospective buyers attempting to purchase while mortgage rates hover at historical lows.”
Home sales are still expected to finish the year at their strongest pace since the downturn, thanks to a very strong spring,
According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage dropped from 3.57 percent in June to 3.44 percent in July. Mortgage rates have now fallen five straight months and in July were the lowest since January 2013 (3.41 percent). The average commitment rate for all of 2015 was 3.85 percent.

Good news! FAMRC to be housed in Osceola County!

August 24, 2016

Osceola County’s efforts to become the world leader in research and manufacturing centered around smart sensors and nanotechnology just received a $2.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.

Osceola County is partnering with the University of Central Florida, the Florida High Tech Corridor Council and others to establish the Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center (FAMRC), a state-of-the-art research and incubation facility that will focus on developing the next generation of universal smart sensors.

Baby boomers chart new direction in housing

August 23, 2016

NEW YORK – Aug. 22, 2016 – Economists are having a tough time figuring out what housing market moves baby boomers will make next. Americans over the age of 55 are veering from previous generations, opting not to retire but instead launching second or even third careers. They are shunning the traditional patterns of retirement, and that could have a big impact on their housing choices, according to a Freddie Mac Insight report.

Baby boomers are a critical piece to the housing market puzzle. Americans over the age of 55 make up a quarter of the population and control about two-thirds of the single-family home equity in the nation. Sixty-five-year olds who, on average purchased a home 35 years ago now tend to have a home value that is likely 3.7 times the purchase price.

Nearly a quarter of baby boomers recently surveyed by Freddie Mac say they need major renovations in their current home in order to stay there as they age – and many say they face financial constraints to take on those remodels. And some of the baby boomers may be underestimating the financial costs of outfitting their home with age-in-place features, says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

As a result, about 18 million homeowners over the age of 55 may be shopping for another house in the next few years, according to the Insights Report.

Unlike earlier generations, however, baby boomers’ main reasons to move aren’t due to downsizing. Instead, the survey showed the key influences making these generations move are: Affordability of the community, the need for retirement amenities and a home with less maintenance.

Bottom line, the authors note: The 55-plus population is likely to be an active part of the housing economy for years to come still.

Source: “Boomers Ignoring Conventional Housing Wisdom,” Mortgage News Daily (July 19, 2016)

© Copyright 2016 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD