How Much Home Can You Afford?

It's a great time to buy a home right now. With low rates and high home values, many are taking advantage of moving up. It's also a good time for first-time homebuyers to make their move since rent costs continue to increase. If you're ready to jump into the housing market, do you know how much home you can afford?

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3 More Reasons Why Now is a Great Time to Buy

Posted on September 30, 2015 at 8:38 pm
Kay Zatine | Category: Tips for Buyers | Tagged , , ,

Confidence in the US Housing Market

In July, the U.S. saw the fastest rate of single-family home starts since 2007. Housing starts across the U.S. in July rose 0.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.21 million homes, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. According to The Seattle Times, "construction of single-family homes account for all of the gains, shooting up 12.8 percent last month to the highest rate since December 2007."

This means more confidence from real estate developers and an increase in construction jobs bolstering our housing market. Year-to-date, housing starts have risen 11.3 percent.

Confidence is also spreading to the retail market as homeowners feel they can spend a little more to improve their homes and get top dollar when they sell. Home Depot reported a record number of transactions over the last three months. "When consumers believe their home is an investment, not an expense, they spend differently. We are seeing that," said Carol Tome, Home Depot's chief financial officer.

The market is continuing to grow; however, the report also showed some of the potential limits of further gains as the number of building permits fell. The decrease is likely due to some pullback after months of gains and the continued low inventory (especially in the Seattle area) and increase in home prices.

Our housing market is definitely booming and repairing itself after the Great Recession, but the lack of inventory may cause a slow-down in homebuilding activity. However, homeowners are still confident in the values of their homes and there's no doubt that this year has held the growth we predicted it would.

 

Image, content source: The Seattle TimesCNN Money

Posted on September 2, 2015 at 9:44 pm
Kay Zatine | Category: Market Updates | Tagged , ,

How Long Should They Last?

Nothing in life lasts forever – and the same can be said for your home. From the roof to the furnace, every component of your home has a life span, so it’s a good idea to know approximately how many years of service you can expect from them. This information can help when buying or selling your home, budgeting for improvements, and deciding between repairing or replacing when problems arise.

According to a National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) study, the average life expectancy of some home components has decreased over the past few decades. (This might explain why you’re on your third washing machine while Grandma still has the same indestructible model you remember from childhood.) But the good news is the life span of many other items has actually increased in recent years.

Here’s a look at the average life spans of some common home components (courtesy of NAHB).

Appliances. Of all home components, appliances have the widest variation in life spans. These are averages for all brands and models, and may represent the point which replacing is more cost-effective than repairing. Among major appliances, gas ranges have the longest life expectancy, at about 15 years. Electric ranges, standard-size refrigerators, and clothes dryers last about 13 years, while garbage disposals grind away for about 10 years. Dishwashers, microwave ovens, and mini-refrigerators can all be expected to last about nine years. For furnaces, expect a life span of about 15 years for electric, 18 for gas, and 20 for oil-burning models. Central air-conditioning systems generally beat the heat for 10 to 15 years.

Kitchen & Bath. Countertops of wood, tile, and natural stone will last a lifetime, while cultured marble will last about 20 years. The life span of laminate countertops depends greatly on use and can be 20 years or longer. Kitchen faucets generally last about 15 years. An enamel-coated steel sink will last five to 10 years; stainless will last at least 30 years; and slate, granite, soapstone, and copper should endure 100 years or longer. Toilets, on average, can serve at least 50 years (parts such as the flush assembly and seat will likely need replacing), and bathroom faucets tend to last about 20 years.

Flooring. Natural flooring materials provide longevity as well as beauty: Wood, marble, slate, and granite should all last 100 years or longer, and tile, 74 to 100 years. Laminate products will survive 15 to 25 years, linoleum about 25 years, and vinyl should endure for about 50 years. Carpet will last eight to 10 years on average, depending on use and maintenance.

Siding, Roofing, Windows. Brick siding normally lasts 100 years or longer, aluminum siding about 80 years, and stucco about 25 years. The life span of wood siding varies dramatically – anywhere from 10 to 100 years – depending on the climate and level of maintenance. For roofs, slate or tile will last about 50 years, wood shingles can endure 25 to 30 years, metal will last about 25 years, and asphalts got you covered for about 20 years. Unclad wood windows will last 30 years or longer, aluminum will last 15 to 20 years, and vinyl windows should keep their seals for 15 to 20 years.

Of course, none of these averages matter if you have a roof that was improperly installed or a dishwasher that was a lemon right off the assembly line. In these cases, early replacement may be the best choice. Conversely, many household components will last longer than you need them to, as we often replace fully functional items for cosmetic reasons, out of a desire for more modern features, or as a part of a quest to be more energy efficient.

Are extended warranties warranted?

Extended warranties, also known as service contracts or service agreements, are sold for all types of household items, from appliances to electronics. They cover service calls and repairs for a specified time beyond the manufacturer’s standard warranty. Essentially, warranty providers (manufacturers, retailers, and outside companies) are betting that a product will be problem-free in the first years of operation, while the consumer who purchases a warranty is betting against reliability.

Warranty providers make a lot of money on extended warranties, and Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports, advises against purchasing them. You will have to consider whether the cost is worth it to you; for some, it brings a much needed peace of mind when making such a large purchase. Also, consider if it the cost outweighs the value of the item; in some cases it may be less expensive to just replace a broken appliance than pay for insurance or a warranty.

View the original article on Windermere's blog.

Posted on August 19, 2015 at 10:34 pm
Kay Zatine | Category: House Maintenance | Tagged , , , ,