Century 21 AA Realty

Homeownership Rate Improves for Second Time in 2017

November 14th, 2017

By Suzanne De Vita

The homeownership rate improved to 63.9 percent in the third quarter—the second time it has inched up this year, slightly topping 63.7 percent in the second quarter and 63.5 percent this time last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's recent Quarterly Housing Vacancies and Homeownership report. 
 
Another second-time win? The gap between the owner household formation rate and the renter household formation rate widened again. Approximately 87 percent of housing was occupied in the third quarter, with 55.7 percent owner-occupied and 31.4 percent renter-occupied. Owner-occupied and renter-occupied housing accounted for 55.5 percent and 31.6 percent shares, respectively, in the second quarter of this year, and 55.5 percent and 31.8 percent shares, respectively, in the first quarter.  
 
The homeownership rate in the third quarter was again highest in the Midwest, at 69.1 percent, and the South, at 65.5 percent. The rate in the Northeast was 60.4 percent, while the rate in the West was 58.9 percent.
 
Households headed by those aged 65 and older comprised the biggest share of homeowners in the third quarter, 78.9 percent, while households headed by those aged 34 years and younger comprised the smallest, 35.6 percent. Home sales to first-time homebuyers, notably—who are a median 32 years old—dipped this year, according to the recently released National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers
 
Non-Hispanic White Alone homeowners, as defined by the Census, claimed the highest homeownership rate in the third quarter, as well: 72.5 percent. Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Alone homeowners encompassed the second-highest rate, at 57.1 percent, while Hispanic homeowners held the next-highest, at 46.1 percent. Black Alone homeowners totaled the lowest rate, at 42.0 percent.
 
The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.6 percent in the third quarter, the report revealed, while the renter vacancy rate was 7.5 percent—both largely in line with the second quarter. Homeowner vacancy rates were again highest outside metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) at 2.0 percent, ahead of in principal cities at 1.6 percent and in suburbs at 1.5 percent. Renter vacancy rates were also highest outside MSAs at 8.5 percent, followed by inside principal cities at 7.9 percent and in suburbs at 6.9 percent.
 
The median asking sales price for vacant for sale housing in the third quarter was $187,300, the report showed. The median asking rent for vacant for rent housing, over the same period, was $912.
 
Source: U.S. Census Bureau 
 
Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia's online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com.

Century 21 AA Realty Long Island

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Tips for Prioritizing Your Fall Maintenance Projects

October 4th, 2017

By John Voket

No matter what part of the country your home is in, the coming of fall signals an opportunity to do whatever necessary or voluntary projects need to be done ahead of winter weather, the coming holiday season, and the New Year.

At soundbuilthomes.com, Elizabeth Kraus wonders if you have been putting off re-staining or sealing your deck? Her advice: take advantage of the remaining warm, dry weather to clean and seal or stain your deck before wet weather arrives to do damage.

The same, Kraus says, goes for your home’s window and door trim, gutters and other areas which may have had surfaces exposed, paint or stain eroded, and see to any loose exterior trim pieces, window or door seals, gutters, shingles, siding or roofing.

Kraus says late summer and early fall present the perfect time to have ducts and chimney flues cleaned and vacuumed, before you shut yourself and your family behind closed doors and windows with all of the dust which may have accumulated during the past year. And don't forget to dust off the blades of those ceiling fans, too!

The Virginia Farm Bureau (Vafb.com) says simply walking around the outside of your house is the best way to detect any areas in need of attention.

Got any obvious openings under your porches, or into your crawlspace, or basement? The bureau suggests sealing any places where wild animals might take winter refuge.

The bureau also says this time of year is an ideal opportunity to address this punch list:

- Trim back tree branches and brush that might damage your house during a storm, and remove dead trees near your house that pose a risk to your house during high wind storms

- Check that all outdoor stairs are in good shape and have sturdy railings

- Check your plumbing, testing pressure valves on hot water heaters and move any flammable materials away from furnace, hot water heater, and other heat sources

- Check water hoses on washer, ice maker, and dishwasher for leaks

- Clean lint from the clothes dryer exhaust duct and surrounding area to prevent fires

Century 21 AA Realty Long Island

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Storm on the Way? Make Sure Your Power Tools Are Ready to Roll

September 5th, 2017

From chainsaws to generators, outdoor power equipment can be critical to restoring order and safety in the aftermath of a storm. That’s why it’s critical to prepare your equipment now. Here are some steps to take from the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI).

  • Make a list of what may need cleaning up. Survey your property. Consider the damage a storm might cause and make a list of what tools might be needed for repairs. You might need a chainsaw, pruner, generator, or utility-type vehicle.
  • Take stock of your outdoor power equipment. Make sure equipment is in good working order. If needed, take your equipment to an authorized service center for maintenance or repair.
  • Find your safety gear. Avoid the scramble for sturdy shoes, safety goggles, hard hats, reflective clothing and work gloves, which should be stored in an accessible area with your equipment.
  • Review the owner's manuals for your equipment. Read product manuals to ensure you know how to operate your equipment safely.
  • Have the right fuel on hand. Fuel stations may be closed after a storm, so it's important to have the proper fuel for your equipment. Store your fuel in an approved container. Use the type of fuel recommended by your equipment manufacturer. It's illegal to use any fuel with more than 10 percent ethanol in outdoor power equipment.
  • Remain calm and use common sense. Clear-headed thinking and smart decision-making can help you make smart choices. This is no time to rush. Take time to think through a strategy for clean-up efforts.
  • Use safety precautions. Be aware of fundamental dangers that can occur. For instance, chainsaw kickback. Always stand with your weight on both feet, and adjust your stance so you're angled away from the blade. Hold the chainsaw with both hands. Never over-reach or cut anything above your shoulder height. Always have a planned retreat path if something falls.
  • Keep firm footing when using pole saws and pole pruners. Keep a firm footing on the ground. Observe the safety zone, which means keeping bystanders and power lines (those above you and any that might have fallen down) at least 50 feet away from your work area.
  • Ensure portable electric generators have plenty of ventilation. Generators should never be used in an enclosed area or placed inside a home or garage, even if the windows or doors are open. Place the generator outside and away from windows, doors and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors. Keep the generator dry and do not use it in rainy or wet conditions. Before refueling, turn the generator off and let it cool down.
  • Be aware of others. Keep bystanders, children and animals out of your work area. Do not allow other people near outdoor power equipment, such as chainsaws, pole saws or pole pruners when starting the equipment or using it.
  • Pay attention to your health. Storm cleanup can be taxing on the body and the spirit. Do not operate power equipment when you're tired or overly fatigued. Drink plenty of water and take regular breaks. 

If you’d like more homeowner information, please contact me.

Source: Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI)

Century 21 AA Realty Long Island

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

How to Work With Clients Who Are Using a Power of Attorney

May 2nd, 2017

By Deborah Kearns

Under extenuating circumstances, buyers or sellers may need a Power of Attorney authorizing someone else to act on their behalf in a real estate transaction. It’s critical for agents to understand how to process a transaction when the buyer or seller can’t physically be present to sign documents at or before a closing.

So what exactly is a “Power of Attorney,” or POA? It’s a legal document that grants authority for someone to act as an agent (or “attorney-in-fact”) on behalf of someone else who is incapacitated or unable to be present to sign legal documents (a military deployment or business trip overseas, for example). In a home purchase or sale, an attorney-in-fact under a POA may sign certain transactional paperwork on behalf of the buyer or seller.

When working with clients who intend to use a POA in a transaction, you should have the principal provide a copy of the POA form to the title company immediately for review and approval; it is possible that it could take a few weeks to review the documentation and do the legwork to confirm its validity.

As a closing agent, it is our role to ensure the POA form complies with the title underwriter’s guidelines. Each lender also has its own policies and criteria for using a POA, so it’s important that you provide the POA as early in the process as possible to remedy any issues that might arise and ensure a smooth closing.

Anytime a POA is presented you should ask whether or not the principal is incapacitated. Understanding the reason why a POA is being used will help determine whether additional evidence is needed to evaluate the legal competence of the principal and the necessity for a POA. The principal’s physician will typically provide a signed letter to confirm incapacity, and you’ll need that documentation (dated within six months) for approval of the POA form.

In a majority of cases, the principal should sign deed documents in person if they’re available, rather than having someone else do so. If a seller, for example, is leaving town prior to closing, you should make arrangements for them to sign the deed before they leave. 

Generally, a POA should list the property being sold or mortgaged, and it should be dated within the last six months in order to meet underwriting regulations. You’ll want to look at the POA form to ensure there are no limitations on the power to act, and for any date of termination.

Don’t forget that a POA must be recorded in the appropriate Recorder’s Office. If you have a POA that is expired, or if the scope of the powers does not include the transfer of real estate ownership, call your escrow officer for assistance.
 
Deborah Kearns is an award-winning writer based in Denver with more than a decade of experience in corporate communications and news journalism. She has covered the real estate industry for more than seven years.

This material is not intended to be relied upon as a statement of the law, and is not to be construed as legal, tax or investment advice.  You are encouraged to consult your legal, tax or investment professional for specific advice.  The material is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only.  Although the information has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, no representation is made as to its accuracy. 

Century 21 AA Realty Long Island

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Refresh Your Home, Room by Room

April 4th, 2017

(Family Features)–Spring is a sensible time to refresh and restore your home after heavy indoor use during winter. It's also an opportunity to conduct overdue home maintenance and achieve a sense of accomplishment.

Tackle the project room by room with these tips from the experts at Office Depot to make the work feel more manageable and ensure you complete a thoroughly satisfying job.

Entryway
The main entrance, whether it's the front door or a mudroom entrance off the garage, tends to become a dumping ground where items are shed with each trip through the door. You may have to wade through some clutter to make headway, but after a thorough cleaning of the furniture, floors and walls in this space, your next challenge is making sense of all the mess.

One solution is assigning designated storage spaces for each family member. A series of plastic storage boxes or cubby-style organizers can help contain possessions like shoes, backpacks, handbags and more. Rely on stylish hooks or a coat tree for extra storage. Put your finishing touch on the freshly cleaned entryway with some pops of color and personality, such as cheerful wall art and a welcoming rug.

Home Office
If there's any room that comes close to the clutter of the entryway, it's the home office. A major difference is that generally, office messes come in the form of paperwork, and paper can actually be organized quite easily.

Sorting is the best first step, so you know exactly what you're up against. Create piles for all the different types of paper you're likely to encounter, from bills and to-do lists to the kids' school work. Separate other items by category, such medical records and financial documents or art supplies and books, into piles of their own.

There are dozens of options when it comes to home filing systems. Consider keeping current documents in a location you can access at your fingertips, such as a hanging file drawer or a desktop filer. Labeled tabs and color-coded folders can help make frequently used documents more easily accessible.

For archival materials, such as tax returns and insurance policies that you're likely to consult infrequently, a secure but separate storage solution makes more sense. Drawer labels and colored hanging file pockets paired with a categorical or alphabetical organization system can make it easy to dispose of unwanted clutter without tossing important papers.

Once you've dealt with all the paperwork, don't overlook important details like dusting the computer desk and screen to make your freshly cleaned office extra inviting. Adding a stylish, functional centerpiece can also help you stay organized now and in the future.

Kitchen
Because it's likely the most used room in the house, the kitchen sees a fair bit of cleaning year-round. However, in any busy household it's easy to let deeper cleaning slide. While you're tackling the rest of the house, take time to give the kitchen its due. Mop the floors, disinfect all surfaces and remove clutter that has accumulated, including old and out-of-date food from the refrigerator and pantry.

Because consumables are such an integral part of this space, it's a good idea to use green cleaning products that won't leave harmful residues on your cooking surfaces or distribute contaminants into the air.

Bedrooms
When warm spring weather arrives, throwing open the windows to circulate fresh air can be one of the most welcoming ways to wake up the bedroom after long winter months. Freshly washed linens and a flipped or rotated mattress can also give the room a freshness you can see and feel.

Beyond the typical chores like vacuuming and dusting, don't forget dusty baseboards and make sure to wipe down any glass or mirrored surfaces for extra shine. Another way to make a big difference is organizing items that exceed the storage capacity of your furniture. In the bedroom itself, a trunk at the foot of the bed or a wardrobe organizer that complements your other furnishings is a smart bet.

In the closet, you can repurpose common office supplies and organizers to make the most of limited space. For example, adhesive hooks are perfect for handbags, necklaces and scarves. Lightweight shelving or cubbies make it easy to confine shoes, and for an assortment of accessories and knick-knacks, try stacking plastic bins. Another idea to maximize drawer space in your dresser: move undergarments and socks into a portable storage cart with trays or drawers that fits neatly in the closet.

Multi-Purpose Rooms
Sometimes space dictates that each room in the house cannot be dedicated to just one purpose, but combining multiple spaces – such as a home office and craft room, den or storage area – can often lead to clutter accumulating. Start by organizing things into piles based on which part of the space is best suited for each item. 

Also, take time to check for broken items or ones you haven't used in a while and determine what can be repaired, donated or discarded. Once everything has been properly sorted, store any items that didn't previously have a home. Hanging items that are used often for crafting is one way to make creative use of your space and free up space for additional furniture or storage, such as shelving or attractive totes.Source: OfficeDepot.com.

Century 21 AA Realty Long Island

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Home Security Systems: What to Know before Buying

March 1st, 2017

By Barbara Pronin

Everyone wants to protect their home, their property, and most of all, their families. In fact, market research suggests the home security business is growing at a rate of about 9 percent a year. But home security systems are not all alike.

Some systems can not only warn you of intruders, but can also notify authorities, monitor smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and/or include video surveillance. Mot security alarm installers can provide services that include equipment plus installation and monitoring service.

If you are thinking about buying a home security system, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests that you:

- Get references from friends, neighbors or relatives.

- Check out companies online and check the Better Business Bureau for complaints.

- Verify that the contractor’s license is in good standing via the National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies.

- Get written estimates from several companies.

- Read the fine print regarding costs, installation timeline, warranty, and an explanation of your right to cancel within three days of signing a contract.

- Ask lots of questions:

  • Who will perform the installation and monitor the system? Some companies subcontract this work to a third party.
  • What is the contract period for monitoring? One year? More? Are there penalties for early termination? What happens if you move before the contract term is up?
  • How much does the monitoring cost? How often will you be billed?
  • Does the company call you before notifying the police?
  • How soon after the alarm sounds will you be notified?
  • What happens if the alarm company can't reach you when the alarm is sounding? Is the alarm reset? Are the police called? Are alternate numbers called?
  • What happens if the power goes out? Is there a back-up battery system?
  • What does the warranty cover, and for how long? Is it from the manufacturer or their installer?
  • Who is responsible for repairs or upgrades to the system?

- Does the company offer interactive services like smoke and fire detection, remote control, video surveillance, email notifications and special apps for smart phones?

Century 21 AA Realty Long Island

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Tips for Finding the Perfect Vacation Home

February 7th, 2017

By Maria Patterson

For many, a small, pricey hotel room is no way to vacation. Many would prefer instead the space and creature comforts of a home away from home.

Renting a home, however, is not like booking a hotel.  Hotels come with a lot of predictability in terms of size, location and amenities. With a vacation home, however, you're leaving a bit to chance. Follow these tips from the travel experts at Frommers to eliminate as many surprises as possible when booking a vacation home:

Really know what you want. Figure out your priorities, says Frommers. Maybe a full kitchen is a must for you or maybe you need to be right on the beach. Make your decision based on your biggest priorities and save money by sacrificing factors that aren’t as important to you.

"Authenticate" the property. Don’t just rely on one site. When you’ve found a home you think is "the one" do your due diligence and check it out on other sites, social media and through customer reviews.

Check out the owner. Do some research and find out who you’re renting the property from. Are they new to the vacation rental experience or have they been at it a while? Connect with them on social media to get a sense of who they are and what others have to say about them. You want to make sure you're renting from a reliable source.

Corral your group. If you’re traveling with a group of extended family and friends, establish the ground rules up front. Find out what everyone’s priorities and needs are, including what they’re willing to spend. If your group is too large or too diverse personality-wise, you may be better off getting separate condos in the same development to give everyone a little breathing room and avoid conflict.

Find out what comes with the home. Do you need to bring your own sheets? How about beach chairs or grilling tools? If such details aren’t readily available on the rental site, correspond with the owner. This will save you the time and expense of having to run out and buy supplies when you arrive.

Know your contract. Every vacation rental owner has different rules, especially when it comes to cleaning and repairs. Do a walk-through when you arrive and contact the owner immediately if anything appears broken or damaged.

Remain flexible. Remember, a home is not a hotel. There is no room service, housekeeping or maintenance to call when a need arises, so be ready to troubleshoot and roll with the punches.
With a little bit of extra research, you can spread out and enjoy the space, privacy and flexibility of a vacation rental.

I hope you found these tips useful. Contact me for more helpful home advice and real estate information.

Century 21 AA Realty Long Island

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Four Things Not to Do when Putting Your Home on the Market

January 4th, 2017

By Zoe Eisenberg

So you've decided to put your home on the market. Congratulations! Hopefully, you've brought a rockin' REALTOR® on board to help you list your spot, and together you've done your due diligence on what to ask for. As you start checking things off your to-do list, it's also important to pay mind of what not to do. Below are a handful of things to get you started.
 
Don't over-improve.
As you ready your home for sale, you may realize you will get a great return on your investment if you make a couple of changes. Updating the appliances or replacing that cracked cabinet in the bathroom are all great ideas; however, it's important not to over-improve, or make improvements that are hyper-specific to your tastes. For example, not everyone wants a pimped-out finished basement equipped with a wet bar and lifted stage for their rock-and-roll buds to jam out on. (Okay, everyone should want that.) What if your buyers are family-oriented and want a basement space for their kids to play in? That rock-and-roll room may look to them like a huge project to un-do. Make any needed fixes to your space, but don't go above and beyond—you may lose money doing so.
 
Don't over-decorate.
Over-decorating is just as bad as over-improving. You may love the look of lace and lavender, but your potential buyer may enter your home and cringe. When prepping for sale, neutralize your decorating scheme so it's more universally palatable.
 
Don't hang around.
Your agent calls to let you know they will be bringing buyers by this afternoon. Great! You rally your whole family, Fluffy the dog included, to be waiting at the door with fresh baked cookies and big smiles. Right? Wrong. Buyers want to imagine themselves in your space, not be confronted by you in your space. Trust, it's awkward for them to go about judging your home while you stand in the corner smiling like a maniac. Get out of the house, take the kids with you, and if you can't leave for whatever reason, at least go sit in the backyard. (On the other hand, if you're buying a home and not selling, then making it personal is the way to go, especially when writing your offer letter. Pull those heart strings!)
 
Don't take things personal.
Real estate is a business, but buying and selling homes is very, very emotional. However, when selling your home, try your very best not to take things personally. When a buyer lowballs you or says they will need to replace your prized 1970s vintage shag carpet with something "more modern," try not to raise your hackles.
 
Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia's senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at zoe@rismedia.com.
 
This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Visit the blog daily for housing and real estate tips and trends. Like Housecall on Facebook and follow @HousecallBlog on Twitter.

Century 21 AA Realty Long Island

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Fall into Home Maintenance

October 26th, 2016

As the days get shorter and the nights get cooler, the urge to lounge on the couch by the fireplace becomes powerful. But before you start your winter hibernation, it’s imperative to take care of certain fall maintenance projects around your home.
 
Start by checking the outside of your home for peeling or blistering paint, which can be a sign that the existing paint film is failing and can no longer protect the siding, says Carl Minchew of Benjamin Moore Paints. Take care of it now, or risk more expensive repairs come spring.
 
Check for drafts around windows and door frames and caulk as needed in order to keep your home properly heated as temperatures drop.
 
Call the chimney sweep and schedule an appointment to have your fireplace and chimney professionally cleaned. Fall is peak season for these professionals, so the sooner you can get on their calendar, the better. Cleaning the chimney will remove creosote buildup and reduce the risk of dangerous chimney fires.
 
Clean and replace filters in your heating system to ensure optimal performance.
 
If your driveway suffers cracks and potholes, now is the time to have it sealed. This will prevent further, more costly damage from ice and snow in the months to come.
 
Assess the current state of your yard and deck and take care of the following: Clean and properly store equipment you won’t be using, such as lawn mowers and weed whackers; clean and cover your grill and deck furniture; turn off outside hose valves to prevent pipes from freezing.
 
Follow this protocol in your garden: Empty soil from ceramic pots—otherwise the soil will freeze and crack them; plant your spring bulbs; divide and replant perennials; trim dead branches; rake and use leaves for mulch.
 
Your reward for taking care of your home now is a safe winter and an easy, less costly transition into spring.
 
For more information about fall maintenance projects you should add to your to-do list, contact our office today.

Century 21 AA Realty Long Island

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

Increase Your Home’s Value with a Fresh Coat of Paint

September 30th, 2016

Getting ready to sell your house or condo? One of the easiest home improvements to get buyers' attention is a fresh coat of paint. Plus it's a cost-effective fix that will make your home look updated—which can translate to increased value. Sara McLean, color expert and blogger for Dunn-Edwards Paints, offers tips on how to choose interior colors that appeal to most people.

  • First, she cautions on painting everything white or beige, because your home might end up looking more like an apartment, rather than upscale.
  • Stick to earth tones and nature-based colors. Warm browns and milky tans—think latte. Light greens and blues are classy, and even some reds and oranges.  Warm grays are popular now, rather than cool grays.
  • Take the flooring into consideration and lay your color chips on the floor to see how they pair.  Warm tones tend to look better with most hardwood, whereas tile, terrazzo or carpet may dictate other colors.
  • While neutrals are safe, don't make the entire home so neutral that it's boring. An occasional accent wall in a darker or complementary shade adds a designer look.
  • Give a room life without being personal. Many people have a visceral reaction to bold colors and buyers' first thought is that they will need to repaint.
  • Kitchens and baths work well with a little more color to brighten up and make them fresh, clean and inviting.
  • In the kitchen, soft buttery yellows with slight brown undertones are popular, happy colors. Olive and sage greens make it feel garden-y and fresh. If you don't have a tile backsplash, create one with an eggshell or semi-gloss paint—either a solid color or with a decorative stencil.
  • Baths, laundry rooms and powders can incorporate brighter colors because they're smaller—play with color a little bit. Oranges and reds are trending now and through next year, as well as teal and turquoise.

"Once you have chosen a color, pick up a few samples and paint a section of the wall near permanent structures like fireplaces, flooring and cabinetry," McLean recommends. "Live with the samples at least a full a day to see them in all light sources. What looks light and bright in the morning, may look dungeon-y at night."

Next step, she advises, is to choose the gloss level. Flat, velvet or eggshell are­ good for interior walls, while a higher sheen looks pretty on trim and in kitchens and bathrooms. The higher gloss levels are easier to clean, so they are ideal for high traffic areas. Look for trim paint that is water-based but with the upscale look of oil-based.

Source: www.dunnedwards.com

Century 21 AA Realty Long Island

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.


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