Curb Appeal is a Must!

downloadIf your home has curb appeal, you’ll be able to sell it quickly and for top dollar. That’s why REALTORS® rate exterior home remodeling projects as the most valuable homeowners can make.

Many homeowners are confused about which projects will provide the most return on investment as they prepare their homes for the market.

The 2014 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, co-sponsored by the National Association of Realtors and Remodeling magazine, outlines the costs and resale returns on the most popular home improvement projects.

Realtors know which home features are important to buyers in their area. Projects such as a new entry door, siding and window replacements can recoup homeowners more than 78 percent of costs upon resale.

So why remodel anything if it’s not going to give you back 100%? It’s because the first impression a homebuyer gets is priceless. You want the buyer to choose your home, and quit looking for something better.

If the buyer doesn’t like what he sees, you won’t get another chance to make any kind of impression.

So which home improvement projects will net the most return?

Eight of the top 10 most cost-effective projects are exterior projects.

Replacing your front door with a steel entry will cost $1,100 on average, but you’ll get nearly 97% of what you spent back in your pocket.

The second most popular improvement is a wood deck addition, which will return over 87 percent of costs, similar to the return on fiber-cement siding. Vinyl siding returns a little over 78 percent of costs.

A midrange garage door replacement returns nearly 84 percent while an upscale garage door replacement offers 82.9 percent of costs recouped. Wood window replacements recoup over 79% of costs and vinyl windows return nearly as much.

Rounding the top 10 projects are an attic bedroom and minor kitchen remodel. These are important too, but you’ve got to pique buyers’ interest first.

The good news is that the return for all projects is higher in the last two years. To find out what the best return on home improvements is in your area, talk with your REALTOR.

Written by Blanche Evans

HUD nixes dual agency on FHA short sales

hudFHA short sales are slow. Very slow.

The thing about short sales is that they are slow going. For most people, when you want something, you want it now. And when you write an offer on a home and have to wait four, six, twelve, or even eighteen months to close, your interest begins to wane.

FHA (Federal Housing Administration) short sales have long been exceedingly slow going and frustrating for home-buyers and sellers alike. You may recall that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sets the guidelines for processing short sales for sellers with FHA loans. In my experience, the main reason that these short sales have been slower than others is because HUD requires sellers, buyers, and agents to jump through more hoops (complete more milestones) before receiving short sale approval. For some sellers, this may mean applying for and getting declined for a loan modification prior to beginning the short sale process.

Benefits of the FHA Short Sale

On July 9, 2013, HUD released Mortgagee Letter 2013-23, a letter that appeared to contain good news for short sale sellers and their agents. Effective on October 1, 2013, the FHA short sale will be “streamlined” for many distressed borrowers.

The highlights of the Mortgagee Letter include the following positive changes to the FHA short sale process:

  1. Imminent Default – Certain borrowers do not need to be 30 days behind on mortgage payments to begin the FHA short sale process, just as long as they can demonstrate hardship.
  2. Reduced Documentation – There is now something called streamlined PFS (pre-foreclosure sale) for borrowers that meet certain guidelines.
  3. Up to $3,000 Financial Incentive – Owner-occupant borrowers who successfully sell their properties are entitled to a consideration of up to $3,000 (terms and conditions apply).

Read Between the Lines

Mortgagee Letter 2013-23 is 8 pages long. While the above three positive changes appeared to be the highlights, there is one big lowlight (if there is such a thing).  Buried at the top of page 8 is the following sentence:

“No party that is a signatory on the sales contract, including addenda, can serve in more than one capacity. To meet PFS Addendum requirements, brokers and their agents may only represent the buyer or the seller, but not both parties”

This particular phrase has agents in an uproar. Everyone knows that sometimes a single agent representing both sides of a real estate transaction may not be a good thing. But, what about two agents in the same brokerage? HUD is now going to prohibit that form of dual agency.

In addition to agent dissatisfaction, this sentence also dissatisfied the National Association of Realtors® President Gary Thomas.  In a letter to the Assistant Secretary for Housing, Thomas writes that this policy may minimize the opportunity for sale of many homes in certain parts of the United States. That’s because single brokerages with hundreds of agents under one license dominate in certain areas. And, if none of those agents (all under the same broker) are permitted to bring a ready, willing, and able buyer to the property, how will the property get sold?

Thomas also states that he understands that this HUD policy may have been enacted in order to avoid fraud, particularly problems where pocket listings may net HUD a little bit less money. He points out that Fannie Mae has enacted a more reasonable policy that requires that all Fannie Mae short sales be placed on the MLS for a minimum of five days, thus assuring that all properties are on an open market. Thomas urged HUD to reconsider their policy and adopt the Fannie Mae policy instead.

Depending upon where you live and where you sell real estate, the new HUD short sale policy and all of its associated drama may not impact you at all. But, if you are an agent listing and selling short sales, you’ll want to know what your in for—the improvements to the FHA short sale policy on October 1, and the bad news associated with it.

Homeowners must re-register for STAR exemption

New-York-state

New legislation now requires all homeowners receiving a Basic STAR exemption to register with the New York State Tax Department in order to receive the exemption in 2014 and subsequent years. Homeowners will not have to register in order to receive their 2013 STAR exemptions and will not have to re-register every year. Based on the information provided in the registration process, the Tax Department will monitor homeowners’ eligibility in future years.

Registration started on August 19, 2013 and will continue through December 31, 2013.

http://www.tax.ny.gov/pit/property/star13/ to register.

 

M&T Bank Clothesline Festival

webad-2013-smallThe M&T Bank Clothesline Festival is set to take place on Saturday, September 7 from 10 am to 6 pm and Sunday September 8, 2013 from 10 am to 5 pm at the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, 500 University Avenue Rochester NY 14607.

Admission costs $5 at the gate; children 10 and under free if accompanied by an adult; includes Gallery admission. No pets (except service animals), skateboards or roller-blades allowed; bicyclists should enter at Prince Street and check bikes at the RCA Bicycle Valet.

About the Festival
Fifty-seven years after the first Clothesline, Rochester’s largest and longest-running fine art and crafts festival continues to evolve. It’s now the place to experience all-day live entertainment, sample food from some of Rochester’s favorite vendors, enjoy free family art activities, visit the museum, and of course, browse and buy original artwork throughout the grounds. list of artists

Each year sees the addition of more festivals, but Clothesline remains a favorite with artists. Because the Gallery charges admission and screens the work of the exhibitors, serious shoppers are more in evidence than at other festivals.

Clothesline remains popular with visitors, too. In recent years, it has earned five “Best of Rochester” awards from City Newspaper readers.

With the completion of the Memorial Art Gallery’s Centennial Sculpture Park, this year’s festival will once again have full use of the MAG campus. 2013 grounds map

Parking/Shuttle Bus
Park and ride the handicapped-accessible shuttle bus from the Gleason Works lot on Anderson Avenue or the East End garage at East Main and Scio Streets. Shuttles run from 9 am to 6:30 pm Saturday and 9 am to 5:30 pm Sunday.

Sponsorship
Clothesline is the Gallery’s biggest fund-raiser—all artists’ entry fees and public admission fees go directly to the Gallery’s operating budget. And in 2013, these dollars will go even further thanks to M&T Bank, our Presenting Sponsor for an unprecedented 20th straight year.Thanks also to Supporting Sponsors Nolan’s Rentals, Inc. and University of Rochester Medical Center, to our media sponsor City Newspaper, and to our community partner WXXI.

Go Green
Several area organizations are helping us make Clothesline greener. Thanks to Rochester Greenovation for sponsoring our composting and recycle stations; to Rochester Cycling Alliancefor providing a bicycle valet station (enter at Prince Street); and to Dave Goldman and the Sierra Club of Rochester. Also available (behind the Gallery): a water bottle refill station.

Ride the bus!
Visit Rochester Genesee Regional Transit Authority’s website for routes, schedules and special discounts for visitors to Clothesline and other area festivals. Learn more

Save the Date September 18th for Miracle Jeans Day

1079Miracle Jeans Day allows groups and individuals alike to trade their work attire for jeans and help raise funds for kids at their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. Participate nationally on September 18, or pick your own day.

RE/MAX Plus is a proud contributor to our local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, Golisano Children’s Hospital. Be sure to donate a minimum of $5 to wear your denim on Miracle Jeans Day, Wed, Sept. 18, in support of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. If you would like to find out how to participate in Miracle Jeans Day and for more information visit: http://www.miraclejeansday.com/

 

Understanding Mortgage Rates and Points

1233054_10151641582021961_1311111847_oHere’s an easy-to-understand description of “mortgage rates and points”.
The interest rate determines the monthly interest payments over the lifetime of the loan. A “point” or “discount point” is equivalent to 1% of the loan amount and usually reduces or “discounts” the loan rate by an eighth of a percentage point.
For Example:
You want to get a loan for $100,000 to buy a home. Each “point” would cost you 1% of $100,000 or $1,000 but would reduce your loan’s interest rate by .125%. The lender might offer you an 8.0% loan with zero points, a 7.875% loan with one point, or a 7.75% loan with 2 points.
Points, like the down payment, are paid at closing. In some cases, lenders will allow borrowers to finance the points over the term of the loan. Lenders sometimes use points to make their interest rates appear lower. Be aware that lower interest rate offered by a lender may translate into higher points requirements.
For consistently low rates and points, contact eastmortgage!

Best of Rochester 2013 Primary Ballot

BestOf2013_teaser

Want to take the Best of Rochester survey? Click here!

Place your bets!

The 2013 Best of Rochester Readers’ Poll is here. Click on this link to take the open-ended Primary Ballot. Fill in YOUR favorites in at least 40 of the 113 categories for your ballot to count. Voting in the Primary Ballot will close promptly at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, September 4.

Then check back on Wednesday, September 11, to see which local people, places, and things made the Best of Rochester Final Ballot.

Did we screw something up? Get rid of a category you love? Neglect to add one you requested? Let us know! E-mail themail@rochester-citynews.com.

Make sure to follow City Newspaper on Facebook and Twitter for Best of Rochester updates, and for a chance to win an invitation to our exclusive invite-only Best of Rochester Party.

City of Rochester to Hold Public Meeting Regarding Inner Loop East Project

images (3)The City will conduct a public informational meeting to discuss the Inner Loop East Reconstruction Project on Wednesday, Aug. 28 at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers of Rochester City Hall, 30 Church St. The proposed project will eliminate a 2/3-mile segment of the Inner Loop Expressway between Monroe Avenue and Charlotte Street and replace it with a, “Complete street,” which is designed to accommodate all users including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders.

The project’s goal is to increase traffic safety, reconnect neighborhoods with the Center City and make available parcels of land for mixed-use redevelopment. Reclaiming this land will raise local tax revenues, create jobs and generate private investment.

“This project will benefit the entire city,” said Mayor Thomas S. Richards. “We are building a city that encourages walking, biking and enjoying the outdoor environment. Replacing this section of the Inner Loop will demonstrate the City’s commitment to fostering quality of life here in Rochester.”

The purpose of this meeting is to review the project, discuss preliminary design alternatives and solicit suggestions from the public. The project’s design consultants will give a detailed presentation and citizens can interact with City staff following the presentation.

Preliminary engineering and design is anticipated to be complete by winter 2013/2014. Final design will be complete by summer 2014 and, pending funding availability, construction may begin as soon as fall 2014.

Members of the public may contact City of Rochester Transportation Specialist, Erik Frisch at erik.frisch@cityofrochester.gov with comments and concerns prior to Sept. 15, 2013.

Additional project information is available at www.cityofrochester.gov/innerloopeast.

Rising Interest Rates Won’t Slow Down All Buyers

housing-rebound

Many of you are seeing it in the field: Low inventory, houses flying off the market and a groundswell of demand from buyers. As a result, home prices are steadily increasing.

Combine all those factors with signs of strength in the economy, and you have a recipe for another market change: higher mortgage rates.

The average for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage jumped to 4.29 percent in early July—nearly a whole percentage point above where it was in early May, according to Freddie Mac.

While some industry watchers predict that rising rates could stall the positive momentum in housing’s recovery, I tend to agree with the school of thought that says the rebound will continue despite upward ticks over time.

Rates are still historically low compared to what they were before the recession hit, and prices are still affordable in many areas.

Will some home-buyers see a decrease in their buying power if rates climb too far, particularly young, first-timers or low-income families? Unfortunately, yes.

But it won’t affect all buyers.

Recent data reported by the MBA notes that although we’re seeing slight dips in overall mortgage applications as rates increase, conventional home loan applications are picking up by a few percentage points.

This indicates two things: 1) people with steady incomes and employment, a sizeable down payment, and strong credit are finally coming off the sidelines to buy before rates go up further; and 2) many of these borrowers are more than likely move-up or repeat buyers who saw the equity return to their homes and were able to finally sell so they could make their next move.

Recent data reported by the MBA notes that although we’re seeing slight dips in overall mortgage applications as rates increase, conventional home loan applications are picking up by a few percentage points.

Perhaps you know of potential buyers who have been waiting for the bottom of the market. If what we’re seeing is any indication, the bottom has come and gone. We’re in a steady recovery, and now’s the time to encourage those would-be buyers to explore their options. It’s worth noting, though, that home prices and mortgage rates could go up more as demand continues to outpace existing supply and new construction.

These recent market shifts are an opportunity for you to shine a spotlight on your professional expertise, as well as employ creative marketing strategies to communicate these trends to your entire database of contacts. Use local and national statistics to show them what’s happening in real estate.

If you know of potential buyers who’ve been waiting it out, tell them what’s going on in frank terms, then connect them with a trusted lender who will show them what their monthly payment might look like at the current mortgage rate for a property within their price, as well as a comparison of what it might be if rates reach 5 percent or more. Seeing the numbers in black and white could be the impetus indecisive buyers need to make their big move.

It’s natural for some people to panic a little when they see home prices and mortgage rates make big jumps, but it’s an inevitable part of the crests and troughs of a housing cycle. Remind home-buyers and sellers of your value by giving them the facts without the frills. With the right approach, you’ll help get those buyers and sellers off the sidelines and back into the game.

For more information regarding mortgage rates or your housing needs contact us at adim@rochesterhomesplus.com

Fairport Music and Food Festival

Fairport Food

People of all ages will fill the Village of Fairport, from noon to dark, Aug. 24, to celebrate the end of summer while benefiting a great cause. The canal-side Fairport Music and Food Festival will feature live music, a variety of food from area restaurants and food trucks, and children’s activities! All proceeds from the event benefit Golisano Children’s Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), with a total of more than $500,000 raised in the event’s history.

This year’s Fairport Food and Music Festival will showcase 22 bands across three stages, for a total of 10 hours of live entertainment. Kids’ entertainment includes an arts and crafts table, rock wall climbing, bounce house, and appearances by the Magic Guy and Gadgets the Clown. Representatives from Kohl’s Pedal Patrol and the Rochester chapter of the Injury Free Coalition for Kids will also be handing out bike safety information and have a carnival-style spin-the-wheel game, with a prize give-away, at the Golisano Children’s Hospital booth.

To pre-order tickets and find out more about the event, click here.