Wednesday, September 30, 2015

New Sales Figures Show Dramatic Increase!

New home sales are at their highest level since August 2008 - a strong starting point for the Fall season.  August's new, single-family homes are up 5.7% over July of this year and up 18% over August of last year.

The positive increase in sales is attributed to low interest rates and better job creation.

New home sales make up 10% of the housing market with the other 90% coming from existing home sales.

According to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders, builder sentiment is at its highest level nearly a decade - the highest since November 2005.  Builders reported better sales conditions and increased buyer traffic.

The median home price comes in at $292,700, an 0.3% increase from this time last year.

Experts estimate there is a 4.7 month supply of new homes still on the market. With concerns over a possible rate increase coming later this year - now is the time to buy!!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Fall Decor

Rustic, vintage, natural - all words to describe today's trends in home decor. The good news? This design trend lends itself easily to DIY projects and low cost supplies. Here are some ways to decorate your home for Fall using pallets or other found resources.

Pallet Pumpkins


Wooden Scarecrow

Autumn Signage

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Benefits of Mulch

With cooler temperatures getting more of us outdoors and working on our yards, it's important to understand some of the unsung heroes of lawn care. This week our spotlight is on mulch. Besides being aesthetically pleasing - mulch provides many other benefits for your yard. Read on!

Benefits of Mulch

  • Mulch can help control weeds. Mulch as a ground cover blocks the sunlight and prevents weeds from growing.
  • Mulch helps to keep your soil from drying out - a major benefit to surrounding plants.
  • A layer of mulch prevents soil erosion by keeping the soil in place during rain storms.
  • Mulch warms the soil in the winter and keeps it cool in the summer - leading to more even soil temperatures for your landscaping.
  • Decaying mulch adds nutrients back into the soil.
Types of Mulch

There are two major types of mulch - organic and inorganic. Organic mulch comes from natural sources such as tree bark, wood chips or pine straw.

Inorganic mulch includes rocks, pebbles, landscape fabrics and gravel.

Mulch comes in a variety of colors and textures. It helps you define your yard as well as keep it healthy. So what are you waiting for? Get mulching!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Why Pay into Escrow?

The home financing and closing process can be daunting even for the most seasoned of homebuyers. Today we'll help demystify at least one of the steps - paying into an escrow account.

When closing on a home, a portion of your funds will be deposited into an escrow account. An escrow account is set up by your lender to hold funds that will later be used to pay for property taxes and homeowners insurance. Most lenders require two months of funds to start up the escrow account.

The good news? You won't have to pay your property taxes or homeowners insurance payments directly. These bills will go straight to your lender who will pay with the funds in your escrow account. This prevents you from receiving a large tax bill each year and is instead paid by funds you pay with your mortgage payment each month.

Not all loans require an escrow account. Talk with your lender for specifics. FHA and VA loans do require escrow accounts along with most loans with less than a 20% down payment.

It is possible to opt-out of an escrow account after paying on your mortgage for a determined amount of time. Talk with your lender if you would rather be responsible for the tax and insurance payments yourself.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Fall Landscaping Ideas

Did you know that Fall is actually a great time to plant some new flowers, trees and shrubs? The soil is warm and will stay that way up until the first big freeze. In the South, this creates an extended planting season. Fertilizing is not recommended and cuts down on the amount of work it takes to establish new plants.

Trees and shrubs with a large root ball will have plenty of time to get established before Winter and won't have to deal with many of the pests that thrive in the Spring and Summer.  Nurseries and garden centers often have sales in the Fall, allowing you to get a good deal on those Spring Bulbs you've been wanting to plant.

Wondering what to plant?

Perennials such as Peonies, Hostas and Irisis


Trees such as the "October Glory" Red Maple

Pitcher Plants (bonus, they trap and eat insects!)

This Labor Day weekend - enjoy the day off and spend some time outdoors getting your yard ready for Fall!