Existing Home Sales Jump in January

January proved to be a good month for home sales, with single-family homes, condominiums, townhouses and co-ops selling at the fastest pace in nearly a decade in January, according to information provided by the National Association of REALTORS.

According to the association’s most recent home-sales report, the number of total existing-home sales rose 3.3 percent in the United States in January when compared to December of last year. The number of homes sold in January comes out to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.69 million. That’s up from an annual rate of 5.51 million December of last year.

That figure is not only up from the previous month, it’s also a solid improvement from the previous year. The REALTORS association reported that existing-home sales in January were up 3.8 percent from the same month in 2016.


Rising even with higher interest rates

What’s most impressive about these numbers? They are coming even as mortgage interest rates continue to rise. According to the Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the the average interest rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage stood at 4.10 percent for the week ending March 2. That’s up from an average of 3.64 percent from the same week a year earlier.

The trend is the same for 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages. According to Freddie Mac, the average rate on a 15-year, fixed-rate loan for the week ending March 2 was 3.32 percent. That’s up from 2.94 percent a year earlier.


Consumer confidence on the rise

So, why did home sales boom in January even as borrowing mortgage dollars become more expensive? The key might be more confident consumers.

In a press release from the National Association of REALTORS, Lawrence Yun, the association’s chief economist, said that consumers across the United States are growing more confident as unemployment continues to fall.

Those who did sell homes in January had some additional good news: The odds are high that they sold their condominiums and single-family homes for higher prices. The association reported that the median existing-home price hit $228,900 in January. That is up a solid 7.1 percent from January of 2016, when the median price was $213,700. The increase in prices in January marked the 59th consecutive month in which the country saw year-over-year gains in median prices.


Dealing with tight inventory

The biggest challenge for buyers today? It might be finding a home to purchase. The REALTORS association reported that there were 1.69 million existing homes for sale at the end of January. That might sound like a lot, but it’s really not. That inventory level, in fact, is down 7.1 percent from a year earlier, when there were 1.82 million existing homes on the market. This trend doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon, either. The latest inventory data from the association shows that declining inventory levels are far from a new situation.

This low inventory might be why homes are staying on the market for fewer days. The REALTORS association says that in January existing homes sold in an average of 50 days. That was down from a much longer 64 days during the same month one year earlier.

If you’re looking to buy a single-family home or condominium today, you’ll be entering a busy market. You might not take the time in such a market to consider homeowners insurance. But don’t forget this critical step. Insuring a condo or single-family home is a key step when buying a new home. You want your investment — probably the biggest of your life — to be protected.

Don’t let the challenge of finding the right home and mortgage blind you to the search for the right insurance package. Do your research. And then take out the best residential insurance policy you can find for the best price. That’s one way to guarantee that the residence you do find will actually be a home sweet home.

4 Tips for Buying a Home If You’re Disabled

Finding the right home is hard, especially for individuals who have special needs. It’s not an impossible process, but it is best to keep a few tips in mind to make sure that it goes as smoothly as possible.

Know Your Needs

The most important part of the process is knowing exactly what sort of housing you need to accommodate your disability. The more information you can provide to the real estate agent, the more likely they are to find something appropriate. There are times when finding an appropriate home on the market will be impossible, so it can also be prudent to meet with contractors so you can determine which houses can be renovated to meet your needs. According to Disability.gov, most renovations for this purpose only cost between $150 and $2000 dollars, so you should remain open to the idea of altering an existing home.

Take Your Time, But Act


Finding a home can be a long and frustrating process, but it’s important not to rush things. Buying a home is a big decision, and it’s important not to forget any details that could make it hard to live with your disability in your new home.

On the other hand, it’s also important to act once you find something that does meet your needs. Nothing is more frustrating than finding your perfect home and losing it because somebody else bought it before you made up your mind. Take all the time that you need to make sure the home is appropriate, but be sure to act once you are positive that it is.

Look For Support

It may seem impossible to get your own home, but there’s plenty of support out there that can make the process easier. Many government programs, such as those offered by state governments and the federal Department of Housing and Development, offer financial support for disabled people who want to buy a home. Private groups, such as Habitat for Humanity, can also help build or fund a home. These groups usually work very closely with disabled individuals, so they know how to build a home that can meet any special requirements. Those organizations can take more than a year to go from applying to closing on a home, so it’s best to apply as soon as possible if you think they can help you.

Know Your Rights


Disabled individuals face a lot of challenges when it comes to finding a home that meets their needs, so they shouldn’t need to deal with discrimination for landlords or real estate agents. Fortunately, the Fair Housing Act offers protection against that type of discrimination. Discrimination is relatively common in spite of that protection, so it’s important to know your rights before you hunt for a home.

In this case, discrimination includes advertising a home in a way that indicates a preference for people who are not disabled, refusing to sell or rend to a disabled person, or interfering with their ability to exercise their housing rights. They are also forbidden from offering different terms to disabled individuals than they would to anybody else. Disabled individuals are also entitled to make reasonable modifications to their home to accommodate their disability.

In the event of a violation, individuals are entitled to file a complaint to the United States Department of Housing and Development, which will attempt to resolve it. The HUD will start by attempting to reconcile the two parties, but if that fails the matter will go to court. The court can order the landlord to pay compensation to the wronged party, so it’s important for people to know their rights and be willing to fight for them. If you aren’t sure if you have a case, consider consulting an injury lawyer or other legal expert who has experience dealing with cases that involve disabilities.


How To Choose The Best Real Estate Agent For You

How To Choose The Best Real Estate Agent for You

The real estate industry can be a very tricky one to navigate, especially if you are a newcomer or a first time buyer. As with any other major life decision, it always helps to have guidance and expert advice. However, finding the RIGHT person to provide this for you can seem tricky. Read on for tips on how to choose the right agent and determine if he or she is the best for you.

Finding an agent is not a difficult task, however finding a GOOD agent amongst the many agents you hear about can be a little trickier. A good place to start is with your immediate social circle. Begin by asking for recommendations from people who recently sold and/or bought a home in your area or call a realty office and the manager to recommend an agent who specializes in your type of property and community.

Once you have an agent, get to know him or her a little better, establish a trusting and honest relationship with this person, since you will be counting on him or her a lot during this process. Next, put together some information about your property, highlighting the features and best qualities, especially those that may not be obvious at first glance. Doing this with your agent will help him or her to write the best listing for your home. If you are buying, work with your agent to establish a list of qualities and features you will be seeking in a home. This way, your agent can select the most appropriate listings for you to view.

When talking to your agent, ask him or her how he/she would establish a price and what his/her plan would be for marketing your home. Ask about his/her strategies and networks and contacts. For Buyers, ask about the agent’s past experiences in the area or with the type of home you are seeking. All of this information will help you to determine whether your agent will be able to provide you the level of service and customer care that you will need.

If you are unsatisfied with the agent's plan or personality, thank the agent for taking the time to meet with you, and repeat the process with another agent. Do not "settle" for an agent. Seek out the BEST agent for you. Your agent should be pleased to work with and for you and you should not feel like you are imposing on him/her. Remember, your agent will need you to be a satisfied customer because in our industry, business grows the best through word of mouth. So make sure you have an agent that will leave a lasting and positive impression on you and anyone you may refer him/her to!

Once you are pleased with your agent and have made a final selection, make a commitment. Commit yourself to this agent and that agent will commit to you. Relationships are the most valuable commodity in this industry and sometimes they take work. Your agent is a person just like you and will do his/her best to make you happy as long as you communicate your needs to him/her clearly.