Memorial Day weekend is widely regarded as the beginning of summer and many people kick off their summer plans on the weekend coming up.
We take this time to remember the brave men and women who have given their lives to protect and defend our liberty and freedom. But even while giving thanks for their sacrifice, we also celebrate the beginning of our summer with fun and (hopefully) sun!
As many people are more budget-conscious these days, holiday travel out of town may not be the best option for everyone. There are so many ways to enjoy the first long weekend of the summer, and since it is one of the busiest travel times of the year, maybe you should just plan to stay at your home this Memorial Day.
Not only do you get to skip packing suitcases and spending hours in the car, you’ll also save some money!
Below are six ideas to keep your kids smiling and get the whole family involved.
Plan the Menu – Memorial Day means picnics, and there are all kinds of fun and colorful dishes you can make to celebrate.
Make Decorations – Red, white and blue are the colors of the day. Get creative with centerpieces, balloons and table settings to make your Chapel Hill home a festive holiday venue.
Invite Friends and Relatives – The more the merrier, right? And you can always ask your guests to bring a snack or covered dish to share.
Have a Plan B – How many times have you known it to rain on Memorial Day? Have a back-up plan in case Mother Nature makes you retreat inside.
Have Indoor and Outdoor Games – If the weather cooperates, water games, such as balloons or a slip-n-slide are perfect, but have some board games or crafts ready to go in case you find yourself running for cover. Don’t forget to have some games for the adults too!
Remember the Meaning of Memorial Day – The history behind the holiday is sometimes lost along the way. Make sure the kids realize why this holiday exists — to honor the people who fought to give us the freedom to celebrate.
So get out your address book or cell phone contact list and start calling your friends and relatives who have decided to forego the holiday traffic. With a little organization, you’ll be ready to throw a Memorial Day bash that no one will soon forget.
Minutes of the April/May Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) recently released may have a significant impact on mortgage rates going forward. One significant development from the meeting suggests that the present quantitative easing (QE) program may be modified in the near future.
The current QE program involves the Fed purchasing $85 billion per month in mortgage backed securities (MBS) and Treasury bonds. The Fed’s goal with QE is keeping long-term interest rates, including mortgage rates, low.
Considerations mentioned in favor of slowing the current QE program include concerns over “buoyant” financial markets as evidence of a developing economic “bubble”. FOMC members in favor of continuing the current easing program cited fears of economic deflation resulting from cutbacks in QE.
Fed Chief Calls Current Bond Buying Program “Overheated”
In related news, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, in testimony before Congress, characterized the current QE program as “overheating the economy,” but he also stated that slowing economic growth is a worse alternative than continuing the current QE program. Chairman Bernanke noted that QE is supporting financial markets and the economy and indicated that it is not time to reduce the Fed’s support.
Diverse opinions within the FOMC added to the impasse over QE, as one member advocated for immediate tapering of the QE program, while another proposed expanding QE purchases.
The FOMC noted a number of challenges including the national unemployment rate of 7.60 percent at the end of March, that private sector hiring plans were “subdued,” and that jobless claims had trended up during the inter-meeting period. Among numerous economic positive statistics cited, the Fed noted that consumer spending improved and was driven by higher automotive sales and a drop in fuel prices.
The FOMC minutes reflect that some members had concerns about the ability of consumer spending to hold without notable improvement in hiring and business investment. Businesses contacts of FOMC members were reluctant to plan additional hiring and investing in their businesses based on reports of decreased manufacturing and lower international demand for products.
Good News Revealed About Low Future Inflation Expectations
The Fed predicted modest inflation over the medium term, and expected inflation to remain subdued until 2015. The Fed will maintain its benchmarks for adjusting the Federal Funds Rate and QE based on the national unemployment rate reaching 6.50 percent and the inflation rate reaching 2.00 percent.
The FOMC characterized the improving housing market as responsible for economic improvements for related businesses, but also acknowledged that increasing demand for housing was being caused by low inventories of available homes rather than buyer enthusiasm alone.
Improving home prices and easier consumer credit terms were viewed as contributing to improvement in overall economic conditions. These factors increase household cash flow and provide consumers with more discretionary income for spending.
While the FOMC members did not agree on how or if to revise their current QE policy, it seems likely that the next meeting will bring increased scrutiny of QE and its impact on current economic conditions.
Flowerbeds can be a very attractive addition to any Durham home — if you have the time to set up and maintain them. Flowerbeds don’t necessarily require a profusion of costly flowers that need to be fertilized, mulched, covered during severe weather, and possibly re-planted on a yearly basis.
So put on your green thumb and brave the outdoors this spring. With the tips below, you’ll keep your flowerbeds filled and your house looking cheery without a huge money or time commitment.
Before you even start picking out roses and tulips, take care of the weeds. Gardens get weeds because there are already pesky roots hiding below the surface.
Dig up the soil and weeds before you plant. It will save you hours of maintenance in the long run and keep your flowers healthy.
Wildflower mixes native to your area are often a good choice if you want an array of flowers, but don’t have the time or the motivation to take care of them.
These flowers can grow back easily every year and are well adapted to the climate and soil conditions in your area. Native wildflowers may need little more than watering and the occasional weeding.
Filling the beds with attractive decorative rock provides maintenance-free curb appeal to your home. Several colors of decorative rock are available and can be chosen to off-set the color of your house.
Planters may also be placed amongst the rocks to add live plants to your flower beds, and those plants can easily be moved inside before the weather gets too cold for them.
For low-maintenance ground cover in your flowerbeds, plant low-growing shrubs, such as various strains of boxwood or juniper.
The main issue with this option is that the shrubs take a while to grow and fill in. But once established, the only maintenance required is the occasional trimming of overgrown branches.
Vacant flowerbeds detract from the overall look of your house and contribute to an air of neglect. Attractive fillers do not have to be either expensive or difficult to put into place.
If you’d like additional tips on how to spruce up the outside your home, please call your trusted real estate professional for the best advice!
It can be very difficult to determine what your property is worth in the current marketplace, because you are biased by what the property is worth to you. These emotions can get in the way of impartially evaluating a property and often cause sellers to overprice their home.
When pricing your property, you need to be objective and reasonable so you can come up with a selling price that will capture the interest of buyers.
Here are a few examples of common mistakes people make when pricing their house for sale.
Reading Too Much Into Online Comparable Properties
Avoid relying too much on online pricing information of sold houses. They can be a perfect place to start for getting a general idea of how much real estate is worth, but they are not always accurate.
Overestimating The Market
Don’t assume that you can sell your house for the same price at which you purchased it. Unless you bought your house a few weeks ago, the real estate market may have changed — sometimes significantly — and the purchase price will not reflect the appropriate pricing for today.
Overpricing To Pad For Future Negotiation
Don’t overprice your Chapel Hill home in order to be able to negotiate to the price you want to settle on. Of course, you want to get an appropriate value from it, but many first-time buyers are on tight budgets and will rule out higher-priced houses. Your over-priced property may sit on the market longer and then the price will have to be reduced anyway.
Factoring In The Cost Of Your New Home
Don’t factor in the cost of your next house. Your listing price should not reflect how much money you’d need to purchase your next property. The price of the house should be the same whether you are wealthy or broke. Your financial situation is irrelevant to the potential buyer of the property.
These are just a few common mistakes you should avoid when determining the price of your home. Listed at the right price, you will get a fair amount from the sale of the house and the buyer will be getting a reasonable price too.
As always, your local real estate professional will have the best advice on getting your home ready for the market and selling for the best price. Call them today to find out the details!
Last week was jam-packed with economic news; here are some highlights with emphasis on housing and mortgage related news:
Monday: Retail sales for April increased to -0.1 percent from the March reading of -0.5 percent and also surpassed Wall Street’s downward forecast of -0.6 percent. Retail sales are important to economic recovery as sales of goods and services represent approximately 70 percent of the U.S. economy.
Tuesday: The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) released its Small Business Optimism Index for April with encouraging results. April’s index rose by 2.6 points to 92.1. A reading of 90.7 indicates economic recovery. This index is based on a survey of 1873 NFIB member businesses.
Wednesday: The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for May matched investor expectations with a reading of 44. At three points above the March reading of 41, this report suggests that builders are slowly gaining confidence in national housing markets.
Thursday: The U.S. Commerce Department reported that Housing Starts fell by 16.5 percent in April to a seasonally-adjusted annual level of 853,000 from 1.02 million housing starts in March. This reading fell short of investors’ consensus of 965,000 housing starts, however, this decrease was caused by the volatile apartment construction sector.
Friday: Consumer sentiment for May surpassed investor expectations of +0.3 percent and came in at +0.6 percent. As consumer sentiment improves, it’s likely that more consumers will buy homes.
Rising Interest Rates Show Strengthening Economy
Mortgage rates rose last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose from 3.42 percent to 3.51 percent with borrowers paying 0.70 in discount points and all of their closing costs.
15-year fixed rate mortgages rose from 2.61 percent last week to 2.69 percent this week with borrowers paying 0.70 in discount points and all of their closing costs.
This news is consistent with a strengthening economy, but is narrowing opportunities for home buyers seeking both affordable home prices and low mortgage rates.
Federal Open Market Committee Minutes To Be Released This Week
Looking ahead, economic news for this week includes the Existing Home Sales report for April with an expectation of 5.00 million homes sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis against the March tally of 4.93 million homes sold.
Also set for release on Wednesday are the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) Minutes for the meeting held April 30 and May 1. The FOMC meetings typically include discussions of the Federal Reserve’s current policy on quantitative easing (QE) which consists of the Fed buying $85 billion per month in MBS and treasury bonds.
When the QE program ends, mortgage rates will likely increase as bond prices decline due to lesser demand.
Thursday brings the weekly Jobless Claims Report along with New Home Sales for April. The consensus for new homes sold is 430,000 as compared to the March reading of 417,000 new homes sold.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, will release its Home Price Index for March on Thursday.