11 Ways to Create a Welcoming Front Entrance for Under $100

Doors colorful

Spring is here!! Check out these great tips from House Logic that’ll help you spruce up your front entrance. Wanna make a statement? How about a new color paint for your front door? In the mood to be bold? Choose a snazzy curbside mailbox. Here are eleven ideas under $100 that will make your front entrance inviting!


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A Snapshot of Mortgages

Happy Friday!

Check out this infographic from Keeping Current Matters (click to enlarge it):


The takeaway:

* Mortgage rates are projected to rise in 2015. Now is a great time to buy!

* Average qualifying credit scores are down a bit from 2012.

* Americans are better able to get a mortgage today than they were in 2013.

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Freddie Mac’s Projections for 2015


House on blueprints

On Monday, Freddie Mac released its U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook for November. The report states that Freddie Mac economists expect the U.S. economy to continue to gain strength in 2015–including the housing market.

Here is a quote from Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist of Freddie Mac:

The good news for 2015 is that the U.S. economy appears well poised to sustain about a 3 percent growth rate in 2015 — only the second year in the past decade with growth at that pace or better. There are several reasons for the better macroeconomic performance. Governmental fiscal drag has turned into fiscal stimulus, lower energy costs support consumer spending and business investment, further easing of credit conditions for business and real estate lending support commerce and development, and more upbeat consumer and business confidence, all of which portend faster economic growth in 2015. And with that, the economy will produce more and better-paying jobs, providing the financial wherewithal to support household formations and housing activity.”

So according to Nothaft, a strengthened economy will see a growth in jobs (and better-paying ones), and this will help provide people with the financial means to purchase homes.

Here are some of Freddie’s predictions for 2015:

* Mortgage rates will rise to the high 4’s and possibly hit the 5’s by end of 2015. (Still WAY lower than in years past. Anyone remember interest rates in the high teens?)

* Home appreciation is expected to drop to 3% in 2015. Last year we saw 9.3% appreciation. It is predicted that by the end of 2014, appreciation will be at 4.5%. This continuation of housing appreciation (despite being at a lower percentage than this year and last) in combination with rising interest rates could create some issues with affordability for buyers. Freddie Mac economists state that the level of affordability will go from “very high” to “high.” Again, not so shabby.

* Many new-home builders (and agents for new homes) have had a rough year in 2014. Freddie Mac predicts that for 2015, homebuilding will see an increase of 20% from this year. The increase will help with total homes sold and put us on track to be at the best pace for sales of homes in eight years.

* Origination of mortgage loans for single families is predicted to decrease in 2015. This will be due to fewer people refinancing their homes as interest rates rise. For 2014, refis made up 50% of mortgage loan originations. This number is expected to drop to 23% for 2015. Perhaps loan officers and underwriters will have more time for new mortgages.

It will be interesting to see if Freddie’s predictions are correct.

[Sources: Freddie Mac, Realtor Mag]

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How much mortgage can you afford?


Couple house hands

Check out this great article from HouseLogic with tips on figuring out how much mortgage you can afford:

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Where are we headed?


Rising interest rates
Just under two weeks ago, the Federal Reserve ended their bond-buying program known as Quantitative Easing. We discussed this program quite a bit last year. If you are unfamiliar with it, click here, here and here.

In a nutshell, due to the housing crisis, in 2008 the Federal Reserve implemented a bond-buying program ($85 billion dollars spent per month on mortgage and Treasury bonds) known as Quantitative Easing. This program was part of an overall stimulus package . It was created to encourage lending and buying and helped people afford long-term loans with low interest rates. The program helped to stimulate the economy and kept interest rates on mortgages low.

During a good part of 2013, there was lots of chatter about whether or not the Fed was going to begin to taper this program–-thus potentially leading to increased interest rates. They did begin to taper a year ago, but initially started off “small.” Instead of spending $85 billion a month, they cut it back to $75 billion. Interest rates remained low for the year, but the discussion continued about how much longer the Fed would keep the program going.

On October 29th of this year, they officially ended the program after stating there had been enough economic recovery to warrant its end. Many now wonder what will happen as a result. According to Lawrence Summers, a former U.S. Treasury Secretary, “We’ll live just fine without QE [quantitative easing]. Interest rates at the 10-year are now much lower, not much higher, than they were before QE started.”

House question mark

Let’s take a look at interest rates over the past year. (Click the graph for a bigger view.)

Freddie chart Nov-Nov 13-14

The beginning of 2014 saw interest rates for 30-year fixed rate-rate mortgages at above 4% with a weekly-average high of 4.53% on January 2nd. The percentages gradually went down over the year with occasional increases, but an overall downward trend. Since the announcement by the Fed, we have seen a very small rise in rates over the last two weeks. Rates on October 30th were 3.98% and 4.02% on November 6th. It will be interesting to see where they head now.

Many economists project that the rates will rise and that we will see numbers in the 5% and possibly even 6% range. We will see what happens.

[Sources: Realtor Magazine, Freddie Mac]

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Watch where you throw your pumpkin remains!

Hi There,

Just in time for Halloween on Friday, check out this short article from HouseLogic about what NOT to do with the insides of your pumpkins!

Angry Pumpkin

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Market Minutes for September: Norfolk

Hey There! Wow it’s been busy here!

September’s stats for the housing market are in. Today let’s look at Norfolk. And for my Ghent/West Ghent/Larchmont people, scroll down for an additional report for your area specifically.

MM Norfolk Sept

The median sales price for homes in Norfolk rose 6% from a year ago. The average time homes stay on the market has remained the same at 85 days. The amount of active inventory is down 13% from a year ago.

For more stats about Norfolk, click here.


The median sales price in the Ghent/West Ghent/Larchmont/etc. area is up 19% from a year ago. Interestingly, the average number of days houses are staying on the market is up 39% from a year ago at 128 days. That’s a big change. Houses are sitting a lot longer in these parts of town.

For more specific stats click here.

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Another way to view the health of the market

Happy Friday!

Here is some great info from Keeping Current Matters:

Many people report on the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Existing Home Sales Report which quantifies the number of closed sales of single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops.

House with stethoscope

However, there is another report that NAR releases each month that may be even more important – the Pending Home Sales Report which reveals the current Pending Home Sales Index.

According to NAR, the Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) is:

“a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.”

The PHSI generally leads Existing Home Sales by a month or two and therefore is a more current pulse on home sales.

How is the PHSI calculated?

According to NAR:

“An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined. By coincidence, the volume of existing-home sales in 2001 fell within the range of 5.0 to 5.5 million, which is considered normal for the current U.S. population.”

What does the PHSI look like right now?

The most recent report showed that the PHSI for the nation climbed 3.3 percent to 105.9 in July from 102.5 in June. The index is at its highest level nationally since August 2013 (107.1) and is above 100 – considered an average level of contract activity – for the third consecutive month.

Looking at the PHSI at a regional level, we can see the comparative strength of each market:


This region includes the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

The PHSI in the Northeast jumped 6.2 percent to 89.2 in July, and is 8.3 percent above a year ago.



This region includes the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The PHSI in the South increased 4.2 percent to 119.0 in July, and is 1.0 percent below a year ago.



This region includes the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

The PHSI in the Midwest fell 0.4 percent to 104.6 in July, and is 6.4 percent below a year ago.



This region includes the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

The PHSI in the West increased 4.0 percent to 99.5 in July, and is 6.0 percent below a year ago.

What the numbers tell us

When looking at the data from a national perspective, we can see that the PSHI for the country is 105.9 which is considered an average amount of market activity. The nation is in a healthy place historically–market wise that is. Broken down into regions, one could think that since the Northeast’s numbers rose dramatically this year (8.3% above last year’s level) that the other regions aren’t doing well. However, you will notice that the PHSI for July for the Northeast was 89.2 while the other regions were 119, 104.6 and 99.5. This year the Northeast saw more of a sell off of inventory (foreclosures, short sales) as more and more people have been able to come out from under water. The Northeast is catching up.

Bottom Line about the PHSI

There can be an argument made that the Pending Home Sales Report is actually the most important report released each month because of its timeliness and its measurement of an historically healthy market.

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It was so much easier back then…

Hello there!

If you bought a house in the last couple of years, or are in the process of buying one now, you may have wondered why there is so much paperwork involved in the mortgage-loan application. Nowadays it seems that the bank needs to know everything about us and requires three separate sources to validate each and every entry on the application form. Many buyers are being told by friends and family that the process was a hundred times easier when they bought their homes ten to twenty years ago.

Well, there are two very good reasons why the loan process is much more onerous on today’s buyer than perhaps in any time in history.

The government has set new guidelines that now demand that the bank prove beyond any doubt that you are indeed capable of affording the mortgage. During the run-up in the housing market, many people ‘qualified’ for mortgages that they could never pay back. This led to millions of families losing their homes. The government wants to make sure this won’t happen again. And, banks don’t want to be in the real estate business.

Over the last seven years, banks were forced to take on the responsibility of liquidating millions of foreclosures and also negotiating another million-plus short sales. Just like the government, they don’t want more foreclosures. For that reason, they need to double (maybe even triple) check everything on the applications.

However, there is some good news to this situation. The housing crash that mandated that banks be extremely strict on paperwork requirements has allowed buyers to get mortgage interest rates that are below 5%.

The friends and family who bought homes ten or twenty years ago experienced a simpler mortgage application process, but they also paid a higher interest rate (the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 8.12% in the 1990’s and 6.29% in the 2000’s). If you went to the bank and offered to pay 7% instead of <5%, they would probably bend over backwards to make the process easier.

Bottom Line

Instead of concentrating on the additional paperwork required, we should all be thankful that we are able to buy a home at historically low rates.

[Source: Keeping Current Matters]

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Window Pain?

Happy Friday to All!


Many of us here in Norfolk, VA live in old homes. Today’s post is for those of us who are looking into replacing our old creaky and drafty (and oftentimes inoperable!) windows and doors (you know who you are friends!). Check out these important facts and tips from House Logic:

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.


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