Homeowners Advice: Get Ready for Fall

555787Fall is just around the corner. All homes require maintenance. To retain your home’s best value, it’s important to stay on top of projects and repairs, both large and small. Seasonal maintenance is a great way to be sure new issues are quickly addressed.

Small repairs may seem insignificant, but letting them add up over time means an overwhelming list down the road.

Take a personal inventory of repairs that need to be addressed. These could range from paver stones that need replaced in a patio to a large-scale roof replacement. Walk your home from top to bottom and make a list of issues.

Look for paint that needs retouched, tiles that need grouted, loose or scuffed baseboards, broken screens, squeaky doors, and everything in-between.

Budget and prioritize what can be addressed now, what needs a professional to fix, and what needs to wait for available funds.

Fall is also the time of year to prepare your home for Winter. It is much easier to install storm windows during temperate weather than during a blizzard!

Be sure to address each of these issues each Fall:

  • Call the HVAC guy: Your unit has been working hard all Summer during this brutal heatwave. Now is a great time to service your unit before the hard work of Winter.
  • Check and clean chimney: Dirty chimneys cause hundreds of home fires every year. Be sure to have a professional clean and inspect your chimney each Fall.
  • Clean the gutters: It’s not just about appearances, though clean gutters do look better. A clogged gutter system can back-up water on your roof and cause leaks.
  • Yard maintenance: Be sure to rake leaves and pick up downed limbs during Fall. Empty and put away flower pots. Address flower beds and put down new mulch for a clean appearance.
  • Prepare Winter Equipment: Put away your lawn mower (yay!) and service your chainsaw, snowblower, and other fun winter tools. It’s better to know now that a tool isn’t working than to discover this on a day you need it!
  • Fall is a great time to address the needs of your property…all in beautiful weather. Take an inventory of your home’s needs and be sure to follow through with proper home maintenance. Your home’s value will thank you.

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Why Rent When You Can Buy?

537303Buying a home now is cheaper than renting

Are you in a quandary whether to rent or to buy a home?  Good news!  According to experts at Trulia, an unbiased real estate search engine, buying a home is more affordable for most consumers than renting a similar property in an equivalent neighborhood in 98 out of 100 U.S. cities including Jacksonville and Northeast Florida.  Only Honolulu and San Francisco buck the trend.

There are many reasons that home buying is more cost-effective than renting.  Home prices are stable and mortgage interest rates are at historically low levels as rental prices continue to rise.

In Northeast Florida, the cost to rent exceeds the cost of homeownership.  The real estate research firm Reis Inc. reports apartment rents in the U.S. climbed the most in nearly five years in the second quarter of 2012 as shrinking vacancies allowed landlords to charge more.

The American Dream

Homeownership is at the core of the American Dream.  According to the latest quarterly Prudential Real Estate Outlook Survey released by Brookfield Real Estate and Relocation Affiliates Inc., owner of the Prudential Real Estate franchise network, eight out of 10 survey respondents described homeownership as very important.

“There is growing optimism about the local real estate market and, with rising rental costs, many recognize now is a good time to buy,” said Prudential Network Realty Founder, President and CEO Linda H. Sherrer.  “Along with the pride of homeownership, buying a home makes it possible to realize the advantage of tax write-offs.”

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Tax Advantages

Are you better off renting or buying?  The answer depends on many factors including how fast prices and rents rise and how long you stay in your home.  There are many online tools available to help consumers arrive at an answer and calculate the costs of renting versus buying a home.

For this article, we used a calculator available from Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and compared the cost to rent at $1,200 per month versus the cost to purchase a home priced at $250,000.  The inputs included a 3 percent appreciation or depreciation rate, a 15 percent income tax rate and a 30-year loan for $225,000.  In addition to the monthly expenses, the calculator estimates the tax savings you might realize from deducting mortgage interest and the equity that you earn in your home over the time you own it.  To access the calculator, visit www.PrudentialNetworkRealty.com.

Our results show it is much more advantageous to buy than rent because of the potential tax savings.  The calculator’s cost-benefit analysis shows that owning will cost $479,163 less than renting over the 30 years in today’s dollars. These amounts are estimates, and the actual costs may be higher or lower.

“There are good reasons for some people to rent,” said Christy Budnick, executive vice president of residential real estate, Prudential Network Realty.  “But owning a home can be a smart decision over the long term for both you and your community.  There are substantial economic ripple effects when a single home is bought or sold.  For example, when a person buys a home, they often hire others to do small renovation projects such as painting, installing wood floors or landscaping.  These projects put additional dollars in the economy and create jobs.”

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Impact on the Community

When you buy a home, you are investing in your community and its economy.  Homeownership and real estate sales energize Northeast Florida’s economy.  There are expenditures on both sides of a real estate transaction when someone buys or sells a home.  Both buyers and sellers hire service professionals, including Realtors, attorneys, home inspectors and appraisers.  Money also goes to the title company and local, county and state government taxing agencies.  Real estate transactions have a profound economic impact on the local economy.  To learn more about the value of homeownership, visit www.PrudentialNetworkRealty.com.

While there are many good reasons to buy a home, some renters may not be in a position to buy.  Rising rent prices make it harder for people to save for a down payment.  If you do not qualify, a Non Profit Credit Counseling Agency can provide credit counseling and financial education services.

Turn to a connected Realtor

For those looking to take advantage of the best opportunities in the market, Prudential Network Realty is the most dynamic and respected real estate firm in Northeast Florida.  The company’s associates are experienced, productive and results-oriented.  They have the expertise and talent to make your real estate transaction go as smoothly as possible and achieve your goals.

Connect with the best by visiting www.PrudentialNetworkRealty.com.

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Real Estate Outlook Survey: Americans Are Increasingly Confident About Homeownership

537347JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (August 2, 2012) – Americans’ confidence in homeownership and real estate continues to rise according to the latest quarterly Outlook Survey released by Brookfield Real Estate and Relocation Affiliates Inc., owner of the Prudential Real Estate franchise network.  In Northeast Florida, affiliate Prudential Network Realty reports its second quarter sales are up 8 percent compared to the same period a year ago.

Similar to the national sentiment, signs of growing confidence are apparent among local residents as home prices in Northeast Florida are gaining.

According to the national survey:

  • 69 percent believe that real estate is a good investment despite the market volatility of the past few years, up 6 percent from the first-quarter 2012 survey and 17 percentage points from first quarter 2011.
  • 72 percent expressed confidence that the real estate market and property values will improve during the next two years, including a 6-point jump among those “very confident” or “confident” vs. the first quarter 2012, and a 14-point gain in this subset over first quarter 2011.
  • Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents have a favorable perception of the U.S. housing market, up from 60 percent in the first-quarter survey and 52 percent in first-quarter 2011.

“The American Dream is clearly on the mend,” said Prudential Network Realty Founder, President and CEO Linda H. Sherrer.  “Americans are feeling better about homeownership and the ongoing recovery taking place in residential real estate. Many are increasingly optimistic about their personal circumstances and, with housing affordability near all-time highs, they want to act on the opportunity.”

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Factors driving homeownership 

Homeownership remains the central component to the American Dream, as 78 percent of respondents said owning a home was still “very important” – the same percentage reported in the first-quarter 2012 study.  A full 98 percent said homeownership was at least somewhat important.

In addition, with interest rates at historically low levels, 96 percent of respondents at least “somewhat agree” that now is a great time to buy a home – the same percentage reported in the first-quarter 2012 study.

More than the financial reasons to buy a home, respondents placed higher priority on the emotional reasons for homeownership. “Control over living space,” “more space for family,” “safer neighborhood” and “good place to raise a family” rated higher than “a good investment,” “financial security” and “tax benefits.”

“More people are buying homes in Northeast Florida because we have it all – miles of sandy beaches, world-class sporting events, a thriving business community and outstanding schools,” said Christy Budnick, executive vice president of residential real estate, Prudential Network Realty. “Owning a home contributes to their quality of life.”

Caution remains

The survey also shows that consumers remain cautious about the real estate market and process, as a full 30 percent “strongly agree” that the housing crisis reminds them to be more careful about buying or selling a home; up two percentage points from the first-quarter 2012 survey. In addition:

  • Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of respondents indicated that financing or getting a mortgage is more challenging than it was before the market crisis, which is up from 58 percent in the first-quarter 2012 survey.
  • Among those considering a real estate transaction, 39 percent expressed concern they won’t be able to sell their current home, up 11 points from the first-quarter 2012 survey and 10 points from first quarter 2011.
  • Given the dynamics and challenges of today’s real estate market, nearly three out of four (74 percent) respondents think it is more important than ever to work with a good real estate agent for the best success in buying or selling a home (up from 71 percent in the first-quarter survey and 67 percent in first quarter 2011).

“The real estate market is improving in Northeast Florida and consumers face many choices,” Budnick said.  “Consumers should seek out a real estate professional who can help them make the best choices to suit their needs.  Our team of connected agents has the expertise and talent to make every real estate transaction go as smoothly as possible and achieve their goals.”

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