Homebuyer Affordability – How Much Home Can I Afford?

How Much Home Can I Afford?

Are you part of today’s real estate buyer pool in the Pacific Northwest? If so, you know that it’s very competitive, with multiple buyers vying for the same property in many situations. Being prepared is paramount to your success.

The first step in the home search process is not looking for homes, but first knowing how much home you can afford. Use this mortgage calculator to get started! Concurrently, you must obtain pre-approval from a qualified lender of your choice. If you’d like a few referrals for top notch professionals in the mortgage business, click here!

Just as soon as you’ve got this accomplished, you’re ready to jump in! Better Homes & Properties is a full-service, boutique brokerage serving the greater Puget Sound area. We welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have about real estate, the local housing market, or the transaction process. Move ahead by contacting us to obtain your Buyer Package!

Should You Fear Rising Mortgage Rates?

No Need to Fear Rising Mortgage Rates!

History shows us that we don’t need to fear the recent spikes in mortgage rates because they won’t have an impact on home prices, according to Fannie Mae researchers in a new report.

Fannie Mae evaluated the trajectory of mortgage rates since 1990. Over the years, researchers have found that rising rates don’t hamper home sales and have no impact on home prices.

“History suggests that interest rate increases at the level recently witnessed will not stop the current housing recovery,” the report notes.

For example, the study found that from October 1993 to December 1994, mortgage rates rose from 6.8 percent to 9.2 percent. However, home prices leveled off and then only dropped slightly during that time.

From October 1998 to May 2000, mortgage rates soared from 6.7 percent to 8.5 percent and there was no impact found on home prices during that period, according to Fannie Mae.

“What we see through the ups and downs of rate changes is that sellers are reluctant to lower prices,” Mark Palim, who led the Fannie Mae study, told CNNMoney. Read more

Mix Vegetables with Your Flower Garden? Absolutely!

garden pieceEdible Garden

There’s a bit of fabulous chaos happening in the gardening world. Beans are happily climbing with clematis. Herbs are cohabitating with echinacea. Food is growing with flowers. It used to be that vegetable gardens were stuck in an out-of-sight corner of the backyard. Flower gardens occupied the high profile spaces around our homes. Not any more. Plants are busting out of their traditional roles and growing together—wherever—in harmony.

Flowers are certainly known for their attractiveness, unlike vegetables, which are primarily functional. However, vegetables and herbs often look better than you think, especially when placed around gorgeous blooms. The decorative aspect of vegetables is often part of the reason why home gardeners choose to incorporate them into their flower beds, especially in place of ornamental grasses and foliage. Planting vegetables near flowers also ensures that plenty of beneficial insects are attracted to the area, reports GrowVeg.com. Not only do flowers’ bright colors and aromatic scents attract pollinating insects like butterflies, moths, bees and beetles (which help pollinate vegetable flowers too), but they can bring in insects that eat those that are dangerous to your plants, like aphids and mealybugs. It’s a win-win for both blossoms and veggies! Click on the image above to read more!

What’s Hot in the Kitchen for 2013!

2013 Kitchen Tips and Trends!

The kitchen is, without doubt, the heart of the home. It always has been, but in a much different way than it is now. People gather in it, laugh, play, work and cook in it. The kitchen is not just a natural extension of the great room, it has become the great room.

So what are the trends in the kitchen for 2013? Here are a few ideas that offer up some of the kitchen design predictions for the New Year:

1. Modern Style: Kitchens are getting more modern in style, boasting simplified lines and offering up big, open spaces perfect for entertaining.

2. Tucked-Away Appliances: Appliances designed to blend in with the rest of the kitchen, like with the same wood of the cabinets, are becoming more popular. Also, some appliances, like undercounter or mini refrigerators or trash compactors, are being tucked away into a kitchen island.

3. Lots of Lights: Great lighting in the kitchen is becoming more important, with lighting being layered with a mixture of task lighting and ambient lighting. Under-cabinet LED lights are becoming more commonplace.

4. Supersized Kitchen Islands: 2013 kitchen design trends are moving away from dining rooms and toward eating, drinking and interacting in the kitchen itself, and a large kitchen island complete with bar stools is the perfect way to make this happen. This helps to create a nice open-air feeling—especially if one can be used to bridge kitchen and living areas, another major 2013 kitchen design trend.

5. Neutral Color Schemes: The use of neutral colors in the kitchen is on the rise, particularly in shades of grays and greens and a variety of wood tones. Bright colors are being reserved for only small accents in the kitchen.

6. Fancy Appliances: Professional gas ranges and induction cooktops are popular kitchen appliances for making a more gourmet kitchen.

7. Decorative Range Hoods: Trends are moving away from a conventional stainless steel trapezoid-shaped hood to more decorative range hoods. These hoods may have built-in LED lights and are even serving almost like a decorative chandelier for a kitchen island.

8. Glass Backsplashes: High gloss is “in” for cabinets, appliances and backsplashes. A single-sheet, back-painted glass blacksplash is growing in popularity, which are also known for being easy to clean. These glass backsplashes are also reflective, adding a polished decorative touch to kitchens. Glass mosaic tile sheets are also increasing in popularity.

9. Mixing Cabinet Colors. Is dark brown too bland, but red too vibrant? Will white cabinets turn a dull shade of gray after the kids put their hands on them? If you can’t decide on a color for your kitchen cabinets, never fear—our experts say it isn’t just one color that will be trending in 2013, but rather a combination of colors. A variety of colors will provide visual interest, and can immediately give your kitchen an updated, modern look.

10. Grab Some Fresh Air. Outdoor kitchens and entertaining areas are hot. Your indoor kitchen should have an outdoor doppelganger close by, available through wide glass doors.

Click here for FAQs when planning a remodel for your kitchen. Also click on the picture above for more kitchen design ideas and trends for 2013.

35 Ways to Winterize Your Home–Without Poisoning Your Family!

Concept maison chauffage, climatisation

Smart Ideas to Winterize Your Home!

There are hundreds of tips on the Internet for winterizing your home, but many of them aren’t too eco-friendly. If you don’t want to huff toxic chemicals all season, check out these tips for a warmer home and healthy breathing all winter long. Read more

Are You Ready?

Model house gift-wrapped with red ribbon and bow, close-up

Are You Ready to Buy?

Whether you are a first-time home buyer or entering the marketplace as a repeat buyer, you need to ask why you want to buy. Are you planning to move to a new community due to a lifestyle change or is buying an option and not a requirement? What would you like in terms of real estate that you do not now have? Do you have a purchasing timeframe?

Whatever your answers, the more you know about the real estate marketplace, the more likely you are to effectively define your goals. Read more

Thinking About Selling?

sold sign in front of house or condo

How-To Guide to Successfully Selling Your Home!

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that listing your house is the first step. Knowledge is power so before you get ahead of yourself, get ahead of the game by doing your homework. Check out this ‘must read’ first!

Moving? Prepare for a Seamless Transition!

Family moving house

Moving? Prepare for a Seamless Transition!

Drawing from personal experience, I know there are lots of ways to help make your household move easier and more smooth. Read here (and also click on the photo above) for help to get your life, and your possessions, organized for a peaceful and exciting move.

Mistakes to Avoid – First Time Homebuyer!

hand holding key against house background

Mistakes to Avoid – First Time Homebuyer!

Not every mistake in a real estate transaction can be reversed, much less fixed before closing. If buyers goof up and make an innocent mistake, they might very well be stuck with the consequences for a long time or, worse, their deal might not even close. Enlisting the help of an experienced real estate broker, specifically a buyer’s agent, can make all the difference in your home buying experience. Check out this list for the 10 most common homebuyer mistakes.

Finally, It is Time to Buy a House!

Family house.

Is Housing on the Mend?

Be fearful when others are greedy, be greedy when others are fearful.
Warren Buffett

And if you’re not instinctively scared of the housing market, then global warming, saturated fat, running with scissors and the bogeyman probably aren’t keeping you awake at night, either.

The fact that everyone is scared to dabble in—much less commit to—housing makes it a close-to-perfect investment based on Mr. Buffett’s principle. But buying real estate is a good long-term investment for many more reasons, some of which have only become apparent in recent weeks.

Some Americans are still jittery over the housing market, but here are eight positive signs that should quell some of their fears.