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Archive for November, 2016|Monthly archive page

5 Things to Look for in a Neighborhood, No Matter Where You Move

In Buying a Home, Home Values, Houston Energy Corridor, Houston Parks, Houston Real Estate Agent, Local Business, Local Events, Real Estate Investment, Restaurants & Shops, Restaurants & Shops, Schools, Selling your home on November 29, 2016 at 7:28 pm

Since relocating is such a major undertaking, it’s vital to thoroughly research your options. This is especially essential regarding an overseas move. Here are five things to assess in a prospective neighborhood to ensure you’ll feel at home, no matter whether your new home is here or abroad.

1. Transportation

One consideration is how you’ll navigate your new surroundings. Find out whether you’ll have access to public transportation or need a car. If you can use public transit, what are the service hours and stops? If you require airport proximity, determine how you’ll get there. Do you currently have a job lined up? If so, calculate the distance of the commute from the neighborhood in question. Will the trip be a cakewalk, or grueling? According to World Knowing, the top-ranked countries with the best transportation systems in the world are Hong Kong, Singapore, the UAE, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Japan, Germany, France, Spain, and the UK.

Even if a REALTOR® lists the distance from a house to a public station, the calculation doesn’t always include door-to-door travel time. You may be able to use Google Maps to determine this. If not, the website of a city’s public transit system may provide a clue.

2. Businesses

Before visiting a neighborhood, think about businesses you’ll be frequenting, such as a bank, grocery store, pharmacy and retail shops. Make sure they’re a feasible distance from your prospective home. Also, ensure their customer service is reputable and prices are reasonable. For example, if there’s a grocer nearby, does it stock staples, or only expensive gourmet goods? Where can you find fresh produce?

You may be able to minimize leg work by reading online business reviews. Yelp is expanding internationally, with websites emerging in Europe and Asia. Reviews are also conveniently available via iPhone and Android apps. Local Yelp announces business openings and events in major cities.

3. Schools

If you have children, REALTORS® will tell you that another must-have is access to quality education. Many overseas schools provide bus services, but trip length must be tolerable for kids. In towns where public schools are sub-par, you may want to enroll your children in private school. If so, consider the extra expense of entrance fees, tuition, uniforms and transportation.

Did you know there’s a correlation between the presence of schools and crime? A 2011 study by the University of New Mexico found that elementary schools have a protective effect against property crimes. Middle schools, however, promote drug felonies, and high schools foster both property and narcotics crime. So, regarding school proximity, aim to be close enough for a short trip, though not a hop, skip and jump away.

Concerning school reputation, attend a PTA meeting at a given school. By speaking with other parents, you’ll get firsthand information on the school’s quality. A good school district increases a home’s value, should you wish to sell in the future.

4. Amenities

Is culture important to you? If you’re an avid fan of art, theater and music, this is a consideration. Do you like to frequent restaurants, pubs, or dance clubs? If these are high on your wish list, how close are they to the home you’re debating? If you must travel to a distant town, factor in transit costs.

Also, research proximity to free entertainment, such as parks, museums and libraries. If you’re a sports enthusiast, assess the distance to athletic arenas.

There’s one caveat regarding crime: Steer clear of a neighborhood where bars are prevalent. The study mentioned above concerning schools and crime found that ready access to alcohol promotes violence and vandalism.

5. Economy

Neighborhood decline has telltale signs. Drive through the streets of a potential town, and look for financial clues. Examples of red flags are unkempt parks, littered streets and a prevalence of “For Sale” signs. Are people moving out of the area? Are businesses closing up shop?

Query librarians about the town and whether it’s fiscally sound. Ask if the library has cut down its hours, another clue to a suffering economy. Look for indications that people care about their property and each other. Do houses and landscapes look maintained? Are neighbors interacting? If any seem friendly, ask about their experience of living there.

A Smart Move

Now you’ll be a savvy traveler while exploring a new town. To ensure a successful move, evaluate the local:

  • Transportation
  • Businesses
  • Schools
  • Healthcare system
  • Amenities
  • Economy

Like a good journalist, get detailed information from reliable sources. Invite conversation, and record your observations. Then, make your smart move. You’ll be able to settle down for as long as needed in a wonderful neighborhood, whether that be in the United States or abroad.

This post was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Check the blog daily for top real estate tips and trends. RISMedia Tracking Snippet *** Do Not Remove *** End RISMedia Tracking Snippet

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

Do you have real estate questions?   Contact Connie Vallone at (713) 249-4177 or connie@knowsrealestate.com or visit www.houstonenergycorridorhomes.com  or  www.vallonehomes.com.

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Homeownership Rate Rallies

In Buying a Home, Home Values, Houston Energy Corridor, Houston Real Estate Agent, Investment Real Estate, Real Estate Investment, Selling your home on November 16, 2016 at 6:28 pm

Is the tide turning? The homeownership rate rallied slightly at 63.5 percent in the third quarter, higher than the 62.9 percent rate in the second quarter—the lowest point in more than 50 years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Quarterly Housing Vacancies and Homeownership report. The third quarter homeownership rate did not differ considerably from last year’s third quarter, however, at 63.7 percent. On inventory, roughly 87 percent of housing was occupied in the third quarter, with 55.5 percent owner-occupied and 31.9 renter-occupied.

The Midwest saw the highest homeownership rates in the third quarter at 68.6 percent; the West saw the lowest, at 58.2 percent.

 Homeownership rates in the third quarter were also highest among homeowners aged 65 and older, at 79.0 percent, and lowest for homeowners aged 35 and younger, at 35.2 percent. 

Non-Hispanic white homeowners held the highest homeownership rate in the third quarter, as well, at 71.9 percent. Asian or Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander homeowners held the second-highest rate at 55.6 percent. Hispanic homeowners held the third-highest, at 47.0 percent. Black homeowners held the lowest rate, at 41.3 percent—though both the Hispanic and Black rates were higher than those of last year’s third quarter.

The homeowner housing vacancy rate came in at 1.8 percent in the third quarter, while the renter vacancy rate reported 6.8 percent. Homeowner vacancy rates were highest outside metro areas at 2.5 percent, followed by inside principal cities at 1.9 percent and in suburban areas at 1.5 percent. Renter vacancy rates mirrored those of homeowners: highest outside metro areas at 9.6 percent followed by inside principal cities at 6.9 percent and in suburban areas at 6.0 percent. The median list price of vacant for-sale housing in the third quarter was $157,500.

 “Optimists and pessimists alike have fodder for their cause,” wrote Trulia Chief Economist Ralph McLaughlin. “On the optimist’s side, household formation—whether it’s from new renter or new owner households—is good for both the housing market and the general economy, as some renters eventually become owners and new households drive demand for home-related goods and services. On the pessimist’s side, there are headwinds for those that want to own a home, but can’t: prices and rents have outpaced incomes, credit standards are higher, and a high share of young households are still living with their parents.

“Given other evidence from the [Census] release, my views swing more with the optimists than the pessimists.”

For more information, including tables, please click here. RISMedia Tracking Snippet *** Do Not Remove *** End RISMedia Tracking Snippet

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

Do you have real estate questions?   Contact Connie Vallone at (713) 249-4177 or connie@knowsrealestate.com or visit www.houstonenergycorridorhomes.com  or  www.vallonehomes.com.

Interest Rate Rise Shelved until December

In Buying a Home, Home Values, Houston Energy Corridor, Houston Real Estate Agent, Real Estate Investment, Selling your home on November 10, 2016 at 4:55 pm

Interest rates will rise, but not until December at the earliest, the Federal Reserve announced Wednesday, confirming a long-held view that the Fed would not raise rates ahead of the presidential election. The benchmark interest rate determines the movement of mortgage rates, which currently linger around 3.5 percent.

“The Committee judges that the case for an increase in the federal funds rate has continued to strengthen but decided, for the time being, to wait for some further evidence of continued progress toward its objectives,” according to a statement released by the Fed.

The announcement comes following a divided vote in September that resulted in the decision to hold steady on rates. “Our decision does not reflect a lack of confidence in the economy,” Fed Chair Janet Yellen said at the time. “We’re generally pleased with how the U.S. economy is doing.”

The economy since then has shown slight improvement, growing at an annual rate of 2.9 percent in the third quarter. On the housing front, single-family starts came in ahead of estimates in September, and homeowner wealth in equity has continued to accumulate.

The Fed last raised the benchmark rate, up 0.25 percent, in December 2015. RISMedia Tracking Snippet *** Do Not Remove *** End RISMedia Tracking Snippet

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

Do you have real estate questions?   Contact Connie Vallone at (713) 249-4177 or connie@knowsrealestate.com or visit www.houstonenergycorridorhomes.com  or  www.vallonehomes.com.

Consumer Caution over Housing Surfaces in September

In Buying a Home, Home Values, Houston Energy Corridor, Houston Real Estate Agent, Real Estate Investment, Selling your home on November 2, 2016 at 2:53 pm

The Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI) decreased 2.2 points to 82.8 in September, moving further off of survey highs. Consumer caution surfaced in the September HPSI, in which four of the six components decreased during the month. The largest decrease was seen in the net share of consumers who expect mortgage interest rates to go down over the next 12 months, which fell 6 percentage points. This was followed by a 5 percentage point drop in the net share of consumers who say now is a good time to buy a home and a 3 percentage point drop in the net share of consumers reporting confidence about not losing their job over the next year. Household Income was the only HPSI component to increase in September with slightly more consumers than the previous month reporting that their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago.

“The decline in the HPSI over the past two months from the survey-high in July of 86.5 adds a note of caution to our moderately positive housing outlook,” says Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “Downside changes came in particular from the HPSI components mortgage rate direction and good time to buy a house. In addition, the starter home tight supply and rising home prices as well as the unsettled political environment are likely giving many consumers a reason to pause or question their home purchase sentiment.”

Fannie Mae’s September 2016 Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI) decreased 2.2 percentage points in September to 82.8. Overall, the HPSI is down 1.0 point since this time last year.

Breaking from the increasing trend of the last few months, the net share of Americans who say it is a good time to buy a house fell by 5 percentage points to 29 percent to match a previous all-time low reached in May.

The net percentage of those who say it is a good time to sell a house remained at 15 percent in September. The net share of Americans who say that home prices will go up fell 1 percentage point from last month to 34 percent. The net share of those who say mortgage rates will go down over the next twelve months fell 6 percentage points to negative 44 percent. The net share of Americans who say they are not concerned with losing their job fell 3 percentage points to 70 percent. The net share of Americans who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago rose 2 percentage points to 12 percent.

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Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

If you are looking for Classic Real Estate Services from concept to closing, please contact Connie Vallone by phone (713) 249-4177, email connie@knowsrealestate.com or visit my website at www.houstonenergycorridorhomes.com or www.vallonehomes.com .