Your home: Keep it secure while on vacation

Key in Lock

‘Tis the season for weekend getaways and family vacations. I love this time of year, as do most people — including thieves. Sorry to sound so gloomy, but it’s true. It is reported that over 2,000,000 homes are broken into each year in the United States. And the highest percentage of home break ins occur during the summer months. Some neighborhoods see anywhere from a 10-18 percent increase in break ins during the months of July and August according to the FBI.

So how do you keep your home safe while you are traveling?

Here are some security tips to keep in mind:

  • 1. Don’t close all of your window treatments before you leave. If you typically have your curtains and blinds open, then leave town with them in their usual state. By closing them, you not only alert any criminals of a potential change in occupancy, you also prevent any neighbors from being able to monitor your home while you are away. Which takes us to number two.
  • 2. Tell a trusted neighbor (or two) that you will be out of town. This is one of the best systems to protect your home. Your neighbors know your routines and how things typically look at your home. A trusted neighbor can tip off the police before a break in ever occurs. Also, if a neighbor is taking out your trash in your absence, make sure that they put the cans back in their usual place the same day as trash pickup. Empty cans sitting out for days is a dead giveaway that no one is home.
  • 3. Don’t turn off the A/C. Although it may sound like a good way to save money while you are away, a silent air compressor on a hot summer day is a clue that the homeowners are away. Consider setting your thermostat to a higher temperature or your thermostat may have a vacation setting that you can utilize.
  • 4. Lock your garage door. If your automatic garage door has a lock, then use it when you are out of town. If it does not, simply unplug your garage door opener. In a world of universal remotes it is simply too easy to drive down the street hitting the button until you come up with a winner.
  • 5. Alert the police. If you are going to be gone for an extended trip, it is not the worst idea to alert the local police department. The more eyes on your home the better.
  • 6. Don’t leave all the lights on. Unless you just want to showcase all of your belongings for the criminal world, don’t leave the lights on 24/7. Invest in some inexpensive light timers that can kick the lights on in the evening and turn them off after bed time. Again the goal is to replicate your normal routine. If you are usually up late, then set the timer to stay on later.
  • 7. Share your vacation pics on social media after you are back in town. Posting up to the minute status updates on social media can be a mistake. Think of it as placing a sign in your yard that says, “We are on vacation. Help yourself!”
  • 8. Not safety related, but still important. Before you leave town, turn off the water supply to your washing machine, especially if it is on the bedroom level or main level of your home. The same should be done for your water supply line to your ice maker (if a shut off is in place). A leaking water line can wreak havoc on a vacant home and can make for an unhappy surprise upon your return.

We at the Taylor-Made Team wish you all safe travels and many happy memories during this vacation season.

Photo Credit:  Håkan Dahlström on http://www.flickr.com

Your home: Are 30 day closings a thing of the past?

calendar 30

That’s right. Thanks to a new rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 30-day closings may become a thing of the past for financed purchases. The “know before you owe” rule, formally known as the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID), is designed to protect the consumer from any last minute changes in the costs associated with the loan. Any minute changes to the costs must be redisclosed to the consumer prior to the closing and the lender must allow three business days for the consumer to review the changes.

Doesn’t sound so bad, right? Probably not. Although last minute changes can cause problems in a real estate transaction. They can even cause the transaction to come apart. Imagine for a minute that you are selling your home. You have completed everything that has been asked of you and it is the week of your upcoming move. Then at the last minute, your buyer’s lender must redisclose a change in the buyer’s costs thus delaying the closing date. You have movers scheduled. All of your utilities are scheduled for transfer. And the seller of the home you are purchasing is counting on the funds from their sale to purchase a new home. Can you see how this could get messy pretty quickly?

Or let’s say you are a buyer out there in today’s market and you are ready to compete for a home. A great home comes on the market and you write an offer. A strong offer. But the seller needs a 30-day closing and your lender cannot accomplish that timeline due to TRID. It is already hard to compete against a cash offer. It may be even harder now because cash buyers may be the only ones who can accomplish a 30-day or less closing.

Although the new TRID regulation will cause some challenges, lenders and title companies have been aware of this new regulation since the fourth quarter of 2014. Therefore, they should be prepared. The new regulation was scheduled to start as of Aug. 1, 2015. However, the CFPB announced this week that they would be delaying the roll out until Oct. 1, 2015.

“We made this decision to correct an administrative error that we just discovered in meeting the requirements under federal law, which would have delayed the effective date of the rule by two weeks,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “We further believe that the additional time included in the proposed effective date would better accommodate the interests of the many consumers and providers whose families will be busy with the transition to the new school year at that time.”

Isn’t that sweet.

As you are making real estate plans for the future, please take into account the additional time that it may require to get to the closing table. It may also require a little patience as well.

Photo Credit: Dafne Cholet on Flickr.com

Your home: A more level playing field for buyers is here!

Basball Field

As with most shifts in the market, buyers and sellers are not aware of the shift until it is too late to do anything about it. For example, most of NEJC has shifted from a strong seller’s market to a more balanced market. And this shift has taken place over the last 45-60 days. Pretty quick shift, right?

So what does this mean for the market moving forward this year? A more balanced market has several implications. Before we go there, let’s first discuss what has caused the market to shift.

This shift, which is partially seasonal, has occurred due to the growing amount of inventory (active homes for sale) versus the number of homes that are going under contract currently. This is what I have referred to before as the absorption rate. Perhaps you have seen the evidence yourself. A perfect example is driving on Roe Avenue from 63rd Street to 75th Street. I think there is a real estate pointer sign on every street.

I was at a function earlier this week when I ran into a good Realtor friend of mine. She asked me how business was which sparked a conversation about the shift. Her observation was that she felt like we went from a crazy busy market to an “eerily quiet one.” And she has observed that buyers have all of a sudden gotten really picky about almost everything.

When I analyzed the numbers this week, the reason was clear. I looked closely at NEJC and found a dramatic difference in the absorption rate comparing the last week in March to the first week in June. The last week in March, there were 411 homes for sale and 79 under contract, therefore, the homes under contract were approximately 20 percent of the actives. The first week in June, there were 576 homes for sale and 29 under contract, or approximately 5 percent of the actives. And since the last week in March, the number of homes under contract has been on a slow and steady decline. Eerily quiet.

For those buyers out there who have had to participate in the frenzied early Spring market and have yet to find a home, your time is coming. The balance of power is shifting. So how does this shift affect the buying process for you?

  • 1. You can breathe. Not to say that there are still not some locations and some price ranges that are flying off of the shelves, but in most cases the pace of the market is slowing which should allow buyers to make more calculated decisions.
  • 2. You can be a little pickier. No too picky mind you. We are by no means in a buyer’s market. And yet when you have more options, you can be choosy. Maybe that is a better way to put it.
  • 3. Values should stabilize. Based on current trending, the median sales prices in most areas are stabilizing. And historically values have dropped slowly from this time of the year through the remaining months. The Feds position on increasing interest rates will also have a big impact on values as well.

And what about the selling process? Just look at the statements above and consider the opposite side of the coin for sellers.

  • 1. Hold your breath. The sale of your home may not take place as quickly as some in the early Spring market. Patience may be required in some cases.
  • 2. More options for buyers means higher expectations when it comes to condition and that the competition is on! Don’t offer allowances or keep bids in your back pocket for condition concerns that you anticipate a buyer might have. Just do the work. You want the choosy buyer to choose you, right?
  • 3. Values should stabilize. This means don’t get over confident with your pricing. We are seeing more and more price adjustments every day in our market which is indicative of overly confident pricing. During a shift, it is extremely important to price a fair market value and, in my opinion, to price slightly below market value. The best value will almost always get the most attention.

Photo Credit:
Dru Bloomfield on Flickr.com