Independence Day

Inndependence Day of the United States, also referred to as Fourth of July or July Fourth in the U.S., is a federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, by the Continental Congress declaring that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as 13 independent states, and no longer part of the British Empire

Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks parades,  barbecues,  carnivals,  fairs,  picnics,  concerts,  baseball games,  family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States.

Independence Day is the National Day of the United States.

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Ready to Remodel? These Home Renovations Will Pay Off the Most (and the Least) in 2019

New year, new home renovations? Whether you’re getting ready to transform your entire kitchen into a farmhouse-chic dream (hello, shiplap and apron sink!) or maybe just to add some new wood floor for the foyer, it pays to know what kind of return on investment your home renovation might deliver. According to Remodeling magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value report, not all home remodeling projects deliver the same bang for the buck. Far from it, in fact.

So which projects give you the biggest return on investment these days? This year (like last), the No. 1 finisher was garage-door replacement. While not as fabulous as a full-kitchen remodel, this project essentially pays for itself, earning you a whopping 97.5% of your money back.

For this report, now in its 32nd year, researchers analyzed 22 popular home improvements in 136 markets nationwide. The magazine polled contractors on how much they charge for these jobs, as well as real estate agents on how much they think these features would boost a home’s market price. They then used those figures to calculate what percentage of its cost each project might recoup—or not.

Overall, the report found that in 2019, Americans should expect to make back 66.1% of the money they spend on renovations—a slight bump from last year’s 65.8%.

And the report found that for some projects, the ROI is really worth it, especially those improvements that the whole neighborhood can see—in front of your house.

“The primary points of the evidence show us that curb appeal projects add to overall value of the house more than interior projects,” DeKorne notes. “It’s all about first impressions.”

The chart below gives a full rundown of the top renovations, including how much they cost, their value at resale, and the percentage that can be recouped. After garage doors, the top finisher was manufactured stone veneer, with a 94.9% return on investment. Glamorous? No. Valuable? You bet.

A new project on the list this year speaks to another decidedly unsexy but invaluable trend: installing metal roofing. Compared with asphalt shingles, metal roofing costs significantly more, but offers much greater durability. And while metal roofs only yield a 60.9% ROI, DeKorne predicts their value will increase.

“This is the first year we’ve included metal roofing, and it’s gotten a lot of interest,” he says. “It’s more expensive, but you’ll get a better value over time than a common asphalt roof.”

And if you’re absolutely dying to renovate something indoors this year, DeKorne suggests keeping it in the kitchen. While most of the projects with the highest returns are exterior replacements, a minor kitchen repair cracks the top 10, with an 80.5% recoup.

“When buyers are looking at a house, they want to know the kitchen is something they can live with,” says DeKorne.

A look at return on investment for popular home renovations.

Original Article


The 10 most affordable beach towns in America

For many Americans, the ultimate summertime fantasy has less to do with washboard abs and a killer tan than owning their own piece of beachfront real estate — aka bliss. From Memorial Day through Labor Day (and beyond), beach lovers across the U.S. find themselves dreaming of escaping the hellish deadlines, soul-sucking commutes, and humdrum daily grind — and trading it all in for salty ocean breezes, caipirinhas on the sand, and fresh lobster rolls from a seafood joint around the corner.

Now just imagine doing it from your very own place.

There’s just one problem: Conventional wisdom suggests that only the seriously loaded can afford to own prime beach–area real estate. But we’re here to tell you that you don’t need seven-figure bank balances to make this sunny reverie into a reality. You just have to find the right beach town, one serving up a magical combo of home affordability and surfy satisfaction.

That’s where the sunburned data team at realtor.com® comes in. As we do every summer, we scoured the U.S.’s 95,471 miles of shoreline to locate the most affordable beach towns in the nation. What we discovered were a sometimes surprising selection of sun-and-sand options that are a lot more financially feasible than a “country cottage” in the Hamptons or Malibu, Calif.

And we never lose sight of a very important fact: A beach home is more than a dream, it’s an investment.

So, what’s the key to avoiding a financial belly-flop of a beach house?

“At the outset, you should have some exit strategy,” says James H. Boykin, author of “Investing in a Vacation Home for Pleasure and Profit.”

In other words, getting into a sweet place with plenty of peace and quiet might be easy. But if you buy in a place that’s not desirable to other beachgoers, you might have a hard time selling or renting it out.

To find America’s most affordable beach towns, our number-crunching ninjas located the country’s biggest metropolitan areas with the highest share of listings with keywords such as “beach,” “beachfront,” and “ocean.” (Metros include an area’s main city and its surrounding suburbs, exurbs, and urban areas.) Then we made sure these markets had lots of fun water-based activities, narrowing our list to the places that boast the highest percentage of things like rafting, kayaking, surfing, boating, and fishing on Yelp.com. We then ranked these metros based on their median prices for the 12-month period of May 2018 to April 2019.

See the 10 cities HERE

Dual pane windows

Double-paned windows are said to save energy, save money, and add to a home’s value, but we did some investigation and put their reputation to the test.

Energy loss attributed to windows accounts for nearly 25 percent of the annual heating and cooling costs for the average American home, according to the Department of Energy. Fortunately, there are steps you can take as a homeowner to drastically lower that statistic, including installing double-paned windows and utilizing other energy-efficient window technologies.

The Pros

From lowering your environmental footprint to insulating your home against outside noise, it’s hard to find reasons you shouldn’t consider energy-efficient windows, but here are some pros for the product:

  • Double-paned Windows Save Money: Steve Poitz, a member of the Canadian Window Standards Subcommittee and an engineer who specializes in energy-efficient windows, states that even a clear glass, double-paned vinyl or wood-framed window can reduce energy usage by up to 24 percent in cold climates during the winter, and by up to 18 percent in hot climates during the summer, when compared to older, single-pane models.
  • Adding Other Technologies Saves Even More: There are a lot of products that go into a good double-pane window. You can expect energy savings of anywhere from 30 to 50 percent, depending on whether you choose average energy-efficient windows or top of the line models.
  • Double-paned Windows and the Environment: Reduced energy use doesn’t just mean you save money, it also means you’re burning less fossil fuel and creating fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Double-paned Windows Insulate Your Home from Noise: Double-paned windows significantly reduce outdoor noise pollution. Double-paned windows can be a valuable investment in the peace and quiet department, especially in busy urban areas.

The Cons

There really isn’t a downside to double-paned windows as a product. There are, however, issues related to window quality and installation that can reduce, or negate, the energy savings you are aiming to receive.

  • Can’t Buy Just One: Replacing individual windows rather than upgrading entire homes or floors will not yield intended energy savings. Old windows will still leak air even if you install one double-paned one. Desired energy savings will likely result in purchasing many windows at a time.
  • Quality Matters: From failed seals to improperly spaced glass, poorly manufactured windows, or windows that fail, can negate energy savings and even lead to other problems, such as condensation developing between the panes. Quality is key, and it usually comes at a higher price.

The Costs

Expect to pay about $600 for a reasonable, middle-of-the-road window, and about $850 for the best the industry has to offer. Given the pros, it’s wise to focus on possible savings than initial cost.

Original Article

Most consumers overestimate what it takes to get a mortgage

Fannie Mae survey reveals widespread lack of mortgage knowledge

When it comes to obtaining a mortgage, the majority of consumers think it requires a higher credit score and larger down payment than is actually necessary, according to a recent survey by Fannie Mae.

Of the 3,647 surveyed consumers, most vastly overestimated the requirements to obtain a mortgage. Specifically, 53% thought a credit score of 650 was required, when many lenders actually allow a score of 580.

And, when asked how much money a borrower is required to put down, 40% said they didn’t know. Of those who did have an idea, they cited 10% as a required minimum, while a number of programs offer as little as 3% down.

Only 23% of respondents were aware of low-down payment programs, up just 1% from three years earlier.

Further, when it came to debt-to-income ratios, consumers were equally confused, with as many as 61% saying they didn’t know – up from 59% three years ago. Of those who did provide a guess, they cited 40% as the required DTI, when many lenders actually approve 50%.

Fannie Mae’s survey also revealed that even those who were preparing to purchase a home in the next few years were only slightly more confident and more knowledgeable than the rest.

“The lack of mortgage qualification understanding is pervasive, even among current homeowners, those who say they are actively planning to purchase a home in the next three years, and those who successfully answered questions testing general financial literacy,” the researchers wrote.

Original Article

A Buyers’ and Sellers’ Guide to Multiple Offer Negotiations

Information for Buyers

  • In some situations sellers will have several competing purchase offers to consider. Sellers have several ways to deal with multiple offers. Sellers can accept the “best” offer; they can inform all potential purchasers that other offers are “on the table”; they can “counter” one offer while putting the other offers to the side awaiting a decision on the counter-offer; or they can “counter” one offer and reject the others.
  • While the listing broker can offer suggestions and advice, decisions about how offers will be presented – and dealt with – are made by the seller – not by the listing broker.
  • There are advantages and disadvantages to the various negotiating strategies you can employ in multiple offer negotiations. A low initial offer may result in buying the property you desire for less than the listed price – or it may result in another buyer’s higher offer being accepted. On the other hand, a full price offer may result in paying more than the seller might have required. In some cases there can be several full price offers competing for the seller’s attention – and acceptance.
  • Your buyer-representative (agent) will explain and advise on the pros and cons of these (and possibly other) negotiating strategies. The final decision, however, is yours to make.
  • Purchase offers generally aren’t confidential. In some cases sellers may make other buyers aware that your offer is in hand, or even disclose details about your offer to another buyer in hope of convincing that buyer to make a “better” offer. In some cases sellers will instruct their listing broker to disclose an offer to other buyers on their behalf.
  • Listing brokers (the sellers representative) are required to follow lawful, ethical instructions from their clients in the same way that buyer-representatives must follow lawful, ethical instructions from their buyer-clients. While some REALTORS® may be reluctant to disclose terms of offers, even at the direction of their seller-clients, the Code of Ethics does not prohibit such disclosure. In some cases state law or real estate regulations may limit the ability of brokers to disclose the existence or terms of offers to third parties.
  • You may want to discuss with your buyer-representative the possibility of making your offer confidential, or of establishing a confidentiality agreement between yourself and the seller prior to commencing negotiations.
  • Realize that as a represented buyer, your broker likely has other buyer-clients, some of whom may be interested in the same properties as you are. Ask your broker how offers and counter-offers will be presented and negotiated if more than one of his buyer-clients are trying to buy the same property.
  • Appreciate that your buyer-representative’s advice is based on past experience and is no guarantee as to how any particular seller will act (or react) in a specific situation.

Information for Sellers

  • It’s possible you may be faced with multiple competing offers to purchase your property. Your listing broker can explain various negotiating strategies for you to consider. For example, you can accept the “best” offer; you can inform all potential purchasers that other offers are “on the table” and invite them to make their “best” offer; you can “counter” one offer while putting the other offers to the side awaiting a decision on your counter-offer; or you can “counter” one offer and reject the others.
  • If you have questions about the possibility of multiple offers and the way they can be dealt with, ask your listing broker to explain your options and alternatives.
  • Realize that each of these approaches has advantages and disadvantages. Patience may result in an even better offer being received; inviting buyers to make their “best” offers may produce an offer (or offers) better than those “on the table” – or may discourage buyers who feel they’ve already made a fair offer resulting in them breaking off negotiations to pursue other properties. Your listing broker will explain the pros and cons of these strategies (and possibly other) negotiating strategies. The decisions, however, are yours to make.
  • Appreciate that your listing broker’s advice is based on past experience and is no guarantee about how any particular buyer will act (or react) in a specific situation.

Information for Buyers and Sellers

Perhaps no situation facing buyers or sellers is more potentially frustrating or fraught with potential for misunderstanding and for missed opportunity than presenting and negotiating multiple, competing offers to purchase the same property. Consider the following issues and dynamics:

  • Sellers want to get the highest price and best terms for their property.
  • Buyers want to buy at the lowest price and on the most favorable terms.
  • Listing brokers – acting on behalf of sellers – represent sellers’ interests.
  • Buyer representatives represent the interests of their buyer-clients.
  • Will a seller disclosing information about one buyer’s offer make a second buyer more likely to make a full price offer? Or will that second buyer pursue a different property?
  • Will telling several buyers that each is being given a chance to make their “best offer” result in spirited competition for the seller’s property? Or will it result in the buyers looking elsewhere?
  • What’s fair? What’s honest? Why isn’t there a single, simple way to deal with multiple competing offers?

Knowledgeable buyers and sellers realize there are rarely simple answers to complex situations. But some fundamental principles can make negotiating multiple offers a little simpler.

  • Realize the listing broker represents the seller – and the seller’s interests, and the buyer-representative represents the buyer – and the buyer’s interests. Real estate professionals are subject to state real estate regulation and, if they are REALTORS®, to the Code of Ethics of the National Association of REALTORS®.
  • The Code of Ethics obligates REALTORS® to be honest with all parties; to present offers and counter-offers quickly and objectively; and to cooperate with other brokers. Cooperation involves sharing of relevant information.
  • Frequently frustration and misunderstanding results from cooperating brokers being unaware of the status of offers they have presented on behalf of their buyer-clients. Listing brokers should make reasonable efforts to keep buyer-representatives up-to-date on the status of offers. Similarly, buyer-representatives should keep listing brokers informed about the status of counter-offers their seller-clients have made.

Finally, buyers and sellers need to appreciate that in multiple offer situations only one offer will result in a sale, and the other buyers will often be disappointed their offers were not accepted. While little can be done to assuage that disappointment, fair and honest treatment throughout the offer and negotiation process, coupled with prompt, ongoing and open communication, can enhance the chances that all buyers – successful or not – will feel they were treated fairly and honestly.

1876 Flour Mill Converted to a Modern Dwelling Is This Week’s Most Popular Home

A flour mill magically transformed into a modern, rustic-chic sanctuary is the week’s most popular home on realtor.com®.

Built in 1876 and perched on the banks of the Raritan River, the Neshanic Mill is a local landmark in Hillsborough Township, NJ. It even graces the “Welcome to Hillsborough” sign at the edge of town.

If the popularity of the listing is any indication, there are plenty of buyers interested in scrounging up enough grist to make an offer.

The old mill bested pretty stiff competition this week. “Real Housewives of New York” fan favorite Ramona Singer dropped the price on her NYC pad and seems to have found a buyer. Another “Real Housewife”—this one from Potomac, NJ—is attached to a popular home reportedly being sold by her estranged husband.

Besides these notable names, this week’s list includes several gawkworthy properties including a luxe waterfront San Diego beach house and a time capsule midcentury bed-and-breakfast in Texas—with all the furnishings included.

But despite fame, flash, and notoriety, it’s the little flour mill from the 1870s that ground the competition into dust. Have a look at all this week’s most popular properties by scrolling on down…

See the homes here!