Homebuilder Confidence Experiences Largest One-Month Gain in a Decade

A new report shows homebuilder confidence experienced its largest one month gain in a decade and shows the Home Price Index reaching its highest point since March of 2007.

Homebuilder confidence rose six points in July, its steepest one-month increase in over a decade, according to a new report from the National Association of Home Builders.  The report shows the Home Price Index reaching its highest point since March of 2007.

Similar findings appear in a report from the Commerce Department released last week. According to their findings, the pace of construction in single-family and multifamily houses jumped to a level not seen since October of 2008.

Housing starts in June soared 6.9 percent, reaching a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 760,000 units. Broken down, single-family home construction, which makes up the largest segment of those new housing starts, increased 4.7 percent in June. Multifamily housing starts, considered a volatile segment of the market, jumped 12.8 percent last month. Housing starts were nearly 24 percent higher in June compared to last year at that time.

“Housing continues to be the one sector of the U.S. economy that is outperforming expectations,” Michael Gapen, an economist at Barclays, told Reuters.

Findings from the National Association of Home Builders’ report echoed the suggestion the building slump might be finally waning. The key housing market index gained six points in July, increasing to 35. This is the largest one-month gain recorded by the index in nearly a decade, and brings the HMI to its highest point since March of 2007.

The index evaluates builders’ perception of strength when it comes to single-family home sales in the United States.

The indices measuring current sales conditions and prospective homebuyer traffic rose six points to 37 and 29, respectively, on the index. In addition, the index measuring sales expectations for the next six months rose 11 points to a score of 44.

Any number over 50 suggests the majority of builders view conditions in a particular segment of the market as “good”.

“Builder confidence increased by solid margins in every region of the country in July as views of current sales conditions, prospects for future sales and traffic of prospective buyers all improved,” said Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Gainesville, Fla. “This is greater evidence that the housing market has turned the corner as more buyers perceive the benefits of purchasing a newly built home while interest rates and prices are so favorable.”

Fitch Ratings views the report as highly optimistic when it comes to the fate of homebuilders.

The ratings agency believes single-family housing starts will improve by at least 12% while new home sales will rise 10.5%.

“Housing growth should be slightly more robust next year,” Fitch said. “Single-family starts should expand 14%, while new home sales advance 12%.”

Housing Remains Bright Despite Overall Slowdown

Recent data indicate a slowdown in economic activity for the remainder of 2012, yet modest growth is still expected, according to Fannie Mae’s Economic & Strategic Research Group. Breaking pace with a strong first quarter, consumer spending has weakened in recent months as the consumer confidence index fell to the lowest level since January. Contributing to the downturn is an uncertain job market. The June employment report showed significantly fewer hires compared to the first quarter monthly average, and ongoing concern regarding the European debt crisis and domestic financial markets may suppress a meaningful increase in private payrolls before the end of the year. In light of these trends, the group has revised down the 2012 gross domestic product (GDP) growth projection from 2.2 percent to 2.0 percent.

“The data from the past month collectively point to decelerating economic growth, but growth nonetheless,” says Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan. “It’s now clear that our bias toward downside risks noted in the June forecast have materialized, pushing down our already modest growth projections. However, despite signs of deteriorating momentum for economic activity, housing continues to be a bright spot as news from the housing market has been relatively upbeat, presenting a rare upside boost to the economy.”

The housing market continues to show positive signs. Compared to the same time last year, home sales increased by 9 percent and single-family housing starts are approximately 20 percent higher, though the levels are still considered below healthy norms.

Residential investment is expected to increase this year but from a very low base, and is expected to contribute to economic growth for the first time since 2005. According to Fannie Mae’s June 2012 National Housing Survey, homeowners are showing greater confidence in one-year-ahead home price expectations, and their broad attitudes regarding the housing market continue to improve.

The share of polled consumers who say they would buy a home if they were going to move increased by 6 percentage points to the highest level seen in the survey’s two-year history. This is likely due in part to low interest rates and the assumption that home prices have hit bottom.

For more information, visit www.fanniemae.com.

URL to article: http://rismedia.com/2012-07-25/housing-remains-bright-despite-overall-slowdown/

Introducing The New Movers Smart Magazine

Prudential Georgia Realty is pleased to announce our exclusive partnership with the New Movers Network to provide the most comprehensive resource for community and school information.

This “smart digital magazine and iPad app” will cover 32 counties, 110 local cities and areas plus 51 school systems. No other source provides such a comprehensive amount of information for the Greater Metro Atlanta area. There will be articles about living in many of our communities. For example, the article “Living in Atlanta” tells the history of how Atlanta got the name! The New Movers smart magazine also covers areas that are not designated as a city or county. These are areas like Buckhead, Vinings, North Fulton, Towne Lake, Lake Lanier or East Cobb. New Movers provides information on every elementary school, middle school, high school, private school and charter school plus all the local colleges and universities.

This is a great resource for potential buyers and will include links to search homes in any of the local communities. We also provide a search by school district. For sellers, this is a significant marketing advantage since we will use the New Movers smart magazine to attract more buyers. All PGR listings will be featured properties in each search and come up 1st in the search results.

If you have kids who need to research our local communities, the New Movers smart magazine is a great resource. But be warned… once they start reading the articles, it might be hard to stop!

The New Movers Smart Magazine will be officially launched in early August. Look for more details coming very soon!

Mortgage Rates Drop to Historic Lows

Market concern over the strength of the economic recovery took Treasury yields to new depths, causing both 30- and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages to continue tumbling to historic lows.

The Freddie Mac survey showed 30-year FRM averaged 3.49% for the week ending Thursday, a record low from last week’s 3.53%. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.55%.

The 15-year FRM, a popular refinancing choice, also set a new record, averaging 2.8%, down from last week‘s average of 2.83%. A year ago, the average rate for a 15-year FRM was 3.66%.

Five-year, Treasury-indexed, hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 2.74%, up from 2.69% last week and falling from 3.25% a year earlier.

And one-year, Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 2.71%, up from last week’s 2.69% and down from 2.95% last year.

“The Conference Board Leading Economic Index showed the largest monthly decline in June since September 2011,” Freddie Mac Chief Economist Frank Nothaft said in explaining the interest rate movements. “Existing home sales fell to 4.36 million homes (annualized) in June and represented the slowest pace since October 2011. Similarly, new home sales fell in June to their lowest level since January of this year.”

Home loan analytics firm Bankrate, which surveys large banks, reported the 30-year FRM fell to 3.75% from 3.78%, while the 15-year FRM dropped to 3% from 3.04%. The 5/1 ARM ticked remained at 2.89%.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported mortgage rates for the purchase of previously occupied homes fell to 3.67% in June from 3.78% the previous month. The rate on all mortgages (fixed- and adjustable-rate) also averaged 3.67% in June, down from 3.78% in May.

The average interest rate for 30-year FRM on loans of $417,000 or less decreased 16 basis points to 3.88% in June, according to the FHFA. The rates are calculated from the agency’s monthly interest rate survey of purchase-money mortgages, reflecting loans closed from June 25 to 30.

While falling mortgage rates may seem beneficial to the overall real estate market, analysts with Capital Economics are not sold on the idea that low interest rates are an effective medicine for the market.

“News of mortgage rates falling to fresh lows may have become an almost weekly occurrence, but there’s relatively little evidence that this is translating into stronger housing demand among mortgage dependent buyers,” said property economist Paul Diggle with Capital Economics.

He added, “The underlying improvement in sales activity remains heavily dependent on investors and cash buyers, who are attracted to housing in part because of low yields elsewhere.”

June Existing-Home Prices Rise Again

Existing-home prices continued to show gains but sales fell in June with tight supplies of affordable homes limiting first-time buyers, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, declined 5.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.37 million in June from an upwardly revised 4.62 million in May, but are 4.5 percent higher than the 4.18 million-unit level in June 2011.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the bigger story is lower inventory and the recovery in home prices. “Despite the frictions related to obtaining mortgages, buyer interest remains solid. But inventory continues to shrink and that is limiting buying opportunities. This, in turn, is pushing up home prices in many markets,” he said. “The price improvement also results from fewer distressed homes in the sales mix.”

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell to a record low 3.68 percent in June from 3.80 percent in May. The rate was 4.51 percent in June 2011; record keeping began in 1971.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $189,400 in June, up 7.9 percent from a year ago. This marks four back-to-back monthly price increases from a year earlier, which last occurred in February to May of 2006. June’s gain was the strongest since February 2006 when the median price rose 8.7 percent from a year prior.

Distressed homes — foreclosures and short sales sold at deep discounts — accounted for 25 percent of June sales (13 percent were foreclosures and 12 percent were short sales), unchanged from May but down from 30 percent in June 2011. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 18 percent below market value in June, while short sales were discounted 15 percent. “The distressed portion of the market will further diminish because the number of seriously delinquent mortgages has been falling,” said Yun.

NAR President Moe Veissi said there’s been a steady growth in buyer interest. “Buyer traffic has virtually doubled from last fall, while seller traffic has risen only modestly,” he said. “The very favorable market conditions are helping to unleash a pent-up demand, which is why housing supplies have tightened and are supporting growth in home prices. Nonetheless, incorrectly priced homes will not attract buyers.”

Total housing inventory at the end June fell another 3.2 percent to 2.39 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 6.6-month supply at the current sales pace, up from a 6.4-month supply in May. Listed inventory is 24.4 percent below a year ago when there was a 9.1-month supply.

First-time buyers accounted for 32 percent of purchasers in June, compared with 34 percent in May and 31 percent in June 2011. “A healthy market share of first-time buyers would be about 40 percent, so these figures show that tight inventory in the lower price ranges, along with unnecessarily tight credit standards, are holding back entry level activity,” Yun said.

All-cash sales edged up to 29 percent of transactions in June from 28 percent in May; they were 29 percent in June 2011. Investors, who account for the bulk of cash sales, purchased 19 percent of homes in June, up from 17 percent in May; they were 19 percent in June 2011.

Single-family home sales declined 5.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.90 million in June from 4.11 million in May, but are 4.8 percent above the 3.72 million-unit pace in June 2011. The median existing single-family home price was $190,100 in June, up 8.0 percent from a year ago.

Existing condominium and co-op sales fell 7.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 470,000 in June from 510,000 in May, but are 2.2 percent higher than the 460,000-unit level a year ago. The median existing condo price was $183,200 inJune, which is 6.9 percent above June 2011.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast dropped 11.5 percent to an annual pace of 540,000 in June but are 1.9 percent above June 2011. The median price in the Northeast was $253,700, down 1.8 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the Midwest slipped 1.9 percent in June to a level of 1.02 million but are 14.6 percent higher than a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $157,600, up 8.4 percent from June 2011.

In the South, existing-home sales declined 4.4 percent to an annual pace of 1.73 million in June but are 5.5 percent above June 2011. The median price in the South was $165,000, up 6.6 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West fell 6.9 percent to an annual level of 1.08 million in June and are 3.6 percent below a year ago. The median price in the West was $233,300, up 13.3 percent from May 2011. Given tight supply in in both the low and middle price ranges in this region, sales in the West are stronger in the higher price ranges.

 

Source: NAR. Article URL: http://realtormag.realtor.org/node/11965?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign= Feed%3A+DailyRealEstateNews+%28Daily+Real+Estate+News%29 

 

6 Worst Home Fixes for the Money

It’s the magic phrase uttered by almost anyone who’s ever considered the cost of home remodeling: “We’ll get it back when we sell.”

Unless you keep those projects practical, though, you might just be kidding yourself. For example: Steel front door: Good. Master suite addition costing more than the average American home: Bad.
Every year, Remodeling magazine looks at the hottest home upgrades and renovations and calculates just how much owners get back with they sell. Upkeep is more popular than upgrades these days, says Sal Alfano, editorial director for Remodeling. These are the projects that often recoup the biggest slice of expenses at resale. But prices and returns do vary regionally, he says.
Ever wonder what brings the lowest return when you plant that “for sale” sign? Think high-dollar, high-end and highly personalized add-ons that make you drool. Like a totally tricked-out garage built from the ground up. Or a super luxe master suite addition. Or the home office redo designed just for you. Here are the six improvements that, in their 2010 report, ranked dead last nationally when it comes to getting those renovation dollars back at resale.
Home office remodel
Want to get an idea what today’s office-away-from-the-office looks like? Walk into Starbucks. These days, a home office consists of a multiple-choice combination of wireless laptops, smartphones, PDAs and touchscreen tablets. And that worker bee might be toiling anywhere from a home patio or a favorite restaurant to a park bench. The standard home office renovation, meanwhile — complete with plenty of built-in storage and high-tech wiring — is this year’s biggest loser in the resale value sweepstakes. Nationally, homeowners spent an average of $28,888 and can expect to recoup about 45.8 percent at resale, according to the report. Return on investment doesn’t reflect your enjoyment of the space, Alfano says. He offers two tips for home-office remodelers when they sell. First, opt for something that can be easily converted back into a bedroom or den for (or by) the next buyer. Second, when you’re selling, call it a study, den or hobby room. “There’s lots of call for multipurpose space. Don’t lock yourself into that one use,” Alfano says. Don’t use words that invoke images of actual work. Or the office.

Backup power generator
You see a backup generator and imagine all of the comforts no matter what the weather. But potential buyers hailing from outside your local area may not share that vision. (And a handful of those who do might have watched too many zombie movies.) On average, when homeowners have a heavy-duty backup power generator installed, they spend about $14,718, according to the report. Going with a slightly less expensive model or having a less complicated installation could cut the costs significantly, Alfano says. Average amount of the price recovered at resale time: 48.5 percent.

Sunroom addition
Real estate agents will tell you that potential buyers want square footage, pristine condition and lots of light. So a brand-new room that has the word “sun” in it, it has to be great for resale value, right? Not necessarily. Your first clue: The word “addition” — which means expanding the footprint of your home — indicates that this is not a renovation for the faint of heart (or wallet). “It’s one of the more expensive projects,” Alfano says. While it seems simple enough, the national average for a sunroom addition is $75,224, according to the report. Homeowners can expect to recoup about 48.6 percent when they sell. That doesn’t mean that adding a sunroom is always a bad move. If your home needs another common area, a sunroom could be the answer, says Katie Severance, co-author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Selling Your Home.” An addition is best considered in the context of the whole home, she says. “The doctor has to treat the whole patient. You have to look at the house and say ‘What’s out of balance?'”

Upscale master suite addition
Who doesn’t want to wake up in a five-star-hotel-quality suite with an attached spa bathroom and a kitchenette that affords you coffee and pastries before facing the world? Once you see the price tag, it won’t just be the coffee keeping you up at night. For a super-deluxe master suite addition — which adds square footage and uses only top-dollar materials — the average cost is about $232,062, according to the report. That’s 460 nights at a posh resort with enough left over to raid the minibar. In years past, this project was “sort of a trend in vacation homes” that migrated to primary dwellings, Alfano says. Sellers can expect to recover about 52.7 percent at resale. Your buyer can purchase a newer house with the same features as part of the original floor plan that “probably lays out better anyway,” says Loren Keim, author of “How to Sell Your Home in Any Market.” So while the next buyer may appreciate your luxury accommodations (which could even tip their decision in your home’s favor), chances are they won’t want to pay the full tab for your remodel.

Bathroom addition
Unless you’re a hermit who never entertains, you’ve probably wished for an extra bathroom now and then. But bathroom additions require serious coin. For a moderately outfitted addition with synthetic stone or plastic laminate surfaces, figure parting with about $21,695, according to the Remodeling report. Go upscale, with finishes like premium marble or fine tile, and you can easily spend in the neighborhood of $40,710. Either way, you get about the same return: 53 cents on the dollar. “In the buyer’s mind, the additional bathroom isn’t worth that additional $20,000 to $40,000,” Keim says. Investigate a less-expensive way to get the same result without flushing quite as much cash. While additions usually cost more, pros might be able to reconfigure your existing space to add a bathroom for less, Alfano says.

Upscale garage addition
Instead of cleaning out the garage, how much would you pay to have a new one built from scratch? This time, it would have all the organizational built-ins, and a durable, easy-to-clean floor to ensure it would never be messy again. And windows for natural light.
Oh yeah, and you could store a couple of cars in there, too. The price tag for a top-of-the-line detached two-car with all the trimmings is about $90,053, according to the report. You can expect to recover about 53.6 percent of that when you sell. “This one is completely decked out on the inside,” says Alfano. “It’s a dream garage.” And that’s likely some of the problem with recovering the value at resale. Says Keim, “You’ve got a very small target audience out there that wants an upscale garage.”

 

Source URL: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/6-worst-home-fixes-money-070151422.html

 

Maximize the Return on Your Landscaping Projects with a Plan

It’s that positive feeling you get pulling into the driveway. It makes you say “wow.” It pulls you toward the front door and invites you to come in. Whether it is your existing home or one you hope to sell, the curb appeal of a well landscaped yard can make all the difference in the way you (or a perspective buyer) feel about a property and that can make all the difference when it’s time to sell your home.

So where do you start if your yard lacks that dazzling effect? A landscaping plan is key. For new or existing homeowners, a long-range master plan with multiple projects can be worked on over time. Sellers hoping to make their homes stand out need a plan with more immediate impact. Hiring a landscape architect or professional contractor may not be in your budget or maybe you just enjoy doing it yourself.

One landscape company realized budget-minded homeowners needed an easy, reasonably priced way to obtain professional landscape plans and developed a web site called PlanWorx. It allows homeowners to choose the level of assistance that best fits their needs and budget. You choose whether to coordinate with professional contractors or do it yourself at a fraction of the cost. Hardscape design lets you plan water features, fireplaces, paving stones, and even outdoor kitchens. Planting design lets you plan a layout for flowerbeds and will identify plant materials by both their scientific and common names so you can easily locate them at your local nursery. PlanWorx also offers 3D color renderings of plans to help you visualize the end results.

If your budget doesn’t afford a service like PlanWorx, give Better Homes & Gardens magazine’s online garden design tool a try. Plan-A-Garden lets you choose plants and trees from their virtual library and drag and drop them into place. You can design everything from elaborate terraced flowerbeds to small container gardens. The free online tool also lets you incorporate structures like walkways, decks, furniture, fences, and sheds into your design. You can select a basic background for applying plants and landscape materials to, or for $9.99, you can upgrade from the free service to upload an actual image of your property. It is a user-friendly tool that will allow you to experiment with a variety of heights, colors, and textures to come up with a landscape plan you can print, save, edit, or share with friends for feedback.

Whether you are looking to increase your curb appeal for a quicker sale this summer or wanting to spruce up the yard of the home you just bought, maximize your effort and investment with a landscaping plan. A well-designed plan will help you determine how many and which plants you will need so you can budget appropriately and so you can avoid costly mistakes by visualizing the end result beforehand. A trip to the garden center can become a sound investment with a good return when you go armed with a plan.

Smart Upgrades for Decks

A few cost-effective add-ons can give a modest deck an edge and deliver a handsome payback should you sell your house.

A deck is one of the most cost-effective of all home improvement projects. In fact, according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2011-2012 Cost vs. Value Report, a wood deck project returns an average of about 70% of the investment cost — one of the highest values in the survey.

You can ensure you’re getting the most from this smart investment with low-cost add-ons and special features that increase your deck’s appeal, and that will make your deck one of your home’s most enjoyable living spaces.

Hidden fasteners for decking

For years now, deck screws have been the fastener of choice. (Nails, prone to popping out over time, are old news.) Deck screws come in a useful range of colors, won’t corrode, and hold exceptionally well. However, even when installed carefully, they cover the deck with rows of little pockmarks—tiny depressions that may have splintered edges and trap dirt.

Enter the hidden fastener. This clever innovation holds deck planks down while leaving the surface looking sleek and minimalist. There are scores of hidden fasteners on the market, each of a slightly different design. One category fastens with a screw to the framing and grips the side of each plank with barbs. Another fits into a groove in the side of the plank (some composite planks come with this groove) before being fastened to the joist. Yet another type fastens from underneath the deck, firmly snugging the decking onto the joists.

Hidden fasteners are labor intensive to install, which adds a premium of about $4 per square foot compared with the cost of an installation using deck screws. However, many deck owners find the investment worthwhile, especially if they have selected composite, vinyl, or premium wood decking and want to show off these materials to best advantage.

Adding style with planters

Planters give a deck character. The various shapes and sizes of planters add texture and color. Built-in versions, often made of the same material as the decking, can be positioned to separate seating areas from cooking areas. When planted with tall plants, such as ornamental grasses, they can act as living privacy screens.

Wood planters typically are lined with galvanized sheet metal, plastic containers, or are built to conceal standard pots that are easily removed for cleaning or planting. Planters made of pressure-treated wood sometimes forego the liner altogether.

With all built-ins, some means of drainage is necessary, which may mean you’ll have to bore holes in the bottom of the container. Because excess water will drain from the bottom of your planter, you’ll need to be mindful of where you position the planter. If you hire a pro to custom build your deck planters, assume a cost of $150 to $250 labor and materials for each lineal foot of a 2-foot deep and 2-foot high built-in planter.

Built-ins aren’t your only option. Home centers offer a wide variety of planters available at prices from $10 to $200. Ceramic or cement pots can be a decorative feature, running $50 and up for a 2-foot tall container. Hanging planters (about $25 each) are a great addition to a pergola or trellis. Planters that attach to the railing ($70 for a 40-inch-long terracotta planter with metal holder) all but disappear when filled with plants.

Cable railings

Railings are typically required on any deck when the decking surface is more than 2 feet above ground. Railings are the most visible part of the deck from ground level and offer a great opportunity to echo the colors and architectural details of your house. However, if you are lucky enough to a have a scenic vista (or just an awfully nice yard) you won’t want the railing in the way.

One solution is a cable railing—thin stainless steel cables strung tautly between wood or metal posts. This alternative looks great, preserves the view and, at a cost of about $70 per lineal foot for a pro installation, is about $1,200 more expensive than a standard wood railing for a 16×20-foot deck. To further spare the budget, consider using cable only where the view is important and use wood elsewhere. Or, if you are handy, do it yourself for a materials cost of about $25 a lineal foot.

Taming the sun with shade sails

Overhead structures like wood pergolas and trellises help shield a deck from the sun, adding a pleasantly dappled shade pattern. However, they can be costly to install and challenging to maintain over the years.

Shade sails are a cool, eye-catching alternative. Made of UV-resistant polyethylene knit fabric, sails are triangular, square, and rectangular, and come in a variety of colors. They produce a muted, diffuse light, cutting the glare of full sunlight while still permitting light into windows adjacent to the deck. Shade is not all the sails offer. Many homeowners consider shade sails a form of aerial sculpture and delight in watching them rise and fall gently in the evening breeze.

Shade sails for a 16 x 20-foot deck would cost about $5,500 when professionally installed. (Expect to pay at least 30% more for a custom-built pergola of comparable size.) If you have a smaller installation in mind, you can buy a 12-foot triangular shade at your home center for as little as $200. However, bear in mind that a sail can exert a mighty force on a windy day and must be attached to the framing of the house or to steel or wooden poles set in concrete. A professional installation is recommended.

Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/decks/smart-upgrades-decks/#ixzz1xWdtVZJa

Pike Nurseries’ July Lawn & Garden Tips

Every month, Pike Nurseries offers tips and advice for keeping your garden and lawn looking beautiful along with helpful suggestions for preparing your garden for the next month. There’s even tips on keeping your garden butterfly or bird friendly. Just remember to stay hydrated out there!

Here are their tips for July:

 

 

In the Garden

  • Water Wisely. During dry weather, continue to keep the garden adequately watered.  Remember, a weekly deep, thorough soaking is more beneficial than a daily light sprinkling. Water between 6-10am to avoid evaporation.
  • Brighten Shady Spots. Fill in holes in your shade garden with impatiens and hostas.
  • Cut Flowers for Flower Arrangements. Continue to plant zinnia seeds and enjoy cut flowers in a few weeks.
  • Feeding Time. Keep your garden green and growing by fertilizing your flower beds. July is your last chance to fertilize Azaleas.
  • Watch for Lacebugs. Use Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub Insect Control.
  • Brave Summer Storms. Be sure that all tall annuals and perennials are securely staked so that they will remain upright during the afternoon thunderstorms that are so common at this time of year.
  • Start Cool Season Seeds. Now is the time to plant broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, onions and other cool season vegetables seeds for your fall vegetable garden.

In the House

  • Bring in Blooms. Don’t be afraid to cut blooms from your garden to make fresh, fragrant flower arrangements.
  • Water While You’re Away. Add SoilMoist to pots.  The granules absorb water and release it as needed.
  • Feeding Time. Continue feeding your houseplants monthly.

For the Lawn

  • Lay Sod. Now is the good time to lay bermuda, zoysia or centipede sod.  Be sure to keep sod watered daily while roots are getting established.
  • Stay Green. Apply an Iron supplement to fescue and centipede lawns to keep them green without forcing new growth.

For the Birds

  • Keep it Clean. Clean out birdhouses after the baby birds have left the nest. Clean hummingbird feeders every 5-7 days so they don’t get sticky.

5 Biggest Mistakes Home Buyers Make

Some home buyers fall for common pitfalls when purchasing a home. How can you help make sure you don’t fall for one? Credit.com recently featured some of the biggest mistakes home buyers often make. Their list included:

1. Trying to fix credit scores before buying a home. 

Home buyers may do more harm than good if they don’t consult a financial expert first. “Even paying down credit card balances, which is a good thing as far as your credit scores and debt ratios are concerned, could be a problem if it leaves you short the cash you need to qualify to get the loan,” says Gerri Detweiler, Credit.com’s personal finance expert.

2. Not considering the future enough in their purchase. 

Buyers should consider what they want out of a house not just for today but also five or 10 years down the road. Do they plan to expand their family? If so, they may need a bigger home and want a different location. Also, how long do they plan on staying at the home? That can help determine the type of mortgage that makes the most sense for them too.

3. Failing to research financing enough. 

First comes the home and then the financing? Not in today’s market. Home shoppers should get prequalified for a mortgage before they start shopping for a home so they know what they can afford. “The time to make decisions about your mortgage needs is not during this 10-day window [after you sign a contract]; at most, this is time to shop for rates and fees and such,” says Keith Gumbinger, vice president of HSH.com. “Evaluating your credit, deciding on a product you prefer, how much down payment you feel comfortable making, whether you want to pay fees or points [and, if so, how much] and even shopping for a lender [getting preapproved] should happen well in advance of even wandering through the market looking at houses.”

4. Making the assumption that the Good Faith Estimate is always what you pay at closing. 

The form lenders provide that estimates closing costs is not set in stone. Closing costs may actually be more, so buyers need to be prepared. Closing costs generally are about 3 percent to 5 percent of the loan amount. “Shop around and compare the Good Faith Estimate provided by the lender with that of two or three other lenders,” suggests Ryan Himmel, a CPA and founder of BIDaWIZ, a tax advice resource. “If there is a significant disparity in estimates, then request an explanation from the lender to determine if you would like to move forward.”

5. Failing to budget for home expenses. 

Budgeting to purchase the home isn’t all new home owners should be squeezing in their budget. They’d be wise to not forget to budget for maintaining the home too. New home owners should budget for an increase in utility bills as well as for future maintenance and repair costs, such as repairing a furnace or roof.

 

Realtor Magazine http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2012/06/20/5-biggest-mistakes-home-buyers-make